Quiet Gamer

Want a high-powered PC that can deliver an excellent computing experience while running in near silence? Then this is the system for you! Every component has been chosen to maximize performance while minimizing noise. Compared to the already-fast $1,000 Gaming Build, the $1,250 Quiet Gamer offers the potential for up to 30% more CPU performance via overclocking and 40% better graphics performance. Backed up by upgrades to the case, power supply, and cooling, this is a real wolf in sheep's clothing!

For March 2017, we carry on with the new Core i5-7600K quad-core processor, released in January, which offers 8-10% more performance than its predecessor, the Core i5-6600K. Intel has also given us the new Z270, which improves connectivity and overclocking support versus the Z170 chipset. There's also good news in the video card market, where prices have continued to come down, with the potent GTX 1070 now well under $400. That makes it an obvious choice, given its amazing combination of ultra-low power use and high-end performance. The biggest change this month is a new and improved power supply from EVGA, which is by far the best model in its class.

Now, there is a bit of bad news we have to share: due to worldwide shortages of memory chips, the cost of RAM and solid-state drives is skyrocketing, so we've had to trim back a bit in those areas to better fit with current market conditions. In our opinion, it's best to spend money where you'll get more bang for the buck than ever before (e.g., the CPU and video card) rather than gear that's now a lot more expensive that it was a few months ago. Luckily, one thing hasn't changed: this build is truly silent, thanks to a power supply and CPU cooler that shut off their fans at idle, a single solid-state drive, and the sleek, noise-optimized P400S case from Phanteks.

We update this build on a monthly basis to incorporate new product releases or major price adjustments, so check back often. To see past months' builds, check out the $1,250 Quiet Gaming PC Archive, or see how it compares to all our other builds on the TBG PC Build Comparison Page. And if you're also looking for updated PC accessories, check out our Monitor Buyer's Guide and Peripherals Buyer's Guide for recommendations.

If you need help building your system, see our step-by-step guide, "Assembling a High-end Gaming PC (2017)", which will walk you through the process of putting it together. You can also post a question in our Reader Forum - we'll answer as soon as possible! And feel free to check out The Gallery to get inspired by the builds submitted by other TBG readers. When you have yours up and running, let us know and we'll create a profile page for your system too!

We use real-time pricing engines to give you the most up-to-date prices available, and we also include shopping links for our readers in UK, Canada, and Germany (with regional substitutions made where necessary). Your use of these links helps keep this guide alive!

The $1,250 Quiet Gaming PC - March 2017

    CPU:

    Intel Core i5-7600K

    The brand-new Core i5-7600K, launched in January, is the ideal gaming CPU for a mid-range system, offering great out-of-the-box speed, plus a huge amount of overclocking headroom. Compared to its predecessor the Core i5-6600K, it operates 300MHz faster (or around 8%) for the same price.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the 7600K does not include a standard Intel cooler, so please make sure to pick up the cooler we recommend later in this guide. You cannot run this CPU without a cooler.

    Motherboard:

    MSI Z270 PC Mate

    This new board is one of the most affordable offerings to include the potent Z270 chipset, which allows you to push your unlocked 7600K chip to its limits, if you so choose! Like all Z270-based boards, this one has lots of connectivity options, including dual M.2 slots and a full array of PCIe slots. But unlike other boards in its price range, this one includes eight USB ports, include a USB 3.1 Type-C port, which represents the future of connectivity. It also has an amazing six headers, perfect for customizing ultra-quiet fan profiles.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this board does not support running dual GeForce cards in SLI. If that's something you'll want to do in the future, step up to MSI's Z270 SLI.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC Black Edition

    Nvidia's Pascal-based GTX 1070 offers exceptional gaming performance and amazing efficiency, pulling less than 150W under load. That makes it a perfect fit for a system like this one. In fact, it uses less power than AMD's Radeon RX 480 8GB, despite 40% better performance!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This particular version of the GTX 1070 features a dual-fan open-air cooler to provide low temperatures and quiet operation.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x4GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3000

    With 8GB of RAM, you'll have plenty of capacity for any typical task, while leaving to add two additional stick in the future if the need arises. Why do we choose this DDR4-3000 kit in particular? It offers a nice boost over standard 2133MHz RAM, and comes from the most reputable RAM company in the business.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Due to a serious NAND chip shortage, prices on all RAM kits are increasing several dollars per week, with no sign of slowing down. If you often work with HD video or RAW camera files, you may want to jump up to Corsair's 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 kit right now, as it will likely be more expensive to upgrade later.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial MX300 525GB M.2

    With 500GB-class solid-state drives now available under the $150 mark, there's no reason to use anything but solid-state storage in this system, which of course helps keep this Quiet Gamer really, really quiet! We recommend the MX300 525GB, which offers the best performance of any drive anywhere near its price.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This drive has a little trick up its sleeve: it installs without the need for any cables at all. That's because it uses the new M.2 form factor, which allows it to slot right into the motherboard, much like a stick of RAM. All you'll need is a jeweler's type screwdriver to secure it to the board.

    Case:

    Phanteks Eclipse P400S Silent Edition

    The Eclipse P400S, has the noise-dampening foam and solid front panel featured in so many other so-called "quiet" cases, but it also has a streamlined interior designed for today's PCs. By reducing the number of drive bays to a minimum, it achieves optimal airflow and minimum noise. A system packed with hard drives wasn't going to be quiet anyway, so good riddance! This stylish model even includes user-selectable LED lighting, and comes in three colors: anthracite as shown, as well as black and white

    The Guru's Tip:

    Would you like your system to offer a bit more bling? No problem! Phanteks offers this case with two side panel options: a plastic-windowed model, and a full glass-paneled model!

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova 550 GS

    For the Quiet Gamer, we want a power supply that offers high efficiency and low noise. Enter EVGA Supernova 550 GS designed by Seasonic. It offers a hybrid fan that shuts off at low loads, fully-modular cables, which means you'll only use the cables you need, and it's backed by a 5-year warranty.

    The Guru's Tip:

    A 550W power supply has plenty of capacity to support this system, which will use less than 250W at full load at stock settings. That gives you plenty of room for overclocking, and more importantly, means the the PSU won't work as hard, leading to quieter operation.

    CPU Cooler:

    Arctic Freezer i32

    This awesome cooler offers far more cooling power than any cooler in its price range, along with lower noise levels. In fact, it features a unique zero-RPM fan mode which engages when your PC is at idle or low load, making the cooler completely silent!

    The Guru's Tip:

    The Freezer i32 proved to be the quietest cooler in our recent 120mm CPU Cooler roundup.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Windows 8.1 was fast, stable, and secure, but it had a user interface that drove most people crazy. Windows 10 built on all the performance improvements of Windows 8.1 while bringing back a functional start menu, similar to Windows 7, but with enhanced functionality. Microsoft also released DirectX 12 alongside its latest operating system, a graphics programming interface that is giving developers new ways to tap into hardware to provide unprecedented levels of image quality.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Because this build doesn't have an optical drive, this flash drive version of Windows is the easiest way to install your OS. Luckily, it comes with a side benefit: it will install in around 5 minutes, thanks to the fast USB 3.0 interface.