Building a quiet gaming system is something that takes a surprising amount of care, owing largely to smart choices in component selection and often careful tuning. The last time we checked in with AVADirect, they for the most part had the balance down with the exception of the NZXT H2 enclosure. We liked the system overall, and the revision of the H2 helped to alleviate some of the enclosure's airflow issues, but it wasn't what we were looking for in a high end, specialized configuration. With our third go, it looks like that problem has been eliminated. Sort of.

In the NZXT H2's stead, AVADirect has sent us the much beefier and more respectable NZXT H630 along with updated internals. They've also taken some care in not just configuring, but rigorously tuning this build, and as we go on we'll evaluate the fruit of that labor.

AVADirect Quiet Gaming PC Specifications
Chassis NZXT H630 White
Processor Intel Core i7-4770K
(4x3.5GHz + HTT, Overclocked to 4.2GHz, 22nm, 8MB L3, 84W)
Motherboard ASUS Z87-C
Memory 4x4GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 CAS 9 1.35V (max 4x8GB)
Graphics Gigabyte WindForce 3X NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780
(2304 CUDA cores, 954MHz/6GHz core/memory, 384-bit memory bus)
Storage 2x Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB 6Gbps SSD in RAID 0

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 6Gbps HDD
Optical Drive(s) N/A
Power Supply Seasonic SS760XP 760W 80 Plus Platinum
Networking Realtek RTL8111 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Realtek ALC892
7.1 surround jacks
Front Side BitFenix Recon Fan Controller
Right Side Headphone and mic jacks
2x USB 2.0
2x USB 3.0
SD card reader
Back Side PS/2 port
2x USB 2.0
HDMI (IGP)
DVI (IGP)
VGA (IGP)
4x USB 3.0
Ethernet
7.1 surround jacks
2x DVI (GTX 780)
HDMI (GTX 780)
DisplayPort (GTX 780)
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
Extras 80 Plus Platinum power supply
Card reader
Heavily optimized for silent operation
Silenced 3.5" hard disk enclosure
Zalman Cube CPU Cooler
BitFenix Recon Fan Controller
Warranty 3-year parts and labor
Pricing Starting at $1087
Price as configured: $2,456

Honestly it's pretty hard to find too much fault with what AVADirect has done here, at least in terms of component selection. There are going to be aspects of this build that will be matters of taste, but this build has obviously skewed in favor of performance over absolute silence. That's totally fine; it's "Quiet," not "Silent."

The Intel Core i7-4770K is at this point a reliable workhorse, the fastest CPU you can get for most practical purposes. AVADirect has given it a modest overclock up to 4.2GHz with 1.28V on the core, and it idles down to 800MHz and ~0.72V like it's supposed to, so no complaints there. Strapped to its integrated memory controller is 16GB of low voltage DDR3-1600, CAS 9, courtesy of Kingston. This is pretty standard, but I'd've actually opted to make the move to DDR3-1866 for a performance system. Ian has handily demonstrated that DDR3-1600 is no longer really the sweet spot for Haswell.

Handling graphics duties is the Gigabyte WindForce 3X model of NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 780. A custom version of AMD's Radeon R9 290 or 290X would possibly be more ideal, but with cryptocurrency substantially disrupting prices on AMD's high end, the GTX 780 really does strike a strong balance, offering excellent performance.

I'm a little more fussy about the storage subsystem. I like the silenced enclosure for the Western Digital Caviar Black, but the price premium on that coupled with the drive itself suggests that just going with a 480GB SSD for not too much more money might have been more ideal. The two Kingston HyperX SSDs in RAID 0 are cute, but striped RAID on SSDs serves no real practical purpose except to boost benchmark scores. This probably could be more optimized; in the future I'd almost suggest opting for a single ~1TB class SSD.

Analyzing the Build Quality
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  • DominionSeraph - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    Sorry, I can't agree that an additional 240GB in SSD (to 480GB) is an adequate replacement for a 2TB drive. Windows is going to take up ~20GB. There are people with Skyrim installs of over 100GB. BF4 calls for 30GB. WoW is over 20GB.
    A $2500 gaming system should have room for more than a handful of games.
    Reply
  • teiglin - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    If I were building a >$2000 gaming PC today, I would definitely go with a 1TB SSD rather than any mechanical storage. I think you're right that trying to live in a single <500GB SSD could be pretty constricting, especially if you are trying to keep a 15-20% buffer of free space--on a 480GB SSD, that's around 300GiB of useable space for games, which might be fine if you're willing to uninstall old games, but if you are more of a packrat like me the it will probably be tough.

    I still have about 6TB of hard drives in my primary PC because it also serves as media storage for my entire house, freeing up my HTPCs to have a single small SSD, but anything that's not video deserves to go on flash.
    Reply
  • will54 - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    I agree with you there. We aren't at the point where it makes sense to get rid of hdd for mass storage. Get rid of the two smaller drives and start out with a 500gb or 1tb Samsung 840 and than add some hdd storage at a later date. Theres no reason to have everything on an ssd when a hdd is so much cheaper per GB. Reply
  • tim851 - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    Once you drop mechanical storage, a gargantuan case like the NZXT becomes ridiculous. Look a the inside pics. Empty hdd bays, a full ATX board with a single card. And at least two fans have been weirdly positioned just to deflect outside airflow to the components who need it.
    Build this thing inside a Node 304 and it will not be any louder, but about a tenth of the volume and much more awesome. Get a Silverstone ST55F-G with the complementary short cable kit and it becomes actually easier to build than this monstrosity here.
    Reply
  • schizoide - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    I completely agree and was just coming here to post that. That case is ridiculously large for 2014. Who needs that much space?

    Agree about those two angled fans too. Overengineered is spot-on.
    Reply
  • Grok42 - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    I couldn't agree more. It's all about small size and silence these days. Reply
  • Sunday Afternoon - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    Hmmm: the picture on the front page is distorted to make the proportions of the case appear very different. Reply
  • LtGoonRush - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    I'm really disappointed with the poor component choices in this build, especially the motherboard, memory, and storage. They built a $2500 system around the *cheapest Z87 motherboard Asus makes*, which results in a very poorly balanced system due to the low quality integrated peripherals like audio and Ethernet. Using four DIMMs is the kind of amateurish mistake you see in people's first builds, it's not a big deal (unless you want to upgrade or run at high RAM clocks) but it's obviously wrong so should never happen in a machine designed by a professional. Finally, not only did they combine two small, slow system drives in a RAID0 array, but they used some of the least reliable drives on the market. This isn't opinion or anecdote, the Kingston HyperX 3K drives use low quality NAND (see TechReport SSD endurance tests to support this) and their observed failure rate (for 120GB models specifically) in the market is >5X comparable drives from Intel and Samsung (see Hardware.FR statistics for October 2013).

    It's 2014, we shouldn't have to shame boutique system builders into making decent component choices. I'm not asking anything unreasonable here or expensive here, a pair of 8GB DIMMs, a single 250GB Samsung 840 Evo, and bump the motherboard up to something appropriate. At the end of the day this system would not deliver the experience a customer should expect from a $2500 gaming machine, at a minimum because the integrated audio is so bad. If this is what they send out for review to show off their prowess, what ends up in the hands of their customers?
    Reply
  • chrnochime - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    Ready to kill mechanical storage? You've got to be kidding me. Even the cheapest HDD these days still has longer MTBF than the best consumer SSD. Reply
  • Grok42 - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    Can you provide any proof of this? Everything I've read says that SSD wins hands down on MTBF. They also win for power, noise, heat and shock resistance. The only downside I'm aware of is price per MB. I don't think I'll ever buy an HDD again. Reply

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