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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  • Aslan7 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Were I interested in buying such a system the rubber fan mounts would appeal as would the fan controller. I'm willing replace fans or to pull fans out of a case to get a quieter build. The one thing I see wrong with the build is 8GB of memory. Current generation consoles have as much and Windows is heavier than a console. As for all SSD storage, that's laughable this year and the next. You could go all SSD if you didn't mind having a computer instead of a car. My Steam Library alone is 1.39TB I don't even have a lot of AAA games which run bigger and then there's Desura, GOG, and games not from a digital service, plus music, ebooks, photos and videos.
    I've got a 512GB SSD acting as a cache for a 4TB drive and I still find myself shuffling files to other drives.
    Reply
  • Pbryanw - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I think the specs sheet said it had 16GB of memory (4x4GB).

    As far as SSDs go, I'm sure a 512GB one would suffice for most people. I think those with big Steam & game libraries are in the minority. Also, with a quiet going on silent build (speaking from my own experience) a mechanical hard-drive can be the loudest component. It's why I now run two SSDs (for Windows + Steam Library) instead of an SSD + large hard-drive.

    If you must have a 4TB storage drive (and this is a gaming PC), I think it's a bit pointless (as Dustin points out) to have two SSDs in RAID when SSDs are so much faster than mechanical hard-drives anyway. Better to have a 512GB SSD and 4TB hard-drive as per your setup then two smaller units in RAID.
    Reply
  • Black Obsidian - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Just because you *have* a 1.39TB Steam library doesn't mean you need every single game installed simultaneously, unless you're running on 56K or something. My library of Steam games is over 2TB and 100 titles, and yet my gaming PC's Steam folder is under 400GB.

    How? Because I only have games I am currently playing or am likely to play in the near future installed. One of the greatest advantages of Steam is the ability to download any game in your library, at any time, on any PC. Why negate that by trying to have ALL THE THINGS installed all the time?
    Reply
  • Pbryanw - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Totally agree with this. If you're like me, you only play one game at a time. I have more than 100 Steam games in my library and just have a fraction of these installed on a 256GB SSD (like you, the ones I'm most likely to play). The rest I can download anytime from the Steam servers. Reply
  • Papa - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    It's pretty easy to go into SteamApps folder, move the game onto a mechanical drive. That's all that Steam looks for. No need to delete if you don't have to. Reply
  • DominionSeraph - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    I lived with an 80GB hard drive from'06 to '13, loading games from CD when I wanted them and downloading only high compression 720p rips. But that was a $350 Dell.
    This is a $2500 boutique gaming system. At $2500 you should not be so constrained for space. Since a SSD doesn't do much for games and is completely unnecessary for media files, it's stupid to trade space for needless expense.
    Reply
  • Pbryanw - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    Yes, it's $2500 but it's also been built for silence. If you've gone, like AVADirect, to the trouble of including a fanless CPU cooler, a PSU that is fanless up to 30% load and a fan controller, it seems a shame to include a mechanical hard-drive which could be the noisiest component in the build.

    Of course, this review includes no noise benchmarks, and the drive is in a silent enclosure, but going from my own experience, my WD Green was the noisiest component in my quiet build until I swapped it for an SSD. Including a 1TB SSD, as Dustin suggested, wouldn't be such a bad compromise between noise and space for a decent games library in my opinion. At the very least it should be offered as an option on their web-site.

    I think it just comes down to that tricky balancing act between noise and performance. I can see why having a 4TB drive for games would be an advantage, but if you have a fast internet connection, it's easier (at least for me) to keep a decent list of favourite games and then download when I need to.
    Reply
  • ironwing - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    A review of a quiet PC should include objective measurements of sound volume at idle and under load. One person's "very quiet" is another person's "too loud". Reply
  • shooty - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Exactly, I don't need to see the benchmark results - I would like noise levels readings at various loads. I can look up a review of dozens of other similarly configured systems to get an idea of performance. Reply
  • twtech - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    With my money, I'd probably get both the terabyte SSD, and keep the mechanical storage drive for mass storage.

    My SteamApps folder alone is approaching 1TB, and I have quite a few GBs of photos from my hiking trips. So I appreciate the inclusion of a mechanical storage drive - but I would suggest that if you are going to have one, why not go with 4TB?
    Reply

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