Silent ITX Build: Recommendations

The Background

As some of you are aware, I’m looking to do another build in the near-ish future, but I’m trying to do as much research as possible, previously I had my heart set on something that involved the Fractal Era case. It seems great for what it is, obviously it’s not targeting high airflow or anything along those lines, hence why if I were to go with a build along those lines, I would probably have to go for a GPU like an EVGA Hybrid, with the 120mm rad. But then I looked up how bad the pump noise was, hell no! :frowning_face:

However, I’m all for having an insane system in a small form factor, but there’s one thing that annoys me more than anything, the sound of a system. It really is stupid to think that I’d probably be happy to spend a hell of a lot of money or sacrifice on performance to some extent just to achieve silence or as near silent as humanly possible.

Anyways I wanted some general advice & input. I was honestly considering the Streacom DB4 with perhaps an Intel i9 9900T, considering the i9 9900T has a TDP of just 35W. I know that with Intel specifically, they’ve changed their general definition of TDP so when the CPU boosts it exceeds their stated TDP. But even then, I think that CPU would generally be fine for that case, especially if the additional cooling solution(s) are to be purchased for the CPU. I can’t remember the name to save my life.

The Hard Part - GPU

I’ve honestly been thinking about using a GTX 1650 as the GPU since the case is capable of cooling this GPU, but then you’re sacrificing quite a lot on performance in games. I’m not a hardcore gamer by any means, more of a workaholic, but I currently use a 1440p monitor.

So, from my research I’m either limited to constantly thermal throttling an RTX 2060 mini with passive cooling & underclocking, in which case, would it be worth having the RTX 2060 over the GTX 1650? - I’m struggling to find any clear answers to questions like this.

Alternatively, would you suggest that I try something like an external GPU enclosure? - I know they’re not by any means cheap & you lose a considerable amount of performance due to using thunderbolt 3 instead of PCI, not to mention other variables that come into play, such as interference & whatnot. However, I just feel like an external GPU is kinda cheating, since I could hide the enclosure to at least dampen the noise to some degree or another, etc.

What would you guys suggest for the GPU? :slight_smile:

I found this build, but as he’s done, he switched out the RTX 2070 for a GTX 1650 to achieve a totally silent system, I’d like to do that, but I want to achieve at least 45-60FPS on max settings at 1080p, I’ve seen some very mixed reviews about the 1650 which is a big part of the reason why I’m here, asking you guys for your input! :joy:

Final Note

Honestly, I annoy myself with how god damn picky I am about my hardware for my setup, I can totally appreciate if you too find my pickiness incredibly annoying. My core goal is silence & a reasonable amount of performance, price isn’t such an issue, I mean within reason of course, obviously I don’t have like £10k to go and spend on just the hardware for my build! :joy:

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Passive GPU cooling is something that has a limit in terms of performance possible and that limit is reached pretty damn fast. If it has to be absolute silence, you won’t be running high clocks on anything.

A reasonable compromise between quietness and performance is possible though. I had my Vega64 cooled with a Morpheus II and two Noctua NF-F12 for a while and that got noise well under control even on that card. Put it on a lower TDP GPU and you’d barely be able to hear it, even against a dead silent room.

If you stick to that case and total silence, you won’t be gaming a whole lot on that system.

That actually seems like a pretty awesome approach. Well worth the consideration to say the very least. The only hesitation that I have is whether or not this would work for an SFF system? Unfortunately I have very limited space for my setup, so it’s almost essential to have a small system, even some of the TIX towers, like my current case, the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv, unfortunatley it’s just a bit too large for practicality purposes.

As I’ve said, I’m not by any means a big gamer, I’m more focused on work, research, etc. Even now, I only occasionally play video games. I used to be a lot more into it, but since my career has taken off, I’ve become much more of a workaholic.

Well you’re gonna be doing allot of undervolting. Run everrything at the most efficient power/performance ration. For my RX580 that is at 0.8V 1050 - 1700. I’m loosing 25% performance but the card uses less than half the power.

Still I think a 2070 is going to give better performance at the same noise when compared to a 1650. Also you should think about how important the ITX build is - it is much easier to get less noise when you have more space to work with. Larger heatsinks usually equals better cooling and lower fan rpm’s.



Pick two. :wink:

Maybe build a system that is decidedly not for gaming and focus on the other two aspects exclusively? I mean, even on iGPU you can still have fun with pixel art games, adventures and so on. It won’t run Crysis but it will run Hyper Light Drifter, Limbo and Ion Fury. :wink:

From my research, it’s reasonably possible to achieve all three, I’ve seen one or two builds that include something like the Lian-Li PC-TU150, may be a bit on the larger side of ITX, but it does the job. I’ve seen some guys fit a strix card at 0 RPM/low noise & a Noctua NH-D15, which was apparently pretty silent.

Thinking about it logically, it seems like a similar choice may be the best bet? I know it’s not super small, but it’s small-ish in my opinion… I may not be SFF, but it’s still ITX… :joy:

Sure, that’s the compromise game. Bit bigger, not 100% silent but suddenly a good chunk faster. :+1:

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Trust me, I have, in my current situation due to the living arrangements, it’s all but critical! :joy:

Yeah, I mean I could always go for one of the more queit cards like a Strix, from personal experience, I can say that they are reasonably quiet cards, on idle, they’re silent thanks to the 0 RPM feature. Although I have heard coil whine from them, but y’know, there’s bound to be some form of noise or another! :joy: To achieve a system that’s literally as close to pure silence as possible, well I don’t think that’s actually possible?

Not in SFF if you want to play somewhat demanding games at reasonable settings and fps, no.

I recently did something to my HTPC that I haven’t tested yet, let me take a pcture real quick…

Have you seen this?

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Indeed I have. As I’ve stated though, I’m aware that most people that have a gaming system in this case either use a GTX 1650 or a GTX 1050(Ti). For me both those cards aren’t powerful enough, which is why I was 50/50 on the idea of an external GPU enclosure…

I’d like to note that I’ve not ruled out this case completely, I think a big part of it is due to the simple fact that I’m not sure if I’d be happy to sacrifice that much on performance. So really, I need to make my god damn mind up! :joy:

Plus whilst I’m aware that with the DB4, you’re paying a premium for the passive cooling, but it is the scenario where you could pay more for much better performance. I mean you could use the same amount of money & get a better performing setup. But like I’ve said, the biggest thing is that I need to make my mind up…

Here it is:

So that is the Noctua U12A with just one fan on a Ryzen 5 2600 with a Sapphire ITX RX570 with a 92mm Noctua and the PSU has a 80mm Noctua as well. I was previously running a Ryzen 3 1200 passively with one of the Nofan coolers. That did work but not well enough for more demanding workloads. This now is very quiet and reasonably performant in a small open box.

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That’s actually pretty god damn awesome. Nothing else needs to be said! :+1:

A Streacom DB4 — with a Ryzen 5 1600 and GTX 1050 Ti inside — has been my daily driver for over two years now. It is, without doubt, the best system I have ever built. Total silence is something that really needs to be experienced in order to be fully appreciated. I’m taking this case to the grave.

Most 1080p gaming is well within the reach of the 1050 Ti. You trade quality for frames in many titles, but that is to be expected. An Antec P180 is my main gaming rig. It’s on the other side of a wall, so it can make as much noise as it wants in order to generate those frames — I don’t hear it either.

I think it comes down to the games that you play as to whether passive cooling and total silence are worth pursuing. Some titles are very ‘atmospheric’ and have subtle but fantastic ambient audio. In those cases a truly silent system can really shine. If you mainly play action games with gunfire and explosions, then noise levels are going to be so high you won’t even hear the system — regardless of how much noise it makes.

In the latter case — and in most other scenarios — I would suggest building a ‘quiet’ system instead of a ‘silent’ one. Get a GPU and PSU that both have 0 RPM fan modes — so the fans don’t spin up when the system is being lightly loaded. Nothing but SSDs, of course. Cool the CPU with a quality air cooler (I have and love the Noctua NH-D15S in my gaming rig — that company knows how to build quiet coolers).

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That is some very interesting input to say the very least! :joy:

That’s also good to hear, although I’d probably go for the 1650, just because it’s still within that ~75W TDP limit for the passive GPU cooler & it’s slightly newer than the 1050Ti, if my memory serves me correctly.

That is a consideration that I’ve had, although since I’m looking to move, it’s likely that I’d need to find a property where one room is right next to an ol’ closet or there’s space to build a little closet in the room.

I’d say that’s a very accurate description of the majority of titles that I play, I don’t really play too many action games because half the time I feel that I want to play something that doesn’t require fast reactions. I’m a very, very laid back guy for the most part, borderline half sloth… :joy: … So it’s fair to say that I suck at most FPS games… Not to mention that my internet connection is generally so terrible that playing an online FPS game just means that I die before I get the chance to see what’s going on! :joy:

That’s always been my plan if not going totally passive, to be honest.

Again, that’s my plan, I mean if I want more storage or whatever, I could always easily buy an external HDD or possibly invest into NAS, although I probably wouldn’t bother with NAS, very overkill for just myself.

Hell yeah! Noctua coolers just seem amazing! I’ve not tried one out myself as of yet, but I have no doubt that at some point, I certainly will give it a go.

Based on your input, that’s just made me wanna go for this project even more so, I was thinking about trying to cram an i9 9900T in there, apparently that CPU has a TDP of just 35W, although I have no doubt that with the boosts & whatnot, it’s probably closer to 65-75W, lol.

Honestly, the 1050Ti/1650 are well worth considering for someone like myself, if I’m being honest, I’d have to say that I’m a very casual gamer. Most of the titles that I love aren’t typically the most demanding games, an example being Dishonored/ Dishonored II, ESO, WoW, etc. Then with the more demanding stuff, I’m not sure why, but I’m getting some serious performance issues with my current build anyway, so I don’t think it’s a biggie either way… I’ve had to drop a lot of quality settings in a lot of big titles anyway, I can honestly say it bothers me a lot less than what I thought it would’ve.

Sure the better graphics are cool, I’d be the first to say I’m a liar if I said otherwise, but I’d much rather maintain 60+ FPS over nicer graphics any day of the week.

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As it turns out, I’m a massive liar when I say that typically I hate glass side panels & all that jazz… Well, kinda, 99% of the time, I do, I think they look cheap & they ruin the look of the build for me, usually, but then I came across this build & it just gave my eyes an orgasm…


On almost any fan there are little audible differences you can actually detect between a 0rpm fan and a 800RPM fan

But thereis a huge heat different with no fan vs slow fan

I think a morphious ii with some slow fans could handle a 2060 super

Uhm, the morpheus II with two NF-F12 handled my Vega64 at under 1000rpm pretty well. Around 70-75°C under heavy load in the summer.

Out of interest, have you tried that configuration with just one NF-12?

No, sorry. … Why would you do that?