As I mentioned previously, the overall component choices are fairly strong. AVADirect's engineers have done a lot to add little bits and pieces here and there to improve performance and reduce noise. I've mentioned before and will say again: several small fans running at low speeds can do the job of a couple of fans running at high speeds, and do it quieter. Yet I can't help but feel like this build is...overengineered.

The key to a quality quiet build is the right component choices. Cases like NZXT's H630 that have sound dampening materials are at their best when they take already quiet hardware and make it silent. Cooling a GTX 780 and an i7-4770K in a case of this size isn't actually a tremendously difficult task, yet AVADirect has complicated things in multiple places.

My biggest complaint has to do with the rubber fan mounts. Silent case manufacturers don't use these, and in my quietest build (comparable to what AVADirect has done here), I still used screws on all the fan mounts. In fact, these rubber mounts are borderline redundant with the Corsair fans included, as those fans already have vibration dampening built into their mounts. The problem with what AVADirect chose here is that the system shipped with half the fans out of the mounts. I went ahead and asked AVADirect for a statement regarding these fan mounts and received this:

The fans were mounted using rubber mounts, which may slip through the openings during shipping. They reduce noise, but they're not very sturdy. They should be replaced with mounts that have bigger backing, so that they don't slip through the holes of the case during shipping.

This is half true. They should be replaced with screws.

I'm also of the opinion that AVADirect should've forgone the BitFenix Recon fan controller in favor of in-line resistors on the fans. User adjustable fan control is nice, but the system doesn't actually need it, and certainly not something as robust as the BitFenix Recon. You'll see later on that thermals aren't a major issue outside of Haswell's inherent toastiness, the system is quiet, and there's very little tweaking left to be done, so the simplest approach would be the best one in my estimation. There's no reason to give the end user control over fan speeds, the system is already where it needs to be.

Finally, as a minor nitpick, I can understand why the Zalman Cube cooler was chosen, but a closed loop liquid cooler like NZXT's Kraken X40 could also conceivably do the job as well as or better with the same noise level. Pump noise is a non-issue in a case like this, and two slow 140mm fans sandwiching the radiator could hypothetically achieve better performance in the same external noise envelope.

AVADirect has done a fine job assembling a powerful system with excellent airflow and noise characteristics (sub-30dB under load), they just need to streamline it.

Introducing the AVADirect Quiet Gaming Desktop PC System, Futuremark, and Gaming Performance
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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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Grok42 - Sunday, February 23, 2014 - link

    I couldn't agree more. It's all about small size and silence these days.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.

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