Completely silent and powerful workstation, spring 2013

Someone in my close family needed a update for a workstation primarily used for emailing, browsing, audio and light video editing. The computer was never used for any 3D demanding games, so no separate GPU was needed, provided that I could find a CPU with a on-die GPU. Furthermore a recently bought NAS took care of all the large files, so the objectives for the build was to create a silent, very fast booting computer that could also handle heavier problems as audio and video editing.

The following build is completely silent. The case has built-in heatpipes that cools the CPU, the PSU is also fanless and the SSD doesn’t make a sound. Still the SSD is blazing fast, the i5-3570K CPU is very capable and the on-die HD4000 GPU is more than enough for the workstation.


Mid January 2013 in Denmark this totaled, with delivery, to 6711 DKK (1210 USD).

  • CPU: Core i5 3570K, 6 MB
  • MB: Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI, mini-ITX
  • GPU: Intel HD 4000 built-in on the i5-3570K
  • CASE: Streacom FC8B EVO Black, Mini ITX, Passive Heatpipe CPU Cooling
  • PSU: Streacom NANO150 PSU Adapter, Passive
  • SSD: Samsung SSD 840 Series 250GB, 540/250MB/s
  • RAM: Corsair Vengeance 2 x 4 GB, low-profile, PC3-12800, 9-9-9-24
  • DVD: Sony DVD Writer, AD-7640S, slimline
  • Cables 1: SATA adapter for SATA slimline DVD drive, 6+7 pin, slim SATA – 4-pin power + 7pin SATA
  • Cables 2: Streacom SC30 USB3.0 Internal Cable

Core i5 3570K, 6 MB
The first thing I decided to buy was the i5-3570K. It is still the king of mid range with a great performance/cost ratio. Also it has on-die GPU, HD-4000, that is rather decent. Finally, as it is a “K” type of processor it can be over or in this case under clocked fairly easy.

Much like the Sandy Bridge i5-2500K processor was the best value in terms of price and performance for the 2nd generation Intel Core processors, the Ivy Bridge i5-3570K will surely be a popular processor among enthusiasts on a budget. The i5-3570K does not have the i7-3770K’s Hyperthreading capability but is more than powerful enough for most tasks even at stock clocks. Since it is a K processor, the i5-3570K can easily be performance tuned to reach the i7-3770K’s stock performance and is as equally impressive in this regard as the i5 2500K before it.

Review – (quoted)
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Streacom FC8B EVO
The Streacom FC8B EVO is the cornerstone of this build. Once everything is put together the build looks great and is completely silent, but putting the system together left much to wanted. For one the the case does not come with the USB 3 cable and that would make the two frontfacing USB3 port at USB2 speeds, so this has be to be bought separately. Furthermore this case only works with the very special type of PSU and not including it just makes it more complicated. Finally a third thing to keep in mind is that a slim-type DVD drive cannot use the normal SATA and SATA-power cables and a adapter will also so be needed. Remember also to buy the following:

  • Streacom NANO150 PSU Adapter, Passive
  • Streacom SC30 USB3.0 Internal Cable
  • SATA adapter for SATA slimline DVD drive, 6+7 pin, slim SATA – 4-pin power + 7pin SATA

The Streacom FC8 Evo is a compelling product that stands out with its attractive and compact form factor. It is compatible with off-the-shelf desktop processors and motherboards, and it supports a slim optical drive, a pair of hard or solid state drives, a low profile expansion slot, and USB 3.0. If that isn’t enough already, its price tag puts it over the top — £104 is downright cheap for a case of this type.

Review – (qouted)

Samsung SSD 840 Series 250GB
I have chosen the Samsung 840 series SSD as it has good reviews and performance in its price range. Better (MLC) drives exists, but at a higher prices.

We found it to be a very consistent performer and no slouch when it comes to real world tasks thanks in part to their 300Mhz triple core controller. Reads were consistently in the vicinity of the 530MB/s mark and writes near 240MB/s. It was actually a bit surprising given what we know about TLC NAND that the drive performed as well as it did.

Review – (quoted)
Review – Anandtech
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Gigabyte GA-Z77N-WIFI
The main reason for me choosing the this Z77 based motherboard was that it was on the narrow list of motherboards that that would fit the case and the specially heatpipe arrangement. I wanted to have a Z77 based as I would like to have the option of underclocking the CPU easily if needed.
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Corsair Vengeance 2 x 4 GB, low-profile, PC3-12800, 9-9-9-24
Obviously I needed some memory as well, so I chose some speedy and low-profile memory modules from Corsair as I was worried about the clearance beneath the heatpipes and the HDD/DVD cage. I chose 8GB as this build is also used for video and audio editing at times. Mind that the motherboard below only has to slots, so is a bit more exepensive to upgrade later on as one will need to buy two completely new sticks.

Sony DVD Writer, AD-7640S
This is a DVD drive that is supposed to work with the FC8B, but getting the eject button work with the rather special mechanism in the FC8B is quite hard. Currently is not working and when I get around to it again I need to work with the adhesive pads that came with the FC8B to get the eject button to work. If no special need for a built-in drive is needed I would recommend a USB3 external drive.

Building notes

First of all this build is not easy, so I don’t think this should be done as a first build. Both motherboard and CPU can be exchanged for other items, but keep in mind that only few motherboards are well-suited since the heatpipes needs clearance. On the page there are only 3 approved motherboards with the GA-Z77N-WIFI as one of them. When it comes to the CPU then keep in mind that unless a separate GPU is bought a on-die GPU is needed. The following points are good to keep in mind when assembling the build:

  • Attach the head of the USB 3.0 cable, the 24-pin power connector, memory modules and the SATA cables before starting to mounting the heatpipes. Many of the slots are not accessible after the heatpipes has been placed.
  • The closing mechanism of the Sony DVD Writer AD-7640S is very hard to get to cooperate, so if you only seldom need a CD/DVD drive consider a external USB3 drive for those occasions instead.
  • The i5-3570K CPU has Tmax of 105 celcious, so do not be scared of high operating temperatures. The build is currently around 45-50 when idle and 70-80 when working hard. Furthermore the CPU will automatically throttle back before damage is done to CPU, see

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  1. Hi, Thank you for your post! What components would you use if you had to build such a system today? I am looking for a powerful silent mini-PC equipped with Intel i7-CPU. The new build from ASRock VisionX 471D looked nice but it seems putting an i7 into this form factor is really an issue in terms of cooling.

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