May 26, 2012, 7:30 AM — Are you a gamer with a big electricity bill every month? Are you looking to build a great gaming PC that doesn't sound like a jet engine every time you start playing Diablo III? This build guide is for you.
Imagine a PC that will hit 60 frames per second running most games on today's 1080p displays. Now imagine that system idling at under 70 watts. Even under the heaviest load, it consumes just 336 watts. That's 336 watts generated when the system is running an eight-core instance of Prime 95 while simultaneously running 3DMark 2011 at 2560 by 1600 resolution with 8x antialiasing on--a far heavier load than most games will produce.
Better yet, this system makes few compromises in terms of overall performance. It runs the latest LGA 2011 hardware, including a quad-core Sandy Bridge Extreme CPU. It has 16GB of RAM, too, and a powerful current-generation graphics card.
Let's go on a tour of the system first. Afterward I'll dig into the component choices to show you how I built a killer system that's fairly green. Click on any picture to zoom in for full details, and then click the left and right arrows to look through the photos.
It isn't much to look at, certainly, but that's part of its charm. The case is a Corsair Obsidian 550D midsize-tower chassis. Offering most of the amenities of high-end cases, it's also designed to minimize noise. The front cover hides the optical drive, but its real purpose is to help baffle noise.
This gaming machine isn't just easy on your electric bill, it's also remarkably quiet thanks to some simple soundproofing. Though you can't see it in these pictures, the dense foam material lining the front cover also lines the two side panels.
With the PC's front cover removed, you can see the optical drive nestled near the top of the tower. These days I download most of my games, but I threw in a Blu-ray combo drive--a Blu-ray reader plus a DVD burner--for the odd DVD-based game as well as the occasional high-definition movie. The Corsair case is also a nice choice because it fully supports internal USB 3.0 connections for the front-panel USB ports. The power and reset buttons remain exposed even when the cover is installed.