This is just a short post about the first experiences with my new computer. My benchmark post concluded the new system is twice as fast as my previous build.
Step 1: as always, it is recommended to put most components together outside the box. At least the CPU, cooler and memory need to be installed this way.
Step 2: change case fans to someting really silent. I use the beige "NOCTUA NF-S12-800 SILENT CASE FAN 120MM", even if the default fan in the Antec Sonata Designer 500 is pretty ok as it is. This fan, and the cpu cooler, is what will create most of the noise so it is important to spend some money on quiet quality componets. Noctua isn't cheap.
Step 3: I added two front fans, so that the flow through the case would be improved. They suck in air right over the hard drives and onto the passive graphics card. I use power adapters to clock down the fan rotation by 50% (included from Noctua). You cannot hear these fans at all at this slow speed. Again Noctua, 2 x 92 mm.
Step 4: the drives go in. Even if the rubber band mounts have beed improved from previous case versions, I don't quite trust them. I used the screws with rubber pads.
Step 5: most things are in place. A graphics card and some cabling remains. I wish I had known about the Asus EN3650 Silent Graphics Card - it seems to have the right mix of performance and cooling. It has passive cooling (a must) and has 2 DVI connectors - it's easy to find passive cards with DVI+VGA but 2xDVI are still a bit rare. I now use the similar "ASUS EN8600GT" but it's rather old and gets a bit hot.
Final step: OS installation and then finalize all cabling.
The system is very quiet and (so far) is running just fine. My shopping list was:
Case: Antec Sonata Designer 500 Motherboard: ASUS P5E3 Deluxe - ATX - iX38 CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 / 3 GHz CPU fan: ARCTIC COOLING - FREEZER 7 PRO Disc: 2 x Samsung SpinPoint T166 - 500 GB Graphics: ASUS EN8600GT SILENT/HTDP - GF 8600 GT DVD: Samsung Super-WriteMaster SH-S203P - DVD±RW Fans: NOCTUA NF-S12-800 SILENT CASE FAN 120MM + 2x NOCTUA NF-B9 SILENT CASE FAN 92MM