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Upgrades Entertainment Games Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Making a 'Wife Friendly' Gaming PC? 720

shadeshope writes Having just gotten married, I find that for some inexplicable reason my wife doesn't like my huge, noisy, 'ugly' gaming PC being in the living room. I have tried hiding it in a TV cabinet: still too noisy. I have placed it in another room and run HDMI and USB cables, but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag when playing games. Have any other slashdotters encountered this problem? I don't want to buy a console (Steam sales let me game so cheaply), or mess with water cooling. Ideally I would just hide it in the attic, is there some wireless technology that would be fast enough for gaming use? I have become quite attached to 'behemoth.' I have been upgrading him for years and he is the centre of my digital life. I run plex home theatre, media centre, steam, iTunes and air server. Will I have to do my gaming in the spare room? Once I have sorted this small problem going to try and make a case for the efficacy of a projector to replace the television..... it takes up less space, motorized screen could be hidden when not in use, etc.
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Ask Slashdot: Making a 'Wife Friendly' Gaming PC?

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  • Don't fight it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eneville ( 745111 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:22PM (#48487025) Homepage

    Your wife just wants to make the house more kiddie friendly. Get a laptop.

    • And get to work on making those kids.

    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      Until the toddler decides to act like mommy and pour coffee into the laptop.
  • Simple (Score:5, Informative)

    by darkain ( 749283 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:25PM (#48487047) Homepage

    Get a less noisy system. How hard is that to figure out?

    Get a case that has one or two 120mm or larger fans for airflow. They generate much MUCH less noise than 80mm fans and still push enough air to keep the thing chilled.

    Switch CPU/GPU fans to ones that only turn on when needed, and are off while the system is at a cool idle temp.

    Switch your HDD out for an SSD, and use network storage for your bulk storage. Gigabit Ethernet is ~100MB/sec and so is a rotational disk, so you're not gonna see much different in performance here (assuming your network doesn't suck)

    • Re:Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Isquiesque ( 1745236 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:49PM (#48487237)

      I love how this thread is increasingly turning into a gender thing, when in fact this issue could come up with any roommate. Or even in reverse...

      My computer's noise was driving my husband up the wall recently. So after a fair amount of pestering from him I finally armed myself with some canned air and carried the system out to the patio, opened up the case, and found... that it was fairly clean inside. All I really needed to do was clean the air intakes on the *exterior* of the case. It was that simple and took seconds. The noise level dropped considerably. It went from being all we could hear in the living room to running near-silent.

      So clean the outside. If that doesn't work, open 'er up and dust. And then yeah, if that doesn't work, I think this comment above is great. Consider a case with better airflow and/or different fans. I also can't say enough good things about having your OS on a SSD -- far quieter and much quicker. I did that on my latest build and it's fantastic; well worth the trouble of reconfiguring your files.

    • Re:Simple (Score:5, Informative)

      by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @05:48PM (#48487663)

      Came to say this. If you want a great build, include these:

      An Asus Strix GTX 970 [frys.com]
      A Seasonic Platinum 1050w [slickdeals.net]
      A 120mm/140mm CPU cooler, at least a Hyper 212 Evo [amazon.com]
      A 4xxx Intel chip
      A SSD [slickdeals.net]
      A case with lots of ventilation so you won't need extra fans. For maximum Wife Acceptance Factor, consider mini-ITX.

      Noise? What noise? If your motherboard is willing to shut off your CPU fan at idle, you'll be at 0db (except for electrical noise). Even during heavy gaming the thing will barely make a whisper.

      Need more help? SPCR has you covered. [silentpcreview.com]

    • propagation delay (Score:5, Insightful)

      by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @06:37PM (#48487919)
      propagation delay? Really? What country is that other room where you moved the PC to? Or perhaps you had some other problem that you don't really understand and just decided to call it propagation delay.
    • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Saturday November 29, 2014 @10:36PM (#48488913) Homepage Journal

      Get a less noisy system. How hard is that to figure out?

      Married 15 years. After I had spent the money on quieter fans, it turned out she just didn't like the look of the computer in the living room, with its wires and peripherals and stuff.

      Go the man cave route with an extra room (or even a closet). You get to spend the money on bigger speakers instead of quieter fans. She gets to decorate the living room to her liking, and you get major points for being so accommodating. It will come in handy later when you have kids, so you can lock out all your little ones from the Dangerous Stuff, and it's even more handy later when you can let your bigger kids play in them while you and the Mrs. enjoy some sanity time in the nice living room.

      The moral of the story is: don't be poor.

  • I hope (Score:5, Funny)

    by NEDHead ( 1651195 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:25PM (#48487049)

    you have a good prenup

  • Spare Room (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:27PM (#48487057)

    Alternatively, marry someone who respects your hobbies.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @09:51PM (#48488751) Journal

      Look, nobody normal respects gamers, and for very good reason. The best we can hope for is tolerance unless we're prepared to marry a waifu.

      Personally, I found the best solution was to quit my job so I could game while my wife as at work. No muss, no fuss. The only problem comes at times like this weekend, when I played so much Far Cry 4 that I accidentally called my wife Amita.

  • And... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:27PM (#48487059)

    What are you doing "gaming" in the living room? Dude, you are now MARRIED. Turn the spare bedroom into your "man cave". The living room is your wife's domain.

    • What if his wife is also a gamer?* What if there is no other suitable room? What if they feel "the living room is the wife's domain" is twaddle? What if using the large screen TV for gaming is important to them?

      * disliking a very loud gaming PC is not the same as disliking all gaming PCs.

      • What if his wife is also a gamer?* What if there is no other suitable room?

        If "the wife" was a gamer, she would not be bringing up the issue of the noise from the game box. Move on.

    • What are you doing "gaming" in the living room? Dude, you are now MARRIED.

      So plug in two USB gamepads and play video games that you both enjoy.

  • by fluffy99 ( 870997 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:27PM (#48487063)

    I have placed it in another room and run HDMI and USB cables, but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag when playing games

    Eh? This sounds more like crappy cables, than anything else. Propagation delay on an extra 10-feet of cables is hardly measurable much less noticeable.

    • I have placed it in another room and run HDMI and USB cables, but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag when playing games

      The signals travel at the speed of light. How far away is your room?

    • by kyrsjo ( 2420192 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @05:05PM (#48487347)

      Exactly - what he is seeing is caused by crappy cables forcing retransmits, not propagation delay. The signal speed in a cable is typically higher than 10% of the speed of light, so any extra delay is measured in nanoseconds.

      Anyway, a more silent PC is possible. My old workstation, at work was a quite powerfull i7 (although with a moderate GPU), which often ran at full load for months on end. It was completely silent (being under the table also helped), to the point where an i3 iMac is now annoying me with how loud it is. It was an HP marketed towards the pro marked, and cost something like 1200 $ (without taxes, using my employers good deals) when I ordered it in 2012.

    • I have placed it in another room and run HDMI and USB cables, but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag when playing games

      Eh? This sounds more like crappy cables, than anything else. Propagation delay on an extra 10-feet of cables is hardly measurable much less noticeable.

      ^ This ^

      And the poster wonders if wireless will help?

      I know /. has never been much of a technical site - but you'd think its fairly well-known by now that wifi is gonna be slower than cables...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:28PM (#48487073)

    Find another wife.

  • by Maddog Batty ( 112434 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:31PM (#48487087) Homepage

    Along the same lines, does anybody have a good recommendation for a living room projector?

    It would need to be 1080p (minimum!) and quiet but otherwise anything considered.

    • Why would anyone get a projector when 60"+ TVs are much cheaper than good projector + nice screen + extra bulbs?

      • Why would anyone get a projector when 60"+ TVs are much cheaper than good projector + nice screen + extra bulbs?

        Because we don't want a 60" screen in the living room where as we do have the ability to hide a projector screen in the ceiling. Currently we don't have a TV at all and want to keep it that way.

  • WTF ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlad30 ( 44644 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:31PM (#48487093)
    You have a wife learn to read the signals its not the noisy machine but the fact your spending too much time gaming. Or like a former friend of mine you will have the best gaming machine but No wife or kids and quite likely no real friends
    • Re:WTF ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pablew Nopl ( 3812687 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @05:06PM (#48487361)

      You have a wife learn to read the signals

      I wasn't aware that only women play these nonsensical games.

      Rather than that, how about people learn how to speak their actual thoughts without playing stupid games where they have the other person try to guess what they're thinking? So many misunderstandings could be cleared up this way.

    • Re:WTF ? (Score:5, Funny)

      by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @05:17PM (#48487439) Homepage

      If your wife is making more noise than the computer, spending money on computer parts won't solve the noise issue.

    • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      or maybe she could learn to fucking communicate like an adult? How about understanding that he won't always be on her wavelength just as she won't always be on his? Why do we excuse anti-social behavior in women while demonizing it in men?

  • by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:35PM (#48487131) Journal

    Once I have sorted this small problem going to try and make a case for the efficacy of a projector to replace the television..... it takes up less space, motorized screen could be hidden when not in use, etc.

    Just buy a flat-screen already. The picture is better than you'll get with a projector, you won't have to worry about people walking in front of it and casting a shadow on the screen, and really, a flatscreen by itself looks so much better than a projector and motorized screen hanging from the ceiling - and can be moved a lot easier when re-arranging the room. Projectors are so '90s.

    • But when people walk in front of a flat screen they block your view. When they walk in front of a projector screen, the image is shown on them, so you can still see what's going on. Your one argument makes no sense.
  • Spare room. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YukariHirai ( 2674609 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:37PM (#48487151)

    Just do your gaming in the spare room. Put a small quiet/silent PC in the living room for media centre stuff if you cannot live without a living room PC.

    Also, I'd have to advise against replacing the TV with a projector. They're hellishly expensive if you get one with decent resolution, require a pitch black room to look any good, effectively prevent rearranging the living room, etc.

    • There is then the option of a small living room PC (deemed as "HTPC" though an old Pentium III tower can be a quiet HTPC if it's just for movies and music) and the gaming crap may have say a GTX 970 - because it can stream in H265, do that on gig wired ethernet. Steam running on the small client PC is crap made for thin-clienting a bigger gaming PC (Valve made noise about "steam boxes" whereas nvidia calls it shadowplay. In the end there's nvidia lock-in in there)

  • Steam Big Picture (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lando ( 9348 ) <lando2+slash @ g m a i l . c om> on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:42PM (#48487185) Homepage Journal

    Isn't this supposed to be what steam big picture is for. Playing games on your television in another room from you computer?

    If the literature is correct, that would just make this ask slashdot just another slashavedisment .

  • Ob (Score:3, Funny)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:43PM (#48487187) Homepage Journal

    I have tried hiding it in a TV cabinet: still too noisy.

    Have you tried putting her in a cabinet?

  • but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag

    Propagation delay is less than 1 nanosecond per feet. You must have really well trained senses if you can detect that.

  • by Lacrocivious Acropho ( 741314 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @04:49PM (#48487235)

    I build home systems sometimes for clients, and the Wife Factor is frequently the most critical aspect. This has been true since I started in 1985, but is more true now as computers have become essential to so many households.

    In my experience, the Fractal Design cases (e.g, the Define R4) have two wife-pleasing qualities:
    (1) They are simple, elegant, unadorned museum quality sculpture-like mini-monoliths; and
    (2) They are literally almost completely silent. I don't mean merely quiet, I mean you cannot tell whether the system is on or off. This is with fans, not water cooling.

    Understand that this may not solve your real problem, which may be the mere presence of the machine in the living room. What it will do is force an honest exposure of the real issue, and besides that you'll still have a great case you can migrate components into and out of for years and years. Also it means you don't need a new rig, just new clothes for for the rig you already have.

    Note that I do not have any relationship with that company aside from buying their cases for some system builds where they fit best. I will say that they are superbly designed inside, and the designers obviously build systems themselves. You'll know what I mean if you get one.

    • My Corsairs Carbide 350r case has also resulted in a near-silent system. There's an SSD in there, but also two HDDs, and they used to make a horrible racket in the old case (I could feel a 'beat' between their vibrations in my desk, with the only physical connection being through the floor!). The difference? The new case has vibration-dampening mounts, and it seems like they do an excellent job.

      Also I decided not to go with Intel stock CPU cooler this time, instead using a Coolermaster Hyper 212 Evo.

  • by vux984 ( 928602 )

    a) Longer HDMI and USB cables should not create a propagation delay, unless you are using repeaters. Get the unit at close enough that you can get away without repeaters.

    Seriously, electricity propagates through copper at ~2/3rd the speed of light. You are NOT noticing the nanoseconds from an extra 10 feet of cable.

    b) Water cooling. Don't fear it. If noise is the issue switch to water cooling. Its not hard at all for the CPU and graphics card. And good near silent power supplies aren't hard to fine.

  • I've been using fanless machines for ages. Basically, you use heatpipes to the case. QuietPC.com are extremely helpful - I have a system with a Streacom FC9 case which is big enough for a high-end CPU, but still dead silent. Of course, if you want the ultimate in graphics cards, you may still have to put up with a fan.
    Also, signals travel along cables at about 2/3 speed of light - so your mere cable length shouldn't be a problem. HTH

  • silentpcreview.com is a web site dedicated to quiet and silent computing, with extensive reviews and forums. They have very recently posted a sample build of a quiet gaming PC [silentpcreview.com].

    You can take that as a base and adjust according to taste. (For example, I'm more obsessed by quiet and less by frames per second, so my gaming PC has a single GTX760Ti GPU.) If you have questions, take them to the forums.

  • Drop the watts and/or have more and bigger fans, you have noise because you wanted it (200W to 300W GPU). Get a GM107 GPU for instance, the board only uses around 65 watts max (and is around GTX 470 or GTX 480 graphics power)
    Go on with your plan about displays.. Use a 1080p 27" or 28" PC 1080p PC display as a "TV" : with the best you can find (very low black levels, very low or none input lag, and calilbrated colors with either a downloaded profile or a probe) it's better than a TV and "small' like a big CR

  • ...upgrading your wife to a more compatible model?

    Alternatively, get a big case with lots of slow fans. I built an i7-3930k and 2x GTX680 4 gig gaming rig a couple years ago and I can barely hear it. I've got those ugly, yellow SilenX Effizio fans. Around 12dBA moving around 45cfm. A reasonable person couldn't complain about the noise it makes. I can hear my wall clock ticking from across the room. The GPU fans crank up while I'm gaming but you can't hear that over the sound of the game. Or go with l

  • I hate loud PCs as well. Who wants to listen to fans run?

    1. Find a Thermaltake case DH101 DH202, remove the bracket that runs front to back, it just gets in the way. I found mine on Craigslist.
    2. Put in a quiet/silent PSU.
    3. Put a short Zallman heat sink on your CPU with heat pipes with a 120mm fan on top.
    4. Replace all your drives with SSDs, put noisy drives on the network, get a Western Digital My Cloud 4TB and wire it to ethernet for your PLEX library.
    5. If the fan on the GPU is loud, get a bigger fan 1

  • SFF systems used to be rather limited, but they have evolved to the point that there is really no need to build a massive, cumbersome system; unless you are doing really hardcore things such as SLI and overclocking. Take a look at the Silverstone Sugo enclosures or something similar. The SG08B-LITE will still allow you to use any beefy GPU you want as long as it has the right style of cooler.
  • You should be spending time with your spouse, not ignoring her while just happening to be in the same room. If you're gaming on your PC you might as well be at the bar instead, you're just as committed to the relationship at that point.
  • Your game machine has to go where the full size stormtrooper, R2D2 and your pornstash went when you got married..

    Buy an iPad or get divorced.

  • Put quiet fans in. Noctua are the probably the best large fans - for use as CPU, PSU and case fans mostly, my Noctua fans have been going for many years now. I had a heatsink so big on my previous 95W quad core that it didn't even need a fan!

    Video cards can also be adapted to take quiet fans but that's not always easy. Either replace the PSU fan or the PSU.

    CPU and GPU fans thresholds can usually be altered to make them quieter when idling. (sometimes via the BIOS menu).

    See sites like http://www.quietpc.com/ [quietpc.com]

  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Saturday November 29, 2014 @05:10PM (#48487395) Homepage Journal
    ... not the PC itself, but the fact that you still seem to want to live the same life as a married man that you lived as a single man. You said your vows, now show that they mean something. Spend time with your wife. Talk with her about the new lives you are starting together.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 29, 2014 @05:41PM (#48487615)

      Are you married or have you ever been in a long term relationship?
      You don't need to spend every single moment with your significant other in order to have a healthy relationship. In fact, it is usually a good idea to have some individual hobbies. Maybe his wife wants him out of the TV room, so she can watch America's Next Top Model in peace.

      • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Saturday November 29, 2014 @11:15PM (#48489041) Homepage Journal

        Are you married or have you ever been in a long term relationship?

        I have been married for a number of years, thank you much. I have also seen a number of other marriages collapse due to one or both partners trying to continue their pre-married lives after getting married. It doesn't work like that.

        You don't need to spend every single moment with your significant other in order to have a healthy relationship.

        I didn't say that you do. However if someone doesn't make an effort to be available to the other partner the time between the altar and divorce court will likely not be long.

  • by FSWKU ( 551325 ) on Saturday November 29, 2014 @05:52PM (#48487679)
    Corsair, Fractal, Nanoxia, and a few others make cases designed to be as quiet as possible. I've got a Fractal, and even with an i7 and a GTX770, I can barely hear it. Two 140mm fans up front, a 140mm on the ventral side, a 140mm exhaust fan, and a 120mm fan on the CPU cooler. The ventral fan doesn't even kick on unless things get REALLY warm (like 2 hours of Prime95 thrashing all the cores), and with nothing else on, I can still barely hear the system. Oh yeah, and as for looks, it's about as plain and understated as I could find. No window, no flashy lights or any other garbage (I left the power LED disconnected as it is rather bright), and the 5.25" bays are hidden behind a door lined with even more acoustic material.

    So find a case designed for silence from a manufacturer you trust, and put the system in there along with some larger, quieter fans. Do this and you've solved both the loud and the ugly.
  • by stasike ( 1063564 ) on Sunday November 30, 2014 @08:47AM (#48490433)

    I had similar problem.
    I am pretty sure you are going to find this post at the end of the thread after slogging through all those helpful posts suggesting that you show your wife who is the boss ;-)

    I had similar problems (with computer, not with my fantastic wife!) some time ago and I have solved them by cutting several large holes in the side of the case, installing large fans (12 volt versions, I ran them at slightly lower voltage) and installing a cardboard ducts that directed the airflow directly to the graphics card and to the processor cooler. Take care to provide also air outlets to keep up with large fans blowing in. The best way to let the majority of the air out is through the power source.

    I was also able to run those [multiple] large fans off 7V that I got by connecting them between 12V and 5V lead on a power source. Be careful, "your mileage might vary" and your power source might not like being used this way. This was suggested to me by a computer technician that works for the same company I do.

    It also helps processor has heat-pipe cooler. Heat-pipe is a copper pipe filled with a liquid and sealed tight, with no external means to circulate liquid. They are used extensively in notebooks and luxury coolers. It works because liquid has better heat conducting properties than copper. Pay attention to the orientation of the cooler suggested by manufacturers - some of them are said to work only in horizontal / vertical position and not upside-down.

    Consider getting an SSD. Much quieter than a HDD and you might get computer that feels actually faster even if you under-clock your processor.

    Consider replacing small cooler with fan on a chipset [if you have one] with a much larger [passive] heat dissipating cooler. Combine with a large 12V fan fed by 7V or PWM power source blowing on it through cardboard air duct.

    Consider building / buying a small PWM power source with variable output that is powered by 12V from PC. I believe those are available commercially for modders, complete with thermal sensors, but building one (without thermal regulation) can be a fun little Sunday project. The PWM source then powers your fans, so they spin fast enough to cool your PC and slow enough not to make much noise. You turn it all the way up before serious gaming session.

    Consider under-clocking your processor AND graphics cards when you do not play on your PC.

    I have recently purchased a notebook as a replacement of my big rig that had many of the above mentioned enhancements. I bought a notebook, because I was visiting USA and I wanted to buy a better computer there during Black Friday and I strongly disliked the idea of packing a regular desktop PC inside a big checked-in suitcase. So I had to purchase something that I could take with me alongside a company-issued notebook. I had a *strong* case of buyers remorse. Now I can't improve my computer anymore. No installing extra stuff, getting a second disk (large SSD) was complicated and I had to give up [internal] DVD drive. On the other hand, notebook *is* much quieter, especially with an SSD.
    So, if you like to tinker with your big rig, like I did, do not make the same mistake. - Unless you are filthy rich and can afford an alienware or similar notebook ;-).

    Would Parallels running on the newest 4k iMac be powerful enough for your games? [evil grin ;-)]

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