I started this build with three goals in mind:
A clean grown-up look
Oculus Rift optimization
I’m the type that gets annoyed when I’m watching a movie in the dark and seeing bright neon computer lights in my peripheral vision. I’m acutely aware of the constant white noise coming from my PC. I’m no longer a fan of the pimp my ride PC’s with glaring rave lights. I’m 30 years old now, I’m a grown *** man; I’ve decided to make a practical, well researched, silent PC with the power to run virtual reality. I may not get a lot of love on this website due to the large amount of flashy computers I see, but if you’re a fan of science, research, and sweet sweet charts and graphs, this PC is for you.
I spent far too much time researching silent PC’s and VR requirements. If you’ve used a push button start on a hybrid/electric car and wondered if it was on, this is what I wanted. Is the computer on? My only caveat to this build is I used my old motherboard and CPU, if you want to build new, skip these parts and keep the rest.
CPU: If you're comfortable with overclocking, the Intel 3570k can be safely clocked to 4.2Ghz. You don't need the latest and greatest CPU for VR. Single-core processor speed is more important than multi for VR. Oculus’ own compatibility tool will say this CPU is not up to par; this is because it doesn’t take overclocking into account. At 4.2Ghz, it will smoke the recommended minimum required CPU; spend your money elsewhere.
CPU Cooler: Scythe Kotetsu is one of the best quiet coolers on the market. It beats the popular Hyper 212 evo in cooling performance and more importantly, noise. Here are some benchmarks to prove its worth: SilentPCReview Scythe Kotetsu
RAM: 16GB, any brand. Current next gen games are finally starting to see advantages with 16GB over 8GB. With VR 16GB will likely help even more. It's a small price to pay for an extra 5-10 frames per second. Low FPS can cause nausea, this is a cheap way to improve.
Storage: Choose any SSD for the operating system and "eco" hard drive for storage. Western digital black may be faster than green, but they're also about 5-10 dBa louder. Go green. Or if you can afford all SSD’s, go for it.
Video Card: Virtual Reality devices require a higher VRAM due to their high resolution. The GTX 980 Ti is the latest and greatest with 6GB. You aren’t going to find a quiet 980 Ti on full load, but you will find a few with a special 0 db feature. When the card is idle the EVGA 980 Ti Classified will turn the fan off entirely (a few other editions do this too). This satisfies my silent movie watching requirement and if it makes a little extra noise while in VR, I’ll have headphones on anyway. The EVGA Classified has the ability to overclock for an extra 5-10 frames if needed: Overclockers EVGA 980 Ti Classified Review
Case: The R5 is SilentPCReview's Editor's Choice, it's padded for sound absorption and is truly the Bentley of cases: SilentPCReview R5 Case I threw an extra case fan in the front as recommend by SilentPCReview’s test setup (remember on fans: low in front, high in back, and always more fans blowing in than out). I also took out the bottom HDD storage rack as pictured to improve airflow since I didn't need it.
Power Supply: The RM series from Corsair is made for two things: silence and gaming. Here is a review of the RM750x (the version without a fan controller): Tom's Hardware RMx750 When under 70% load it will make less than 30 dBa of sound (for this build that will be almost all situations). Also, the best place for intelligent PSU reviews is Johnny Guru and he more than approves. Johnny Guru RM750i
USB 3.0 Expansion: I added this for VR upgrade-ability. I want to add extra motion cameras and will need extra 3.0 ports. I now have 7 on the back and 2 on the front. This is currently the only Oculus approved USB 3.0 expansion card: Inatek USB 3.0 expansion
Be sure to download your motherboard’s fan control utility. With the 3570k I can safely put the fan speed on the lowest setting and let it automatically kick in when playing games. Finally, as a finishing touch, I put a small strip of gorilla tape on the blue light to cover it as pictured. Enjoy!