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The VoodooPC Rage F-50 is one of the most unusual and powerful PCs we've reviewed. That a company specializing in gaming computers would team with the world's best known quiet component maker on such an ambitious retail product is something of a sign of the times. Silent computing is definitely moving farther into the mainstream.
Rage F-50 is a great gaming machine, with the ATI-9800XT video, the powerful AMD Athlon 64-3200+, and the RAID drives. Its size and weight makes it less than ideal for LAN parties, however.
The Zalman TNN-500A proves to be an effective cooling system. With the entire massive case acting as a heatsink along with all the heatpipes, this is not much of a surprise. It's a totally different direction than that taken by Hush with their fanless ATX PC. The Zalman tries to be a fanless case/cooling platform to replace a standard case, PSU and heatsink. It allows expansion and customization by the user. The Hush ATX PC, on the other hand, gives you a completely hand-off, finished package akin to a high end audio component; it's not really meant to be opened up by the user at all -- except maybe to add memory.
Zalman's key oversight is the absence of a built-in hard drive noise damping system. The HDD is the only source of noise in their fanless case. VoodooPC's error is not having pursued a custom solution to compensate for Zalman's oversight, and their choice of hard drive, which is obviously predicated on performance, not acoustics.
Finally, the ~US$4100 price tag for the Rage F-50 is impossible to ignore. For someone seeking a silent PC, the hard drive noise flaw of this machine at the asking price is too much to take. There are numerous HDD silencing solutions already available commercially. Surely VoodooPC and Zalman could work together to implement a viable HDD quieting solution for this otherwise impressive product.
Much thanks to VoodooPC for the opportunity to play with this interesting machine and to Zalman for their technical support.
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