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It doesn't look too bad sitting under the big TV, but as you can see
from the blurry desktop, to use it as a computer I still need to
use a monitor. My Nvidia series 4 video card will only handle a single
display, which is why I bought the Hauppauge 350PVR, as it, having a
video out, can output to TV and monitor simultaneously, though it will
only play MPGs. I use VLC and
the Girder plugin for remote control for playing everything else. The
case definitelys blend into a living room better than a tower. It's
also very handy, sitting beneath my monitor, which does not have height
adjustment. It brings the level of the monitor for me to a much
more comfortable level. And taking it off the floor will limit
the intake of dust.
Functiionally, the system works well for me. The single hard drive is
120GB. With a small partition for the OS, it leaves 100Gbs to store
video. That is about 70 hours of recording. If it get too full, I
will either burn the overflow to DVD or move to a removable drive. If I need to flash the BIOS, I can simply remove the
lid and attach a floppy drive.
Not having any noise measuring equipment, I could only use the rough
and ready method of using a piece of music. I set the volume control on
the TV to its default setting, sat the same distance away and played
the same music file. I then turned up the volume slider in Windows
Media Player until the noise from the fans became drowned out. There
was a decrease mostly from the heatsink fan, but as
most of the noise is coming from the fans mounted on the outside walls,
soundproofing could only be of limited benefit here. Turning the fans
down to 7.5V was truly amazing. The 40% drop in voltage was
not reflected in the drop in sound level; it was very much
greater subjectively. Now I started taking the project seriously. Again
without measuring equipment I can only use my own perception, but
sitting three meters away and equidistant from a battery-operated
clock, I could hear the clock tock; if I concentrated, I could also
hear it tick.
Next I wanted to find out what the reduced airflow was doing to the
temperatures. I installed Motherboard Monitor 5. The ambient temperature was 25°C. I used DIVX to
start converting an MPG file, pushing the CPU to 100% load. The top
screengrab is taken at 12V, the bottom, at 7.5V, taken after
ten-minutes. My expectation was that I would use the lower
voltage when idle but have to turn it up when under a heavy load. The
difference in temperature though, as you can see, is negligible. Comparing the case temperatures with the ambient temperature shows that the ventilation in this case could hardly be bettered. Sensor 3, by the way, is the hard drive.
Fans at 12V.
Fans at 7.5V.
I had so much fun with this project that I am already thinking about a new
improved model. Lots of ideas have occurred to me, mostly for restyling
the front. I'll probably be cannibalizing this one for parts.
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Articles of Related Interest
Bill's Recycled, Fanless, Silent Woodbox Computer
Jani's Big Quiet Wood Case PC
Doug's Quiet Wood Case PC
Fanless Heatpipe CPU Cooling System by FMAH
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