Model One by EndPCNoise

SPCR Certified Silent PCs
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EndPCNoise of Vancouver, Washington offers SPCR-designed quiet PC systems in the US

EndPCNoise is the system integrator and vendor of these systems. SPCR has no involvement whatsoever in their sale, distribution or servicing; only the original design and verification of design objectives in the production samples supplied by EndPCNoise. For details of the partnership, please see SPCR Designed Computer Systems.

SPCR Model One: Modern General Purpose PC

This is a refined evolution of the generic all-purpose personal computer. We've all had a mid-tower PC of similar size that was used for everything from email and web surfing to homework and photo-editing, to spreadsheets and games. Model One is the ultimate multipurpose computer. It's designed to do whatever you ask of it without complaint. Yet, it is powerful enough to do almost any task you ask of it with great speed, and mutiple tasks are no challenge at all.

The design goals for Model One were:

  • Smooth, powerful performance for just about any task you can ask a PC to perform.
  • Good cooling of all the components under a wide range of conditions up to at least 30°C.
  • So quiet as to be effectively silent.

I wanted this computer to be quiet enough that I would have no qualms working next to it day in, day out, through stresses of deadlines and panic stations, through bouts of creative work with images or video, through long hours of writing and editing — in short, to be a superior workhorse that always remains silent.

The basic design comes from a PC I built for a friend in Thailand. The foundation is another Antec case, the Solo (or P150). It is the best conventionally configured mid-tower case I know of, especially for a quiet computer. The very open vent grills and unimpeded airflow path, the sturdy steel panel construction, the elastic suspension for hard drives, and the mass damped panels are all very condusive to pretty quiet performance even without any modifications.

In this build, an Antec NeoHE 430 power supply is coupled with a front panel intake duct that isolates the power supply thermally from the rest of the system. The dedicated intake duct ensures that the PSU fan never ramps up unless absolutely needed. In actual use, it should just about never ramp up except maybe in very hot weather under long term high load conditions.

Tests with the Final Prototype

The final prototype of the SPCR Model One was built by EndPCNoise after about three months of back and forth cooperative development. I spent about two weeks with this final prototype. Quite simply, the prototype is as quiet as the very quietest systems I've ever assembled.


The subtle extra vent at the top of the front panel is for the PSU intake.

The components in my sample are:

  • ASUS P5B motherboard
  • Intel Core 2 Duo 6400 processor
  • XFX GeForce 7600GS video card
  • Corsair XMS2 1GBx2 DDRAM
  • Scythe Ninja CPU heatsink/fan
  • Antec NeoHE 430 ATX power supply
  • Western Digital SE16 500GB hard drive
  • Sony DVD RW DWQ120A optical drive

The key acoustic features (and modifications from the standard Antec case ancillaries) of this system are:

  • Nexus 120 fan in place of the TriCool 120 case fan on the back panel. This is the only fan in the system other than the one in the power supply. The Nexus is quieter and smoother while providing better cooling. It runs at substantially lower than full speed for extremely low noise.
  • No fan on the Ninja heatsink; the Nexus 120 is within a inch behind it.
  • The Antec NeoHE 430 power supply has a custom dedicated intake duct which draws outside air from the top optical bay.
  • Complete deluxe AcoustiPack damping panel treatment of the case.
  • Notebook drive option for those who seek the ultimate in silent computing.


Very tidy build, and AcoustiPack applied everywhere.

The system came with Windows Media Center installed, with these settings engaged:

  • Minimal Power Management (with Enhanced Intel SpeedStep)
  • Standby mode (20 minutes delay)

I measured temperature, noise and AC power draw under various loads in ambient conditions of ~17 dBA and 21°C.

Activity
CPU
VGA
HDD
SPL
dBA@1m
AC Power
standby
-
-
-
n/a (silent)
0W
idle
40°C
66°C
42°C
20
98W
full load
(Rthbribl and Intel Thermal Analysis Tool)
58°C
85°C
42°C
20
145W

All the temperatures are well within a safe range. The measured SPL never changes, and this reflects the subjective experience: The computer always sounds the same. The noise of the fans and the hard drive are all at about equal level, and they combine to make a soft wooshing that can be heard when you are very close. With the computer placed on the desktop next to the keyboard, the front panel is only a little over a foot away from my left ear, and all that's audible is a bit of whirring from the hard drive, which is the closest noise source. A touch of muted clicking noise is also audible when the hard drive is seeking. When it is placed under the desk as is the norm for mid-tower systems, whatever the system makes becomes completely inaudible until you get on your hands and knees in front of the machine.

Just how quiet is it? Subjectively, it is quieter than the 17" iMac and the 24" iMac we reviewed this past year. Those iMacs happen to be the quietest mass production computers we've heard. Model One has a slightly nicer acoustic signature, probably because of its larger fans, which tend to have a softer broadband sound with less treble.

EndPCNoise also offers a notebook drive option for Model One. It might reduce the noise a touch more, but chances are, unless you're truly obsessed about noise and live in a soundproof bunker in the middle of the woods, there won't be much audible advantage. The suspension system is very effective in elminating most HDD noise.

Finally, for those who face high ambient temperatures (>30°C) over long periods, there is an option to add a quiet Nexus 92 fan in front of the hard drive to ensure that it's kept cool. This will increase overall noise by no more than 1 dBA@1m. Data is, in the end, the most important thing in our computers.

Summary

The SPCR Model One prototype built by EndPCNoise works exactly as intended. It is highly capable and always silent.

EndPCNoise order page for SPCR Model One PC



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