IDF Fall 2006

Internet News

There were no big surprises from Intel at the Fall IDF, 2006. The overwhelming message, distilled to a single sentence: Core 2 is a powerful power-efficient platform, and Intel will keep pushing the performance boundaries with multiple cores while keeping a tight rein on energy consumption. Tech news web sites are already full of details, I am sure... There were a couple of interesting bits and pieces, however, including:

Ionic PC Cooling

Internet News

It's a tantalizing DIY project that begs better documentation, but claims to "have produced the first ionic cooling system for your high end gaming system. This system produces absolutely no noise and in fact has no moving parts at all. While this is a proof of concept it proves that you can get the CFM you need to cool a system efficiently with no moving parts and no increase in power consumption." SPCR's forum members discuss their doubts.

Join the SPCR team!

Exceptional new talent always welcome: SPCR seeks Hardware Reviewers in Vancouver, and News Contributors anywhere in the world. Click on read more for details.

Good Job!

Statistically, most small businesses don't make it to five years. I think it's at least partly due to drudgery. SPCR is kind of a small business, and I feel its age more and more. Tasks I used to look forward to with relish now feel like... tasks. One has a sense of soldiering on. But once in a while, a little lift comes along, like this email, with the header "good job!":


i've been into computers most of my life, starting with early sinclairs and commodores (god, these were really silent!)

then PCs came along and made my world a noisy place

then i found your site

thanks to all your expertise, advice, articles, forums and so on and so forth, the noisiest component of my rig is now my... CRT screen! (a new LCD is on its way already)

anyway, i just would like to say that spcr is one mighty fine site, and i know of no other PC-related site that is managed so well, with such passion and devotion, that is so useful and rewarding to visit

your guys rule and kick bxxx and i wish you all the best in your quest to hush the world (isn't the world computers, after all?)

my best regards to you and your team!

patryk bartkiewicz

You're welcome... and thanks, Patryk.

Web News: Aug 31/06

Internet News

It's another day, another 21-card roundup at AnandTech. This time, they're looking at fanless video cards from 7 different manufacturers.

If you're a bit handier (and don't mind voiding your warranty) Tom's Hardware has a new review comparing the performance and volume of 5 aftermarket video card coolers (some of which have been covered previously by SPCR.)

Efficient PSUs that don't start

The following discussion has been added as a section to the Power Supply Fundamentals & Recommendations article. It addresses the issue of modern, high efficiency power supplies that sometimes don't work with some modern motherboards.

* * *

Higher efficiency PSUs generally tend to need higher minimum power on the 12V line in order to simply run. Typically, we're talking about 1A or greater. Older, less efficient PSUs have much lower minumum current needs, under 0.5A and often ZERO. Click on Read More... to read more.

Coding Horror's Quiet PC Guide

When Jeff Atwood built his first HTPC, he "had to turn the volume up to 11 just to drown out the noise." For the next few months, he "immersed [himself] in the world of silent PC enthusiasts [SPCR]."

Jeff says now every PC he builds is "optimized for performance and low noise from the very beginning. Building a high-powered rig that's so quiet your wife can't tell when it's turned on or off -- now that's an accomplishment! It's a bona-fide engineering challenge... In the process, I've learned quite a few things about building quiet PCs. I'd like to share them with you, so you can avoid making the mistakes I did." His short article is an excellent summary of SPCR-esque approaches and techniques. Discuss this article in the SPCR Forums.

Web News: Aug 11/06

Internet News

The new Scythe Infinity, weighing in at nearly a kilo, looks to be a serious competitor to Thermalright's newly-released SI-128, and their Ultra-120 (reviewed just this week). Stay tuned for the SPCR verdict.

In other cooling news, Madshrimps posted a review of the Aerocase Condor massive passive high end VGA cooler. SPCR's own review is also on the way.

VIA announced the availability of their EPIA EK Mini-ITX mainboard with new 1GHz or fanless 800MHz Luke CoreFusion processor: Just 19W total maximum power draw and a rich array of connectivity and digital media features. But those seeking a DVI output on a VIA m-ITX board will have to wait for the EPIA EX, which caught in a recent preview.

Shuttle's first Core 2 SFF reviewed by SFFTech

Internet News

SFFTech looks at the SD37P2, which combines the new P2 chassis with a Core 2 compatible motherboard. The product is interesting in that it is the first SFF to support the Conroe core, but despite SFFTech's assurance that the SD37P2 "is very quiet and unnoticeable most of the time," we have very strong doubts. The P2 chassis is simply a "P" chassis with a facelift. We examined this multi-fan chassis in our review of the Shuttle XPC SB81P last year and found it very wanting in acoustics. SFFTech's article shows no changes in thermal or acoustic design; the only advantage might be if all the thermally controlled fans slowed down significantly due to the cooler running Core 2 (compared with a Prescott). Still, the "P" was far from a quiet design from the very start...

Web News: Hard Drive Edition

Internet News

First, traditional hard drives: TechARP has comprehensive coverage of Seagate's 2006 Technology Briefing. Eleven new and updated products are detailed, including Seagate's first hybrid (flash + magnetic platter) hard drive, a 2.5" drive designed for the desktop market, and an 8GB version of the Pocket Drive (SPCR Review). Samsung's version of this drive was mentioned in our WinHEC 2006 report.

If traditional HDDs aren't quiet enough for you, The Tech Report has a thorough review of the Super Talent 8GB (the one used in the Puget Sound PC SPCR reviewed in June): Super fast random access times but dead slow transfer rates.

Need something a bit faster? Freescale Semiconductor has announced the first commercially available magnetoresistive random access memory (MRAM). Promising better speed and longevity than flash memory at competitive prices, and completely silent operation, this might be an interesting alternative if and when it's offered in a PC-usable form factor.

Midsummer SPCR Lab Sample Clearance

Site News

We're doing another clear-out of the lab shelves: CPUs, motherboards, cases, barebone systems, coolers, hard drives, power supplies... and even a new Gibson Les Paul "Studio" electric guitar + Behringer Digital Effects box, all at blow out prices. First come, first served!

Choose an Energy Efficient Computer

Internet News the title of an article penned by yours truly for Home Power, a magazine dedicated since 1987 to home-scale renewable energy and sustainable living solutions. It's featured in the Aug/Sept 2006 issue, and also as a PDF article on their web site. Direct download link here (280KB). It's a brief overview and guide for consumers seeking to minimize the power consumption of their computer gear.

Comment on this news piece in the forums.

SevenTeam Thinks Outside the Box

Internet News

SevenTeam, a major OEM PSU maker, has come out of left field with a "semi-fanless", external, 500W power supply, recently reviewed at JonnyGURU's personal website. It appears that this unit is mainly distributed in North America by XG as the flashy Magnum 600 EX.

Recommended Hard Drive List Updated

Our recent discovery of the Western Digital WD5000KS has upset the standings on our Recommended List and prompted a revision of the whole list. Several questionable drives are gone now that a good high capacity option is available, and a number of quiet notebook drives have been added. A retired list has also been added for drives that are no longer quite up to snuff or are no longer being made.

Antec Fusion hits the streets

Internet News

According to DailyTech, Antec has begun shipping the Fusion HTPC enclosure to North American retailers. The Fusion is a high end version of the NSK2400 (reviewed by SPCR) featuring an integrated VFD, a brushed aluminum bezel, and a 430W power supply.

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