Coding Horror's Quiet PC Guide

Silent Mike's Blog

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.

AeroCase makes a splash

Internet News

The SPCR forums have been buzzing over the last few days over the initial product offering from AeroCase. This new startup is offering customised, passive video card coolers, handmade to fit your system.

Black Antec P180 & P150 Cases and Updates

Site News

Antec is well known for producing some of the most noise-friendly enclosures around. In fact, Mike Chin, SPCR's editor, has twice collaborated with Antec to create the P180 and the NSK2400 — both of which incorporate noise-friendly design features based on tried-and-true SPCR knowledge. Another Antec case, the P150, features drive suspension to reduce vibration induced drive noise — only one of two cases that we know of to do so. Recently, the company released significantly updated versions of the P180 and the P150, including much demanded black finish jobs. Please click on read more.

Computex Taipei 2006 is Officially Over

Internet News

After an exhaustive, rain-drenched, traffic-clogged, five days, the world's second biggest IT show is over, much to the relief of the staff of 1300+ exhibiting companies, 130,000+ attendees and hundreds of journalists who covered the Taipei event. This is not to introduce my own picto-pseudo report to the dozens posted online throughout the week, but to say a more in-depth piece will come in a week, after a chance to recover at home and and mull over all that I've seen and heard. Meanwhile, here are my votes for the most SPCR-appropos coverage of Computex 2006 by other sites: writer Christoph, better known as TheEagleCD, came to Computex for the first time and provided brief reports on — what else? — mini-ITX, still the lowest power consuming X86 platform on the planet.

Charlie Demerjian of The Inquirer noticed and wrote about Greenpeace's rally against toxic IT waste with pod-people outside of Computex.

AMD's new AM2 platform launched

Internet News

Fifteen processors were launched on the new AM2 platform by AMD today, ranging from the new flagship FX-62 at $1031 all the way down to a $77 Sempron 3000+. The official announcement is in AMD's web press room, but news, reports and reviews of the AM2 processors and platform are all over the web; a few of the sites are linked below. AMD's PR department made sure that all the popular hardware review sites obtained samples of FX-62 or X2 5000+ processors along with a new Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard with the new nForce 590 chipset, and Corsair 1066MHz DDR2 RAM.

AMD News: T64X2, Efficient Processor Roadmap, K8L Preview

Internet News

AMD just released information about Energy Efficient Desktop Processors in the upcoming new AM2 socket, the long awaited 64-bit Turion 64 X2 dual-core mobile processors, and a sneak preview of their next-gen K8L processor technology. Click on read more for more info.

Thermal Load Calculator by Innovatek

Internet News sent us word of a Thermal Load Calculator by Innovatek which works out how much heat is produced by a standard or an overclocked PC. The page is in German but the calculator is intuitive. It looks much more accurate than 99% of all such power calculators on the web, and should be fine for "sizing" PSUs if all the pertinent data is correctly entered. Only the Northbridge vs Northbridge und Mosfets choice under Motherboard give pause; surely you cannot separate the motherboard VRM from the NB in any calculation of motherboard power draw? This is the only feature that seems suspect.

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