Run Windows XP on iMac with Boot Camp

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PC World reported, "It works. Impressively well. With games, even. That's our first impression of Windows XP running under Apple's [beta version of] Boot Camp on our 20-inch iMac. And that's more than you could say a couple of days ago about the promising-but-hacked-together WinXPonMac effort." Apple'official download page for their official dual-boot support of Windows XP on Macs.

Silent PC Review Turns 4 Today

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Today, April Fool's Day 2006, is the 4th anniversary of SPCR's official launch. It started as a crazy hobby... and mushroomed over the years into the web's leader in PC acoustics analysis and information. We've also learned much about thermals and power efficiency in all kinds of PC products, which puts us in good stead in a new computing era of green activism that's starting to pick up steam.

My heartfelt thanks to all the people whose support, encouragement and participation helped to make SPCR what it is today -- visitors, forum members, advertisers, sponsors, contributors, writers, advisors, friends and family. (For more about how SPCR came to be... A Cautionary Tale?)

Desktop Core Duo Products Coming Soon

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Apple's new iMac may have been the first to use Intel's new power-efficient Pentium-M derived Core Duo on a desktop PC, but they certainly won't be the last. Joining AOpen with new Core Duo/Solo (and Pentium M) products are Asus, Shuttle, ECS, MSI and Gigabyte. It seems clear that Intel is successfully marketing the new low-power processors to the mainstream desktop/small server market. Thus far, however, Intel's major system integrator partners (Dell, HP, etc) are only featuring Core Duo processors in notebook PCs.

AOpen: i975Xa-YDG and i945GTm-VHL Core Duo motherboards; mini-PC MP945
Asus: N4L-VM DH Core Duo Viiv motherboard
XPC X100 Complete SFF Core Duo PC
: PF23 Crossfire-compatible and 945G-M3 Viiv motherboards
MSI: P1-104A2M P-M server and 945GT Speedster-A4R P-M motherboard
Gigabyte: A963 Core Duo/Solo MiniPC

Then there are all the mini-ITX boards for Core Solo / Duo:

Commell LV-677 (m-ITX)
AOpen i945GTt-VFA
DFI G5C100-N
Freetech P8F189
Kontron 986LCD-M/mITX
MSI MS7265 (not confirmed)

From IDF: Acoustic Optimization for Desktop Platforms

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Attendance at the Spring Intel Developers Forum last week resulted in many new contacts for SPCR. Among the most interesting were Intel engineers in a thermal / acoustic division who provided information about new R&D efforts in this area. One result is a White Paper, which was provided to SPCR for direct distribution to our readers: Acoustic Optimization for Desktop Platforms (2mb PDF).

This is probably not the first document from Intel to deal with PC acoustics, but it is the first we've seen in a long time. Much of it focuses on BTX platform advantages, but it touches on many aspects of acoustics measurement and analysis that is of relevance to anyone interested in low noise computing. Most fascinating to us is the research done on Acceptable Acoustic Levels, which involved both group psychoacoustic polling as well as ambient noise measurements in four countries. We are planning an in-depth look at this paper in the near future.

As IDF Spring 2006 Begins

Internet News

As the Spring 2006 Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco sets to get underway, tech and business media wags sum up challenges and promises for Intel. The tone and themes are remarkably consistent.

EE Times: Intel outlines processor plans at IDF
Red Herring: Intel’s Chance to Impress
Business Week: AMD Chips Away at Intel
TG Daily: Can IDF relight Intel's fire?

PSU Load Balance Critical in Dual-Vidcard Systems

Internet News

Dedicated SPCR readers know from our PSU Fundamentals and Power Distribution within Six PCs articles that modern PCs draw the vast majority of power from the 12V line of the power supply. What's less well known is that internal interactions in most power supplies impairs the capacity to deliver high power into 12V when the 5V and 3.3V lines are too lightly loaded. ExtremeTech has an interesting article illuminating this issue in both technical and practical aspects.

Zalman HD160 ePC case

Aside from the extreme TNN cases, this is Zalman's first and only more-or-less conventional case. The HD160 is described as "a case utilizing an ultimate design allowing optimum air flow for home theatre system and strengthened anti-vibration method." It looks promising; we're seeking a review sample, of course.

Mobile SATA HDD Roundup

Internet News

The Tech Report also ran a 2.5" Serial ATA hard drive round-up comparing a quartet of mobile drives -- that we've already reviewed individually over the last few months. Their acoustics analysis falls short of our standards, but the performance tests make for interesting reading. (There's not even a hint that you might consider one of these for desktop PC use.)

Another Turion 64 vs Pentium M comparison

Internet News

Yesterday, the Tech Report posted an article comparing the performance and power efficiency of the AMD Turion 64 ML44 (2.4GHz / 1mb cache - rated at 35W) and the Intel Pentium M 760 (2.13GHz / 2mb cache - rated at 27W) -- this time, in a desktop system. This comparison is of interest to any one who's interested in the coolest, lowest power dissipation desktop system. It's too bad that the closer matched Turion MT40 (2.0GHz / 1mb cache - rated at 25W) was not used instead. The price / performance analysis could also have been more fairly and comprehensively tackled.

Power Consumption of Modern Graphics Cards

Earlier in the month, X-bit Labs posted one of their massive power consumption analysis articles on no fewer than 21 current video cards, ranging from Jabba-like excess at 120W to acetic parsimony at 24W. With the first class of gaming cards, especially run in dual SLI or Crossfire mode, there can be only answer to their question, "Is Power Consumption A Problem?" Regardless, the article, "The Grand Clash for Watts" is well worth a read for anyone considering thermal and power management seriously.

More Quiet VGA Cooling News

Sytrin has released details of their KuFormula VF1 line of universal VGA coolers. The most interesting detail? Use your own 120mm fan, or use their blower-type fan for performance which is (according to them) competitive with the excellent Arctic Cooling Silencer.

The new Asus EN7800GT extends the company's heatpiped, pivoted passive heatsink technology to a higher performance vidcard, as reviewed by Trusted Reviews.

Silent News, Dec 22/05

Quiet HDD: Seagate 7200.9 drives have been reviewed at The Tech Report. The good news for silent PC aficionados: The 160BG single-platter model boasts the lowest sound output of any drive the Tech Report has ever tested. (Note: SPCR has a review of some single-platter drives in the works, including this one.)

Fan Control: The T-Balancer's baby brother, the miniNG, has hit the streets, and's test bench. With only 2 fan/pump headers, this could be a useful alternative to the T-Balancer, as long as the rather primitive interface doesn't overshadow the excellent feature set.

Solid-state Storage: During HKEPC’s Techday 2005, Giga-byte launched the second revision of their successful RAM-based storage solution, the i-RAM 2. Whereas the first version used DDR1 and ran off a SATA I connection, the i-RAM 2 sports DDR2 memory, twice the DIMM slots for a total capacity of 16 GB, and uses a SATA II connection.. According to news site VR-Zone , you can even connect it to an external SATA connection (eSATA) or put it in a 5.25” bay for convenience.

VIA Nano-ITX Embedded Motherboard

Nano-ITX has been in development for a long time, and finally it's being released, with the first sightings in Japan's Akiba (with pictures). Nano-ITX (specifications) offers the smallest "standard" boards to date, and tightly integrates a new onboard UniChrome video chipset with component HDTV support, a re-designed "Luke" CoreFusion CPU, SATA support. It retains the AES/PadLock, while offering new powersaving features. The CPU/Northbridge heatsink is moved to allow better integration into fanless cases. The new Nano-ITX boads will come in two flavors, one being an 800MHz fanless, the other a 1GHz active cooled variant. It's an amazing level of integration in a tiny package.

The problem is price. A Froogle product search provided only a few links, with the lowest price at US$382.91. For computing performance that's stomped by any current processor+motherboard from AMD or Intel, this is not an attractive price. It only makes sense if the tiny size and X86 processor are what you seek.

New Audio/Video section added

There are only two articles in it, the recent Squeezebox review and one of a Zalman headphone. More will come soon.

The premise is simple: SPCR has spent the last four years showing people that computers can be quiet and even silent, and how to make (or buy) them that way. Now it's time to look more at what you can do with a quiet or silent computer -- other than just working or gaming with it. Audio/video is the natural arena for us to enter, especially given my long interest in music & audio.

The general focus will be on "convergence" audio / video components, the products that are finally bringing the industry's long-yearned-for dream of a digital home into the practical realm for ordinary consumers. We'll be looking at more media PCs, both DIY and fully assembled, as well as components such as appropriate speaker systems, amplifiers, etc. We may even get into things like HDTV monitors, and multi-room media distribution systems.

Stay with us, I think it will get even more fun.

Vancouver Gets Sound Smart

In the Dec 2005 issue of Vancouver's CityNews newsletter is a surprisingly progressive item of interest to anti-noise citizens everywhere:

Noise is often an inescapable part of living in a city the size of Vancouver. But, there are ways to make some noisy situations more manageable. The City of Vancouver has created Soundsmart, a three-part series for residents concerned about noise. The Soundsmart brochure is a brief rundown on noise basics. There’s also a 20-page comprehensive noise guide that helps you understand noise, and offers do-it-yourself ideas for reducing noise in your home. Both are available for free to Vancouver residents at City Hall. An in-depth 100-page noise control manual is available for $20. All three Soundsmart publications may be downoaded for free online at

All of these are very worthwhile downloads, especially the very in-depth Noise Control Manual. It is a pleasure to see one's own city take such initiative in a matter that's so often glossed over.

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