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Quiet 7800GTX-512 Vidcard, too?

Previews and reviews of the 512 MB nVidia Geforce 7800 GTX video card flooded the web over the past 24 hours. While it is clearly not a silent solution, the reference card's 92mm fanned slot-venting cooling solution has been praised for its low noise. Perhaps the makers of video cards, the last bastion of the "Performance at any (noise) cost" mentality, have finally started to take acoustics seriously across the product line. The availability of low-noise video card solutions has grown by leaps and bounds in recent weeks.

ASUS Offers Silent X1600 Gaming Vidcard

Asus recently announced the imminent release of the EAX1600XT Silent/TVD/256M, the latest and fastest of their gaming graphics cards to feature fanless, silent cooling using a system of heatpipes and massive cooling fins. The new card is based on the ATI 1600XT Pro graphic engine, the 2nd tier model of ATI's latest X1000 series. Previous fanless gaming cards by Asus have included both ATI and nVidia GPUs: the Extreme AX700/800 Silencer ("Reverse Cool") and Extreme N6600GT Silencer, all with big passive heatpipe/heatsink cooling.

Dualcore Shootout, Noise & Efficiency on... ZDNet!

ZDNet, not often vocal in the CPU wars, just published a comparison between the AMD 3800+ and the Intel D 820. Its conclusion leaves little room for doubt and echoes the opin of innumerable enthusiast review sites:

AMD currently offers the most attractive dual core option. The entry level Athlon 64 X2 3800+ may cost $87 more than its Intel counterpart, the Pentium D 820, but the AMD chip is a much better performer. It also uses considerably less power. A typical Athlon 64 X2 3800+ system uses less than 100W, while an equivalent Intel-based system uses about 50 per cent more, so it will be easier to build a quiet office PC around an AMD dual core chip. The lower electricity cost could also be a significant factor in enterprises with several thousand PCs.

Note the SPCR-esque references to quiet and reduced energy consumption — this is very worthy of note, as it appears in one of the most mainstream of tech publications. The number of people this message can reach is phenomenal compared to SPCR's typical audience size.

S3's New Chrome 25 & 27 GPUs

S3 Graphics announced their latest GPU's, the PCIe Chrome S27 and S25. "Advanced 90nm lead-free manufacturing enables unprecedented 700Mhz core frequency for Chrome S27 and industry-leading performance per watt across the series, enabling silent yet powerful 8 pixel shader performance." High performance paired with low heat is certainly good news on the noise front, provided that the final products bear out the marketing claims.

News from the Web

TrustedReviews says the AOpen MZ915-M half-height P-M SFF is a "very small and quiet system" but perhaps just "a stopgap" till AOpen's mini-PC is released. We tend to disagree with the latter view. The French site Matbe.com did a more thorough review comparing this AOpen against the Shuttle SD11G5 earlier this month. FYI, we reviewed the Shuttle recently, and we're working on a MZ915-M review right now.

The T-Balancer fan controller received plenty of rave reviews from SPCR forum members; now it may have some competition. According to BigBruin, the Sunbeamtech Theta TP-101 offers even more connections than the T-Balancer, though there are still as some software kinks to work out.

Bjorn3d has a pair of HIS graphics cards (the overclocked x800GT and x800GTO flavours) on the test bench, and while they don't test noise levels in the review, these are ATI cards with the highly regarded Arctic Cooling vidcard coolers factory-installed. Sounds like a good deal, if you can find them.

Intel seems to have taken the first step in their "performance-per-watt" quest with their new line of Pentium 4s. Buried in the AnandTech overclocking review is a very interesting tidbit; a new Cedar Mill P4 system draws about almost 20% less power than a Prescott system at the same clock speeds.

Trusted Reviews' 12 PSU Roundup

It's the second big roundup by Trusted Reviews, and they're using a commercial testing facility with very sophisticated test gear. They admit that for acoustics, they "were unable to source suitable test equipment to perform any sensible testing," but offer what look like good testing results on efficiency and voltage regulation at various loads. SPCR's PSU reviews are starting to see some competition.

Pentium M Dothan Vs. AMD Turion

Laptop Logic's detailed comparison of the Pentium M and Turion CPUs, along with a brief history outlining the various optimizations performed during their development. The article discusses the effect of the respective designs, the pros and cons of each CPU architecture, followed by a brief evaluation of price. Finally, the bulk of the article compares the Turion ML-37 against the Pentium M 760 in a myriad of benchmarks, starting from simple synthetic benchmarks to the four main categories of computing: office/business, multimedia, gaming, and scientific use. Battery life is also compared.

Legit Reviews tackles the Antec Sonata II

Computex '05: Mini AOpen

No, it's not a Mac Mini. It's AOpen's new Pentium-M based Mac Mini lookalike, codenamed Pandora. Unveiled at Computex 2005, this tiny product is yet another AOpen effort to take advantage of the powerful formerly mobile Intel CPU in the desktop space. A fully integrated system incorporating wireless LAN, the Pandora was brought to prototype form in just a month, according to Joseph Hsu, a Technical Manager at AOpen. It uses a single blower fan that turns on only when needed. The aluminum casing was warm but the fan was not running when these photos were taken in the hot tradeshow room. A pearl white enamel painted version was also shown at AOpen's private suite display. Look for a Sept market release date.

AOpen quiet-friendly innovations at Computex

AOpen will present the world’s first ATX Pentium M motherboard -- i915Ga-HFS -- at Computex Taipei 2005. Like their last mATX P-M board, i915GMm-HFS, it is based Intel's 915G/ICH6 desktop chipset. It's loaded: Gigabit Ethernet, 7.1-ch. High Def Audio, PCI Express x1 and x16 slots, and VGA, four SATA ports, DVI, S-Video, HDTV video outputs and SpeedStep. The new board features a socket 478 heatsink retention bracket, a welcome relief after the tiny non-standard HSF of the i915GMm-HFS.

AOpen also will unveil 945 chipset motherboards for Intel dual-core processors -- i945Ga-PLF and i945Pa-PLF -- that support the company's Power Master technology, which can work in conjunction with Speedstep to further reduce power consumption and heat when the system in idle.

SPCR turns 3 today.

It's our third birthday anniversary today. Well, give or take a few days. I recall telling someone back then that SPCR would probably dwindle down in about three years because by then, average computers would be quiet enough to make the site unnecessary.

Boy, was I ever wrong!

We've come a long way since then, and SPCR probably helped to shape the perceptions and perspective of both the users and makers of PC gear. Acoustics is paid at least lip service by just about every computer gear brand today, and there are so many more real choices for noise-conscious end users than could be fantasized three years ago.

But there's a long way to go before mainstream computers and components are built with benign acoustics as a primary design goal. And there is work to be done in creating a sound specification and reporting convention that is accurately reflective of human perception and understandable for everyone.

Anyway, wish us a happy birthday & raise a toast with us today.

PS -- For a bit of a laugh, look to the bottom of this internal news achive page to see what we were writing about at the beginning. Amazingly, not that much has changed.

Asus Adapter runs Pentium-M on S478 board

The ASUS CT-479 Adapter Kit pre-release news was hot a couple of weeks ago; Legit Reviews and Anandtech just posted complete reviews. It's compatible only with a few of Asus motherboards right now. There are some limitations but the idea is compelling, especially for just $50 if you already have a suitable Asus board. Anandtech said " the Asus solution effectively demolished all other desktop Pentium M solutions," although they failed to adequately appreciate the the P-M's performance in the context of its low noise and high energy efficiency in a desktop platform.

Seasonic PSU wins 1st "80 Plus" efficiency certification

Anyone who has read even a few articles at SPCR knows that we've encouraged high efficiency PSUs for a long time. Now, it looks like the PSU efficiency race has officially begun. 80 Plus in the US has a unique program to encourage and reward (with rebates) higher efficiency PSUs in IT gear. A Seasonic PSU has just been awarded the first 80 Plus certification.

The 80 Plus test is quite tough: Their standard calls for 80% or better efficiency at 20, 50 and 100% loads. It's the 20% load test that's the challenge; for lower rated PSUs, this means high efficiency at very low power, which is usually difficult. Surprisingly, the newly certified 80 Plus PSU is the Seasonic SS-400HT APFC, a 400W model, which means it reached 80% efficiency at just 80W load. Seasonic says the newly released S12-500 and S12-600 retail models are, in fact, the higher power models of this 80 Plus qualifying PSU. Download the 80 Plus press release (a PDF).

Interestingly, SPCR's PS Fundamentals & Recommendations article is linked on the 80 Plus consumer techical info page.

A64 Winchester Vs. Pentium M Dothan at GamePC

An excellent comparison between two 90nm core CPUs, arguably the most power efficient processors available today. Game PC's Battle at 90nm : Power Consumption and Performance Compared is particularly relevant in the context of the Pentium M Platform reviews we just posted.

c|net covers Computing's Silent Revolution

c|net news.com, one of the biggest mainstream tech web sites, posted a story today entitled Computing's silent revolution by staff writer David Becker It covers a lot of ground, and many major players in silent computing are featured or interviewed... including SPCR and yours truly.

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