Submitted by Mike Chin on Sun, 2005-02-20 19:33.
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.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Mon, 2005-01-31 14:21.
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.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Thu, 2005-01-27 15:57.
One of the most elaborate noise insulation case for a computer built by an enthusiast is explained in great detail with text and a bazillion photos on Juha's personal web page. As impressive as the case is, the author's final conclusions are telling: The system still makes noise. It suggests the system could be quieter still if more effort was put into making it quieter before enclosing it. (Suspending the HDDs, getting rid of the plastic fan mounts and using soft mouting for the fans, replacing the stock CPU cooler with something better, improving the overall case airflow, and so on.)
Submitted by Mike Chin on Thu, 2005-01-06 14:36.
One of the most exciting things not to be shown at CES is a new case that will soon be coming from Antec. Rather than a booth at the CES, Antec have a hotel suite nearby where press and customers are invited for a private gander at new products. The P180, a big mid-tower case that's a bit shorter than the Silverstone TJ06, appears to feature everything a silent PC enthusiast or performance nut would want. It is also a great looker in the best minimalist tradition.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Thu, 2004-12-09 02:13.
Biostar's new iDEQ 300G is based on the Intel 915G chipset. Low noise level is claimed for use in the living room. This SFF has a unique mechanical design for a new level of ease for the barebones buyer: Entire hardware installation in just two minutes. "Not a single screw is needed; the chassis can open upward together with the front panel, looks like a shark stretches out its big jaw." This comment is certainly worth a photo. Click on the next link...
Submitted by Mike Chin on Mon, 2004-11-08 10:34.
GamePC publishes the first AOpen i855GMEm-LFS M-ATX motherboard and Pentium M review in North America, with a slew of benchmarks as might be expected from a web site of that name. No details on power dissipation, but enough thermal notes to show how coolly the combo runs. It also turns out to be a great gaming rig.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Thu, 2004-11-04 18:29.
An industry overview article by none other than Anantech's founder Anand Lal Shimpi. Subtitled Industry Update - Q4-2004: AMD adds SSE3 Support, Intel's 925/915 not selling and more, the focus is entirely on PC component makers, with whom Anand personally met "for three days straight, usually from 8AM until as late as 11PM every night." It's a good newsy piece with interesting insights and tidbits on many topics of interest to hardware development watchers.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Tue, 2004-10-19 11:12.
mCubed offers a multiple fan control system called the T-Balancer which is sophisticated enough for even the most demanding users. The T-Balancer is a small microprocessor-controlled external hardware unit that can reside inside the PC and connects via USB. Control is via Windows-based software. We have had a model in the lab for weeks; in lieu of a full review, here's a quick preview. The feature set is so rich that only a few key elements can be touched on here:
- 4 separate configurable fan output channels, each with independent tach signal output to mainboard
- Accurate speed control in manual or automatic mode via editable response curves
- Fans can be slowed to an absolute speed minimum of 2% depending on model
- Adaptive PWM allows adjustment of frequency for every fan model, with analog smoothing and filtering for quiet smooth operation
- Definable hysteresis allow smooth operation even at steep response curves, no "up and down"
- 0 rpm possible: if temperature rises, the controller speeds up the fan according to the response curve
- Up to 8 temperature sensors
Submitted by Mike Chin on Mon, 2004-10-04 09:36.
The Tech Report gives us a quick comparison of power consumption between a new 90nm core A64-3500+ against a current 130nm version and a P4 Prescott 90nm at 3.4GHz.. The quick & dirty: "Our die-shrunk Athlon 64 came out looking pretty darned good." Under load on three different apps, the total system AC power draw ranged 146W~151W for the 90nm core vs 175~179W for the 130nm core. 19-28W in AC is a very sizeable difference, suggesting at least 12~19W less power draw between the CPUs. These numbers translate to cooler measured CPU temps as well. The P4-3.4 is not even in the running, efficiency-wise, with total system AC power draw at 23-236W.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Tue, 2004-08-31 09:12.
Apple's new iMac G5 unveiled today is built into the back of 17" and 20" LCD monitors just 2" and 2.2" in depth and feature a 1.6 or 1.8 GHz G5 processor. Although Apple have not claimed this, it qualifies for the world's smallest desktop computer: The PC portion of the iMac has no footprint to speak of, and the monitor is only marginally deeper than some LCD monitors. The iMac G5 is considerably smaller and sleeker than similar LCD monitor + computer integrations from the PC world. The features and connectivity offered compete well with the very best SFF PCs offer.
All of this would be moot for SPCR if it was noisy, but Apple claims to have paid close attention to acoustics once again:
"The speaker grill [at the bottom edge of the monitor/pc] lets a trio of ultra-quiet blowers draw cool air into the system. These custom heat dissipaters can rotate at speeds as low as a few hundred RPM. Advanced thermal software spins them as fast or slow as needed... the iMac G5 measures less than 25dB when idle (at the same distance of 50cm, a whisper in a quiet room measures more than 30dB). A slit in the back of the case allows heat to rise out the top."
If true, this is quieter than any SFF PC except fanless units such as those from Hush, NiveusMedia, etc. The iMac G5 seems like a clever adaptation and application of notebook technology; surely PC makers could do similar? Now for a review sample. .. Discuss this news in the SPCR forum.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Sun, 2004-08-22 10:23.
A new site called InsaneTek has just posted a review of the entire line of new VGA coolers from Arctic Cooling. As regular visitors are probably aware, Arctic Cooling's VGA Silencer is strongly recommended by SPCR. Its prime innovations are a big waterwheel style fan combined with a large cooling fins and a design that pushes the hot air from the VGA card out of the case instead of spewing it all around the case. It is not too noisy at standard speed and has a switch to slow the fan to a whisper quiet mode. The downside is that the original fits only certain models of the ATI 9000 series and nVidia GF3s.
The new AC VGA cooler line maintains the same key features in a somewhat more streamlined design, adds clever cooling for the VGA RAM, uses copper in many models, and is divided into two series: NV silencer 1 through 5, and ATI Silencer, 1 through 4. The nine models cover just about every current mainstream VGA card. One change is that most models now feature temperature control for the fan with different top speeds for various models. InsaneTek's review is quite good in most ways and surprisingly complete despite its brevity, but does little more than just touch upon the acoustics. Still definitely worth a read.