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 Post subject: Completely silent Computing based on Mini-ITX + Via Epia 50
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 5:55 am 
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Hi Folks,

This is my first post tho i have been trying to keep my PC quiet for about a year now (via http://www.quietpc.com.. I am in the UK) so finding your site is a real treat..

I managed to get my PC really nice and quiet, using the QTechnologies 300watt PSU from quietPC.. and getting the fan for my P3 450 from there.. all my hdds were encased in silentdrive cases (used to have Samsung drives, as they are supposed to be quiet but I always found them quite whining.. )

Finally i switched to barracuda IVs within silentdrives (tho they are so quiet this is almost not required) and had a really nice and quiet machine..

Sadly it was an underpowered beast and I finally upgraded to an AMD Athlon XP 2100 ... I've got the fan for it from quietPC.. the zalman flower cooler and I am happy with it.. using the dial I turn it up for processor heavy stuff and down when I want quiet.. turned down it stays at around 50 degrees till i start working it.. it peaks at about 53 degrees doing heavy CPU usage with the fan on full speed..

Anyways thats the background on to the actual post.. these mini-ITX motherboards I just discovered last night and I think they look the part for me.. I am really excited by having an actual silent machine.. i am not too fussed about power not being the greatest.. i am thinking music player, and perhaps video player with an XCARD graphics card..

My question is, is it actually silent.. I know that the Morex Cubid 2677R comes with a fanless external PSU which excites even if it does kick out such little power.. (http://www.mini-itx.com/reviews/2677R/) .. this review tho states that two fans are located inside.. this i am not so happy about.. quiet or not I really would like fanless operation.. they say that you could probably remove these fans with no ill effects.. now I would be planning on using the slower but passively cooled 500mhz Eden version which kicks out so little heat its untrue.. could i remove these fans safely? or just not have them powered? anyone had any experience of this..?! anyone know of any other mini-ITX cases that come with fanless PSUs (external) or are these Morex ones the only ones at the moment...

Thanks a lot for your time.. I am really excited at actually having a silent PC :)

Cheers


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 6:06 am 
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Ohh and finally finally.. :)

I would like to use my USB ADSL Zoom modem, and my USB Intel wireless LAN network adaptor.. I know these require a good amount of power over USB.. i've had trouble with them basically..

Will the Via Eden boards have enough power to do both? or even power one of them? i know that its got like 55watts or something.. allegedly enough for MB, hdd and DVD all at once... i don't know how many watts these USB devices usually lie in, whether its a different order of magnitude.. like 2 watts or something.. Any one any ideas?

Cheers.. just a bit worryed getting my silent PC that actually can't function driving my required stuff..


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 8:09 am 
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The other simpler alternative to a mini-ITX board is a full-bore socket 370 mobo running a VIA C3. This would avoid any potential power shortage issues, and it may actually be cheaper to build because you can use a large standard case, get air convection working for you, etc. If you think you'd be ok with a 533 MHZ Eden, then you'll be perfectly fine with a C3-733 or so. They can be run fanless with almost any half decent HS. In Toronto, I've heard C3 + mobo bundles sell for as little as under $150 Cdn. That's well under US$100...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 10:14 am 
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Thanks for the advice Mike.. I was considering getting a C3 based system too I realise you can get some really good (zalman for one) coolers that are fanless.. the thing is that whilst this is great i would still have to use a standard PSU ...

I think my potential networking problems may have deeper issues.. as in possibly not doable with windows only linux.. after sadly frying one of my ADSL modems within windows I'm not happy about trying it through linux.. i think its my motherboards USB2 ports before the drivers are installed that sent malformed stuff through and fried it..

Anyways its that lure of pretty much silence thats tempting me.. and thats why the mini-ITX board is so appealing, its the external fanless PSU that I'm loving.. if I could get a standard fanless PSU then i'd do that but there don't seem to be any available.. especially in the UK..

I take it the Eden is a real underperformer?!? the 533 one is close to a 300mhz P3 say??! I dunno.. i know the C3 is poor too.. but its not the power that I'm too interested in.. its that silence..

Cheers tho..


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 12:20 pm 
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My experience with the Eden & the C3s is that they generally match Celerons & P3s at similar speeds for general usage, but get bogged down with things like Photoshop or games or heavy number crunching apps. A fast video card helps in many apps, though. Don't think the comparison with a 300-p2 is fair.

Also, consider the PSU mods discussed here. Something like a Seasonic, Zalman, etc with a fan swap for a Panaflo or Papst will make them run virtually silent. Not audible from more than 2 feet. With the tiny amount of power your components will draw, the cooling required in the PSU is very low too, so it is safe, IMO. In a fairly standard PC, (even with a fast P4 or XP), the actual power deilvered by the PSU to the components is almost always under 100W. More like 70-80. At idle, maybe half of that.

The 35-40 cfm fans that most 300W PSUs have are needed only if you're pumping full rated power through the PSU. For a 300W PSU, with 65% typical efficiency, this would mean the AC power draw would be ~450W. With a normal machine, this will NEVER happen. Maybe if you have 20 HDD and all the PCI slots filled... The reason the fast loud fans are in there is to pass safety approvals, UL, CSA, EU, whatever.

http://www.koolnquiet.co.uk/index.php?main=pages&page=1 stocks Seasonic & some other quiet PSU, I believe.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 3:09 pm 
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Cheers again Mike.. may have to consider it.. i am a little worried about tinkering with PSUs.. storys of them storying lethal charges for days/weeks is kind of a bummer..

I thought the Q technology PSUs were supposed to be one of the top ones for quiet.. I am fairly happy with it.. other components now make more noise than it.. when i had my P3 450 near silent I could just hear the movement of air..

I just can't believe if as you say power requirements are so modest most of the time that we don't have more (any) 100watt PSUs that are standard and fanless..

The thing is i will have 3 x 80gig Barracudas in my machine soon.. hdds is a probable thing.. anything to store my music on...

I will continue research.. I was hoping to get some replies from actual owners of Via C3 /eden commenting.. you are helping a lot tho dude, so cheers :)


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 Post subject: Eden for music?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2002 3:47 pm 
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Location: Boston, MA
I've heard the Edens are bad musically, so that one prescious slot should probably be used by a soundblaster, rather than a graphics card.

mini-itx.com has a (p)review of a pseudi eden board / system that is about the size of a book, has too many ethernet out ports, sports a compact flash slot (if you want to really have no moving parts), and an on-board power supply. It doesn't do TV or audio out : (, but it would make an awesome router or browser box.

on the other hand, if you want to still be powerful, there is a kick - arse article elsewhere on this site about someone underclocking an athlon XP and a Ge4 graphics card, losing 10% of the power but being able to run with two undervolted case fans, for 18 dba.

Hmmm... if you were totally fanless, the only thing you would need the case for would be to act as a heat sink, and to let air pass through as easily as possible while filtering out dangerous particles...

-C


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2002 12:01 am 
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jimbobUK --

IMO, those stories are circulated by ijuts. :wink: Ok, that's too strong. I've been zapped by a PSU once or twice & live to tell the tale, but it was only when I was tinkering with it plugged into the AC. :oops: Don't try that at home boys & girls!

Well, if you have the orig 230W Q-Tech PSU, it is supposed to be excellent for noise. They're discontinued now. Not having heard one, no idea how it compares with a 5V Panaflo or Papst, or even their new QT02300.

Re- power usage. Just check out the power draw of the test system in the SPCR PSU reviews (P4 oc'd to 2G, 2 Barracduas, 512 RAM, etc). Total AC power draw never exceeded ~125W with CPU at 100%. Assume 70% efficiency; means less than 90W DC voltage to components. A recent exchange with a PSU mfg engineer confirms my comment about ~100w average max requirement. With a C3-933, at full tilt in a similar 2-cuda system, AC power draw was ~55W. That means less than 40W DC power delivered.

re- the HDD, if you can wait, go for new Serial ATA Cudas - see benefits here: http://www.silentpcreview.com/modules.p ... =0&thold=0 With the thin long cable (up to 1m) of SATA, you could easily make an external cool/quiet suspended drive box cooled by a large low speed fan (92mm Papst?). This eliminates over 30W of heat from your main PC box, allowing even cooler & quieter operation. A project I am looking forward to doing myself, actually. :)

There are 2 useful C3 project articles here: http://www.silentpcreview.com/modules.p ... es&secid=4[/url]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2002 1:02 pm 
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Cheers for everyones input..

I have already ordered my current cudas... the thing is I don't have a serial ATA motherboard and wont get one or a card any time soon..

I use rounded cables anyways, nearly 1m in length i think.. 0.8m so all those advantages are already there..

Putting them in a silenced box is a nice idea but the cudas are so quiet in the first place.. this new one will not be in a silent drive case i will have to see how quiet it is.. :) Removing the heat from the actual CPU is a fair point tho.. although again they run quiet cool... my silentdrive cases are less hot with cudas than Samsungs i think..

Worried about this CUda + raid is bad.. i am using mine on raid and they are fine.. i guess its for actually using raid functionality.. I am just using the raid channels as extra hdd ports...

I still yearn for the silence of these Eden boards, and their fanless PSU.. i will clearly wait around and see what happens on this front of fanless PSU..


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 Post subject: Re: Completely silent Computing based on Mini-ITX + Via Epia
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2002 9:36 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
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i just got a mini-itx Morex case and a via epia board. Been meaning to write a review but my step-grandfather died and im replacing my floor and 'beastmaster' was on last night etc etc etc. Here is a little information that maybe you will find useful? Any more questions just ask me if you wish.

The case you are looking at has a manufacturer website at www.procase.com.tw. This is printed inside the case, otherwise its rather 'hidden' on the web AFAIK. You are probably interested in 'mini-cases' 2677 and 2688. I have a Eden 533mhz board running in the 'Cubid 2677' case. http://www.procase.com.tw/2677.htm I dont know if you can even buy a 2688, I didnt see any information about it on the web until after I had opened my 2677 and gone to this mfg's website.

The cubid 2677 power supply is in two parts, an outside-the-case transformer that takes the AC voltage from line down to 12VDC, and a printed cicruit board screwed inside the case, which trasnforms the 12VDC into the various stuff that the ATX powersupply standard requires. The transformer is a big plastic box with two long wires on it that lies outside the case, much like what I've seen on laptop AC adapters. Its like someone took a 'wall-wart' and shoved it down the line so its farther from the wall (now what, floor warts?)

The case has slits in the sides, to ventilate the air moved by the case fan. The fan is in the back right where it makes air go over the hard disk. The fan plugs into the motherboard. It is rather quiet compared to a normal old computer fan but still it is not silent.

Add a modern hard disk in the case and it becomes clear why it needs a fan: hard disks are hotter than the C3 CPU. i got an IBM 60 gig drive and ran the system without a fan for a few hours, it was very hot to the touch. I'm not saying it was too hot to touch but it was not pleasant. Turning on the fan in the case changes the heat picture completely and things are
comfortably cool with the fan on.

As for the CPU and the motherboard, they do not get very hot. The 533Mhz version is guaranteed to work without a fan, from what I have read on the web somewhere. The 'bridge' chips on the motherboard get about as hot as the CPU does from my experience. The faster CPUs, I dont know. See this discussion for more information. http://forums.silentpcreview.com/forums ... .php?t=157

In my writeup of my debian linux 3.0 on this setup I mentioned the sound had slight crackling sound problems sometimes, for instance when I did certain operations with my USB mouse. But that didn't stop me from playing Tori Amos bootlegs non stop for 10 hours at a time. I dont know if this is debian sound drivers or what, and I'm too lazy/unwilling to install pirated windows and see if it works better there.

To calculate component power consumption, I have an idea. Many electrical devices display the required voltage and amperage on their cases. For USB stuff I think its also in /proc/bus/usb/devices file in linux under MxPwr. Other items, like Hard Disks, can have it even at the manufacturers website. You can use the equation volts*amps=watts to calculate power consumption for these individual devices, then add them all together to see how much you need.

For example, my logitech USB mouse says 5V, 100mA. Thus it draws 5V*0.1A=0.5 Watts. My keyboard says 5V, 200mA. 5V*0.2A=1Watt. My hard disk is around 6 Watts I think. So thats like 0.5+1+6 = 7.5 watts that I need right there. Then there is the CPU, which I dont know, i guess 10 watts, Fan, i guess 1 watt. I could look these up but im too lazy at the moment sorry. The Cubid 2677 case says it takes 12VDC @ 4.5A , so i guess that is like 54 Watts that it can supply to the components.

I read a report about the ethernet not working on mini-itx due to power problems. Ive downloaded about 2 gigs of stuff so far with no problems yet. Then again I do not have 5 billion USB devices plugged in either.

As for putting a PCI card in here, please note that these cases are very thin, like 2-3 inches tall, so you will not have space to put a card into the eden's single PCI slot unles you use some kind of secondary daughtercard that allows you to plug the real card into it at a right angle. Even with this, you may still hit into the RAM, the ethernet/usb/etc connectors on the motherboard, or the hard disk. Even if you could get a PCI card in this case, there is no hole for it to reach the outside world.

Good luck.


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