First post! Good to be here. I've read reviews and forums on SPCR for years, but finally I have something to contribute.
I just finished building my zero-noise, fanless HTPC rig. Components:
MSI H55M-ED55 motherboard
G.Skill Ripjaws F3-10666CL84GBRM 2x2GB DDR3 memory
Cooler Master Hyper Z600 heat sink (passive)
Intel X25-M G2 80GB SSD
WD Green EARS 1.5TB HD
LG WH08LS20K BluRay burner
Mad Dog MD-16X3DVD9-8X DVD-burner (rebranded NEC ND-3500)
Rosewill R101-P-BK MicroATX Mid Tower
Everything was picked with low noise and power consumption in mind. Paying for an SSD was a painful experience, but in the end was well worth it... super low power consumption, and zero noise. WD Green is on stand-by most of the time (and is rubber suspended for good measure).
Regular PSUs made no sense to me; with my goal of 20W idle, PSU efficiency at very low power was essential. PicoPSU seemed like the only option.. maybe 150XT was a bit of an overkill, though.
I wanted to get the smallest case possible, but since I went with a MASSIVE passive heatsink (Z600), the case had to be wide enough to handle it (Z600 has to be horizontal for heat convection). Rosewill was one of the widest small cases I could find... The heat sink barely fits, but barely is good enough.
HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?
Performance-wise, this thing is a screamer! i5-670 is incredible, and coupled with an SSD, it's the fastest PC I've ever had. I don't need high performance, but I like snappy computers, and having LAME finish every MP3 track compression before EAC/MadDog is done extracting the next one is pretty neat. (And MadDog is pretty damn fast)
I also succeeded in my zero-noise goal. Unless I tap into my MP3 library on the WD1.5TB, the whole thing is dead silent... obviously.
No fans, no noise. In fact, the noisiest component in my system is my LCD... an old Dell with constant 'whine'.
Running full blast, 4 threads of Prime95, the power consumption maxes out at 85W (off the wall, measured with a Kill-A-Watt). Doing the test right now; CPU temp is at +87C, which is pretty high, but Z600 is still doing a pretty good job, considering no fan on the heatsink OR the case (I left the PSU slot open for ventilation).
My treehugging goal of 20W idle didn't work out: the rig is idling at 22W.
I was wondering if anyone had ideas on how to squeeze out the last two watts out of the system..?
In hindsight, I probably should've gone with Intel-branded stripped-naked H55 motherboard. Reviews seem to indicate it idles at even lower power than MSI...
I can't undervolt the CPU with the MSI board (!!). It probably doesn't matter, though; i5-670 powergates probably take care of most of the idle power (would help with load power, though).
I could undervolt some of the other components - mainly I was thinking DDR. Right now it's using the standard 1.5V. Tweaking the termination voltages might buy me some more as well... but haven't had time to do that... Also, I wasn't going to bother try if someone here has already done it, and noticed DDR3 undervolting doesn't help.
I could look at undervolting the H55 chipset itself, if you think it would work. I was going to shut down all the extra stuff I don't need (like PCIe links), but the bios doesn't let me, so no luck there.
I'm so close with this... two more watts! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Also, if you know of a good 1920x1200 LCD that has an HDMI/DisplayPort input and doesn't "whine", I'd be interested. 24-30inch should fit nicely. EnergyStar preferred...