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 Post subject: What's the best "stock" computer to mod later?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 7:38 am 
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Hi everybody. I have to outfit my wife's new business with two or three computers but I don't really have the time to order all the parts and put them together -- I would just rather buy a few pre-made machines with XP Pro already installed and drivers all ready. But I still want the option to mod them when I get more time in the future.

Because of price and ease I *would* get Dells, but of course they have proprietary parts that you can't easily mod or change: mobo, power supply and who knows what else.

Does anyone know about Gateway or Micron, or even something from Best Buy/CompUSA/MicroCenter/etc.? The quicker (and cheaper) I can get them, the better.

I figure I'm likely to want to replace fans, hard drives, power supplies, and maybe even the mobo some day.

Thanks for any help!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 8:04 am 
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well, right now all I can hear of my system is the noise of a fortron 120mm PSU puling in 22C ambient air. Its comparable or louder than my sisters dell dimensions.

At work we have some microns, they have practically a deafening roar. I don't know if they've improved, but I wouldn't recommend them.

You can get an adapter for the mobo/PSU connector, but you shouldn't have a problem, unless everyone at her business is an avid SPCR member they won't even hear a dell.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 8:13 am 
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My sister's dell used to be very quiet but it's starting to get really noisy. It's about 2-3 years old. But in an office i suppose you still couldn't really hear it. My dad ordered a new computer. I think he ordered it from gateway. I'll go have a look at it if possible and report back on teh noise.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 8:38 am 
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Open up the computer. Check the heatsink and clean it of dust. The rear fan is also the CPU fan, and it is thermally-controlled. A buildup of dust on the heatsink would cause the fan to need to run faster and faster to generate the necessary airflow. Clearing the dust should quiet the thing down.

About the Gateways: My school last year recieved two computer labs and a library-full of 2.0GHz Celeron-based machines that are the E-series towers. The power supply features a thermally-controlled Sunon 92mm fan, and the CPU HSF is one made by Asia Vital Components (AVC). It has a 60mm fan running at a medium speed, so it still produces a very noticeable buzz, though this would not be very offensive during normal use. The plastic case damps out the noise quite well, and while the system is not as quiet as a Dell, which I would classify as "silent", it is still what I would consider to be "quiet". The CAD lab is getting some E-series Micro-ATX desktops. These are only very slightly noisier than their E-series tower couterparts, but they are still decently quiet.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 9:06 am 
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It's worth noting that more and more of the new Dell's are not using propietary components anymore. They may in fact by all stock by now, it's been awhile since I've had my head stuck inside one. Although I doubt Dell will tell you if a particular model is stock or not, you may be able to do some online searching to find out.

We've got a couple of the Dell 4300's at work. They're the little slim-line things. Not the greatest for upgrading, since they can't take full sized PCI or AGP card, but they are incredibly quiet. I have to physically touch the top to feel if its running or not, and our office is very quiet. For doing office type work where keeping the warranty may be important they might be a good out-of-the-box choice to look into.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 9:30 am 
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Location: NJ, USA
try this: www.abspc.com no proprietory stuff and you know exactly what's in it, but of course there's always that ~$200 overhead paid for them assembling it
reseller ratings

btw abspc is run by the same people who run newegg!!!! :shock:


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 Post subject: Dell's are sometimes good, sometimes bad
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 12:22 pm 
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Location: Vancouver, BC
We got a shipment of 40 Dell 2400s a few months ago. Some of them are insanely quiet, yet some of them made a whine.

For the people who complained about their machine whining, we got the tech to replace the stock fans with Panaflos (at 12v). This mod made these machines the most quiet in the office.

The only other issue now is machines with high pitched drives.

I don't think it really matters what "name brand" PC you buy today, they're all relatively quiet. And, if you find the machine noisy, you can easily replace the fans as most of them use standard parts. The real crapshoot is hoping that your hard drive is quiet. We had one IBM that had this insanely high pitched IBM Deskstar drive inside of it. It was unreal.

As for non-standard parts, the only problem that I've seen is with the older Dell's using custom plastic duct work inside the case. I just ripped it out and put a normal heatsink on.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 10, 2003 4:19 pm 
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Thanks for all the tips!

It looks like I'll go with either ARM ('Versio' model), Dell (Optiplex) or ABS (Intel Barebones).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 3:47 am 
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I'd stay away form the new Dells. The MoBo mounting that I've seen on the newest Dells is completely proprietary. The heatsink mounting and connection to the ducting looks pretty wierd too. Maybe it uses the stock Intel 4-hole mounting points but it's hard to tell without pulling the entire thing apart.

I'd go with one of the white-box OEMs like Micron or ABS because they truely are using off the shelf, non-proprietary components. Micron used to (but I don't know if they still do) get real high marks for quality and customer service.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 11:21 am 
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With ARM, why not their Stealth line? They are quieter.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 2:46 pm 
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Compaq EVO d510 sff. PASSIVE Heatsink. Only fan appears to be in the power supply and the power supply seems to be high quality with big heatsinks inside. I got one in work accidentally as part of an order of standard d510. I turned it on and couldn't hear the usual noise the D510'S make. I opened the cover to find a completely passive aluminium heatsink that doesn't even get warm when the PC is running (idle). You can see the passive heatsink on the close up inside view at this link. http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications ... 0-3078%20P
I assume it is a mobile pentiium of some sort. The one we received is specified as a p4 1.9. Tigerdirect.com have them for $499. Seems like a silentpc bargain especially as a hushpc with 1/3rd of the horsepower is $800.

I haven't had a chance to look at this box in detail yet but it is worth investigating further if you want an off the shelf solution.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 3:42 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
With ARM, why not their Stealth line? They are quieter.


Price and heat.

These are just office computers and they mustn't be annoyingly loud, but they don't have to be totally silent. Silent would of course be best but I don't think my wife wants to pay a premium for it (the Stealth line comes in at $200 per computer [Edit: $270 per computer] for the least amount of 'extra quietness,' which includes a Zalman heatsink and some foam). I just want to make sure she gets Seagate drives and I can install the Panaflos and maybe a PSU, then they should be quiet enough.

And in the future when I pack in new cards and drives I don't want to have to worry about heat. I'm not sure how much the quiet components and foam makes a difference, but if anyone knows please tell me. I can foresee adding two more hard drives, a couple of cards and optical drives to these machines. There will be a lot of backing up, so long periods of time where the HDD's will be running full out.

Having said all this, if someone can assure me heat won't be a problem then I'll probably try to get my wife and her biz partner to pony up the extra money on quiet (though they are very cheap - lawyers!)

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Last edited by Phoner on Tue Aug 12, 2003 7:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2003 6:30 pm 
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Quote:
$200 per computer for the least amount of 'extra quietness,' which includes a Zalman heatsink and some foam

Really? :shock: I didn't think it was quite that dear, and I thought ALL the stealth models used a modded or quiet PSU & at least rubber grommets on 'cuda drives... Maybe I haven't paid close enough attention :?:

AFAIK, heat is not an issue in these because each fan is speed controlled & come set at fairly low speed; obviously if things get too hot, you can just turn up the fans a bit.

Speaking of cheap, a little while ago I modded a PC for an accountant's office & built them a new one as well, charging a couple hundred dollars premium for each. Acquaintances. They were absolutely delighted, became champions of SPCR and promised to recommend more PC customers my way... Not that I want such work necessarily.

Even more recently, my got my sis in SF, CA a Stealth ARM PC last week, and she wrote me today
Quote:
"this computer is downright uncanny, it's so silent! My tech guy who came to load all my software was amazed as well. It's like it's not on."
(mind you she hasn't heard my <16 dB PC 8) )

In my experience, people have to actually hear & experience a really quiet computer for themselves before they understand and appreciate all that we silencers are fussing about. But when they do, the penny drops, the light bulb goes on, and they are all smiles and big, round eyes! 8)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 5:14 am 
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MikeC wrote:
Quote:
$200 per computer for the least amount of 'extra quietness,' which includes a Zalman heatsink and some foam

Really? :shock: I didn't think it was quite that dear, and I thought ALL the stealth models used a modded or quiet PSU & at least rubber grommets on 'cuda drives... Maybe I haven't paid close enough attention :?:

Oops sorry, I didn't mean to say that the *only* difference is the Zalman and the foam. That is just how they describe their least quiet level of 'quietness' within the Stealth line. I think you're right that all the Stealths have a special PSU and rubber grommets too, and maybe other stuff for all I know. But, yes, the same specs cost an extra $200.

EDIT: I priced it more carefully this time -- it's actually $272 more.


Quote:
AFAIK, heat is not an issue in these because each fan is speed controlled & come set at fairly low speed; obviously if things get too hot, you can just turn up the fans a bit.

That helps, I didn't know the fans were speed controlled. Maybe now I can convince the users that they need the Stealth line.

Quote:
In my experience, people have to actually hear & experience a really quiet computer for themselves before they understand and appreciate all that we silencers are fussing about. But when they do, the penny drops, the light bulb goes on, and they are all smiles and big, round eyes! 8)

Amen.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 2:35 pm 
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We went with ARM. They were very friendly.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 12, 2003 2:58 pm 
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Phoner wrote:
We went with ARM. They were very friendly.


Please keep us updated.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2003 11:09 am 
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Well the ARM Versio computers came and they seem pretty well put together, with a high-quality case. I had them put in Barracuda drives, a Thermaltake heatsink and no video card. There is decent noise coming from them but it is a fairly pleasant whoosh from Zalman fans they installed; I think I will just slow them down a bit and my wife will have a couple of solid, fairly quiet computers at a good price with minimal work.

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