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 Post subject: How are Dell's so quiet??
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:41 am 
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We use GX260's and GX270's at my work. They are nearly silent, some are completely silent as far as I can tell. When I open them up, they have one single exhaust fan and a dinky little aluminum heat sink with NO thermal grease. They are 2.26 or 2.4Ghz CPU's.

How are these things not overheating? My 1.8Ghz Northwood stays in normal temps only with a huge SLK-900U and a Panaflo L 90mm. That's just my CPU. I still have a seperate 120mm exhaust fan and my PSU fan.

How are these CPU's in these Dell's so quiet without overheating? Their heatsinks look like P-III heatsinks. Has anyone ever measured a Dell CPU temperature?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 11:20 am 
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There are no green plastic ducts inside? Nearly every Dell workstation I've used has the one fan with several plastic ducts which help to lower temps quite a bit.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 11:23 am 
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No thermal paste? That's odd. The GX270's we have are using something that looks like Artic Silver 2. Plus, they have large heat sinks. These are in the Small Desktop case, not the Slimline Case. They are also using centrifigal fans, that tend to be quieter.

The thick plastic casing helps, also. Plus, they have been using hard drives like the Barracuda IV's and others that have FDB's.

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Last edited by CRT_Leech on Wed Oct 29, 2003 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 11:28 am 
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We are using the mid size desktop towers as well, and they do have the green ducting.

But there is definitely no thermal paste, and not just on one either, but any of them. I've already had one user who had a thermal event shut down problem because his heatsink wasn't flush against the CPU. I've checked out others and there isn't paste on any of them. The heatsinks just click on and off.

Doesn't seem like a very good environment for a cool running CPU, but yet these machines are near silent and stable.


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 Post subject: Re: How are Dell's so quiet??
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 11:51 am 
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MortySnerd wrote:
How are these CPU's in these Dell's so quiet without overheating? Their heatsinks look like P-III heatsinks. Has anyone ever measured a Dell CPU temperature?


Ahh, that's the right question to ask! I think the secret is that there's no way to tell what temps they're actually running at.

There's no temp sensors on Dell mobos (as many folks have found out when trying to run apps like MBM and Speedfan) so there's no way to tell what kind of temps the CPU is running at. I'm quite sure the Dell engineers know exactly what temps their systems run at and feel very comfortable configuring them the way they do.

The bottom line is that if you're not as obsessive about your temps as most of us at SPCR tend to be you can run your system with very little fannage. It will be nice and quiet and probably live a long, productive life.

According to Intel, as long as the CPU stays under 70°C or so, everything is fine. But how many of us get our panties in a twist when or load temps get over the low 50°C range? Most I'd say.

I don't know about you but if I felt comfortable running my CPU at 45°C+ at idle and 65°C-ish at load I could run a very quiet box. I'll bet you a dollar that I could build a ducted HSF system with a quiet, thermally controlled 92mm fan that would be just as quiet, just as stable and last just as long as a Dell.

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 Post subject: Re: How are Dell's so quiet??
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 12:51 pm 
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Ralf Hutter wrote:
According to Intel, as long as the CPU stays under 70°C or so, everything is fine.


I've heard this too. But I've also heard that what you see reported from your mobo isn't anywhere close to accurate, that there can be huge differences between the surface of the CPU and the core. So then the question is, is 70C the limit for the surface or the core? Because if my surface is 55C, then my core could very easily be 70C.

One thing that's interesting is those dinky dell heatsinks aren't even warm to the touch, even after running 3D Mark for a while.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 12:54 pm 
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my dell runs some type of cpuidle program too i believe.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 2:11 pm 
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There's also a chance that they would sound a bit louder if you had them in a different environment, such as at home. Just another factor to consider.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 3:07 pm 
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My dell from 2000 burnt up, twice. They fixed it, fixed it again, then installed a fast, unbalanced, noisy fan and an "upgraded" larger deathstar. Guess they had some complaints and are at the other end of the spectrum now.


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 Post subject: Re: How are Dell's so quiet??
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 3:14 pm 
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MortySnerd wrote:
We use GX260's and GX270's at my work. They are nearly silent, some are completely silent as far as I can tell.


i have one of these things in my office at work. it's a tower GX260, because it was impossible to get DVI with the small model. my wife is less picky and has brought her GX240 small format box home. the CPU fans are fairly well ducted and are temperature-sensitive. when i hear a keening, mid-pitched whine in our home office, i know my wife had left her machine with a browser page opened to some java animation.

neither one of these dells is as quiet or as functional as my "quiet" box (see my signature). i am surprized by the lack of thermal goop you had discovered. do he heatsinks themselves have some sort of thermal transfer tape or anything else to even out scratches? or are the heatsinks lapped to mirror shine?

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 Post subject: Re: How are Dell's so quiet??
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 8:29 pm 
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grandpa_boris wrote:
i am surprized by the lack of thermal goop you had discovered. do he heatsinks themselves have some sort of thermal transfer tape or anything else to even out scratches? or are the heatsinks lapped to mirror shine?


No goop, no tape, nothing. Just an aluminum cube that clicks into a plastic bracket with a lever to click it in and out. This lever could be better designed, it's a little too easy to knock loose and thus have the heatsink fall off. The surface looks pretty shiney, but I don't know what a lapped heatsink looks like. The processor is a basic P4, nothing special there. There has to be some great engineering going on somewhere.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 9:05 pm 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
My current server computer is using an early XP cpu (hmm maybe 1500+?) and had one of those dinky free heatsink/fans on. Case fan is 120mm Panaflo "low" and temps usually range in the low/mid 50's. Even at load it's never gone higher than 65 degrees c, and there's no thermal paste. Running for almost 2 years straight, and it's still fine, so I can imagine dell doing better than that and quieter as well. Decent thermal paste (ie AS2/3) only helped on average 2-3 degrees at most on my main system, and it could run probably stable w/o it so it's not really necessary.

Still, since temps at 50 or under is what most of us want to feel save at night, we look for more elaborate measures in quieting the pc...done rambling now. :wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 9:53 pm 
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So, I gather from this thread, that if I want a quiet computer then a Dell is a reasonable place to go?

And that I should get a GX270 - as opposed to a regular Dimension desktop?

Here's the (canadian) homepage for that system:
http://www1.ca.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/optix_gx270?c=ca&cs=CABSDT1&l=en&s=bsd&~page=1
It comes in 3 form factors: SF, SD, and SMT. I guess the biggest would be the quietest, which is the SMT? But I think the original poster mentioned the SD.

But these systems are a bit expensive.

Tom.


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 Post subject: Re: How are Dell's so quiet??
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:33 pm 
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MortySnerd wrote:
but I don't know what a lapped heatsink looks like.

here is a pictorial guide to heatsink lapping, with pictures and excruciating process details.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:46 pm 
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Running without thermal paste is NOT recommended. You can probably improve temps up to 3-4c just by putting some generic thermal paste between the CPU and heatsink.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:59 pm 
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TomMM wrote:
So, I gather from this thread, that if I want a quiet computer then a Dell is a reasonable place to go?


i wouldn't choose DELL unless it was a corporate-dictated standard (as is the case at my work). in addition to shabby tech support, DELL suffers from building non-standard systems out of the cheapest components, with the loosest and the least fit of specs. nor will they build you a system that will be as quiet or as cheap as what you can do yourself by following this site's recommendations. if you don't want to DIY, you should at least price up the cost of a DELL system loaded with what you need vs. the vendors who advertise here and support SPCR, who'll build you a quiet system to your spec.

if you are trying to get a reasonably agile game system, this is completely the wrong build. the built-in intel extreme graphics is extreme not in its graphics performance, but in how extremely datedand extremely underpowered it is. adding graphics capabilities and adding memory to a reasonable level (say, 512MB), will substantially increase the cost of GX270.

if you are looking for a desktop system to use for the email, browsing, text editing, etc, then you can get a much less expensive and just about silent fanless system built around VIA EPIA-M platform. it will not look as dashing, but it will cost you 1/2 of what DELL will cost. of course, instead of a 2.4GHz P4 you'd be running an equivalent of P3/300 or lower, but the truth of the matter is that it's enough power for just about all office tasks.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 12:20 am 
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Background noise perhaps?

Has anyone ever done a comparison of a Dell vs. a custom-silenced rig in the same environment?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 12:22 am 
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give me a few weeks when i have my video card shut the @#$& up and ill compare my silent rig to my dell

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 1:00 am 
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OrangeCat wrote:
Has anyone ever done a comparison of a Dell vs. a custom-silenced rig in the same environment?


in our home office, we have have my wife's optiplex GX240 (a less than 1 year old slim/small DELL desktop system), and my fanless EPIA-M and my "quiet" P4/2.8 system (sonata) (see signature for the details). the GX240's fan noise is obvious, louder and higher pitched than the 5V fans on the sonata. the noise is more irritating to me. the quietest system, of course, is the fanless via. it's also an order of magnitude less powerful. the GX240 is relatively noisy, but 1/8th the size of the sonata. on the other hand, the sonata box has real video and audio cards, while the GX240 and VIA are running the built-in chipset video and audio. so everything is a trade-off of some sort.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 2:53 am 
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I'm wondering if perhpas Dell, being a loyal and extermly large Intel customer haven't got a pick of the CPU's which can undervolt. And Perhaps the custom Dell motherboards have a speedstep like hardware throttling as well - they can report 2.4GHz to the end user, but only be running at 1.2GHz for most of the time when the extra speed isn't reqired. I'm sure with the brains at Dell and Intel they have a cunning solution which saves them lots of money from the number of PCs requiring less fans.

Certainly my work Dell, a dual PIII-600 runs its CPUs and HD very very hot. Yep there's just an exhaust fan, and ducting through the PC, similar to the BTX spec in some regards...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 3:30 am 
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Methinks it is only a combination of reasonable engineering (e.g. ducts), noisy environments (an office is not that quiet) and we don't know how hot they are running (as per Ralf).

Certainly I can add another vote to grandpa_boris experience: my Latitude C400 (P3m 1.2) is noisier than either my "XP2400" or "XP2200" systems at home - on a quiet night I hear the Dell first. But in an office or hotel room I very rarely hear it. Of course it is Folding whenever it is on: with room temps <25C (about) the fan is bearable. When room temps climb above this the fan is extremely noisy.

Also, to back up Ralf: first MBM finds no sensors in my Dell. But the one they couldn't stiffle (SMART on the Hitachi hdd) runs at 51C in the office. I know the memory is running very hot (because the bottom of the case is even very hot to touch, and it is only SDRAM), so who knows what the CPU is doing.

I suggest that overall Dell do a good job engineering systems that run office apps 8 hours/business day for 3 years. (And no doubt their servers do what it says on the box, but I doubt they are quiet - anyway, who would know in a server room!)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 4:55 am 
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CoolGav wrote:
I'm wondering if perhpas Dell, being a loyal and extermly large Intel customer haven't got a pick of the CPU's which can undervolt. And Perhaps the custom Dell motherboards have a speedstep like hardware throttling as well - they can report 2.4GHz to the end user, but only be running at 1.2GHz for most of the time when the extra speed isn't reqired. I'm sure with the brains at Dell and Intel they have a cunning solution which saves them lots of money from the number of PCs requiring less fans.


I doubt Dell could get away with some sort of "Speed-stepped" solution to heat and noise. It would be too easy for the end-user to run an app like CPUz or CPUID and see their actual CPU/FSB speed. I've used CPUz on some newish (P4 533FSB era) Dells and it does show the CPU speed and RAM info.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 8:11 am 
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I should explain that one of the reasons I'm thinking about Dell, and hoping that the Dell Optiplex (GX) systems are quiet is that they get their Windows licenses so cheap.

I'd prefer to build-it-myself from quality components, but then I'd have to pay lots of money for a Windows XP license, and I'd rather not send any more money to MS than necessary. It is not a question of me saving money.

So, if one of this site's sponsers sells quiet computers in Canada, and doesn't send much money to MS, then I would certainly consider them.

One other thing. I need 2 computers. One will be used mainly for compiling C++ programs, and the other for Office applications, watching TV, etc. Both, unfortunately, must use Windows XP, though I personally prefer 2K.

Tom.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 8:33 am 
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As far as I'm concerned, the only reason to go Dell in Canada is for the tech support built in. Software is secondary. By tech support I mean grandma calls them instead of you when she can't start the interweb.

If you fiddle with your own systems (likely if you are posting here), then the Dell tech support is dubious at best. Chances are the person on the other end knows less than you.

An OEM copy of XP costs about $140 in Canada, if you are buying a whole system you can get it anywhere for this price.

The other thing to remember about Dell is that shipping usually costs about $140 (per system), and there is no opportunity to pick it up. Occasionally there is a free shipping deal, and that makes them a little more competetive. Also be warned that some Dell's come with a system restore CD instead of a full copy of Windows. Check before you buy.

I put together a system for my mom about a year ago. Dell had a big sale on at the time (free shipping). I very nearly went for it just for the tech support thing, but even with free shipping, it was about $150 more expensive than the one we had put together at the local shop (she already had her copy of Windows, so it was actually a lot closer than that if she had needed it). This was a very basic celeron system, but I spent the extra to put it in a nice little Inwin case with a 92mm exhaust fan. With the thermally controlled retail HSF and good airflow, the thing is about as quiet as any Dell I've heard.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 1:01 pm 
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It isn't the tech support I'm after - I agree that that is only for novices - it is the 3 year warranty (all OptiPlex's come with 3 year warranty). This means they've engineered it to last 3 years so it's less likely that they are letting stuff run too hot. Also, if I buy from a corner store than I get a different warranty for each component, which is a hassle.

I should also clarify that this thread is about the Dell OptiPlex. No one is claiming that the other Dell's are quiet. The OptiPlex is more expensive, and should be better, than the Dell models aimed at consumers.

Tom.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 1:04 pm 
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It's not that unusual for commercial systems to run fairly hot but within spec. They say things aren't built the way they used to be, and they are right. Using CAD you can figure out exactly what you need to stay just within spec but still keep costs down.

When Intel say 70C is the maximum safe temperature, what they probably mean is that 99% of CPUs will run okay at 70C, and they will replace the rest under warranty. We hear about the 1%, and get scared of anything over 50C. Of course, some people do go up to 70 and crash, but don't think to claim under warranty because they CPU is out of spec.

So, Dell probably figured they could save a few quid by not using thermal paste, cutting down the number of fans and using a smaller heat sink. Over hundreds of thousands of units, a saving like that of say, $10, soon adds up. In fact, it's enough to cover the cost of replacing any CPUs that do cook, and as for long term reliability their warranty period is only 1-3 years so after that they don't care.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 2:13 pm 
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For those who don't want or have time to silence their desktop, it may be a good alternative.

You can read a review of the GX260 here.
http://www.pcpro.co.uk/
Type GX260 in the search (top left corner).


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 Post subject: Dell Precision 360
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 3:34 pm 
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We have a whole lab full of new Dell Precision 360 workstations. These are easily some of the quietest commercially built PC's I've ever encountered. I can't comment on build quality yet - too new; or operating temperatures, but I was quite supprised when I first turned them on. They are *far* quieter than the machines they replaced. Ok, that's rather vague, but I unfortunately have no way to give you anything more meaningful. I can tell you though, that side-by-side compared to a Mac G5 in idle, the Dell generates similar or less noise. The machines are spec'd as follows:

P4 2.8 HT
512MB Dual Channel DDR
60GB 7200RPM
nVidia Quadro FX 500

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 6:54 pm 
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Quote:
I'd prefer to build-it-myself from quality components, but then I'd have to pay lots of money for a Windows XP license, and I'd rather not send any more money to MS than necessary. It is not a question of me saving money.

Not to get all morally ambiguous on you, but at that level of disdain for MS, why not just pirate it? Plenty of XP pro key generators out there, and a little birdie told me that they work..


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 Post subject: Re: Dell Precision 360
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2003 7:52 pm 
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DigiHotaru wrote:
We have a whole lab full of new Dell Precision 360 workstations. These are easily some of the quietest commercially built PC's I've ever encountered.... side-by-side compared to a Mac G5 in idle, the Dell generates similar or less noise. The machines are spec'd as follows:

P4 2.8 HT
512MB Dual Channel DDR
60GB 7200RPM
nVidia Quadro FX 500

Isn't the G5 spec'd at 35 dBA/1m? That's the number I recall being bandied around its launch. Quieter than that is not quiet for a home machine. 30 dBA/1m for a machine of that speed is not difficult to reach. I have a 2.8-P4 (with GF4800-128 VGA) machine that measures ~26 dBA -- which doesn't sound that quiet in my home office. I bet you'd be amazed at how high the ambient noise level in your workplace is -- compared to a typical home, I'd guess it's at least 10-15 dBA higher.

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