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 Post subject: Medion/ALDI retail/complete silent PCs
PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2003 10:06 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 17, 2003 12:54 am
Posts: 90
This is just a pitch for Medion's PCs which are extremely quiet.

Links:
Medion's home page
ALDI International home page
ALDI's Special Purchases this week


I have a 2.6 gHz PC purchased about 6 months ago from ALDI's. Very nicely equipped for not a lot of money, and virtually silent.

First, the general system specs, then the silence specs.... :)

2.6 gHz Pentium-IV
256 meg PC333/2700
120gig Seagate ATA V FDB
GEforce4 TI-4200 AGP 8X
Built-in 5.1 audio on motherboard (sub,center,front stereo,rear stereo)
USB 2.0
Firewire / IEEE-1394
100 mbit LAN
40x CDRW
12x DVD
56k v92 modem
Front-panel with SanDisk, Memory Stick, Compact Flash, Smart Media, 6-pin firewire, 3 USB 2.0, Joystick, front-stereo out, line-in, mic-in, composite video out, S-Video out
....no floppy, but room for one which I stuck in there
keyboard, optical mouse with scrollbutton
Win XP Home, Works Suite / Word 2000, Nero, PowerDVD, etc..
TI-4200 has composite video-in/out for capture, and two 15-pin VGA ports. (no DVI port for 2nd monitor)
1 yr warranty

All for $700


Now for the system silence design. This is a rather interesting system that has only two fans in the entire system. One on the TI-4200, and one on the CPU. There is no power supply fan.

The system uses a combination of convection and forced air to cool the system. The front case is 80% covered with about 4mm holes, so air can easily flow in through the case. The power supply is the same, with a fine mesh of holes across the entire back, just making room for the power socket. The back of the case has a hole which I believe could fit a 92mm fan but nothing is installed so air can flow out there, too.

The CPU fan is ducted, with the fan sitting on a riser about 6-8 inches above the CPU, and the fan very close (within 1/4") of the case cover on the left side. Over the fan, the cover has a mesh hole, with a decorative plastic cap. This way when on high speed the fan pulls fresh cool air into the case through that cose hole, blowing straight down onto the CPU thru the duct. This air then flows up and out the back of the power supply or the fan hole on the back of the case.

The TI-4200 fan is basically silent, and the CPU fan is speed-controlled by the motherboard based on what you are doing, as with a laptop fan.

So, when the system is sitting at the desktop, or when running some non-power-app like Word, the CPU fan speed drops way down, so that just your breathing is louder than the computer. When the system starts calculating really hard, such as when gaming, the speed of the CPU fan picks up a little, but it is still not considerably loud at full speed.

A tradeoff here is that the system's case is fairly warm to the touch, since it relies on convection to draw air through the computer. It is normal to smell the plastic in this computer for a few days after you buy it, because it gets plenty warm in there and the plastics outgas from the heat for a few days. Then it's fine. It's warm, but runs fine, no crashing, freezing, etc.

Interestingly the case front puts a plastic bezels over the CDRW and the DVD drive. When you eject a CD, the emerging CD tray pushes open the bezel. Although it appears merely decorative, I have found that if you remove the bezel on the front, the CD drive becomes significantly louder. That plastic cover is serving as a muffler to quiet down the drive spinning at high speeds.

All in all, a very good and silent design.


But, there is a marketing/access problem. Medion is a German company with not a very large presence in the USA. If you live in the US, you currently cannot buy direct from them but they do sell direct to people in Germany. But, it seems you can get their systems from Best Buy and ALDI's in the USA.

ALDI? What is that? That is the second part of the access problem. ALDI is a low-budget grocery/hardware store also based in Europe. They sell everything from groceries to lawnmowers, computers to refrigerators. But, they also have stores in the USA as well, that carry products that are basically identical to their European stores.

ALDI makes money by doing things as cheaply as possible. Although they have a website to look up weekly specials, there is no store contact information whatsoever. Their specials usually run for a week or until the shipment runs out, and the last time they had these Medion computers, it was a mad free-for-all of people trying to get one. ALDI stores do not have customer service desks, and even have their phone number unlisted so you cannot call to see if they have them in stock before you go.

Better get there early. ALDI closes at 7pm nationwide, and is closed on sundays. Oh, and if you don't have cash or a charge card, don't bother going. They do not accept checks or credit cards, due to check bouncing concerns and the fact that credit card companies make retailers eat about a 5% or so charge per purchase for accepting credit cards. ALDI won't pay them for that privelege, so they accept debit cards only.

Hope you aren't expecting much for customer service. The manager IS the cashier, the employees are surly and low-paid, and you bag your own groceries, kiddo. Shopping carts are 25 cents each, which you get back when you put it back in the cart corral. You should definitely dress down if you go because much of their clientele is likely on food stamps or welfare and definitely look like it. (Actually this probably describes the employees as well.)


But, the computer is AWESOME and you get a hell of a lot for what you pay. :)

Yeah, you might have better luck getting one at Best Buy, but you should also expect a $150 or more markup for the same system. That's the price you pay for the convenience of a store that stays open 'till 9pm every day, has a customer service phone line, and takes checks and credit cards. ;)

-Scalar


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 Post subject: Hmm, time for me to upgrade!
PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2003 10:09 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 17, 2003 12:54 am
Posts: 90
Looks like ALDI has a new one for $799. This is likely the same silent design, but this one even more packed for $100 more than what I bought 6 months ago.

Wireless 802.11b, 160gig HD, DVD writer AND another DVD drive, 512 meg, 800mhz bus, wireless keyboard/mouse.. yikes. (This is blurry 'cause I magnified it from ALDI's tiny image.) :)

Image

Hmm, maybe I should sell my old one off for $400 and go for this new one.. :)

-Scalar


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2003 9:29 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2003 3:14 pm
Posts: 204
Location: USA
Thats pretty wild thats no fan in the power supply. Any idea who makes the PS?

that looks like a very good price by the way. Nice find.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:59 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2003 1:28 pm
Posts: 951
Location: Tennessee, USA
I appreciate your subjective evaluation of this system. However, with all due respect, I would like to submit my suspicion that your use of the word "silent" or "silence" in describing this system is a tad hyperbolic. "Silent" around here tends to be reserved for <20-25dBA. Perhaps you mean quiet when you are using silent--and I don't mean to argue semantics--but it is helpful to use a consistent verbiage for descriptions at SPCR. I don't mean to be argumentative. It would be helpful to have your "review" address some of the following.....

Here are my reasons for doubting this system falls within the "silent" threshold:
  • Side case hole 1/4" from CPU fan - clear path for noise to exit case.
  • Front bezel covered with 80% 4mm holes - clear path for noise to exit case.
  • TI-4200 fan will be pretty whiny by all accounts I have read, rather than "basically silent."
  • Assuming the HDD is hard-mounted - usually leads to case resonating.
  • No case damping material.
I'm willing to be proven wrong here. Just bringing up typical sources of noise.

It would be helpful to have the specs on:
  • Mobo model?
  • Heatsink model?
  • Heatsink fan model--without a vendor or rpm, this is suspect for noise as well?

It would also be helpful to have some numbers on system temps (idle and load) and fan rpm.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 10:07 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 17, 2003 12:54 am
Posts: 90
Yes, some objective answers would be nice, except I am unwilling to disassemble a system under warranty to identify this stuff for you.

Why not buy one yourself for testing? I believe ALDI will refund your money within about 30 days of your purchase if you are not satisfied with the product.

Since you live in Virginia, your chance of finding an ALDI store is pretty good:
ALDI-Foods store locations
(click on a state for ALDI store locations in that state)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 11:05 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2003 1:28 pm
Posts: 951
Location: Tennessee, USA
scalar wrote:
Yes, some objective answers would be nice, except I am unwilling to disassemble a system under warranty to identify this stuff for you.

Why not buy one yourself for testing? I believe ALDI will refund your money within about 30 days of your purchase if you are not satisfied with the product.

Since you live in Virginia, your chance of finding an ALDI store is pretty good:
ALDI-Foods store locations
(click on a state for ALDI store locations in that state)

  • Both Viriginia locations are >2 hours away.
  • I'm not the one promoting this as a quiet system. :) You are, so the onus is not on me to demonstrate the validity of my quiet claims.
  • Happy with the computer I have and doubting the quietness of this system, so I'm not even interested in taking the time to review.....much the same way MikeC will not review all products on the market.
  • I wasn't advocating disassembly. Is opening the side panel to look inside considered a violation of the warranty? That's all it should take to determine part manufacturers. Doesn't bode well for being upgradable.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2003 6:15 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2002 6:33 am
Posts: 8636
Location: Sunny SoCal
I'd love to see some temp numbers from your system. Can you (or have you tried) running Motherboard Monitor on your system to see what your PSU and mobo temps are? I'm betting that they're pretty high, given the description of the cooling system in that case.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2003 9:57 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2003 2:55 am
Posts: 6
funny to find such a recent post - had just searched for 'Aldi' here since Aldi here in Belgium is selling new Medions next week, and I saw some kind of reference to 'AIRXT' or something like that which is supposed to make the system super-low noise. Scalar's description provided the answer.

In Beglium, the Netherlands, and Germany, the Aldi PC's are so well known that people line up outside the shops early in the morning on the day they get the PC's in. Known for high-quality stuff at ridiculous prices. Medion's service here seems to be fairly good too - reports of people getting faulty stuff repaired / replaced without hassle. If Medion is daring enough to do a no-fanner on case and PSU, I'd guess that they really are noise-conscious and did the rubber grommet HDD thing as well, maybe they even lurk here.

As for Aldi, except for their employment practices, it simply rocks. Great to go to a supermarket and find only one brand of spaghetti pasta. Your decision is made in a second. Not to mention that you leave the store wondering how you could have possibly bought so many groceries for so little cash -- Aldi has to spend a lot less in keeping up inventory when there's only one brand for each thing, not to mention paying the least possible for ads. Most stuff good quality too, very little advertising, and absolutely no hoo-hah. When I lived in the States it was quite a bummer when our local Aldi closed -- I guess the people in that affluent town didn't go for that kind of thing -- all over America, it seems. A great pity for the folks who can use a store that provides essentials for cheap.

Have heard complaints about Medion monitors.


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