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 Post subject: Quiet low-end notebook?
PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2004 4:42 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2003 8:57 pm
Posts: 62
My wife currently use an old Dell PII 266MHz for e-mailing and browsing, but for space reasons I'd like to get a laptop to do this. It might end up in the bedroom, so it has to be quiet - I expect we'll leave it on 24x7 - don't want to boot up just to check e-mail. And it will share a broadband connection wirelessly, so ideally it should have wireless built-in. Portability isn't a big concern.

I've been looking around, and while a Centrino notebook sounds like a good idea, they seem to have much more processing power than we need. I could go for a PIII or Mobile P4, but I suspect they are potentially noisy because of cooling needs.

Any suggestions?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2004 6:23 pm 
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You might want to consider the Dell Inspiron 1000. It is the cheapest laptop Dell offers. It uses a 2.2 GHz Celeron processor and built-in WiFi is an option. I haven't tried it, but I have tried the Inspiron 1150 and it was fairly quiet.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2004 11:30 pm 
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i've got a d500 centrino and its damn quiet, waty more quiet than my dampened desktop, not sure if the noise i hear is from the hd or cpu but it doesnt take much noise to drown it out.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2004 9:17 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2003 3:04 pm
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
Even the lower-powered notebooks can be quite loud. I had a Dell Latitude with a 600MHz Celeron, and that thing had the worst fan noise. Since portability and raw power aren't concerns, maybe you should look into something built with a e-Otonashi or maybe a Mappit A4.

Regarding the Centrinos, they run cooler (and quieter) than anything I've encountered in a notebook recently. My IBM Thinkpad T40 only runs the fan when I'm doing something intensive. For most web surfing it's pretty quiet, and when it's idle it's dead silent - fan off and HDD spun down.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2004 10:35 pm 
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Thanks for the comments. I'm surprised there aren't more models which are aimed at this sort of requirement. We're really talking about only an e-mail and browsing appliance, maybe a bit of letter writing and some spreadsheets.

A Centrino sounds like the best bet, but I feel like I'm paying for more processing power than I need. Even the 2.2 GHz Celeron sounds like overkill. Well, maybe with the Dothians coming the "old" Centrinos will drop in price.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 2:00 am 
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Location: Burnaby, BC, Canada
There is an ECS laptop model available in Vancouver using a Via cpu.
Don't know about the reliabililty factor.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 2:55 am 
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Location: New Zealand
sonofdbn I have heard leaving a laptop on 24/7 will shorten its life. Those things already get hot just after a few minutes of web surfing.

If portability isnt a big concern and silence is important to you may I suggest a VIA 'EDEN' platform. They use the Mini-ITX form factor and are dinky small 17x17cm. Enough power to do simple web browsing with no fans at all.

Some links of interest

www.mini-itx.com
www.epiacenter.com

VIA make their faster Mini-ITX boards with fans but it is the EDEN ones you should be interested in. They have no fans and have been integrated into some very small noiseless systems...

http://www.hushtechnologies.com/start.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 3:16 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2003 10:42 pm
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Location: Finland
I've been running my Acer TravelMate 803 Centrino laptop 24/7 on my bedside table for nearly two years now.

I am normally keeping the CPU at 600MHz mode using SpeedSwitchXP (even though it has a 1.6GHz Pentium-M) so that the fan never runs, and it has a very silent IBM/Hitachi 40GB drive. The laptop really is extremely silent, the hard drive seek noise is about as loud as a ladybug walking on a glass table (that's the comparion I like to use :) ), and the hard drive idle noise is inaudible from more than 50cm away.

In my opinion this really is the best solution for a seriously silent 24/7 machine. The wrist rest on top of the hard disk gets slightly warm during heavy disk activity (defragging), but normally the machine is cool to the touch.

I'm still very happy with the machine, it is the optimal 24/7 download PC for me.

Edit: The 600MHz mode is quite fast enough (it is comparable to 1GHz P4) for anything but playing games, and whenever I play games I just switch the CPU to full throttle and put on headphones so I don't have to listen to the CPU fan. :) The machine is both silent (at 600MHz) and fast (at 1.6GHz), just not both at the same time.

Pate


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 4:21 am 
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Dirge, I've looked at the VIA systems and mini-itx but costwise it becomes quite expensive once you add in an LCD monitor, DC-DC converter and other parts. The cases aren't very cheap, either - and I don't have a spare humidor/toaster/Commodore lying around!

I've also heard that leaving laptops on 24/7 is not good, but have always wondered if it's urban legend. I could see perhaps the internal fan breaking down, but other than that, there aren't a lot of moving parts and the hd won't be spinning continuously. On the other hand, this might make a 3 year extended warranty worth getting!

Pate, SpeedSwitchXP sounds very interesting; it's good to hear about the noise level. Your solution sounds like a very practical one.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 1:20 pm 
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Location: Burnaby, BC, Canada
sonofdbn wrote:
I've also heard that leaving laptops on 24/7 is not good, but have always wondered if it's urban legend.
I think it would depend entirely on the individual laptop. Using one as Pate is doing, where it it runs cool almost all the time is quite different from running a desktop replacement that sits there and cooks.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 1:34 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Posts: 277
Location: Burnaby, BC, Canada
Found that ECS laptop: ECS G320 Via C3 1.0G

I'd want to have a very good warranty, given the ECS factor. It would need to be cheap, since I doubt it would match Pate's Pentium M at 600. Cost is $1000 Cdn with a 40G/256Mb DDR333/DVD/CDRW combo. Another version taggeed the G320-C (for cheap?) with a 20G/DVD ROM was $900 Cdn at another shop.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 7:23 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2004 3:31 pm
Posts: 316
Location: Vancouver
My wife compaq presario 2100 fan only start at a certain temp so if it is cool enough it is prefectly silent, but once the fan start, well you can hear it. I wouldn't be able to sleep next to it.

Personnaly I would go for a 15" lcd and a Antec Minuet case, it takes matx board and it's psu is suposed to be quiet, well Antec quiet so you would probably have to replace it with a 200w seasonic SFX PSU.

For the mobo an undervolatable matx board like the Biostar M7NCG and a mobile athlon 2000+ undervolted and underclocked. Then for cooling a low profile hsf with an undervolted fan like the artic colling slim silent pro but check first it will fit the board.

Now for the wireless if you don't need to transfer huge files between the 2 machines, I would use a USB WIRELESS LAN ADAPTER 802.11B since the minuet only take half-height card.

That configuration should cost more or less under $1000 cad and won't take much space.

Ta save more space you could use one of those short keyboard without a numeric keypad.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 8:20 pm 
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fabre wrote:
My wife compaq presario 2100 fan only start at a certain temp so if it is cool enough it is prefectly silent, but once the fan start, well you can hear it. I wouldn't be able to sleep next to it.

Personnaly I would go for a 15" lcd and a Antec Minuet case, it takes matx board and it's psu is suposed to be quiet, well Antec quiet so you would probably have to replace it with a 200w seasonic SFX PSU.

For the mobo an undervolatable matx board like the Biostar M7NCG and a mobile athlon 2000+ undervolted and underclocked. Then for cooling a low profile hsf with an undervolted fan like the artic colling slim silent pro but check first it will fit the board.

Now for the wireless if you don't need to transfer huge files between the 2 machines, I would use a USB WIRELESS LAN ADAPTER 802.11B since the minuet only take half-height card.

That configuration should cost more or less under $1000 cad and won't take much space.

Ta save more space you could use one of those short keyboard without a numeric keypad.


I would definately not recommend getting the antec minuet case. I bought one when it first came out and there is barely any air circulation in there I was afriad of cooking my hard drive just with it being idle and the temps in there. If you want to see how bad it is go look on the comments of what other people who have bought it have said on newegg.com - just look for the antec minuet and look at the reviews there.

Speaking of no proper airflow I wrote antec about it and they didn't even piss on me. Eventually I had to jerry-rig a fan up just so the internal case temps inside would not exceed 50 degrees celsius (running idly w/ a AthlonXP 2500+).

From a buyers point of view idealy it looks really nice and like a good idea. But I can guarantee that you'll be sorry if you get it - that is if antec hasn't made any case modifications yet.

The psu that it comes with is a 220W PSU and its extremely quiet. The only concern of all the case owners of this case is not cooking their hard drives, because many people already have since the airflow is so bad, not to mention blue screening when the other components can't get enough cool air.

The centrino idea is a good one. I have a Compaq Presario x1050CA and the fan only comes on when playing 3d games or watching dvds. Apart from that it remains off. The Centrino systems will make you happy if you're looking for something quiet - guaranteed. That is at least the centrino systems with the banias Pentium M processors...


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 Post subject: Consider a Scythe Otonashi Via Mini-ITX w flash hard drive
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 8:27 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 11:59 am
Posts: 220
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Mike C did a superb review a while back on the Scythe silent case for a VIA M10000.

With 256 MB of ram, and an 800 MB Silicontech IDE Flash Drive, you get a TOTALLY SILENT system, with no moving parts and no fans.

Windows 98 SE, with OE and IE fit in the 800 MB easily, and give you about 300 MB extra.

And the price (sans KVM) comes in around $475

Scythe Otonashi silent case: $200
Via Mini-ITX M10000: $160
256 MB PC2100 / DDR266 RAM: $65
800 MB Silicontech IDE Flash Drive: $50 (on Ebay - http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 4134516702)

Performance is fine for surfing/emailing - the bottlenect will be your connection, even if its broadband. It is MUCH faster than my old P2-266 system. There are lots of USB ports if you need to do some temporary CDROM reading/writing. The flash drive is rated for high temperatures, and has a very long MTBF - so the system should work in absolute silence for a long time.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 9:53 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2003 8:57 pm
Posts: 62
Sounds like I should take another look at the Mini-ITX's, but then what about the Shuttle Zen? I think it would be easier to assemble although it's a bit bigger, and a 2.5" drive might remove some of the concerns in the review. Is it possible to suspend/hibernate a non-laptop?

Regarding the Scythe, an even simpler (and cheaper) solution would be to get one of the fanless VIA CPUs; I'd guess they should still have enough horsepower for e-mailing/surfing.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 10:48 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 11, 2004 8:55 pm
Posts: 111
Location: New Zealand
I like Pate's idea of running SpeedSwitchXP on a Centrino based Laptop. If you could get it to run with ought the fan kicking in that would be great. If you could get the system to hibernate when not in use then you would have a real cool and quiet pc.


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 Post subject: mini-itx
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2004 11:12 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 23, 2004 12:01 pm
Posts: 31
Location: oregon
you can put together a completely silent system based on the via boards mentioned above. and i mean completely silent - no moving parts=no noise.

while this is a bit of a plug for my systems (www.peacefulpc.com), it's not hard to find all the parts i use and slap it together yourself for basically the same price, and i'm happy to help you with the specifics. i really only sell to the folks who don't want to go through that process :)

the inevitable caveat - to be totally silent, you have to go with some kind of solid state hard drive, and they are very pricy on a per GB basis. but if you are just doing email, you can't go wrong!

good luck!
jef


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2004 3:45 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 11, 2004 8:55 pm
Posts: 111
Location: New Zealand
sonofdbn could you please keep us updated on your descision, I am also interested in getting a small 'silent' pc


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2004 6:53 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2003 8:57 pm
Posts: 62
Dirge wrote:
sonofdbn could you please keep us updated on your descision, I am also interested in getting a small 'silent' pc


Thanks for the interest. Perhaps a little more information would help, since my circumstances might be different.

Firstly, I have the slight luxury of some time - about a month, because we'll be moving to a new place and I don't want to shift more stuff than necessary. This means I can afford to wait to see if those Centrinos start coming down in price now that the Dothians are appearing. That does seem to be happening.

Secondly, I'm in Singapore, which means that some of the more exotic solutions (e.g. Scythe Otonashi) are either not available or the cost is prohibitive once shipping is taken into account. And many online stores and eBay sellers won't ship internationally.

I do like the idea of a VIA-based solution, but the downside is more than just cost. I don't mind paying the premium for the small size, but I can't understand why there is no built-in DVI-out option. Sure, I could use an analogue connection to an LCD display, but that seems to be a waste. Why have a small footprint motherboard which doesn't work optimally with a small footprint display device?

In fact, the more I've looked at VIA alternatives, the more I appreciate how good a solution a laptop is. You get the casing, the PSU, the display, built-in wireless, keyboard, pointing device, optical drive, hard disk AND a lot more processing power plus portability. Unless I want to have absolute silence, there doesn't seem to be much reason to go for a VIA solution.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 02, 2004 9:47 pm 
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Location: Finland
A laptop is not even all that expensive compared to a desktop system when you include the price of an UPS with the desktop system price.

This might be irrelevant to many of you, but where I live (rural area) the main power does go out a few times a year (during a thunderstorm for example), so a machine that keeps on running even when the electricity goes out is very useful.

Pate


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2004 6:44 am 
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I just got a mac laptop- an ibook g3 500mhz.

Its VERY quiet - hd only chugs under disk intensive stuff. 500mhz G3 mac processor (faster than equivilant PC) is fine for web browsing etc.

You can easily run mail, internet and m$ word.

Airport is apples wireless network and you can get them built in. And imo they look very nice.

OS X is based on unix, so you get 24/7 stability.

Just an idea...i still use a windows box for my main pc, but i use a mac laptop as it is quiet, stable, nice looking and long battery life.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2004 8:07 am 
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Location: Dublin, CA / Liverpool UK
IF the orginal poster is still looking,
I'm surprised no one has noted that Celeron M's exist. The Celeron M is a crippled version of the Pentium M, based on the excellent Banias chip. Since you don't care about raw processing power, this might be what you're looking for, since it's also reasonably priced.

One other thing, you might want to put some thought into form factor (since this is a second machine for you folks, right). You pay more for thin and light laptops, but the value you gain in mobility and/or ability to use it in more situations may be worth it.

Some laptop models where the Celeron M is an option:

Ultra Low Volt Celeron M (No fan at all in this tablet, I know from personal experience) [yes, I know it's a tablet, my wife has one]:
https://www.motioncomputing.com/store/d ... 101.006.01

oops, sorry was going to link more but have a meeting to go to... suffice it to say Compaq, Gateway, and I believe dell all have models that can be configured with a Celeron M for a good discount


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2004 10:38 pm 
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Thanks, sgtpokey. I'm more in waiting mode than looking mode at the moment, as we wait to hear when we will move. But from my recent research Dell and Compaq in Asia don't seem to offer Celeron M's and Gateway just doesn't operate in Asia any more.

I suspect that part of the problem is that the CPU is not a big factor in laptop prices, unless you're buying the very latest. So companies generally prefer to offer a Pentium M instead of a Celeron M at what might be only a slightly lower price.

I did find a "Mercury" brand laptop (yes, I've never heard of them before either) which offered a C3 M10000 CPU for about US$600, but haven't taken a close look at it.


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