First I'm new here so greetings everyone!
I am the proud owner of a Dell mini 10, which was exactly the perfect notebook for me: fanless, you can only hear the DD.
Good to have another noise snob on the site, and I mean that is a positive way. I was tempted by the Dell Mini 10, but Intel's Atom is just too slow for my tastes.
SSDs are the easy (but expensive) solution to DD noise. I used my whole new-laptop savings to buy a 600GB Intel 320 SSD a few days after they were released; before they started going up in price.
I would like to find maybe a bigger screen like 13". I know there's no fanless PC with this size (what a shame!), but do anybody know a notebook which could be "fanless-like" (fan off most of the time, or that you can't hear at all) ?
My Thinkpad T61 (with the mentioned SSD) has a fan that is on all the time, but it makes less noise at normal loads then the refrigerator that is two rooms away. I expect that the current 15" Thinkpad T520 would also be as quiet as the HDD, and they start at $800.
Thinkpad T520 System Noise
The T520 doesn't show any irregularities in use with low load and stays at a constant noise level of 32.5 dB(A). It can be perceived as a low pitched noise. The fan noise remains on an idle level for a long time when the load is increased, for example in 3D applications, only to turn up to 34.4 dB(A) later. A maximum noise level of a very audible 36.8 dB(A) can be reached.
The 14" T420 is about the same size and weight as the ASUS UL30, and it is quiet. It is going to be much, much, much faster. It starts at $750, but will cost you $830 with a 720p webcam, bluetooth, and 9-cell battery upgrade.
Thinkpad T420 System Noise
The T420 always remains fairly quiet regardless of the load. The system noise is a constant 32.2 dB(A) in low load. The hard disk is slightly louder with 32.5 dB(A) during access.
The test laptop just only reaches a maximum noise level of 35.2 dB(A) during our stress test (GPU and CPU in full load).
I've read about the ASUS UL30, but I am not sure whether the fan is running sometimes or not.
ASUS UL30A-A1 Heat and Noise
Under a light to moderate load the ASUS UL30A-A1 stayed quiet with only a few hot spots forming. Fan noise was minimal, with it defaulting off under most conditions. When the fan was on, your ear had to be next to the case to hear it. With the system on for the entire morning, the case warmed up about 10-15 degrees over room temperature, with all the keyboard and palmrest staying the coolest.
For an extra $150 in money and less then one pound in weight, I would go with the faster & more solid choice: Thinkpad T420.
Yes, I know that the ASUS makes less noise...