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 Post subject: Fanless or S12?
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 2:45 pm 
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I am researching for a new computer. I plan to buy a motherboard with integrated graphics, NIC, and sound. Currently I am leaning hard toward the AM2 X2 CPUs.

I'm torn between a fanless power supply (Silverstone or Fortron) or a Seasonic S12 380W. I selected the 380W model rather than the 330W because of observations of many here that the 380W model has larger heat sinks and the fan tends to run at the slowest (inaudible) speeds.

Pragmatism tells me to select the S12 to have that fan for safety. However, the fanless PSUs easily should handle my usage habits.

Adding to the debate is that my hearing is exceptional. I am particularly sensitive to high frequency and background noises and I must emphasize that point. A fan is a fan and without any first-hand experience with the S12 I do not know whether my sensitive hearing will notice the fan. My current primary box is silent, but I have a test box that is "only" quiet. The sole cause is the PSU fan. Like my primary box, I undervolted the fan to about 7 volts. My primary box is silent, but I still hear the fan running in the test box. Most people never would complain about the test box noise level, but often I hate running that box because even that low level of noise disturbs me in my office environment. I work with no background noise or music and with my hearing I easily can hear a mouse scratching.

The fanless PSUs are more expensive and although the piggy bank is small, I am willing to spend the money to avoid noise, if that option is viable and safe.

My new box will rest about 2 feet from me under my desk. I could use my current KVM switch to extend that distance to about 5 feet to the other side of a small file cabinet.

This new box will be a dual core CPU system to support virtualization. Although the newer CPUs are not necessary for virtualization, I am buying a box that will last me many years. Therefore to somewhat future-proof the box I might as well start with something that is stable but close to current cutting edge.

I plan to run Slackware (GNU/Linux) as my primary OS with my old but stable NT4 Workstation as a continuous virtual OS. Occasionally I will run a second virtual OS for testing various GNU/Linux distros or the Slackware current tree. But even then, my host and NT4 OSs will be idling (computers might multi-task well, but I do not :)). I will not be concurrently running a half dozen virtual OSs or a virtual server.

I likely will run all virtual OSs from a second hard drive.

I'm a basic office user. Lots of typing, along with web browsing, email, and the usual dozen or so utility software applets to support such tasks. Occasionally I compile software and kernels.

I'm not into 3D, games, professional graphics, or multimedia. My computer-based multimedia demands are relegated to the occasional film trailer and online file formats. Nothing significant and my existing old hardware handles those tasks just fine. Any new hardware will only be an improvement in that limited area. Down the road I might dabble with a video capture card for snatching the occasional late-late night movie. I might later add a digital camera.

I will be adding a DVD player/burner.

I expect to regularly power off the box except during long compiles or those possible late-late night movies. That is, normally this box will not be on 24/7.

In all, I do not envision me straining my new system in any conceivable manner.

So --- fanless or S12? Any related advice is appreciated. Thanks.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 5:40 pm 
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What case will you be using? That is the number one question to ask when considering fanless anything . . .


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:07 am 
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Choose a well-breathing case and a fanless PSU shouldn't be a problem.

A bottom-intake PSU will enhance cooling(in a standard ATX case), so less work for the exhaust fan. I wouldn't bet on such a PSU being able to replace an exhaust fan entirely, but it might be possible. The golden rule is to put in as little as you can get away with, and I'm thinking an active PSU might make two fans(exhaust and CPU) more or less redundant in case heavy-duty heatsinks were used, not to mention serving as a guarantee against PSU troubles.

I would get an actively cooled PSU, bottom-intake, such as the S12(not II mind you). It's a critical component that doesn't have user-accessible monitoring, and you will be able to reduce overall sound with a properly circulating model, perhaps replacing a fan entirely.

Antec Solo, P150 and Sonata Designer all feel like good choices for an office environment. The Sonata comes with an Earthwatts PSU, all apparently have the factory-damped panels.

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 Post subject: Re: Fanless or S12?
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:19 am 
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Location: 61.6° N, 29.5° E - Finland
woodsman wrote:
I work with no background noise or music and with my hearing I easily can hear a mouse scratching.
What's the big deal there?
I've few times heard mouse scratching behind one window border board while listening music with headphones. (although open ones)


Quote:
I'm not into 3D, games, professional graphics, or multimedia. My computer-based multimedia demands are relegated to the occasional film trailer and online file formats. Nothing significant and my existing old hardware handles those tasks just fine. Any new hardware will only be an improvement in that limited area. Down the road I might dabble with a video capture card for snatching the occasional late-late night movie. I might later add a digital camera.
Otherwise those don't require CPU power but are you sure you're not going to watch HDTV material?
Decoding HD video can take quite a lot CPU power.
(after 1080p movie trailer DVD looks like sh*t)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 3:31 pm 
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Quote:
What case will you be using?

I have not yet committed to any case. I presumed one of the popular Antec models. So let us presume that for the sake of this discussion.

Quote:
What's the big deal there?

Nothing. I merely was waxing poetic. ;)

Quote:
Otherwise those don't require CPU power but are you sure you're not going to watch HDTV material?

I'm not much of a TV watcher. My current TV is 28 years old! I realize HDTV is soon to be rammed down everybody's throats and that then I'll have to buy a converter or a new TV. But I watch so little TV that the problem is not significant for me. As far as watching DVDs, until all DVDs come packaged only in HDTV format, I'm not going to worry much about that. :)

Quote:
Choose a well-breathing case and a fanless PSU shouldn't be a problem.

Okay then, I research case design before pursuing the PSU question further.

Quote:
It's a critical component that doesn't have user-accessible monitoring

That is what my pragmatic side says. :)


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 Post subject: fanless
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:15 pm 
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My usage is similar to yours. I have both the 430 watt Seasonic and the fanless Silverstone. They both work perfectly but I like the Silverstone. Absolutely silent.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 4:37 am 
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This may seem rather odd, but I'm currently using a Silentmaxx Fanless 400W (rebadged Fortron Zen basically) and what annoys me the most besides the high temperatures is the smell. I've never heard this brought up before, but it smells wrong. :)

It's hard to explain exactly what I mean, but it...uh... smells like there's too much heat buildup inside the unit. I've never experienced any instability with this PSU, nor do I think it'll ever be a problem but the smell is very peculiar. If I had to compare it to anything, I guess I'd say it's similar to driving your car around for a while and then hanging over the hood. That kind of smell.

It's kind of a minor issue, I suppose, and I have no idea if other fanless PSUs suffer from the same problem, but for this reason alone I'd choose a fanned PSU. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 7:31 am 
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That is weird... but not unheard of. Some people are more sensitive to different smells and particles in the air. There was a person in the whole-house ventilation thread who had been ducting exhaust out of windows due to someone suffering because of the fumes/particles and whatnot the PCB and other components were giving off when heated. Heated air itself pretty much feels different, so adding to that any additional wafts will make a pretty odd smell I'd reckon... if you can smell it.

I can barely smell the petrol vapours from my carburator, so I'm not too bothered by chemicals usually. But natural smells, like sweat or flowers, I pick up, and public lavatories are really, really vile, even the nice ones.

I for one thought the components that went into a PC would be pretty much static in their odour and 'perspiration', but obviously not so... and did you know that all these fire-retardant materials(among others) in household appliances and furniture waft around in the air as well? Problem with that is the fibers that accumulate in your system, just like asbestos used to(and still does in places). Not to mention the close contact you have with, say, couches and mattresses.

Just something I find interesting. I'd personally rather die in a fire than of slow poisoning.

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Case: Define Mini
Parts: P8Z77-M Pro µATX, i5-3570K, N650Ti-1GD5/OC, 8 GB G.Skill DDR3U, Xonar DX, WD G 1 TB, mx100 256 GB SSD, RX-5300 PSU
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE2 + Scythe SS PWM, 2x Noctua NF-P12
Extras: Eaton UPS, Dell 24" EIPS, Ducky TKL, SteelSeries Sensei Raw, Synology DS213j 6 TB NAS
idle-load: CPU 32-44 °C @ 300/600-600/800 RPM, GPU 35-65 °C @ 1200-1650 RPM


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 Post subject: Re: Fanless or S12?
PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 9:01 am 
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woodsman wrote:
The sole cause is the PSU fan. Like my primary box, I undervolted the fan to about 7 volts. My primary box is silent, but I still hear the fan running in the test box.


Most PSU fans start around 4 volts, why would you run it at 7V instead of 5V?

Voltage at idle Brand/Model
4.5 Seasonic S12 rev 1
4.3 Seasonic S12 rev 2 (note this is the sleeved version not the roman numeral II version that is newer)
4.2 Antec Earth Watts
4.1 Antec Neo HE
3.9 Seasonic M12
3.84 Corsair HX
3.8 Seasonic E+ and the old 500/600 watt S12

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 1:54 am 
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you can get a semi fanless PSU.
Scyhte has one (it is now my favorite company - i don't have shares)
a good CPU heat sink will throw air onto the PSU so it can cool it a bit.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 2:21 am 
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Lt_Dan wrote:
a good CPU heat sink will throw air onto the PSU so it can cool it a bit.

This is highly dependent on one's individual setup and often not true. If you have a case like some of the Antecs, where PSU is in a separate compartment from MB, this will certainly not be the case. If your CPU heatsink is ducted directly to a case exhaust fan, this will certainly not be the situation. Same for a passive CPU heatsink without duct (e.g. Ninja). Even if it is just a tower heatsink with a fan blowing perpendicular to the PSU intake, this is pretty much not the case.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 2:31 am 
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sorry, i wasn't clear, my suggestion was for a Heat sink that is located under the PSU - which is more common then the Antec setup.
and i was also referring to a heat sink like the ninja or other towers withan added Fan (not passive), and which are, by my experience, will blow air to the PSU as well.
you can then use 1 fan to cool several components.
in any case, a semi fanless psu would deal with the problem of noise\heat.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 11:16 am 
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FWIW, I am unsure what to voltage I modded the fan PSU. I cited 7 volts because that seemed to ring a bell. I do recall temporarily using a potentiometer to test the voltage limit for the fan and then splicing some carbon resistors inline to that same resistance. Could be 7 volts, could be 5. This is an old box with an old PSU and I did not do anything fancy. Besides, the problem is not that important right now. One, I slapped a piece of cardboard with punched holes over the fan exhaust grill. That helps somewhat. Second, I'm focusing on a new box to replace both of my current boxes and then the noise problem will disappear.


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