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 Post subject: Dead-silent Atom-based hosts?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 4:01 pm 
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Hello,

I'd like to replace my aging, and home-built-, pretty-quiet-but-not-silent XP host with a really quiet Windows7 host (as in Apple's Mac Mini.)

Besides the noise, I'd also like to save on power by avoiding keeping the host running 24/7 like I did until now because I wasn't confident the drives would recover from XP's Sleep mode. I used two drives to back files from one hard-drive to the other.

This side of the Pond, a couple of local stores offer compact, Atom-based hosts such as the ZOTAC ZBOX HD-ID40 (Atom D525), Shuttle XS35 (Atom D510), etc.

Before I order a unit, I'd like to check with you if those units are...
1. really dead-silent at all times (no intermittent fans like the MSI Wind PC),
2. can be successfully shut down at night through Windows' Sleep mode with no issues,
3. have enough CPU power to handle moderate software development work (eg. VB.Net)?

Thank you for any feedback.


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 Post subject: Re: Dead-silent Atom-based hosts?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 4:18 pm 
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Shuttle has fanless models. The one you linked to probably has a fan and is more expensive than the basic models.
So far as I know Zotac doesn't have fanless models.

Even the fastest Atoms for development is a stretch. It can be done but it depends what you do exactly and how tolerant you are about latency.
There are more powerful options which are fairly low-power and quiet if you've got the gold. And if you're on a budget, there's always the used market (noise might be a problem however).
Perhaps you could post the specs of what you have and your take about what operations are fast enough for you and what operations are too slow with that.

What's Windows sleep mode? I think there's something that works with Intel boards (you wake from it with keyboard input). I haven't tested it rigorously. WoL works as well. If you're going to buy a built PC, best ask the supplier.
Leaving an Atom running overnight isn't going to have much on an impact anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: Dead-silent Atom-based hosts?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 4:34 pm 
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The Shuttle definitely does not have a fan. I just assembled one for my cousin, and if you add a SSD, it shouldn't generate any noise at all. It's awesome for what it'll be doing (Skype, web browsing), but I don't know if I'd do any software development on it (test of patience, I guess).

Atoms are not very efficient in terms of performance. Core 2s and Core i3s will use a little bit more power, but give you a lot more performance. How much performance are you willing to sacrifice just for 0dB?


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 Post subject: Re: Dead-silent Atom-based hosts?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 6:43 pm 
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1. Read this article, and then consider whether you want to even bother with an atom or Clarkdale. From an energy efficiency perspective a low end Sandy Bridge can't be beat.... even when compared to a dual core clarkdale like here:
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/di ... html#sect0

2. Wait two months and there will be dual core plus dual virtual core Sandy Bridge CPUs that will be even more impressive energy wise... for even less money. And there is a real low end one with two cores and no virtual cores... the 2.2 Ghz G620T.

The idle on the 4 core i5-2400 is only 16 watts compared to 28 watts for the dual core i5-680 Clarkdale. The the forthcoming dual core plus dual virtual core i3-2100 should be even better. But the dual core 2.2 Ghz G620T should really take the prize for draw at low idle.... while still delivering respectable performance under windows.

Get the G620T. Pick out a low energy draw SSD; a low energy draw fan (scythe gentle typhoons are exceptionally energy efficient fans) and a low energy draw motherboard (Intel motherboards are often good in this respect).... and you should get down about as low as anyone.

3. I have never gotten hibernation or sleep to work properly on a desktop computer. It's just too fussy. On a laptop (or an Apple) they are able to fine tune the hardware to the software... and it always seems to work there. Maybe you will have better luck than me, but I have given up.

4. My recollection is that electricity cost is approximately about a dollar per year per each 24/7 watt. See:
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=61255&p=531777

5. When you start getting down to low watt CPUs the motherboard starts become as important or even more important than the CPU. Intel has a reputation for highly efficient motherboards.

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 Post subject: Re: Dead-silent Atom-based hosts?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:33 am 
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Thanks guys for the infos. Currently, besides the higher noise and the bulk of an ATX desktop box, leaving it running 24/7 costs about 450€/year in power (350W PSU with 0.15€ per kW/hour = 1.26€/day).

I'd like a compact, fanless or really quiet desktop for office and moderate dotnet development. That's why I found the above offers appealing, but I could go for a more powerful CPU if some manufacturers offer similar, noise-free form factors.

Thank you.


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 Post subject: Re: Dead-silent Atom-based hosts?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:42 am 
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Out of curiosity, I installed SharpDevelop 4 and launched a basic VB.Net application on a laptop with 4GB RAM and powered by an Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500, and it's fast enough for what I need. I wonder if I shouldn't just use a laptop instead of trying to find a desktop that would be as silent and compact?


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 Post subject: Re: Dead-silent Atom-based hosts?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:21 am 
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A basic Atom like the non-Ion version of the Shuttle you linked to would be much cheaper than a laptop.

I used to run SharpDevelop on a 300Mhz Xeon. Atoms are a lot faster but it was a much older version of course.
A dual-core Atom should be faster than the SU3500 at most multi-threaded tasks (about twice as fast with four threads) but slower at many single-threaded tasks (but rarely if ever twice as slow). Whether you could tolerate the poor single-threaded performance depends on the software's architecture... and on your preferences I guess. I value multiple cores above single-threaded performance myself (I often run my C2D at 600Mhz) so I would probably take a dual-core Atom over the SU3500.

A PC with a 300W PSU does *not* consume that much electricity. The difference between the electricity cost of running a powerful and low-power PC ain't that much.


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 Post subject: Re: Dead-silent Atom-based hosts?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:37 am 
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Thanks for the feedback. BTW, if a 300W PSU doesn't actually use that much power... how can I tell how much it does use?


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 Post subject: Re: Dead-silent Atom-based hosts?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:46 am 
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300W is the rated maximum load. You can estimate the actual power consumption based on the components and what it runs but if you really want to know you ought to measure it. And it's not quite as easy as it sounds to get right.


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 Post subject: Re: Dead-silent Atom-based hosts?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:32 am 
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littlebigman wrote:
Thanks guys for the infos. Currently, besides the higher noise and the bulk of an ATX desktop box, leaving it running 24/7 costs about 450€/year in power (350W PSU with 0.15€ per kW/hour = 1.26€/day).
It is the actual usage not the rating maximum of the PSU that counts in this calculation. Actually for all practical purposes it is the wattage required to run the computer at idle that will represent most of the usage over a 24 hour period.

So in this test:
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/di ... html#sect0
It was about 16 watts for the i5-2400 and its motherboard. Add something for wasted energy in the PSU and you will find that the LCD is probably using more energy than the computer.

_________________
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"Aristotle calls man the rational animal. All my life I have been seeking evidence to confirm this" Bertrand Russell
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former" Albert Einstein


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