Congratulations SPCR! 10 years is significant — a recognition of a positive contribution to the internet.
I was proud to be a regular part of SPCR for about three years. I wrote over 100 articles, and wrote the bulk of the content on the site while I was active. SPCR wasn't just a job for me, though it was my first employment after university, and my first sense that I wasn't going to be stuck working retail for life. SPCR was like a family for three years, and it taught me that I had something to offer to the world and all of you.
I joined SPCR at a time when the need for silent computing had already started to penetrate the consciousness of the enthusiast community, and the big manufacturers were starting to respond. I built on Mike's expertise, having been a daily reader for over a year, but I didn't experiment like he did; most of that work was already done. What I did was begin to apply the expertise that Mike had developed to a wider range of products, and for a while we were testing a significant portion of every power supply, heatsink, and hard drive on the market.
Of all the articles I wrote, two or three stand out in particular. My favourite article is one that recently saw an update
: Power Distribution within Six PCs
. I did this on a whim, since at the time we knew that PCs didn't use as much power as advertised, but we had no idea what a realistic load distribution was. This is one of the few contributions I made where I brought something new and original to the table, and the response was immediate: It garnered over 100,000 views in less than a week. NOBODY else had thought to do this, and it was linked to widely across many of the bigger name sites.
Other memorable articles include the massive three-part P180 review
— we spent the better part of two months on it making sure that is was both complete and as fair as we could make it. With Mike's involvement in its design, we worked hard to make sure that it was rigorously tested. The article is still #5 on the top viewed articles of all time, with close to 1 and a quarter MILLION views. It staggers me to think that my work has been read so widely.
I also have fond memories of the various fan round-ups
that I did. #2 has over 1.5 million views. This task was years in the making, and we spent months working on a methodology that would test fairly. Even now, I don't think we ever figured out how to test for airflow properly, and we eventually dropped it from our testing. More importantly, we learned that airflow isn't really that relevant. What you need is enough
airflow. Enough meaning this: Enough to carry the amount of heat coming off the heatsink. Less than this amount, and the system would cook. More than this, and you basically increase noise with minimal benefit to cooling. There's a specific amount of airflow that any given heatsink needs to operate efficiently, and trying to push more airflow than is optimal simply doesn't benefit cooling that much.
The last article that sticks out to me is memorable more in hindsight than for the article itself: Our original review of the Scythe Ninja
. The Ninja was a stunningly good heatsink — at least our sample was — and it remained our benchmark heatsink for years. In fact, our praise of it probably helped launch Scythe to its dominent position today. But, in subsequent tests (of which there were many, since we used it to calibrate every time we switched test beds), we always had difficulty reproducing consistent results. One mounting would duplicate the original results, and the next would be 5° hotter. The problems got worse once we had multiple samples floating around the lab. In the end, we concluded that our sample was probably exceptional, and the average case was not quite
as good as ours was. But, it took us over three years to find this out, by which time even its exceptional results had been surpassed by bigger, beefier competitors. In the end, it was a lesson about precision of results — the error tolerance for heatsink testing can't be better than two or three degrees either way, with variance coming from different samples, different mountings, and different ambient conditions. Ergonomics, fin-spacing, and weight all matter more than raw test results, but none of these can be quantified or ranked in quite the same way that thermal results can, so thermal results continue to get top billing even though the top performing heatsinks can all be considered equal within the margin of error.
I'd like to finish with a LOUD shout out to Mike Chin, who truly is the heart and soul behind SPCR. He is the man who didn't just complain. He fixed the problem and then he wrote about it: He put the issue on the map prominently enough that an entire industry changed to address it. Most of that had already taken place by the time I came along, but his knowledge and his fascination about acoustics rubbed off on me. He has been a mentor to me in more ways than one.
I have Mike to thank for my subsequent career in location audio in the film industry — listening to computer noise for three years taught me how to listen critically and how to solve acoustic problems in a scientific manner. Working with him was also my first exposure to business, and I probably would not be running my own business (Storybubble Pictures
) if he had not always been there working in the background, showing me that there is FAR more to maintaining a website than just writing articles. From day one, participating in the SPCR forums was part of my job, and it was a pleasure learning how a community functions and why people wanted to read what I wrote in the process. Lastly, I am proud to call Mike a friend — and that friendship is truly the legacy of my time at SPCR.
Congratulations Mike. 10 years is an accomplishment. Good luck, wherever the next 10 takes you.