Silent PC Review is passionate about ergonomic spaces for people and finding creative, practical solutions to silencing all kinds of IT machines. We provide detailed reviews and ground-breaking knowhow about the acoustics of computers and components, as well as their energy efficiency and thermal performance.

Interesting reader submissions

Aike sends in news of Xbit Labs' coverage of the new Shuttle XPC SB51G barebones PC featuring i845GE core-logic that can take advantage of the Hyper-Threading technology provided by the latest Pentium 4 3.06GHz CPU.
Mikell tells us about a new Goldenfield atx power supply with a single 120mm fan that looks like a cool and quiet power supply. It certainly has potential, with the huge fan and wide open vent.
And Rick was wandering around the Castronic web site and found a new mini-itx case, mini CheckerCube-129, with 2.6"x 8.5"x 9.7" (tiny) dimensions. There are vent holes punched all around the unit. which is designed for fanless operation. Looks promising, but does require a slim CD and a slim hard drive.

Review: 2nd Gen Mini-ITX - VIA EPIA-M9000

CPUs|Motherboards
The EPIA-M series, driven by the new VIA CLE266 chipset, is designed to tackle a different market segment than the original EPIA series. The video, audio and I/O enhancements in this second generation Mini-ITX board allows VIA to position the EPIA-M series for a home entertainment PC. Does it meet VIA's objectives? Is it quiet? Does it really work as an entertainment PC?

Review: Blast off with Cenatek's Rocket Drive

Storage
The Rocket Drive, a PCI card with SDRAM that emulates a hard drive, is an exciting product for anyone seeking high performance computing. For the silent PC enthusiast, what's really interesting is that this product accelerates system speed without adding any noise. Our detailed review of Cenatek's Rocket Drive.

Mini-ITX pc in a scanner

When my associate Marien contacted VIA to do an ITX mod, I had no idea that the job would fall into my lap. Over the last month I have seen Gas Cans, ETs’ and various other “non- computer” items get molested (I can only imagine the pain that ET went through) and turned into computers (check out http://www.mini-itx.com). What I have done is brought the computer back to the computer, so to speak. What you will see in the next horde of pics is what I call, The scannerPC.

AOpen's "SilentTek: mobo-embedded system noise controller

Just when it looked like the big boys in the PC industry would never get the quiet PC thing, comes this news about Silent Tek from AOpen: There are 4 CPU fan noise reduction algorithms, and one CDROM noise control function. At low power, "you may find your CPU fan is almost always running at zero RPM." This promising feature is on the "new generation" of AOpen motherboards.

Silent Tek works with SilentBIOS on "some" AOpen motherboards, which passes fan control over to Silent Tek after boot. After a few weeks of frustration with less sophisticated motherboard-embedded fan control functions from other companies, we await eagerly for some AOpen samples to review!

Next: "Muffled" High Performance Computing

Not silent or quiet, but muffled. (That's probably the best overclocking fanatics can hope for!) Seriously, "Muffled Computing of San Jose, CA is announcing the release of their new fan mufflers and foam kits designed specifically to create a high performance computing experience free of excess noise." They look like well-built little add-on metal boxes, lined with damping, to act as vent tunnels or mufflers for fain exhaust. 5-15 dBA noise reduction with less than 1% increase in temp is claimed. Check out Muffled Computing.

Review: Temp-controlled Coolers by Arctic Cooling & Spire

Cooling

Temperature controlled fans on heatsinks are more commonplace than you think: did you know that the stock Intel P4 HSF is thermally controlled? Temperature controlled HSF have the potential to cool effectively and quietly, but few hardware reviewers take any serious notice. Is it because they don't work? We examine two inexpensive models and find them very different. One is a bargain winner. Find out which one and why in SPCR's second heatsink review.

Dell releases SFF PC

Dell has released the Optiplex SX260, their latest entry into the growing Small Form Factor PC market. At 9.72" x 3.50" x 9.53", this looks to be one of the smallest SFF PCs yet. Key to the tiny size is the external 150W power supply, which should also help reduce the noise of the SX260. Unfortunately, Dell doesn't list any sound ratings for the box, so it's difficult to say how quiet this machine is.

Review: 4 Socket-A Heavyweight Heatsinks

Cooling
Three celebrated heavyweights and a renown low-noise specialist in our first heatsink roundup review. The contenders: Thermalright SLK800 and AX7, the venerable Swiftech MC462A, and the CNPS6000Cu from low noise specialist Zalman. We know how they do with loud high airflow fans, but how about a Panaflo at 12, 7... and even 5 volts?

The need for silence

Why are we hungry for silence? Or is it just the absence of noise we long for? Well, living in busy cities we want to control the noise. We want to choose.

This summer I read about silent computers and my mind wandered back. Ahhhhh, those were the days VIC-20, ZX81, C64, no noise! I almost had forgotten them. Why can we have something quiet like those? Well, I bought the EPIA mini-itx with the C3 processor. I knew what I wanted. Listening to streaming radio and writing and now and then surfing the net.

But ....

University of BC Fan Noise & Airflow Research Project

Fans|Controls
Hard drive noise is well documented by manufacturers, but fan noise is not. As fans are the only serious noise sources in a PC other than HDDs, this research will help all who want the real facts about fans. An anechoic chamber, serious sound analysis tools, final-year mech engineering undergrads, acoustics professionals and corporate sponsors from the PC industry are involved in this exciting collaborative project.

21 PSU Roundup at Tom's Hardware

A roundup of power supplies at Tom's Hardware including noise tests and power output capability. The staff of five (sigh!) who worked on the review built their own load PSU tester and failed 6 units, including 3 that did the BANG! thing. Some highly ranked models are obviously available only in Europe. Definitely worth a read.

Seagate Barracuda V reviewed by Storage Review

Storage Review has a review on the new Seagate Barracuda ATA V hard drive. According to the review, Seagate has reduced their hard drive warranties from 3 years to 1 year starting October 1, which is certainly bad news. The good news is that Storage Review found the Barracuda V to be 3.5db quieter than its predecessor, the Barracuda IV. The difference seems large enough to be beyond a reasonable margin of error. The V may be a new standard bearer.

SPCR featured in Vancouver paper, The Georgia Straight

A while ago, someone suggested contacting Dave Watson, the tech columnist at a local paper (in Vancouver, BC, Canada where I live), to see if he'd write up something about SPCR, maybe bring more exposure to the site. So I did, an interview ensued, and here's the result in the Georgia Straight.

About the paper: "Established as the lifestyle and entertainment weekly in Vancouver for over 30 years, the Georgia Straight is an integral part of the active urban West Coast lifestyle with a per issue readership in excess of 369,000."

The University of BC anechoic chamber student project mentioned at the end of the article is happening! I have the role of an "industry consultant" (or some such thing) for 3 final-year mechanical engineering students who are examining DC fans (noise / airflow / vibes @ various voltages) used in PCs. They are guided by Prof. Murray Hodgson, UBC's specialist in acoustics and the manager of their anechoic chamber.

I've doggedly pursued this one for most of 2002. Finally! Thankfully, some corporate sponsors have promised support for this project by way of funds as well as equipment and materials. Naturally, results from this project will be published here at SPCR on an ongoing basis.

Zalman releases Fanless VGA heatsink ZM80-HP

It seems that Zalman has finally released their long awaited fanless heatpipe GPU cooler, the ZM80-HP. With cooling fins on both sides of the card, there is hope that this new cooler can run the hottest GPUs completely fanless. It's available from SPCR sponsor Silicon Acoustics for ~US$40.