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.

Report from San Jose: IDF Fall 2002, part 2

The Silent Front
Well, not exactly. A handful of companies Silicon Valley does not make. Still, it is probable that of all the press at IDF, Silent PC Review is the only one reporting about the State of PC Noise. Part Two of SPCR's coverage of IDF fall 2002 includes meetings and discussions with Seasonic and Molex, and offsite visits to Antec and Silicon Valley Compucycle.

Sandbagging for fun and HDD silence

A unique aluminum sandwich variation by enthusiast bluehat, with a large bag of sand below and above. I bet it does silence the drive -- heck, it's practically buried, it ought to be silent!

Unfortunately, not a solution that's practical for everyone. Most people do want their drive in the case & they may have a hard time justifying 20Kg bags of sand in their room (especially to others). The final touch of a tie-dye cloth cover may persuade, though.

Seriously, I am sure bluehat's hard drives are completely silent; mine are not. Here's a challenge: can this idea can be brought into the case?

NRF's PC made Quiet

A personal DIY page on a cooling/silencing project by reader "nrf":

"I'm really researching two topics at once at this point: cooling and quieting, and they are usually at odds with each other..." and after all the mods and changes, he's "looking forward to quiet, peaceful enjoyment of my setup!"

Scoop on VIA's next gen mini-ITX: multimedia-rich EPIA-M

VIA will soon be releasing a new generation of mini-ITX boards called the EPIA M -- 'M' for multimedia. Preliminary tips suggest that "this new EPIA M series is a Babe!"

The CLE266 chipset apparently makes a huge difference for DVD playback. Basically it's the same marvelously tiny layout as the current boards (one of which we reviewed back in May), but with USB2.0, 1394, smooth DVD playback, a better TV out, LAN, DDR266 and 6 channel surround sound. It also has better graphics than the Trident Blade on the PLE133. In short, it addresses all the shortcomings of the current EPIA for home PCs.

EPIA M sounds perfect for the role of living room entertainment center PC being pushed by Microsoft (and Intel) these days -- and can easily be packaged into a virtually silent case. EPIA M boards are scheduled to be shown at the VIA Technology Forum in Taipei this year (October 8-9, 2002).

Zalman releases the ZM80-HP and ZM50-HP

We reported on Zalman's new VGA coolers in an earlier story. Zalman's web site is now announcing that the ZM50-HP and ZM80-HP have officially been released. In related news, Zalman also announced the official release of their new CNPS 5700D-Cu Intel P4 cooler.

SPCR does IDF, Fall 2002

The Silent Front
It's the first industry event covered exclusively from the perspective of a silent PC enthusiast. With over 140 companies and 200 training sessions to consider, this PC silencer was run right off his feet. Back in the shelter of my quiet enclave, here is the first of a 2-part report on the State of PC Silence from the Fall 2002 Intel Developer Forum: SPCR does IDF.

Quieting the new dual-proc PowerMacs

Apparently, Apple's new dual-processor G4 PowerMacs are so loud that they have earned the nickname, "WindTunnel". Abbott Schindler has built a functional acoustically insulated enclosure that, according to Abbott, dampens the noise significantly. Dimensions, a parts list and photos are all included.

360 Watt Fanless ATX PSU

At this German site,, they build/sell a 360 Watt(!!) Fanless ATX PSU with Active PFC. It is a serious looking device covered with heatsinks, sort of like a macho car power amp. The bad part is that it's 295 Euro's!

Deltatronic also offer a serious liquid-cooled version of the aluminum cool & quiet drive sandwich idea written about by MikeC. Again, with grooved ribbed heatsinks on the top & bottom as well as side rails, the device looks like a high end car amp.

The site is in German; Google does an OK translation.

Sudhian Media reviews Lex System SFF PC

Sudhian Media has posted a review of the Lex System, a small form factor box utilizing chips from VIA and Intel. Because of an external power supply, these units can be run silently, especially when combined with a VIA C3 800 or similar chip. On the downside, the Lex systems require their own, proprietary FlexATX motherboards, so upgrade options are limited.

NoVibes III HDD Decoupling Rack

SPCR's review of the NoVibes III hard drive decoupling bracket by, which supplier Silicon Acoustics says is "ideal for drives like the Barracuda IV whose noise is primarily vibrational in nature." A counterpoint to Smart Drive, another drive noise reduction product also sold by Silicon Acoustics and previously reviewed here.

Vantech "Stealth" 3-fan PSU: PREview

We don't usually do previews, but the Vantec rep was so insistent on a quick review that I felt compelled to give her what wanted, at least on a small scale. So here is SPCRÂ’s first preview, being written less than an hour after its delivery by UPS, and only half an hour after first powering it up on the testbench.
The accompanying photo was taken with the Vantec VAN420A in front of a mirror so that you can see it really does have three 80mm fans.

AMD Thoroughbred "B" Catches P4, Runs Cooler?

Stories today in virtually all the major hardware sites about the new Thoroughbred "B" XP 2400+ and 2600+ restablish AMD as the speed holder in the processor race against archrival Intel. The new XP models are faster, more overclockable and produce less heat per clock cycle than the first Thoroughbreds. The higher efficiency was apparently achieved by moving to 9 layers of interconnects (from 7) and copper (instead of aluminum). The XP2100+ at 1800MHz produces 67.9W, almost exactly the same as the 68.3W of the new 2600+ running 333MHz faster!

Still, the CPU surface is 40% smaller than with the earlier Paomino XP, and there is no helpful heat spreader as in the Intel Pentium 4 and the coming AMD Hammer.

VIA's Mini-ITX Projects Page now Live

VIA's Mini-ITX projects page is now live at their main web site. Some mind boggling car projects are featured -- min-itx PCs in model cars & REAL cars, the latter with flat screen monitors in the middle of the dash.

Zalman ST300BLP "Black Box PSU Mod" at

Frostytech has done a very "extreme" mod on an early model Zalman PSU. Definitely attractive, but does this help the acoustics?