Silent PC Review is dedicated to reviews, news and information about silent computers and components, as well as their energy efficiency and thermal performance.

Thermalright XP-120: 1st 120mm fan CPU heatsink

Cooling
With Intel CPUs far exceeding the 100W mark, you knew it was going to come to this, sooner or later: A massive heatsink designed to work with a 120mm fan for a new level of cooling. Thermalright is the first out of the gate with their XP120. Thin aluminum fins, a very large radiant surface, copper base and heatpipes. Simply put: Its performance sweeps aside every other HS.

SilverStone ST30NF Fanless ATX12V PSU

Power
The SilverStone ST30NF is probably the most sophisticated fanless PSU we've examined thus far. It weighs 6 lbs, uses a heatpipe cooling system, has twin LEDs for operational and temperature status, Active PFC, and even looks really slick. Rated at just 250W (for 120VAC input) but priced at US$159. Hmmm...

Apple iMac G5: Super Small & Very Quiet

Apple's new iMac G5 unveiled today is built into the back of 17" and 20" LCD monitors just 2" and 2.2" in depth and feature a 1.6 or 1.8 GHz G5 processor. Although Apple have not claimed this, it qualifies for the world's smallest desktop computer: The PC portion of the iMac has no footprint to speak of, and the monitor is only marginally deeper than some LCD monitors. The iMac G5 is considerably smaller and sleeker than similar LCD monitor + computer integrations from the PC world. The features and connectivity offered compete well with the very best SFF PCs offer.

All of this would be moot for SPCR if it was noisy, but Apple claims to have paid close attention to acoustics once again:

"The speaker grill [at the bottom edge of the monitor/pc] lets a trio of ultra-quiet blowers draw cool air into the system. These custom heat dissipaters can rotate at speeds as low as a few hundred RPM. Advanced thermal software spins them as fast or slow as needed... the iMac G5 measures less than 25dB when idle (at the same distance of 50cm, a whisper in a quiet room measures more than 30dB). A slit in the back of the case allows heat to rise out the top."

If true, this is quieter than any SFF PC except fanless units such as those from Hush, NiveusMedia, etc. The iMac G5 seems like a clever adaptation and application of notebook technology; surely PC makers could do similar? Now for a review sample. .. Discuss this news in the SPCR forum.

X-bit Labs examines power consumption of current VGA cards

A follow-up to an earlier piece on ATI cards' power consumption, this new X-bit Labs article examines current nVidia cards and compares them with ATI cards for power consumption. Detailed analysis of heat sources in a PC is of interest to anyone concerned about thermal and noise management, which is at the core of silent computing. Actually measuring VGA cards' power is a challenge that few web sites have attempted in the past. Definitely worth a read.

CoolerMaster Vortex Dream Heatsink/Fan

Cooling
The CoolerMaster Vortex Dream is a new heatsink/fan by that offers many high-end features at a budget US$22 MRSP. All-copper one-piece skivved design, cross-platform (P4/A64) compatibility, and an integrated 70mm fan with built-in manual speed control. It's a lot for the money. We hustled the Vortex Dream to the SPCR heatsink torture test chamber to bring you the real goods.

New Arctic Cooling VGA coolers at InsaneTek

Internet News

A new site called InsaneTek has just posted a review of the entire line of new VGA coolers from Arctic Cooling. As regular visitors are probably aware, Arctic Cooling's VGA Silencer is strongly recommended by SPCR. Its prime innovations are a big waterwheel style fan combined with a large cooling fins and a design that pushes the hot air from the VGA card out of the case instead of spewing it all around the case. It is not too noisy at standard speed and has a switch to slow the fan to a whisper quiet mode. The downside is that the original fits only certain models of the ATI 9000 series and nVidia GF3s.

The new AC VGA cooler line maintains the same key features in a somewhat more streamlined design, adds clever cooling for the VGA RAM, uses copper in many models, and is divided into two series: NV silencer 1 through 5, and ATI Silencer, 1 through 4. The nine models cover just about every current mainstream VGA card. One change is that most models now feature temperature control for the fan with different top speeds for various models. InsaneTek's review is quite good in most ways and surprisingly complete despite its brevity, but does little more than just touch upon the acoustics. Still definitely worth a read.

Silverstone LaScala LC-04 HTPC Case

Cases|Damping
Silverstone's recently released La Scala series SST LC-04 is a slick beautifully styled all-aluminum case that fits a full size ATX motherboard yet has small exterior dimensions, especially the all-mportant (for a HTPC case) height . Is the LC-04 suitable for a quiet HTPC? Read Ralf's review.

Scythe FCS-50 heatsink/fan

Cooling
Heatpipes, dual fan capability, big and tall, blow-across airflow, hypro bearing fan with wide-range speed controller: These are the core features of Scythe's new multi-platform CPU cooler. The FCS-50 features many thin fins, the flat Heatlane heapipe, and some unique design features. It fits well in Scythe's eclectic HS stable. How cool & quiet is it?

Intel's Plans for 478 & T Socket processors

An X-bit Labs article posted last week says Intel will offer 90nm products for socket 478, and also introduce some 130nm (Northwood core) processors for socket 775 (socket-T). To summarize,

For socket 478, well get more high end P4s -- P4EE-3.6 (NW), P4E-3.6 & 3.8 (Prescott), and Celerons (w/256Kb cache) up to 3.46GHz. There's also new slower P4-2.26 & 2.4 (533MHz / 512KB cache Prescott w/o Hyperthreading).

For socket-T, there's low end NW: 2.8C, 3.0C & 3.2C (800MHz / 512Kb cache). And high end NW: P4EE 3.2 & 3.46 (1066MHz / 2Mb cache).

None of these models have been in previous processor roadmaps but were revealed to Intel's partners in an announcement about new packaging for tray processors. Finally, "It is not clear whether the “unexpected” central processing units will be supplied into retail market, or will be available in limited quantities to selected computer makers."

From our PoV, the expansion of "low end" (read: cooler) processors on both 478 and 775 platforms is a good thing, allowing for quieter systems, especially in SFF where the thermal challenges of the Prescott virtually eliminated 775 from the quiet race.

Zalman Reserator1 Fanless WC System

Cooling
Even at first glance you can tell the Zalman Reserator1 is something completely different on the PC cooling landscape. Zalman's first water-cooling system is the first fanless kit to be widely available commercially. SPCR reviewer Russ Kinder says it's almost totally silent. Click here for his long-awaited review of the Zalman Reserator1.

Spire CoolGate SP450B0 Heatsink/Fan

Cooling
Another Spire heatsink under the examining glass, this time the CoolGate heatpipe cooler, said to be for "high performance applications." It uses vertical dual heatpipes to transport heat away from the CPU and the increasingly popular blow-through airflow configuration. Ed Ng takes a close look.

SPCR Database Transfer Complete

SPCR's able admins moved SPCR to the new server during last night's scheduled shutdown. This does not mean that you are now looking at this site from the new server. The domain name server change request will become effective for some starting today; for others it will take longer. By the end of the 31st, all visitors will be at the new site.

Sunbeam Hard Drive Silencer

It has been ages since we examined the NoVibesIII, which still remains the best commercially made 3.5" hard disk decouple-mounting device. Recently, we came across an absolute knock-off that looks like it comes from the same factory. Called the Hard Disk Silencer, it's marketed by Sunbeam, whose simple yet effective multi-fan controller we reviewed a while ago.

FrontierPC and ADPMods, an online Canadian store in Windsor, Ontario, both submitted samples recently. After examining and using the samples for a couple of weeks, I can say the Hard Disk Silencer is so close to the NoVibesIII that they are interchangeable. The best thing is the price: Just CA$16~17.

Samsung's New Silent Notebook Drives

A quick preview of an item in the review queue: Samsung recently released their first notebook drives, the “SpinPoint M” Series: 5400 RPM and 8MB cache in 30G, 40G, 60G and 80G capacities.

I obtained a 40G model (MP0402H) and have been working with it for a couple of weeks. In a nutshell, this sample is about as quiet as the quietest 4200 RPM notebook drives (~16 dBA/1m) with super quiet seeks and vanishingly low vibration, and performance close enough to desktop 7200 RPM drives that in normal desktop apps, any difference is not noticeable. It generates 2.4W max and runs utterly cool. The retail price paid was just under US$100, which is only a modest price penalty compared with desktop drives.One of these notebook drives for the PC with 250~400 GB desktop drives in one or more external USB 2.0 boxes placed remotely would make for a silent computing solution without any serious penalties in performance, storage capacity or price. It's a great storage option for a silent computer. (The new Samsung notebook drive was used in the recent review of the YY Mars case.)

Shuttle becoming a System Integrator

Shuttle's seems determined to transform itself from a component manufacturer to a major systems integrator. Shuttle has been selling complete build-to-order XPC systems direct to end-users in the US since around May this year.