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.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Sat, 2005-04-23 08:56.
The computer accessories market is awash with tools and gadgets. Marketeers clearly understand the financial value of the geek's perpetual urge to fiddle. Many of these combogadgets seem utterly trivial, but few are useful even to silencers. We examine two of the more useful devices among the countless examples: The Cooler Master Cooldrive 6 and the Matrox Orbital MX411.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Thu, 2005-04-14 00:03.
The full-featured i915Ga-PLF is one of several new AOpen socket T motherboards with a unique function they call Power Master. The board supports the Enhanced Speedstep Technology in the newest 600 series Intel processors, but the i915Ga-PLF's Power Master can turn older chips without the new EIST into power misers, too.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Tue, 2005-04-12 08:35.
Contributor Jan Kivar reports on using CrystalCPUID, a user-configurable substitute for Cool 'n' Quiet, with his Athlon A64 system. Version 4.3 of this advanced utility can work not only with Athlon 64s, but also Intel 600 series and the Pentium M processor, as well as the K6 and K7.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Sun, 2005-04-03 15:48.
Shuttle's first real BTX SFF system in their first steel chassis continues the somewhat larger trend started with their other socket T models. PCIe VGA, a BTX 80mm fan PSU and an actual Intel BTX HSF rather than the right angle heatpipe HS preferred by Shuttle -- all these make for a ground breaking SFF. Acoustics are still challenged.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Fri, 2005-04-01 12:01.
It's our third birthday anniversary today. Well, give or take a few days. I recall telling someone back then that SPCR would probably dwindle down in about three years because by then, average computers would be quiet enough to make the site unnecessary.
Boy, was I ever wrong!
We've come a long way since then, and SPCR probably helped to shape the perceptions and perspective of both the users and makers of PC gear. Acoustics is paid at least lip service by just about every computer gear brand today, and there are so many more real choices for noise-conscious end users than could be fantasized three years ago.
But there's a long way to go before mainstream computers and components are built with benign acoustics as a primary design goal. And there is work to be done in creating a sound specification and reporting convention that is accurately reflective of human perception and understandable for everyone.
Anyway, wish us a happy birthday & raise a toast with us today.
PS -- For a bit of a laugh, look to the bottom of this internal news achive page to see what we were writing about at the beginning. Amazingly, not that much has changed.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Fri, 2005-03-25 12:23.
It's the first of Shuttle's socket T SFF systems, and it is loaded to the gills with convenience and performance features. It borrows heavily from BTX layout without quite being BTX. Visibly bigger than its predecessors, with a huge (for SFF) 350W PSU, this Prescott-only machine is unfortunately quite a lot noisier. Frankly, we're a bit disappointed.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Thu, 2005-03-24 09:12.
It is slick and sleek, pretty and small, with an odd twist borne out of functional (cooling) need: The motherboard goes in upside down. Supplied with a small 240W PSU and two 80mm fans, the LC-11 is pretty quiet, too, especially if you take care, but it takes only Micro-ATX boards. Ralf Hutter tries a Pentium M
system in this case -- with nice results.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Tue, 2005-03-22 02:13.
The Silent Front
The U.S. Environment Protection Agency
is moving to tougher Energy Star
specifications for computers. For the first time, the spec will define efficiency in terms of power consumed while a computer is on, rather than just on standby. Preliminary conditions for desktop computers include the following: The PSU must be rated for >80% efficiency, and not exceed 50~60W AC power during idle. Over 60 stakeholders met to discuss the proposed changes for the first time on March 15. We managed to speak with a handful of attendees after the meeting. The catch is the new energy Star spec is not effective until Jan 1, 2007. A lot can happen between now and then.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Thu, 2005-03-17 02:19.
Seasonic's S12 series was recently introduced as a replacement for the now >18 month old Super Tornado series. It shares much with the earlier series, but does everything just a little bit better. The 430, the middle of five models, is about the quietest fan-cooled PSU we've reviewed, by a small margin, and also one of the most efficient.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Tue, 2005-03-15 16:14.
It's a very consumer-directed "Feature-laden" power supply with windows, shiny silver finish, LED fans, a convenience AC outlet, reasonably quiet fans and big claims of low noise. Our first enounter with a Raidmax PSU did not impress us, despite all the bling.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Sun, 2005-03-13 19:32.
The Silent Front
For SPCR, the Intel Developers Forum is interesting for the plethora of genuinely valuable information, technical education and marketing that Intel and its partners pack into the three days. Then there is the usual guerilla marketing parallel event AMD runs at a nearby hotel, and this time around, in the skies above San Francisco with several planes spelling out "AMD Turion 64 Mobility", their forthcoming mobile CPU. Intel's main focus was multi-core... everything. Naturally, AMD also focused much attention on multi-core. My interest was mostly issues that impact acoustics in computers, but there wasn't much to focus on, really.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Tue, 2005-03-08 02:37.
The Freezer is Arctic Cooling's "high-end" heatsink. At US$34 it is still relatively inexpensive, but is targeted at the performance market. Can this modest heatpiped HSF compete successfully in cooling performance while maintaining AC's reputation for low noise established with their Super Silent series?
Submitted by Mike Chin on Sun, 2005-03-06 22:13.
It is not the first AMD Athlon 64 SFF barebones system from Shuttle, but it is the first to use a Socket 939 motherboard. We installed a 3500+ Winchester (90nm) core in a minimalist setup with a notebook HDD, played long in the BIOS and measured, tested and listened to bring you this review of a quiet, powerful system that is almost as small as the Shuttle Zen.
Submitted by Mike Chin on Sun, 2005-02-20 19:33.
Anyone who has read even a few articles at SPCR knows that we've encouraged high efficiency PSUs for a long time. Now, it looks like the PSU efficiency race has officially begun. 80 Plus in the US has a unique program to encourage and reward (with rebates) higher efficiency PSUs in IT gear. A Seasonic PSU has just been awarded the first 80 Plus certification.
The 80 Plus test is quite tough: Their standard calls for 80% or better efficiency at 20, 50 and 100% loads. It's the 20% load test that's the challenge; for lower rated PSUs, this means high efficiency at very low power, which is usually difficult. Surprisingly, the newly certified 80 Plus PSU is the Seasonic SS-400HT APFC, a 400W model, which means it reached 80% efficiency at just 80W load. Seasonic says the newly released S12-500 and S12-600 retail models are, in fact, the higher power models of this 80 Plus qualifying PSU. Download the 80 Plus press release (a PDF).
Interestingly, SPCR's PS Fundamentals & Recommendations article is linked on the 80 Plus consumer techical info page.