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

Review: Coolmax Xtreme Files F1-B Drive

Storage
An external USB2.0 HDD with one-button functions for both Windows OS and data, the Coolmax Xtreme Files Drive aims at providing easy-to-use backup and restore for desktop PC users. The review also features SPCR's first MP3 sound files of HDD noise -- Samsung SP80 and WD800JB in idle & seek.

Arctic Cooling ATI Silencer 2 VGA cooler

Cooling
Since our review of the original VGA Silencer a year ago, Arctic Cooling wised up to the demand for similarly quiet cooling for all kinds of VGA cards, not just selected ATI cards. Hence the recent release of their second generation of video card coolers, called ATI or NV Silencers, eight models in all to cover almost all the current cards from the two VGA giants. A close look and listen of the ATI Silencer 2 installed on a Sapphire 9600XT.

AOpen i855 desktop Pentium-M board reviewed!

GamePC publishes the first AOpen i855GMEm-LFS M-ATX motherboard and Pentium M review in North America, with a slew of benchmarks as might be expected from a web site of that name. No details on power dissipation, but enough thermal notes to show how coolly the combo runs. It also turns out to be a great gaming rig.

Anand's PC Industry Update from Taipei

An industry overview article by none other than Anantech's founder Anand Lal Shimpi. Subtitled Industry Update - Q4-2004: AMD adds SSE3 Support, Intel's 925/915 not selling and more, the focus is entirely on PC component makers, with whom Anand personally met "for three days straight, usually from 8AM until as late as 11PM every night." It's a good newsy piece with interesting insights and tidbits on many topics of interest to hardware development watchers.

CoolerMaster Hyper 48 HSF: 478, K8, 775

Cooling
Yet another new high-end HSF from CoolerMaster loudly claiming "Ultra Silent" status, the Hyper 48 is large, all-copper, heatpipe equipped, comes with an integrated 92mm fan and with mounting hardware for sockets 478, K8 and 775. How does it fare in SPCR's thermal, acoustic and airflow testing chamber?

An Interview with Shuttle

The Silent Front
Ken Huang of Shuttle Inc. discusses the origins of SFF and the impact of Microsoft's MCE 2005 public release, noise and aluminum cases, AV component style versus the toaster shape, SFF system integration and Shuttle's future. SPCR's first interview article, with SPCR-centric questions on acoustics.

Thermalright XP-90 CPU Heatsink

Cooling
Thermalright's XP-90 CPU heatsink, which features four heatpipes, thin aluminum fins and a nickel-plated copper base, was released at the same time as the XP-120. It is essentially an XP-120 shrunk to work with a 92mm fan for those who cannot accommodate a 120mm fan. Amazingly light, a little cheaper, and much easier to install: How does it perform with a quiet fan like the Nexus 92? SPCR puts the XP-90 through its paces and brings you the full monty, complete with high resolution sound files.

mCubed T-Balancer: The Ultimate Fan Controller


mCubed offers a multiple fan control system called the T-Balancer which is sophisticated enough for even the most demanding users. The T-Balancer is a small microprocessor-controlled external hardware unit that can reside inside the PC and connects via USB. Control is via Windows-based software. We have had a model in the lab for weeks; in lieu of a full review, here's a quick preview. The feature set is so rich that only a few key elements can be touched on here:

  • 4 separate configurable fan output channels, each with independent tach signal output to mainboard
  • Accurate speed control in manual or automatic mode via editable response curves
  • Fans can be slowed to an absolute speed minimum of 2% depending on model
  • Adaptive PWM allows adjustment of frequency for every fan model, with analog smoothing and filtering for quiet smooth operation
  • Definable hysteresis allow smooth operation even at steep response curves, no "up and down"
  • 0 rpm possible: if temperature rises, the controller speeds up the fan according to the response curve
  • Up to 8 temperature sensors

Ultra X-Connect 500W PSU

Power
The Ultra X-Connect 500 PSU is said to have preceded the Antec NeoPower 480 reviewed here some weeks ago. Their similarity is a Modular Cable Connection System that allows you to use only the output cables and connectors you need. The X-Connect is a bit more showy and uses two 80mm fans instead of the NeoPower's single 120mm fan. What other differences are there, and is it suitable for quiet computing? The Ultra X-Connect 500 review features our first sound recordings of PSUs so you can judge the acoustics for yourself.

Review: CoolerMaster Ultra Vortex HSF

Cooling
The Ultra Vortex is a recent addition to CoolerMaster's enthusiast HSF line, one that addresses the quiet market -- at least in the promotional material and packaging. It is also one of an increasing number of cross-platform HSF. This one works for socket 478 and the AMD K8 sockets. An all copper radial heatsink with thin fins and a 92mm fan: Reminiscent of a Zalman 7000, isn't it? How does it compare? The Ultra Vortex review, complete with MP3 sound files that you can listen to and judge for yourself.

Calibrate Your CPU Temp Reporting

Cooling
Intelligent thermal management is the key to silent computing, but CPU temperature reporting mechanisms in current processors and motherboards are inaccurate, with results that can vary by 10°C or more. The causes of the inaccuracies are complex, but correcting them to a more reasonable margin of error is not terribly difficult. Russ shows you how.

AMD A64 90nm power consumption measured

The Tech Report gives us a quick comparison of power consumption between a new 90nm core A64-3500+ against a current 130nm version and a P4 Prescott 90nm at 3.4GHz.. The quick & dirty: "Our die-shrunk Athlon 64 came out looking pretty darned good." Under load on three different apps, the total system AC power draw ranged 146W~151W for the 90nm core vs 175~179W for the 130nm core. 19-28W in AC is a very sizeable difference, suggesting at least 12~19W less power draw between the CPUs. These numbers translate to cooler measured CPU temps as well. The P4-3.4 is not even in the running, efficiency-wise, with total system AC power draw at 23-236W.

Archive: SPCR's Test / Sound Lab: A Short Tour

Reference|Recommended | The Silent Front
Sometimes it is still a rat's nest of equipment, computers, components, wires and other assorted geeky things that my home office was before the launch of SPCR. But 30 months later, the SPCR lab has taken over the downstairs kitchen and half of the adjoining TV/den. A lot of equipment, instrumentation and plain old stuff has been acquired. The most recent additions to the lab include various audio equipment acquired for the purpose of making sound recordings of computers and components. Here's a short tour through the SPCR lab.

Nexus PFT-3600 P4 Cooler

Cooling
The PFT-3600 is a P4 Cooler with a 70mm fan skivved from a single piece of aluminum. Compact, light and easy to install, it is from Nexus, one of quiet computing's few truly well-established brands. Read the Nexus PFT-3600 review here.

Antec Phantom 350: Super-efficient Fanless PSU

Power
Click here for the Antec Phantom 350 review. The Antec Phantom fanless PSU was rumoured about almost a year ago. It's finally been released. Its big claim to fame? Extremely high efficiency. Higher than any other PSU tested by SPCR -- by no small margin. Click here for the Antec Phantom 350 review.