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.

Western Digital drives: Raptor 74 & Caviar SE 250

News about Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) motors being implemented across WD's entire range of hard drives promted us to take a serious look at some of their products. The two examined here today are the super-fast Raptor and a large capacity 7200 rpm Caviar SE, and they are both a lot quieter than WD drives used to be.

Scythe Silent Box SBX-1000 HDD Enclosure

The name says it all: An enclosure intended to silence a HDD. What it doesn't tell you is that that it is made of rubber (the same kind as car tires), and uses a Heatlane flat heatpipe to help keep the drive cool.

Maxtor Diamondmax 10/300 & Hitachi 7K250 Hard Drives

Maxtor's top desktop offering (300 Gb) and one of Hitachi's former top-of-lines (250 Gb), now relegated to middling status, are featured in this review. Both acoustic noise and vibration are examined, along with power & thermal related issues. They represent reasonable alternatives to our perennial quiet HDD recommendations.

Antec Phantom 500

Antec adds a fan to their Phantom 350 fanless PSU, increases output to 500W, keeps the price the same, and calls it a "Hybrid Technology" power supply. Is this more marketing double talk or a genuine improvement? If a fanless PSU is silent, how is a fan-equipped version better? Which should you get, since they're the same price? Our long review on this rather complicated product.

Thermaltake W0029 Fanless Purepower 350 PSU

Thermaltake's entry into the fanless PSU sweepstakes features not only a heavy external casing but heatpipes and external copper fins borrowed from one of their heatsinks. No 24-pin ATX, but SATA connectors; no PFC but high efficiency.

Scythe Kamakiri CPU heatsink/fan

It is yet another large, unusual and ambitious CPU cooling creation from Scythe employing heatpipes, and, this time, a fan embedded right in the middle of two stacks of fins. A rheostat control with a huge speed range allows the user to go from a typhoon to a gentle breeze. But is the Kamakiri good by SPCR standards?

Doug's Quiet Wood Case PC

Do-It-Yourself Systems
Doug realized that to follow SPCR's advice of starting with quiet components to make a quiet computer, he'd have to replace most of the noisy components in his computer. He decided this would be too costly, and opted for a different approach: Build a case using pine boards and a design to contain the noise, with a little advice from SPCR forum members. Doug's successful DIY quiet system should garner a lot of admirers.

AOpen EY855-II Pentium M SFF barebones system

Complete|Mobile Systems
After AOpen introduced the i855GMEm-LFS motherboard, it was only a matter of time before they followed up with a SFF based on the Pentium M. The XC Cube EY855-II has been eagerly awaited by computing enthusiasts hoping for another quiet SFF PC option. If there is a flagship model in AOpen's XC Cube line, the EY855-II is probably it.

Soltek QBIC EQ3901 SFF barebones system

Complete|Mobile Systems
Soltek's Athlon 64-939 SFF system matches offerings from Shuttle and AOpen for style and features. It uses a standard mATX PSU by Seasonic and a standard HSF mounting system, allowing for relatively simple upgrades. The EQ3901's noise performance leaves much to be desired, however.

Front Panel Knicknacks by Coolermaster & Matrix Orbital

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.

AOpen i915Ga-PLF with Power Master

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.

CrystalCPUID: User Configurable Cool 'n' Quiet

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.

Shuttle SB86i BTX SFF system

Complete|Mobile Systems
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.

SPCR turns 3 today.

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.

Shuttle XPC SB81P: Loaded 775 BTX

Complete|Mobile Systems
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.