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

Archive: A Primer on Noise in Computing

Reference|Recommended | The Silent Front
A primer on noise and sound was one of the many items on my list for core articles when SPCR was first launched. There is so much misinformation about sound that I felt it mandatory to provide some kind of baseline, an introduction to this complex subject. It is, in fact, a subject that seems simple only if you never scratch below the surface. Hopefully, this article serves well enough for its purpose: To provide guidelines by which you can interpret noise specifications, commentary by others, and what your own ears tell you.

Swiftech MCX462+ Heatsink Review

Cooling
Just one look and you know it's a Swiftech. A Swiftech MCX462+, to be precise. Russ tackles a review of this massive cooler from the original heavyweight CPU heatsink maker. A little late, as the replacement MCX462-V has already arrived... but that's not Russ's fault, and he's already looking at the new beast. Meanwhile, enjoy his MCX462+ review.

Newbie Silences a Dell OptiPlex GX-240

Do-It-Yourself Systems
Growing increasingly disenchanted with the noise of the Dell PCs that ended up in his office, Jonathan Horner did a google search that led him to SPCR, and "a new and exciting arena to explore." His newbie success story is likely to strike familiar chords with many readers. A Seasonic Super PSU and the recently reviewed fanless Heatlane Zen cooler are used in Mr. Horner's Dell silencing project, which also features the second OptiPlex GX-240 to appear in SPCR.

Energy Efficient Athlon 64 3200+

AMD's Athlon 64 3200+ appears to be exactly the kind of smart CPU that power users who also want silence have been wishing for. X-bit Labs' recent article about this new 64-bit processor from AMD reveals a great deal of intelligent thinking to maximize computing power and energy efficiency. AMD's Cool 'n' Quiet Technology has several components:

  • Lower max heat dissipation than comparable Intel processor
  • Switches to the Halt/Stop Grant mode when the HALT command is performed. As a result, the processor temperature gets dramatically lower if it is not loaded 100%.
  • Reduces working frequency and Vcore when the processor is not under heavy load in order to lower the heat dissipation even more.
The last feature has never appeared in desktop CPUs before, though it has been used in mobiles for a while -- under the name "PowerNow!" for AMD and "SpeedStep" for Intel. X-bit Labs found a huge range of speeds and power dissipation for their sample Athlon 64 3200+ system, from 2GHz and 89W down to 800MHz and 35W. (See table on p.4 of the article for full details.) The X-bit Labs article is well worth a careful read.

Scythe Heatlane Zen NCU-1000 fanless CPU cooler

Cooling
The Heatlane Zen NCU-1000 CPU Cooler is another unusual CPU cooler from Scythe. It is massive, looking for all the world like a skyscraper on the motherboard, it uses a heatpipe to spread the heat evenly throughout its substantial expanse, and it is designed to cool P4 processors while running completely fanless. SPCR takes them at face value and tests the Zen without a fan on a P4-2.53 system.

Small and Silent: the Nimble V5

The Nimble V5 is an ultra compact yet complete mini-PC based on the VIA Digital Media Platform comprising the power-efficient VIA C3¬ô processor and the digital media optimized VIA UniChrome¬ô CLE266 chipset.

Measuring only 2"x7.7"x7.7"-about the size of a paperback novel-the Nimble V5 Personal Video Conferencing Player fits easily onto any desktop in the house or office and operates silently, drawing only about 12 watts of power. (Read the review at epiacenter.com)

Review: Arctic Cooling Copper Silent 2 TC

Cooling
Thermally controlled fans on CPU heatsinks attempt to provide silence whenever possible, and maximum cooling ability when needed. It’s simple in concept, but very difficult to make work in practice. Arctic Cooling have been doing it for a while. Russ examines their latest iteration for socket-A, the Copper Silent 2 TC. It is a thumbs up for the SPCR audience.

Antec 3700BQE (Black Quiet Edition) case

Cases|Damping
Thermally controlled fans on CPU heatsinks attempt to provide silence whenever possible, and maximum cooling ability when needed. It’s simple in concept, but very difficult to make work in practice. Arctic Cooling have been doing it for a while. Russ examines their latest iteration for socket-A, the Copper Silent 2 TC. It is a thumbs up for the SPCR audience. ...

Fanless Heatpipe CPU Cooling System by FMAH

Do-It-Yourself Systems
A fanless CPU cooling system custom-made using heatpipes, a massive heatsink and a unique system configuration by contributor Fred Mah, fmah of the SPCR forums. The cooling power of this silent system is nothing short of impressive, able to handle the hottest XP without a fan. It's easily adapted to any type of socket CPU and makes all kinds of system setups possible. It's in the Cooling section but could also go into Systems. A very cool design!

Cable Sleeve & Heat Shrink Tutorial

Starsky over at Blue Couch has written a tutorial on Cable Sleeve and Heat Shrink for beginners. The article includes information on removing molex connectors, and contains a brief video on using a naked flame on heatshrink. (Caution: A heat gun would be a preferable method.)Read the Tutorial

Gorgeous Minuet case

We've mentioned that Antec is launching lots of new cases recently. One is the Minuet, a slim microATX case designed for desktop use. Well, the case has been in our hands for a week, and we won't be able to get to a full review of it for a while, but it is such an impressively attractive case that it deserves a closer look of the exterior. Even this photo does not fully capture the tasteful and subtle contrast between the shiny silver metal finish of the bezel perimeter set against the semi-gloss silver of the front panel. If looks could kill... Look for a review of the Minuet and the larger but similar style Overture in the next few weeks.

Review: 3aCooler's Zebra AlCu1 heatsink

Cooling
The 3aCooler Zebra AlCu1 Socket-A heatsink borrows a little from Thermalright and a little from Zalman but ends up with its own compact, tidy approach to CPU cooling. Rusty's first HS review for SPCR on this interesting, mostly successful product from Romania is succinct and precise.

New Quiet Products from Nexus

Nexus, of NX-3000 PSU fame, has recently introduced a series of new quiet PC components over the summer:

The Nexus 80mm Real Silent case fan is said to produce only 17.6 dB(A), this value "the result of numerous tests in an anechoic chamber following the highest standards." They say they "simply cannot find another [fan] this quiet!

The NX-3500 Special Edition, a 350W power supply featuring the increasingly popular 120mm bottom-mounted fan. They claim it is only "19.2 dB(A) in idle mode and will be inaudible when mounted in a computer system as the fan will be located on the inside of the computer case. The NX-3500 has longer power cables and is SATA ready!"

Then there is the all-aluminum PHT-3600 SkiveTek, a light weight P4 heatsink equipped with a fan with 2400 RPM and a noise spec of only 19 dB(A). It is said to challenge all-copper HSF in performance despite its low noise and aluminum construction.

VIA 1Ghz C3 + C3M266 review at PC Silencieux

A thorough and creative review on the VIA C3 Nehemiah 1Ghz + VIA C3M266 motherboard at PC Silencieux, translated from the French original. It includes a SPCR-esque comparison against an undervolted, underclocked AMD XP setup and much commentary about noise vs performance and thermal issues. PC Silencieux is a French site started recently by long-time SPCR forum member Kostik. It's not clear who wrote the original article and who translated, but Kostik, you were involved one way or another: Very nicely done!

Hush ATX: P4 & AGP in stylish silence

Hush Technologies have done it again. At Computex in Taiwan last week, the people that brought you the stylish and quiet Hush mini-ITX PC unveiled a new snazzy PC with a distinctive family resemblance: The Hush ATX. Available in MediaServer and standard desktop configurations, this completely fanless PC features Pentium P4-478 motherboards with VIA or Intel chipsets. ATX, micro-ATX and mini-ITX boards can be accommodated. Video can be handled by on-board or normal AGP slot VGA cards. The Hush ATX bring Pentium 4 and AGP video power to the silent sector with the most stylish presentation yet to be seen

One exciting aspect of their design is a completely fanless 240W full ATX 2.03 standard Auto-switching 90-250VAC power supply with a very high >82% efficiency! Though the technical details are not fully explained, one would have to guess that one side heatsink cools the PSU while the other cools the CPU, likely by using heatpipes to transfer the heat. Very nicely executed & extremely cool. We'll have to beg for a review sample. The Hush ATX brochure is downloadable here.