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Whining Notebooks

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Some combinations of CPUs and motherboards in current laptops are producing an annoying, "intermittent high frequency buzzing noise" that has actually been identified as a problem by Dell. The problem was first noted last year in MacBook Pros, but has since been heard in some Dell and HP notebooks as well. The afflicted models run Intel Core 2 processors. Dell's tech support notes state,

CeBIT Snippets

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CeBIT is a busy time for OEMs and reviewers alike. Hit *Read More* for a collection of the most promising products unveiled in and around CeBIT 2007

Web News, Heatsink Edition

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How can you make a good heatsink even better? More heatpipes! AnandTech has run the forthcoming Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme through its paces, and reports that the extra two heatpipes do improve performance measurably.

CoolerMaster took a different route with their GeminII. This monster heatsink is almost twice the size of any blow-down cooler we've seen before, and the widely spaced fins look promising for low noise and passive cooling. It's good to see yesteryear's prototypes finally hitting the store shelves.

If Novel Concepts can popularize "IsoSkin" , heatsinks in general may be a thing of the past. The material, a sort of planar heatpipe, could turn the outside of any computer into a highly efficient cooling surface.

Web News, Feb 22/07

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Two heatsink tests to report right off the top: FrostyTech took the Akasa Evo 120 for a spin, with positive results, and FiringSquad has a roundup of 12 heatsinks, including the recently released Scythe Andy.

AnandTech took a look at Western Digital's latest generation of harddrives, and came away impressed. The single-platter model actually put up the best acoustic and thermal numbers of any drive tested by AnandTech.

This next news piece is somewhat old, but took a while to percolate over to the English-speaking community. German site Planet3dNow! wrapped up a 154-page power supply roundup at the end of 2006, including a number of Europe-only models. Each unit is rated on efficiency, power regulation, cable length/connectors, special features, subjective loudness, test performance, and price/performance ratio. The small British flag on the left of each page links to Google's automatic English translation.

Web News, CES Edition

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2007 is already a busy year for silent computing news: hit "read more" for the silencer's scoop on CES, and more.

Web News about Silent Computing, Dec 21/06

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The bar for silent graphics cards is set to rise again. A number of sites are reporting that PowerColor plans to release passively cooled ATI X1950 Pro and XT cards, with a $10 price premium over the reference design. If these cards make it to market in Q1 2007, as predicted, they should be the most powerful passive options available.

HKEPC claims to have the scoop on Intel's latest Ultra Low Voltage CPUs. These parts, designed for web appliances and sub-notebooks, are designed to consume 5W, less than the chipsets needed to feed them. Unfortunately, the quickest clocks in at 1.2 GHz.

Finally, Anandtech has spent some time with the new, 65nm Brisbane cores from AMD and reports that, while some compromises had to be made, the new 5000+ uses some 10 to 20 watts less than the old version. While this is promising news, for now the EE HTPC 3800+ is even thriftier, and Intel's Core 2 Duo offers more performance-per-watt.

RAMpage: Microsoft Not Vista-Ready

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Massive Heatsink Roundup @ Madshrimps

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It's an ambitious project: 44 CPU coolers which fit on AMD/Intel latest platforms compared on two hot running systems. Which one will keep your CPU the coolest, how quiet can it get? Madshrimps' latest roundup provides pretty good answers.

Protocase's innovative enclosure design competition

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This email arrived in my my box today. It could be of interest if you don't mind sharing your unique case design ideas with the world:

We are seeking creative and innovative enclosure design/s. To make this interesting we launched our first annual enclosure design competition where we provide free custom enclosure to a selected design. Might be of any interest to your audience? For more information please check Thank you.

Sagar Thulung, Electronic Marketing, Protocase Incorporated

Discuss this news in the forums.

Metal Foil Disk Drives

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A post by Lilias Cupio in the SPCR forum led to this news: Robert X. Cringely wrote Shameless Self-Promotion: Bob's Disk Drive in his weekly coumn at i, cringley, a PBS web subdomain. A self-described 30-year veteran of the PC business, Bob says he finally has a financial interest in a technology he's writing about. The concept is a metal foil disk drive with platters made from stainless steel or titanium foil that is 22/25 microns thick, many times lighter and thinner than current aluminum or glass platters. The potential benefits claimed: 3x current data density and storage capacity, 3x spindle speed, lower cost and complexity, 1/3 the power demand, faster access than flash memory, higher reliability and so on. Bob says he and his partners have been talking to big business (in the PC world) for months, and metal foil drives will appear under big brand names this time next year. I have calls out to my HDD company contacts.

Web News, Oct 29/06

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Zalman's CNPS9700 LED is a slightly larger version of the SPCR-tested CNPS9500. Hopefully the larger fan will correct some of the shortcomings of its predecessor.

For the technically-minded, the Inquirer has a fairly hefty article on Intel's latest power saving efforts, lifted from their Fall Processor Forum presentation. Lots of interesting ideas, for both the CPU and the power supply.

Always wanted to pull a MikeC and design your own case, but never had the resources? reports that ProtoCase's custom case design and manufacturing service is both simple and powerful, as well as highly customizable. Be sure to post your masterworks in the forums.

Web News, Oct 9/06

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The item du jour appears to be heatsink announcements, with new, quiet-focused releases from both Thermalright and Scythe.

Scythe's Japanese website is advertising the "Andy Samurai Master", a conventional-looking heatsink with an unconventional fin arrangement. By using many widely separated groups of tightly packed fins, Scythe apprears to be shooting for both high- and low-airflow performance.

From Thermalright comes the HR-03, which brings the SPCR-reviewed HR-01's massive heatpipes and cross-venting holes to a video card near you.

Web News: Albatron 754 mITX reviewed, VIA's Carbon-Free Computing

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When Albatron's unique socket 754 mini-ITX motherboard (KI51PV-754) was shown at Computex Taipei a few months ago, we were sure that either SPCR, mini-ITX or epiacenter would get the first review samples. A slew of emails to Albatron went unanswered... and now, the first review has been posted by The Tech Report, an excellent tech site that doesn't normally pay much attention to low power or acoustics. It's a good review, though.

Carbon Free Computing is an environmental program initiated by VIA. They work with environmental experts to calculate the electricity used by one of their Carbon Free Computing product over its lifetime (assumed to be 3 years). VIA calculates how much CO2 emissions will be released into the environment mainly as a result of fossil fuel burning power plants. Each product is assigned a "Treemark" rating, which is the number of broad-leaf trees needed to compensate for the CO2 produced by electricity generation over the lieftime of the product. A VIA C7-D has a "Treemark" of 4; a "leading" competitive processor (presumably a Prescott) has a Treemark of 26. VIA then works with regional organizations to "offset" that amount of CO2 through projects such as.... Click on read more to read more.

IDF Fall 2006

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There were no big surprises from Intel at the Fall IDF, 2006. The overwhelming message, distilled to a single sentence: Core 2 is a powerful power-efficient platform, and Intel will keep pushing the performance boundaries with multiple cores while keeping a tight rein on energy consumption. Tech news web sites are already full of details, I am sure... There were a couple of interesting bits and pieces, however, including:

Ionic PC Cooling

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It's a tantalizing DIY project that begs better documentation, but claims to "have produced the first ionic cooling system for your high end gaming system. This system produces absolutely no noise and in fact has no moving parts at all. While this is a proof of concept it proves that you can get the CFM you need to cool a system efficiently with no moving parts and no increase in power consumption." SPCR's forum members discuss their doubts.

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