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Coding Horror's Quiet PC Guide

When Jeff Atwood built his first HTPC, he "had to turn the volume up to 11 just to drown out the noise." For the next few months, he "immersed [himself] in the world of silent PC enthusiasts [SPCR]."

Jeff says now every PC he builds is "optimized for performance and low noise from the very beginning. Building a high-powered rig that's so quiet your wife can't tell when it's turned on or off -- now that's an accomplishment! It's a bona-fide engineering challenge... In the process, I've learned quite a few things about building quiet PCs. I'd like to share them with you, so you can avoid making the mistakes I did." His short article is an excellent summary of SPCR-esque approaches and techniques. Discuss this article in the SPCR Forums.

Shuttle's first Core 2 SFF reviewed by SFFTech

SFFTech looks at the SD37P2, which combines the new P2 chassis with a Core 2 compatible motherboard. The product is interesting in that it is the first SFF to support the Conroe core, but despite SFFTech's assurance that the SD37P2 "is very quiet and unnoticeable most of the time," we have very strong doubts. The P2 chassis is simply a "P" chassis with a facelift. We examined this multi-fan chassis in our review of the Shuttle XPC SB81P last year and found it very wanting in acoustics. SFFTech's article shows no changes in thermal or acoustic design; the only advantage might be if all the thermally controlled fans slowed down significantly due to the cooler running Core 2 (compared with a Prescott). Still, the "P" was far from a quiet design from the very start...

Midsummer SPCR Lab Sample Clearance

We're doing another clear-out of the lab shelves: CPUs, motherboards, cases, barebone systems, coolers, hard drives, power supplies... and even a new Gibson Les Paul "Studio" electric guitar + Behringer Digital Effects box, all at blow out prices. First come, first served!


Choose an Energy Efficient Computer the title of an article penned by yours truly for Home Power, a magazine dedicated since 1987 to home-scale renewable energy and sustainable living solutions. It's featured in the Aug/Sept 2006 issue, and also as a PDF article on their web site. Direct download link here (280KB). It's a brief overview and guide for consumers seeking to minimize the power consumption of their computer gear.

Comment on this news piece in the forums.

Computex Taipei 2006 is Officially Over

After an exhaustive, rain-drenched, traffic-clogged, five days, the world's second biggest IT show is over, much to the relief of the staff of 1300+ exhibiting companies, 130,000+ attendees and hundreds of journalists who covered the Taipei event. This is not to introduce my own picto-pseudo report to the dozens posted online throughout the week, but to say a more in-depth piece will come in a week, after a chance to recover at home and and mull over all that I've seen and heard. Meanwhile, here are my votes for the most SPCR-appropos coverage of Computex 2006 by other sites: writer Christoph, better known as TheEagleCD, came to Computex for the first time and provided brief reports on — what else? — mini-ITX, still the lowest power consuming X86 platform on the planet.

Charlie Demerjian of The Inquirer noticed and wrote about Greenpeace's rally against toxic IT waste with pod-people outside of Computex.

AMD's new AM2 platform launched

Fifteen processors were launched on the new AM2 platform by AMD today, ranging from the new flagship FX-62 at $1031 all the way down to a $77 Sempron 3000+. The official announcement is in AMD's web press room, but news, reports and reviews of the AM2 processors and platform are all over the web; a few of the sites are linked below. AMD's PR department made sure that all the popular hardware review sites obtained samples of FX-62 or X2 5000+ processors along with a new Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard with the new nForce 590 chipset, and Corsair 1066MHz DDR2 RAM.

AMD News: T64X2, Efficient Processor Roadmap, K8L Preview

AMD just released information about Energy Efficient Desktop Processors in the upcoming new AM2 socket, the long awaited 64-bit Turion 64 X2 dual-core mobile processors, and a sneak preview of their next-gen K8L processor technology. Click on read more for more info.

Thermal Load Calculator by Innovatek sent us word of a Thermal Load Calculator by Innovatek which works out how much heat is produced by a standard or an overclocked PC. The page is in German but the calculator is intuitive. It looks much more accurate than 99% of all such power calculators on the web, and should be fine for "sizing" PSUs if all the pertinent data is correctly entered. Only the Northbridge vs Northbridge und Mosfets choice under Motherboard give pause; surely you cannot separate the motherboard VRM from the NB in any calculation of motherboard power draw? This is the only feature that seems suspect.

SPCR v2.0 - Site redesign, visual & functional

The look, organization and feel of Silent PC Review was changed early this evening (Sunday, April 16, 2006). It is the first global change made to the site since the launch over four years ago. The visual changes are easily seen, but the functional ones are a bit less obvious. You will see them as you navigate through the various sections.

One of the major changes is the listing of complete summary information for articles (listed in reverse chronological order) in each category, including date, title, and fully summary. There are other more subtle ones, such as certain cross-topical articles appearing in more than one category.

The article index has a variety of user options for listing SPCR contents. A lot of people have asked for this in the past. Try playing with it; it should help you find articles more easily.

We think the organization of and access to information is improved. For administrators and content creators, the back end changes are immensely beneficial and will shave at least half an hour of coding work on any article. We hope you enjoy the new design. It's been in the making for many months.

SPCR regulars have already begun a discussion about these changes


Run Windows XP on iMac with Boot Camp

PC World reported, "It works. Impressively well. With games, even. That's our first impression of Windows XP running under Apple's [beta version of] Boot Camp on our 20-inch iMac. And that's more than you could say a couple of days ago about the promising-but-hacked-together WinXPonMac effort." Apple'official download page for their official dual-boot support of Windows XP on Macs.

Silent PC Review Turns 4 Today

Today, April Fool's Day 2006, is the 4th anniversary of SPCR's official launch. It started as a crazy hobby... and mushroomed over the years into the web's leader in PC acoustics analysis and information. We've also learned much about thermals and power efficiency in all kinds of PC products, which puts us in good stead in a new computing era of green activism that's starting to pick up steam.

My heartfelt thanks to all the people whose support, encouragement and participation helped to make SPCR what it is today -- visitors, forum members, advertisers, sponsors, contributors, writers, advisors, friends and family. (For more about how SPCR came to be... A Cautionary Tale?)


Desktop Core Duo Products Coming Soon

Apple's new iMac may have been the first to use Intel's new power-efficient Pentium-M derived Core Duo on a desktop PC, but they certainly won't be the last. Joining AOpen with new Core Duo/Solo (and Pentium M) products are Asus, Shuttle, ECS, MSI and Gigabyte. It seems clear that Intel is successfully marketing the new low-power processors to the mainstream desktop/small server market. Thus far, however, Intel's major system integrator partners (Dell, HP, etc) are only featuring Core Duo processors in notebook PCs.

AOpen: i975Xa-YDG and i945GTm-VHL Core Duo motherboards; mini-PC MP945
Asus: N4L-VM DH Core Duo Viiv motherboard
XPC X100 Complete SFF Core Duo PC
: PF23 Crossfire-compatible and 945G-M3 Viiv motherboards
MSI: P1-104A2M P-M server and 945GT Speedster-A4R P-M motherboard
Gigabyte: A963 Core Duo/Solo MiniPC

Then there are all the mini-ITX boards for Core Solo / Duo:

Commell LV-677 (m-ITX)
AOpen i945GTt-VFA
DFI G5C100-N
Freetech P8F189
Kontron 986LCD-M/mITX
MSI MS7265 (not confirmed)

From IDF: Acoustic Optimization for Desktop Platforms

Attendance at the Spring Intel Developers Forum last week resulted in many new contacts for SPCR. Among the most interesting were Intel engineers in a thermal / acoustic division who provided information about new R&D efforts in this area. One result is a White Paper, which was provided to SPCR for direct distribution to our readers:

Acoustic Optimization for Desktop Platforms

(2mb PDF).

This is probably not the first document from Intel to deal with PC acoustics, but it is the first we've seen in a long time. Much of it focuses on BTX platform advantages, but it touches on many aspects of acoustics measurement and analysis that is of relevance to anyone interested in low noise computing. Most fascinating to us is the research done on Acceptable Acoustic Levels, which involved both group psychoacoustic polling as well as ambient noise measurements in four countries. We are planning an in-depth look at this paper in the near future.

As IDF Spring 2006 Begins

As the Spring 2006 Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco sets to get underway, tech and business media wags sum up challenges and promises for Intel. The tone and themes are remarkably consistent.

EE Times: Intel outlines processor plans at IDF
Red Herring: Intel’s Chance to Impress
Business Week: AMD Chips Away at Intel
TG Daily: Can IDF relight Intel's fire?

PSU Load Balance Critical in Dual-Vidcard Systems

Dedicated SPCR readers know from our PSU Fundamentals and Power Distribution within Six PCs articles that modern PCs draw the vast majority of power from the 12V line of the power supply. What's less well known is that internal interactions in most power supplies impairs the capacity to deliver high power into 12V when the 5V and 3.3V lines are too lightly loaded. ExtremeTech has an interesting article illuminating this issue in both technical and practical aspects.


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