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Zalman HD160 ePC case

Aside from the extreme TNN cases, this is Zalman's first and only more-or-less conventional case. The HD160 is described as "a case utilizing an ultimate design allowing optimum air flow for home theatre system and strengthened anti-vibration method." It looks promising; we're seeking a review sample, of course.

Mobile SATA HDD Roundup

The Tech Report also ran a 2.5" Serial ATA hard drive round-up comparing a quartet of mobile drives -- that we've already reviewed individually over the last few months. Their acoustics analysis falls short of our standards, but the performance tests make for interesting reading. (There's not even a hint that you might consider one of these for desktop PC use.)

Another Turion 64 vs Pentium M comparison

Yesterday, the Tech Report posted an article comparing the performance and power efficiency of the AMD Turion 64 ML44 (2.4GHz / 1mb cache - rated at 35W) and the Intel Pentium M 760 (2.13GHz / 2mb cache - rated at 27W) -- this time, in a desktop system. This comparison is of interest to any one who's interested in the coolest, lowest power dissipation desktop system. It's too bad that the closer matched Turion MT40 (2.0GHz / 1mb cache - rated at 25W) was not used instead. The price / performance analysis could also have been more fairly and comprehensively tackled.

Power Consumption of Modern Graphics Cards

Earlier in the month, X-bit Labs posted one of their massive power consumption analysis articles on no fewer than 21 current video cards, ranging from Jabba-like excess at 120W to acetic parsimony at 24W. With the first class of gaming cards, especially run in dual SLI or Crossfire mode, there can be only answer to their question, "Is Power Consumption A Problem?" Regardless, the article, "The Grand Clash for Watts" is well worth a read for anyone considering thermal and power management seriously.

More Quiet VGA Cooling News

Sytrin has released details of their KuFormula VF1 line of universal VGA coolers. The most interesting detail? Use your own 120mm fan, or use their blower-type fan for performance which is (according to them) competitive with the excellent Arctic Cooling Silencer.

Silent News, Dec 22/05

Quiet HDD: Seagate 7200.9 drives have been reviewed at The Tech Report. The good news for silent PC aficionados: The 160BG single-platter model boasts the lowest sound output of any drive the Tech Report has ever tested. (Note: SPCR has a review of some single-platter drives in the works, including this one.)

Fan Control: The T-Balancer's baby brother, the miniNG, has hit the streets, and's test bench. With only 2 fan/pump headers, this could be a useful alternative to the T-Balancer, as long as the rather primitive interface doesn't overshadow the excellent feature set.

Solid-state Storage: During HKEPC’s Techday 2005, Giga-byte launched the second revision of their successful RAM-based storage solution, the i-RAM 2. Whereas the first version used DDR1 and ran off a SATA I connection, the i-RAM 2 sports DDR2 memory, twice the DIMM slots for a total capacity of 16 GB, and uses a SATA II connection.. According to news site VR-Zone , you can even connect it to an external SATA connection (eSATA) or put it in a 5.25” bay for convenience.

VIA Nano-ITX Embedded Motherboard

Nano-ITX has been in development for a long time, and finally it's being released, with the first sightings in Japan's Akiba (with pictures). Nano-ITX (specifications) offers the smallest "standard" boards to date, and tightly integrates a new onboard UniChrome video chipset with component HDTV support, a re-designed "Luke" CoreFusion CPU, SATA support. It retains the AES/PadLock, while offering new powersaving features. The CPU/Northbridge heatsink is moved to allow better integration into fanless cases. The new Nano-ITX boads will come in two flavors, one being an 800MHz fanless, the other a 1GHz active cooled variant. It's an amazing level of integration in a tiny package.

The problem is price. A Froogle product search provided only a few links, with the lowest price at US$382.91. For computing performance that's stomped by any current processor+motherboard from AMD or Intel, this is not an attractive price. It only makes sense if the tiny size and X86 processor are what you seek.

New Audio/Video section added

There are only two articles in it, the recent Squeezebox review and one of a Zalman headphone. More will come soon.

The premise is simple: SPCR has spent the last four years showing people that computers can be quiet and even silent, and how to make (or buy) them that way. Now it's time to look more at what you can do with a quiet or silent computer -- other than just working or gaming with it. Audio/video is the natural arena for us to enter, especially given my long interest in music & audio.

The general focus will be on "convergence" audio / video components, the products that are finally bringing the industry's long-yearned-for dream of a digital home into the practical realm for ordinary consumers. We'll be looking at more media PCs, both DIY and fully assembled, as well as components such as appropriate speaker systems, amplifiers, etc. We may even get into things like HDTV monitors, and multi-room media distribution systems.

Stay with us, I think it will get even more fun.

Vancouver Gets Sound Smart

In the Dec 2005 issue of Vancouver's CityNews newsletter is a surprisingly progressive item of interest to anti-noise citizens everywhere:

Noise is often an inescapable part of living in a city the size of Vancouver. But, there are ways to make some noisy situations more manageable. The City of Vancouver has created Soundsmart, a three-part series for residents concerned about noise. The Soundsmart brochure is a brief rundown on noise basics. There’s also a 20-page comprehensive noise guide that helps you understand noise, and offers do-it-yourself ideas for reducing noise in your home. Both are available for free to Vancouver residents at City Hall. An in-depth 100-page noise control manual is available for $20. All three Soundsmart publications may be downoaded for free online at

All of these are very worthwhile downloads, especially the very in-depth Noise Control Manual. It is a pleasure to see one's own city take such initiative in a matter that's so often glossed over.

SPCR's Lab Clearance Sale

Forum regulars know it's a great way to pick up barely used, high performance quiet PC components reviewed by SPCR at very low prices. Check out the current items on sale at SPCR's Lab Clearance Corner.

The Deaf iPod Generation?

Canada's Maclean's magazine reported in its Dec 1 issue that over 27 million users around the world risk hearing damage because of the iPod's ability to play as loudly as 112 dB -- "louder than a chain saw" -- for hours on end. Reportedly, the EU has a 100-decibel cap on portable music players, but there's no such limit in the US or Canada.

Preview of Intel's Yonah... Vs. AMD X2

Anand managed to get hold of an early "Yonah" dual-core Pentium-M derivative processor from Intel, and a motherboard to go with it. The bad: It's not compatible with existing CPU sockets/boards. The good: Performance in most benchmarks is close to AMD X2-3800+, and power consumption is quite a bit lower at load. It's not clear whether the 108W and 144W comparison refers to AC power to the system or DC (I suspect the former).

How close this sample is to the production model, who can say? Still, it looks like AMD has a new target to shoot for; Yonah is supposed to be relased some time in the first half of 2006, perhaps even the first quarter. Anandtech's Yonah report.

Notebook Hard Drive Roundup

Today's show is brought to you by the letters H and D, and the number 7! Storage Review recently finished a fairly comprehensive review of 2.5" hard drives, rating 7 units from Fujitsu, Samsung, Hitachi, Western Digital, and Seagate based on performance, power dissipation, and sound pressure levels -- still measured from the unlikely distance of 3mm.

Upcoming Articles & Reviews at SPCR

In response to popular demand, here is a list of articles and reviews we are working on or planning, in possible chronological order. Delivery is not guaranteed! I'll try to keep it uptodate. Posted articles will get deleted, new articles added to the bottom.

Silverstone PSU Muffler

Silverstone recently released their PP02 "Power Supply Muffler". While it may not silence your loud PSU, at about $15 it also won't empty your wallet. Of course, there is nothing new under the silent sun: Muffled Computing has been making and selling many variants of this basic concept for years.


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