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PCs to Be Seen, Not Heard
NYTimes.com ^ | Thursday, October 11, 2007 | PETER WAYNER

Posted on 12/10/2007 7:35:06 AM PST by Momaw Nadon

JOSH SHENKLE knew that he couldn’t hook up any old PC to the 106-inch Panasonic projection television in his home theater. Most computers come with buzzing fans, whirring disk drives and whining capacitors that compete with the sound system.

“After a while, the noise gets to you during quiet scenes,” he said. “It overwhelms you and takes you away from the movie.”

Computer users who want silent offices and living rooms are starting to ask for quiet computers. Manufacturers are taking notice. Some new computers like the Apple iMac or the Alienware Area-51 7500 are marketed for their silence. A number of other manufacturers are responding by starting to work on quieting their machines.

An aftermarket of parts that people can use to tweak their machines with quieter fans and silent drives is emerging. Some small companies like Zalman are charging more than $5,000 for ultraquiet machines aimed at sound recording studios and home theaters.

Mr. Shenkle, a technical analyst in Minneapolis, ended up building his own PC inside the Antec Sonata 2 (www.antec.com), a computer case engineered to be extraordinarily quiet.

“What’s nice about the Antec 2 is that it has a temperature-sensing power supply with attachments specifically for the fan,” he said. “When the temperature does rise, it will speed up the fans.”

Heat is a product of computation, and every decision a computer makes about a spreadsheet, the color of a Web site’s background or the trajectory of a race car in a game produces a tiny bit of heat. When modern chips make billions of decisions in a second, the heat adds up.

“Most of the noise is related to cooling,” says Mike Chin, the editor of silentpcreview.com. “What you want to do is have the most effective cooling flow with the slowest fans.”

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Computers/Internet; Science
KEYWORDS: computer; desktop; laptop; pc; quiet; silent; tech
FYI and discussion.

Could anyone recommend a silent PC and/or laptop?

1 posted on 12/10/2007 7:35:07 AM PST by Momaw Nadon
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To: ShadowAce

Ping.


2 posted on 12/10/2007 7:36:18 AM PST by Momaw Nadon ("...with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.")
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To: rdb3; chance33_98; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; PenguinWry; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; Salo; Bobsat; ..

Here's a good site.

3 posted on 12/10/2007 7:39:01 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: ShadowAce

Thanks ShadowAce!


4 posted on 12/10/2007 7:40:49 AM PST by Momaw Nadon ("...with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.")
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To: Momaw Nadon
I built a Shuttle based system a while back and the guys on Silent PC Reviews liked it. It’s the site ShadowAce recommended.


5 posted on 12/10/2007 7:52:28 AM PST by darkwing104 (Lets get dangerous)
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To: Momaw Nadon

Hmmm...I have one of the Antec 2 cases, but didn’t like it so much (I currently use it as a door stop at work). The hard drive layout is nuts, and it wasn’t really all that quiet. I’ve since bought 2 Antec Solo cases. They’re much nicer, easier to work on, and are the quietest cases I’ve ever used. The loudest component is the video card fan.


6 posted on 12/10/2007 7:55:08 AM PST by shorty_harris
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To: Momaw Nadon

I’ve heard that Toshiba has issued a new laptop with flash memory, no harddrive.


7 posted on 12/10/2007 8:05:08 AM PST by Zuben Elgenubi
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To: Momaw Nadon

‘Silent’ PCs are nothing new. I’ve used this site with great success:
http://www.logicsupply.com/categories/fanless_systems

I prefer the VIA line of boards and use laptop HDDs for lowest power consumption / noise.


8 posted on 12/10/2007 8:06:54 AM PST by PissAndVinegar
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To: darkwing104

Got an older AMD based Shuttle system attached to my LCD TV.
The Shuttle variable fan speeds are a godsend!

The blue power LED is more distracting than any noise that thing makes (very little)


9 posted on 12/10/2007 8:09:19 AM PST by PissAndVinegar
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To: Momaw Nadon
Could anyone recommend a silent PC and/or laptop?

Here's my favorite Laptop...


10 posted on 12/10/2007 8:31:17 AM PST by theDentist (Qwerty ergo typo : I type, therefore I misspelll.)
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To: Momaw Nadon

Try the Zalman TNN 300 or Zalman TNN 500AF series pc cases. Add hdd enclosures and it is completely silent.


11 posted on 12/10/2007 8:38:06 AM PST by JerseyHighlander
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To: Swordmaker; Las Vegas Dave

I plan to “monitor” this discussion for helpful information. /rimshot


12 posted on 12/10/2007 8:39:43 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Profile updated Monday, December 10, 2007____________________https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Momaw Nadon
Your best shot for a PC would be to build your own. When you use custom parts, you can choose them specifically for silence and you can maximize your value for your money. The main noise offenders: fans (of all kinds, case fans, processor fan, power supply fan, some graphics cards have fans, etc...) and drives (hard drives and disc drives like DVD players). If you can minimize the noise of those items, you're going to get a virtually silent machine.

For a laptop, I've found that they are getting significantly better. I just bought a brand new HP and it's amazingly quiet. :)

13 posted on 12/10/2007 8:49:29 AM PST by Kaylee Frye (everything's shiny)
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To: Momaw Nadon
“What’s nice about the Antec 2 is that it has a temperature-sensing power supply with attachments specifically for the fan,” he said. “When the temperature does rise, it will speed up the fans.”

Although the base silence of the Antec may be new, the concept of speeding up the fans is not. I have an almost 3-year-old Gateway whose fans speed up when things get hot and heavy with the processor. Drives me nuts.

14 posted on 12/10/2007 8:51:10 AM PST by King of Florida (A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.)
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To: Momaw Nadon

I prefer a somewhat noisy machine. Noise, or sometimes lack thereof, is good for troubleshooting. ;^)


15 posted on 12/10/2007 9:00:12 AM PST by KoRn
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To: Momaw Nadon

Practically silent for almost three years now. It's about as quiet as ambient room noise, but you can hear the optical drive when it's going if you're close enough.

The iMac is pretty quiet, too, the loudest thing again being the optical drive when accessing it.

16 posted on 12/10/2007 9:08:51 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: Momaw Nadon
...whining capacitors...

Methinks Peter Wayner wouldn't know a capacitor if he found one sitting in his Vichysoise.

17 posted on 12/10/2007 9:31:24 AM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts (Res firma mitescere nescit)
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To: Momaw Nadon
“After a while, the noise gets to you during quiet scenes,” he said. “It overwhelms you and takes you away from the movie.”

What a helpless widdle crybaby, welded to the Hollyweird teat. At some point you have to accept the noise as a necessary part of the life of your equipment. Real men recognize that fact and learn to ignore it.

18 posted on 12/10/2007 9:35:21 AM PST by JoJo Gunn (Help control the Leftist population. Have them spayed or neutered. )
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts
Methinks Peter Wayner wouldn't know a capacitor if he found one sitting in his Vichysoise.

Good catch. I know capacitors can buzz, but isn't that usually when they need to be replaced?

19 posted on 12/10/2007 9:53:52 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: JoJo Gunn
What a helpless widdle crybaby, welded to the Hollyweird teat. At some point you have to accept the noise as a necessary part of the life of your equipment.

We're talking about people who will spend thousands of dollars just on cables because they're told it makes things sound and look better. And the cables are really expensive, so it must be true, right?

They will pay for anything better, perceived or real, so the market is there to feed it.

20 posted on 12/10/2007 9:57:57 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat
They will pay for anything better, perceived or real, so the market is there to feed it.

In this instance the noise from computers is real... and can be very distracting. Fans run the gamut from 27 deciBels up to as high as 50. The 27 DB is extremely quiet and the 50 is extremely noisy.

The Macs are very quiet. I cannot hear my MacBook Pro at all when it is running... and a friend's Mac Mini is even quieter. My G5, with nine fans, is normally quiet (you have to put your ear right up to it to hear it at all) but when you put a lot of stress on the processors, it will rev up all nine fans and it can get pretty loud. The quietest Mac I ever had was my G4 Cube... no fans at all. It was cooled by a chimney effect.

21 posted on 12/10/2007 11:09:04 AM PST by Swordmaker (Entered and posted entirely with my iPhone.)
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To: Swordmaker

I like quiet computers and appreciate the fact that Apple was the forerunner in this area. My iMac is nice and quiet, especially compared to my wife’s wind-tunnel PC.

And the 9 fans on the G5 were great, especially when coupled with five separate temperature zones. It’s almost sad they didn’t need that design anymore after switching to Intel.


22 posted on 12/10/2007 11:17:24 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat

If gold and “oxygen free” wiring was truly so great, the National Electrical Code would’ve demanded such.

Barnum was right....


23 posted on 12/10/2007 1:21:36 PM PST by JoJo Gunn (Help control the Leftist population. Have them spayed or neutered. )
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To: antiRepublicrat
I know capacitors can buzz, but isn't that usually when they need to be replaced?

They can emit noise but that is usually in the 5 to 10 milliseconds before the tops dome up and the thing craps out.
I'm at a loss to explain how a cap could "whine".

24 posted on 12/10/2007 1:43:45 PM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts (Res firma mitescere nescit)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

One of the Caps on my motherboard whines when I overclock the proccesor.


25 posted on 12/10/2007 4:06:11 PM PST by mowowie
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts

Re: whining caps.

Back in the days of foil and paper capacitors it was not uncommon to get a whine when the paper was holed and there was arcing through.


26 posted on 12/10/2007 7:38:45 PM PST by Swordmaker (Entered and posted entirely with my iPhone.)
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To: Swordmaker

Brand new caps in flash cameras and high amperage power supplies used to whine all the time when charging.


27 posted on 12/11/2007 12:00:04 AM PST by amchugh (large and largely disgruntled)
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To: amchugh
Brand new caps in flash cameras and high amperage power supplies used to whine all the time when charging.

Good point, but IIRC in PCs they're used for low-voltage conditioning and noise filtering.

28 posted on 12/11/2007 7:12:54 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat

True. Anyway, on the silent PC front, the next time I build one I’m going to put in a 230mm fan. They have great airflow and are about as quiet as an encased hard drive. The only way to get a quieter machine is with one of the new solid state drives.


29 posted on 12/11/2007 11:25:15 AM PST by amchugh (large and largely disgruntled)
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To: amchugh

One thing I’ve found that helps is to look at the noise level when buying a hard drive in the first place. My wife’s PC has a hard drive that you can clearly hear running from across the room, but I’ve never heard the hard drive on my iMac.


30 posted on 12/12/2007 11:56:23 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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