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Silent PC (I mean silent)

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by paiger, Jan 16, 2003.

  1. paiger

    paiger
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    Hi, I'm looking to sort out a new PC for my office which will also be equiped with a TV and full 6.1 speaker system. I work here all day and currently have an Athlon system which I have spent hundreds trying to get quiet. I have a flower cooler, QuietPC PSU and case fan and have insulated the case. I can still hear it and it still winds me up. After a days work, the relief on turning it off is immense even though it's much quieter than many PC's. I'm just fussy I guess.

    So, I've given up on the idea. What I want is a PC that is as quiet as my Sony Vaio which is near silent except for the odd hdd click. I don't use this as a main pc because it takes up desk space. I have an LCD monitor hanging on the wall and need my entire desk free.

    What do you think of getting a newer, more powerful notebook and putting it in a cupboard with keyboad, mouse, DVD and floppy (and anything else) hooked up by USB2? Obviously the monitor is OK with the SVGA port. The external drives could sit on shelves where my tower pc now stands and would have their own power supplies (I assume). For audio, I use an Abit USB thing that converts to optical to plug into my amp so thats not a problem. I would need a laptop with video out probably.

    The main problem I see is the power switch. However, surely this is just a push switch that you could rewire to an external switch quite easilly. On my vaio, it's easy to get to as well.

    Any thoughts? I don't want quiet, I want silent and I don't mind paying a bit to save my sanity.
     
  2. sounddog

    sounddog
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  3. Sinzer

    Sinzer
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    Yes, mini ITX is the way forward.
     
  4. fancyabrew

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    Take a look at the DELL SX260 this is VERY quiet we have one at work in a room with digital projector etc. The PC is also very small not much bigger than the phone book. DELL are currently selling them for £611 inc VAT (does'nt include monitor)
     
  5. drew

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    Using a notebook/laptop for everyday office use is a very bad idea for ergonomic reasons.

    Unless you get one of those kits that provides a separate keyboard and riser blocks to raise the screen to correct height.

    Otherwise you will end up with a sore neck and/or shoulders and/or back. If it hasn't happened to readers of this thread yet, - it will sooner or later.

    And getting rid of ortho problems caused by bad posture can be, let's say, difficult.

    Appart from medics etc, many only become aware & informed about this issue when it's too late...........
     
  6. paiger

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    I have looked at the mini ITX stuff and it looks good. The problem still seems to be the power supply. This is the noisiest part of my current setup. I guess the problem is that they have to cope with several hdd's and CD drives as well as lots of fans! I wouold be happy to have the DVD drive and floppy as external USB devices.

    I'll check out the Dell system. I don't need anything that powerful, just very stable and reliable and silent! How hard can it be?
     
  7. sounddog

    sounddog
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    The orginal poster was proposing just using the notebook as a kinda base station ... having external peripherals.

    As for the mini-ITX ... if you go for the right case with it, the PSU is of the external variety just like on a laptop with no fan or anything.

    It all depends on what you need ... if you want lots of (internal) devices then you need the power ... but if you're happy with external FD and just a single HDD then the Mini-ITX is a great.

    Victoria
     
  8. fancyabrew

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    The DELL SX260 is very similair to a Laptop, infact it uses DELL CD's, Floppy drives from their laptop range, it also has an external PSU
     
  9. drew

    drew
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    Yup

    I know you plan to have all the separates on leads, as suggested in my - 'sermon' :rolleyes:

    Just saw it as a chance to warn others. The number of people I see craning over laptops.......
     
  10. Sinzer

    Sinzer
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    External CDs etc. don't have their own power supplies, well at least the ones in work don't :) USB may be different

    I still think in terms of cost Mini ITX is far better than a laptop and much better for housing in a confined area. Ever felt the heat from a laptop? Not pleasant.
     
  11. paiger

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    Wow, lots of useful info. Cheers guys.

    Drew, I agree, using a laptop on a desk is near impossible. You would at least need a proper seperate keyboard.

    Fancyabrew, is the Dell completely silent or does it have fans in it? It looks like a good one box solution. Prices aren't bad either. Is the PSU just a box with no fan?

    As for Mini ITX, it looks great. Can anyone give me more info on silent external PSU's for this format? I'll have abrowse of that site later.
     
  12. fancyabrew

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    The PSU is external with no fan its just like a Laptop PSU
     
  13. paiger

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    So the thing is completely silent or does it have case fans or CPU fans?
     
  14. ReTrO

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  15. paiger

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    How do you reckon the 600mhz CPU compares to, say, a P3 600? Faster or slower? Also, what do you reckon the graphics are comparable to? It looks good. I'm guessing that things will have improved though by the time I come to build one.
     
  16. james.miller

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    VIA c3's (the processor that is used on the VIA ITX) are hideously under-powered, I cant stress this enough.

    i have a via 933 overclocked to 1.04 ghz and that can only just about compete with a pIII-500. They seem to have extreamly poor memory bandwidth and an FPU unit that only opperates at half-speed (compared to full speed for just about everything from a pIII upwards) so gaming and any intensive programes are a big no.
    My VIA c3 933 cant play back divx movies without dropping frames. To get decent playback you have to lower the quality (which isnt all that great anyway). As for dvd's, it should be enough, thought i cant garentee that as i havnt tried that myself.
    btw my processor is totally passive. the only fan i have is the psu fan, and being <20cfm, you cant hear that anyway. the loudest part of my VIA pc is the hard-drive (which is an ibm, so it's a lot quieter than average)


    if you want the quietest of quiet, without resorting to water cooling, then i can only recommend the via C3 933, or the VIA c3 1ghz. They run with totally passive cooling and draw as little a 1/7 of the current an athlon does. They can happily run on psu's <200watts (im using a 225watt sparkle). Pair this with a Mini-atx board (bigger than the ITX boards - about 9cm or so across) that has 6 channel on-board sound (my chaintech 6oia3t does) and you will have a good combination, though be prepared for the poor performance.
    Failing that, you could pair that motherboard with a tulutin Celeron 1ghz - very much faster, and with a bigger H/S you can still get away with virtually silent cooling.
     
  17. reggs

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    My Compaq Evo N600c laptop is quietish, but still has a fan inside that kicks in every now again. I'm sure my old DELL did as well.

    An alternative-
    Have you considered using an RF keyboard and mouse?
    My HTPC is in a cupboard next to the living room. I use my Plasma screen and an RF keyboard and Mouse.
    I switch the power on via a remote X10 controller. The BIOS is set to resume from power on. My HTPC is far from noiseless, but can't be heard through a thin partition wall.
     
  18. sounddog

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    Whether a VIA C3 processor / MiniITX motherboard is suitable for you depends on your needs. If all you do is some word processing, play back some MP3s and general light work, then the C3 will be fine. If you want to play games or do video playback (esp DiVX) then the C3 with the graphics on the MiniITX motherboard will be hideously underpowered.


    Victoria
     
  19. drew

    drew
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    ............................................................................................
    An alternative-
    Have you considered using an RF keyboard and mouse?
    ............................................................................................

    I feel twitchy about using an RF keyboard on a home PC that's used for business. Can someone put me right on this:-

    Is it that easy to pick up the RF in the back garden and take confidential data from that input session, or is this James Bond stuff?
     
  20. ReTrO

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    The newer EPIA-M boards are more than capable of playing DiVX, Mpeg2 (DVD etc.) They have a faster bus speed and 8xAGP equivilent graphics architechture (shared upto 64Mb RAM).
     
  21. paiger

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    The RF idea is certainly a good one but a bit of aggro to set up.

    I don't play games on my PC. I run a java applet on it all day for my work. Occasionally I download MP3's and I spend a lot of time surfing. I also use Office XP apps quite a lot for my business, mainly word and excel. I really don't need a lot of graphics power.

    I currently have an Asus mobo, Athlon 2600XP, 512Mb, Geforce2 MX VGA. All this lot cost me a pretty penny and is little better for what I need than the Celeron 533 it replaced. Maybe apps open a little quicker but thats about it.

    I like the Mini ITX idea and will look into it further. I'm quite capable of building a PC myself. It's just a matter of costing it and obtaining parts. I'll probably spend Sunday doing some serious research. I need a PC with no fans at all. Zero. Then I might be finally happy.
     
  22. sounddog

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    Sounds like the "fan-less" version of the Mini-ITX board (esp the new EPIA-M) will suit you well then. Most cases for it will allow 1 HDD plus 1 5.25" drive (i.e. DVD/CD-RW combi). You can then add other devices via USB.

    I think the fan-less one is 600MHz which equates to a slower PIII ... but for general office use I've never really found the real need for anything quicker than a K6-300 anyway :)


    Victoria
     
  23. james.miller

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    as i said the c3 933 @1.05ghz equates to a pIII-450 to 500. the c3 600 would be about on par with a PII-300 - 350. As you said, it should be fine for music and film, just not divX.

    the via itx boards are very cheap and good value for money. though for the same money you could get a mini atx and a far more powerful tulutin celeron for the same ££ or less. It all comes down to how small you want it.
     
  24. sounddog

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    and the fact that IT NEEDS TO BE SILENT!!!


    Victoria
     
  25. sounddog

    sounddog
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    It's pretty James Bond stuff these days. All the new/current RF keyboards, etc have (simple) encryption. This was after there was a scare a couple of years ago about people listening in to RF keyboards.


    Victoria
     
  26. james.miller

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    Sounddog, i have an athlon 1800+ running with a volcano7 heatsink and a 20cfm fan. do you know how quiet a 20cfm fan is? I'll tell you, i can hear my hdd over that fan.
    Now, if i can do that with an athlon 1800+, then it can 100% DEFINATLY be done with a tulutin.
     
  27. MuFu

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    I have a Celeron-T 1.2GHz, passively cooled using just the standard retail heatsink in my HTPC. I did get a little lucky with the chip, as most require something like a Zalman passive cooler or an undervolt/underclock in order to be able to do this. The spec also includes a single, 60mm silent case fan, an AIW Radeon 7500 with the fan removed, a Seagate Barracuda ATA IV and a PSU fitted with a silent fan @5V. It's was on 24/7 last semester for 3 months with no problems whatsoever and is very, very quiet. Quieter than a PS2 or X-box for sure.

    Consider going for an FCPGA2-based mATX board (that can undervolt if possible) and a Cel-T 1.0GHz+ with at least 512MB RAM. Even if you can't passively cool it you can get away with very little airflow.

    MuFu.
     
  28. sounddog

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    To be honest ... I don't know how quiet a "volcano7 heatsink and a 20cfm fan" is ... my point was that the OP needed a silent system ... not a small system!!

    Your comments seamed to show a complete lack of having read the original post when you start going on about size.

    If the Volcano7 heatsink and fan is as quiet as you say, maybe paiger could just add this to his Athlon XP2200? Alternativly as has already been said the C3 can be used with a completely passive heatsink ... hell ... you could even remote boot it off a server and then you wouldn't need any moving parts inside it!!


    Victoria
     
  29. james.miller

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    Well thank you for the insult.:rolleyes:

    About the size, well, the poster originally suggested a laptop, which hinted that just mabey he did want small. I dont know, thats just how i interpreted his post.

    Also, the only thing i said was that a mini atx board is slightly bigger than the mini ITX boards that the other member have suggested, and that if he were to go for a mini atx, then he would have a much better range of options. How do my comments show that i didnt read the originial post?
    also, sorry for being ignorant, but my point about my volcano's fan is that even my hard drive is louder. once the hard drive is the loudest part, there isnt much else you can do.
    Again that comment is about how quiet even Adequate cooling for an athlon 1800+ can be, and that processor that prodice less thermal output can get away with even quieter cooling.

    still think i mis-read his post? Never-mind. i know exactly what im talking about.

    there are two routes i would recommend
    1) Via mini-itx.
    Slow.Both sound and graphics are intergrated so theres no upgrad options.

    2) Mini ATX board with an Intel tulutin celleron.
    Very much faster, upgradable. and can still be silently cooled. AND if you look around, can be had for the same price as the via mini-itx boards.

    sacrifice a little in size to gain a lot in performance and choice of components...... the choice is up to you


    one last thing. about adding the volcano 7 to his 2200:
    yes thats possible, though i think the temps would be to high to be stable. If he wants to go that route, then i would sugest either an SK-7+ or an SLK-800 - both from thermalright. They are the best heatsinks you can buy. I know more than a few people who use them in conjuction with panaflow fans (around 20cfm) on processors upwards of 2200+ all day long with perfectly adiquate temps.:)
     
  30. MuFu

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    Just out of curiosity, what is the main source of noise in your main PC, paiger?

    MuFu.
     

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