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Building a Dead Silent PC 436

Jouster writes "The folks over at HardCoreWare.net have finally lost it. They built a PC that's well over twenty times quieter than their comparison PC (40 dB versus 65). And it's no sluggard, either: P4 2.80 GHz, 7200 RPM hard drive and--get this!--an overclocked to the max GeForce4 Ti 4200! The only fan in the entire system is in the PSU."
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Building a Dead Silent PC

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:24AM (#4493612)
    If you can hear the sound from your computer its a sign that your music is way to low
  • by jeramybsmith ( 608791 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:27AM (#4493618)
    Those who forget the apple are doomed to reinvent it. Apple has been using large heatsink, air flow design, etc for ever since the blueg3 to keep there from being too many fans in the system.

    However, an Apple still puts out much less heat overall and I notice the article didnt even try to find a quiet cdrom. I have 2 in my PC and both are loud as the dickens.

    • by Aqua OS X ( 458522 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @05:08AM (#4493925)
      The slot loading "original" iMac (aka the gum drop) had(has) no fans, quite hardware, and vents on the top of the case. I don't quite know if Apple's eMacs and LCD iMacs have a similar set up, however I'd bet that they have fans.

      Nevertheless, Apple still strives to build fairly quiet boxes when ever possible. I mean hey, look at the fan to heat sink ratio in this box: http://www.apple.com/hardware/gallery/pmg4_august2 002_480.html Honestly, I've never seen a bigger heat sink within a consumer PC. One could fry 10 strips of bacon on that beast.
    • by Natalie's Hot Grits ( 241348 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @06:42AM (#4494089) Homepage
      "Those who forget the apple are doomed to reinvent it. Apple has been using large heatsink"

      Who said Apple invented large heatsinks,airflow design, etc?

      I have been using large heatsinks, low powered quiet ducted fans, and passive coolers since the pentium days. My current machine has an 80x80mm heatsink with copper base embedded in it with an 80mm silent fan and its cooling an athlon XP 2100. The rest of my system is setup such that I have minimal airflow for the required cooling. Ducted air, large heatsinks, copper bases, etc etc..

      People have known about large heatsinks, passive cooling, etc way way way before Apple Computer started making PC's with passive heatsinks on it.

      Also, your post is irrelevant considering that Gateway, Dell, HP, Compaq has been doing the exact same thing in (many) of their systems as well for years. (check out dell optiplex, Gateway E-series, I dont know the compaq models, but I have seen some like this).

      Then consider the G4 cube. it was fanless, nice innovation. But then they put a loud as hell hard drive in it, the power switch went off intermittently due to overheating (it was heat sensitive) and they put a fan in it anyway when they put the 3D Video cards in it. (this video card fan was like a 40mm fan spinning fast as hell and it was not very quiet at all, all on top of a very very small heatsink which had plenty of room to be larger)

      Next, you are going to tell me that Apple invented thermodynamics? Please. Don't try to pretend Apple invented everything. They didn't. And they are far far far FAR from the ppl who started making silent PCs. Everyone has been making silence (and mostly, reduced noise) since the begining of cooling weather it be for cars, power lines, space shuttles, oil pipes, computers, whatever.
  • silence overrated? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mackstann ( 586043 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:28AM (#4493621) Homepage
    i used to always strive to quiet my computer more and more, undervolting fans to 7v or 5v, i had my p233 absolutely SILENT, except for the loud hard drive.

    but now, building my new system, i have 4 moderate (sound) volume fans, but they really dont bother me. they produce a calm whir, and they're actually kind of soothing at night :P

    but the whole silent pc thing isnt all that hard, really. just put in some panaflo L1A's (undervolted if necessary), a seagate barracuda IV, and you are good to go. i dont see why people go to such extremes, for little to no improvement.

    • I just bought one of These [frozencpu.com] baybuses. They work like a charm and REALLY get things quite. They undervoltage your fans at the flick on a switch which is perfect for sleeping and when your gaming you turn the sound up and the fans on. Its very easy to setup and looks very smooth. Its very fun to show my friend my computer. It looks like im starting an airplane as i flip on rows of switches and hear the fans fire up. With over a dozen fans and multiple screamer 7200 hard drives and cd-r's it can get noisy. Yet when i want to it runs at a very quite hum in teh corner which is kinda nice when im sleeping. Also i set the last switch to control the internal lights so i dont have to use an awkward switch for the cold cathodes.
    • by Zathrus ( 232140 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @09:24AM (#4494698) Homepage
      i dont see why people go to such extremes, for little to no improvement.

      It's called the noise floor, and while it may not matter much to you in standard computing environments, it matters a lot in non-standard ones. Like if you're building a home theater PC. If your PC runs at 40 dB then forget hearing anything below that -- which can be either quiet passages in music (classical or rock - both have 'em) or downkeyed scenes in movies. Turning the volume of the system up isn't an option unless you want to constantly change the volume during a movie so you don't lose your hearing during action/climactic scenes.

      Additionally any noise like a PC can interfere with subtle nuances in music or movies, which is equally bad. With a 20 dB noise floor you may be able to hear sound queues for things you can't hear with a 40 dB noise floor.

      So it's not little to no improvement - it can be pretty substantial in the right environment. Personally I'm looking to build my next PC to be quieter, not because it's going to be a HTPC, but because I'm tired of having an absurdly loud PC. I'm not going to take it to extremes, but I will try to purchase quieter components.
  • by idiotnot ( 302133 ) <sean@757.org> on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:30AM (#4493633) Homepage Journal
    exactly what this will do to component life. As you can see from the graphs they posted, the CPU and graphics card do run noticably hotter than with the stock cooling.

    To me, the small amount of noise created by a the stock CPU fan and graphics card cooler are worth the bit of extra noise.

    A very quiet case fan might be a good addition to this to help draw heat out of the case. That big plastic window doesn't help add anything to radiational cooling from the case, either.

    And my athlon isn't *that* noisy, especially when it's tucked away underneat the desk.
    • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <lee AT ringofsaturn DOT com> on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:34AM (#4493649) Homepage
      Radiant heat transfer is on the order of 10-100x less effective than convective cooling (like with a moving airflow). Radiant transfer varies as the fourth power of temperature, and does not turn significant until you get to temperatures that would a) fry any component you can name and b) give you a really good burn when you accidentally brush it with your leg.

      So the window, apart from looking stupid, doesn't really hurt anything. : ) 'Cept the faraday cage.
    • by Rolo Tomasi ( 538414 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:58AM (#4493739) Homepage Journal
      Semiconductors aren't that sensitive to moderate heat, in the way that it would destroy them; if they get too hot, you will just have system crashes, random resets, etc. (as if that isn't bad enough).

      No, but heat kills bearings. So, the hard drive will probably be the first component to fail, especially with today's sensitive drives.

      Another mid-term problem would be the electrolytic caps. They will dry up over time, which will introduce sporadic instability/reboots at first, and you'll be driven mad searching for the cause. Almost impossible to detect without special equipment, i.e. an ESR meter.

      So, if you want a silent PC, you'd be better off buying cool components in the first place. It's just too much of a hassle (and expensive) trying to silently and reliably cool high power CPUs and graphics cards.

      • ESR meter (Score:5, Funny)

        by extra88 ( 1003 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @08:06AM (#4494334)
        Almost impossible to detect without special equipment, i.e. an ESR meter.
        If you do decide to get one, just remember not to put it next to your RMS meter. they'll both get totally out of whack.
  • Quiet PC? (Score:4, Funny)

    by The Original Yama ( 454111 ) <lists.sridhar@NospAM.dhanapalan.com> on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:30AM (#4493634) Homepage
    Yeah, it's called putting a PC in another room and accessing it via vnc/ssh. You won't hear a thing.
  • by beowulf_26 ( 512332 ) <beowulf_26@nosPam.hotmail.com> on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:31AM (#4493635) Homepage
    I think it's great that these guys did this, and I'm quite impressed at the hardware statistics and performance for such a quiet system. Although, there is a conspicuous lack of one element from the whole article...


    While I've been desperately wanting a completely quiet computer that runs decently for some time now, I don't have the money to invest in a solution that is going to last only for a year or so. I guess I wish these guys had done more extended testing of their system.

    Has any other /.er made a comparable system? How has it lasted?

    Maybe I'm just a skeptic, but an overclocked GeForce 4 Ti with no active cooling makes me anxious, and somewhat hesitant.
    • by LordSah ( 185088 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:51AM (#4493716)
      My solution to making my PC quite was very simple: I built a big-ass sound-insulating box for it. The box itself is made of particle board, lined with acoustic ceiling tile and carpet. I cut fan holes in the side of my original case, and mounted three fans to blow directly onto the CPU, memory and graphic board.

      The fans on the side of my case pull in air from a 20" long carpet-lined duct--it acts a lot like a car muffler. The air moves through, but the carpet absorbs nearly all the sound (the sound needs to make two 90 degree turns to escape the air channel). There is a similar duct in the back of the case for outgoing air.

      My 'new' case has more airflow than the computer originally had, so my internal temps are only a little higher than they used to be. I built the box with a weekend and ~$25. Now I can leave my computer on all the time without making my ears ring. If you've got access to a wood shop, it's a very effective way to make a quiet PC.
    • "Has any other /.er made a comparable system? How has it lasted?"

      Last May or June I invested in some good cooling equipment and reduced the sound level of my system by about 20 dB. Frankly my solution is not as elegant or inexpensive as this guy [slashdot.org] but at least the machine is more portable and you don't need access to a wood shop.

      I replaced the noisy-as-hell stock heatsink (coller master or whatnot) on my CPU with an Alpha 8045 and artic silver 3 thermal compound and then put a vantec stealth fan* on top of it. The great thing is that this HS is 80mmx80mm so you can use an 80mm fan as opposed to the standard 60mm fan. This means that it's possible to get greater airflow with lower speeds and thus lower noise.

      I also replaced my other case fans with Vantec Stealths and got some light machine oil and lubed up all the fans' bearings to eliminate any tiny fan noises.

      At an overall cost of CAD$120 or so, my box actually runs cooler than before and I don't get headaches when working.

      My one mistake was usnig a slot loading DVD drive because the slot lets noise from inside the machine get out easily.

      *Yes, I know that Panaflos are cheaper and only a tiny bit less well performing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:31AM (#4493638)
    Most Apple products have been silent.

    Its one of the main reasons people like to buy them.

    Even some of the G4s (cube) keep the fan off unless critical.

    powerbooks are similarlysilent unless emergency fans kick in.

    The balance of other modesl, such as imac are designed with columnar "chimney effect" air flow out the tops.

    And many famous apples have no fan at all whatsoever, not even on powersupply : Apple II, IIe, IIc, IIgs

    Many musicians like the newer macs with sampler gear because they don't have to worry about systyem sound so much.

    External D/A in usb allows noise free amplification far from motherboard on most all mac models in last 3.5 years.

    Mac lovers hate noise it sems.

    I wish dual cpu AMDs could be made much quieter.

    • My G4 Cube is great. It is silent except for a very very slight hard drive head noise. I installed a 120 Gig hard drive for use in recording. My mics never pick up computer noise. They sometimes get the AC when it's on.

      The new iMacs (those lamp ones) are practically silent. Even some of the old iMacs are real quiet.

      This article was great! I'm considering upgrading my PC at home (loud 600Mhz Pentium III), and this would be something to look into!

    • So THATs why... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shalome ( 566988 )
      When I was a kid, we had an Apple II. Went on vacation in the summer, turned off the AC for a week. Came back, dead computer. Reason, according to the Apple tech? "Heat."

      So dad bought an Apple IIc. Same thing happened. Bought another Apple IIc. Same damn thing. They couldn't take the southern US summers -- the heat and humidity were too much for 'em!

      Dad switched to PCs shortly after... the first PC he ever bough (a Compaq) still runs.
  • by Navaash Fenwylde ( 35067 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:33AM (#4493645) Homepage
    Those are some gigantic heatsinks. The processor heatsink alone is frigheting enough. But there does seem to be one solution that can be even quieter and can cool both Pentiums AND Athlons...

    Water cooling! [koolance.com]

    It's certainly different, using water to carry off and circulate the heat. Obviously, it requires a large degree of trust, as one leak can short out your entire system in a heartbeat. I've been around these beasts, and they certainly seem quiet enough.

    I imagine they would be great for overclockers :D

  • Old news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maniakes ( 216039 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:33AM (#4493647) Journal
    The PowerMac G4 cube [apple.com] (bottom of page 4, "Noise characteristics") was only 31 dB. That's 2,512 times quiter than this "silent" PC.
    • Yes, the Cube is a great machine. I'm curious as to what the noise level is if you install a 1 Ghz G4 via Sonnet or Powerlogix. I hear those require a fan :-(
    • Re:Old news (Score:3, Informative)

      I'm having trouble with the math -- i know that it's a log scale, so:

      10^3.1 = 1,258

      10^4.0 = 10,000

      10,000 / 1258 = 7.94, not 2512.

      Am i doing something wrong?
      • Re:Old news (Score:5, Informative)

        by marauder404 ( 553310 ) <marauder404&yahoo,com> on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:59AM (#4493747)
        2,512 times quieter than the 65 dB machine:

        10^3.1 = 1,259
        10^6.5 = 3,162,277

        3,162,277 / 1,259 = 2,512
      • My mistake. I was thinking 65 dB was the quiet PC, and the standard was 80. Teach me to rely on my short term memory. Your math looks right to me.
      • I'm not sure where this 20x quieter thing comes from, but generally. a 10dB increase in sound output is considered "twice as loud." Note that a 3dB increase is twice as much energy (well, 3.0something, but close enough). Similarly, -3dB is the "half power point."

        • Re:deciBells (Score:5, Informative)

          by Maniakes ( 216039 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @04:52AM (#4493881) Journal
          I'm not sure where this 20x quieter thing comes from, but generally. a 10dB increase in sound output is considered "twice as loud." Note that a 3dB increase is twice as much energy (well, 3.0something, but close enough). Similarly, -3dB is the "half power point."

          Your physics teacher will tell you that 10 dB is a 10x difference in the intensity of a sound wave.

          Your psychology teacher, or your friendly local audiophile, will tell you that a 10x difference in wave intensity is only a 2x difference in perceived loudness.

          Most slashdotters, geeks that we are, payed more attention in our physics classes. As a result, I forgot about the perception issue until just now.

          I am currently listening to 128 kbps mp3s on a $25 pair of headphones. Whether or not I am an audiophile is left as a exercise to the reader.
      • Explanation of log (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw@snk[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday October 21, 2002 @10:16AM (#4495023) Journal
        Here, once and for all, is a log scale mathematics explanation. I'm still a student so I remember something about it:

        Sound level is how loud a sound is to human ears. It can be measured in dB and an increase of 10 dB sounds ten times louder to human ears.
        Sound intensity measures the energy of the sound, often in W/m^2. (Watts per metre squared.) If you multiply the sound intensity by the face area of your eardrum, you'll get the number of Joules per second (W = J/s) that your ear is perceiving. This scale is linear with human hearing perception, so double the intensity means it sounds twice is loud.

        The Equation:
        B = 10log(I/Io)

        B = sound level in dB
        I = sound intensity in W/m^2
        Io = sound floor of human hearing, Io = 1x10^-12 W/m^2

        So, doing the math, 40dB = 1.0 x 10^-8 W/m^2.

        And 31 dB = 1.26x10^-9 dB

        So therefore, 40 dB is 7.94 times more intense, and therefore 7.94 times louder to human ears.

        (7.94 = 1.0 x 10^-8 / 1.26x10^-9 )

        Note: the previous poster's comment about one being 2,512 times quieter than the other was for different values, and this information does not override that person's (correct) calculation.

        Thank you, and have a nice day :-)

  • 67C? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    That seems a little high for a CPU temp, Ive always heard that you wanna keep it under 60C at worst, usually under 50C though.

    Of course, you can probably drop the temps by lowering the voltage to the CPU and underclocking it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:34AM (#4493654)
    According to my calculations, you can now cluster 100,000,000 PCs before their combined noise level reaches the threshold of pain!
  • by Angron ( 127881 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:36AM (#4493660) Journal
    My first thought was "Isn't a dead computer already silent?"

  • by cscx ( 541332 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:39AM (#4493672) Homepage
    See here -- it's GOT to be silent. [cynikal.net]

    Also, ever hear of that new lampy thing called an 'iMac'?? Yeah, they're silent.
  • Google Cache (Score:3, Informative)

    by babycakes ( 564259 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:39AM (#4493674)
    here []
  • by peel ( 242881 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:41AM (#4493680)
    It seems to me that someone would have come up with a noise cancelling method by now. You know, something similar to the technology utilized by some headphones such as these [aiwa.com] by Aiwa. Basically you could sample the sound inside the case then invert the wave, and then play it back through a case speaker. Viola! Instant nose reduction. This would also dynamically address other noisy things such as cd-rom drives. Just an idea to make millions. -peel

    p.s.- If you don't understand how this works you can also try it out with your home stereo and a song with a lot of base. Take your speakers and aim them at each other then take one of the sets of wires and switch the positive and the negative. You will notice the sound of the bass reduces dramatically due to an effect called phasing.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I don't know if that would work well, I think that noise cancelling headphones are effective because of their close proximity to your ears. I don't think you would be able to get the speaker in the case so that it would be out of phase in all places in and around the case because there are some tricky acoustic things going on. Although, it would still be kind of cool because as you moved around the case you would be able to hear the case sound go in and out of phase!
    • by Fourier ( 60719 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:59AM (#4493745) Journal
      Unfortunately, general noise cancellation in three dimensions is a much more difficult problem than noise cancellation at a point or two (e.g. headphones).
    • "you can also try it out with your home stereo and a song with a lot of base. Take your speakers and aim them at each other then take one of the sets of wires and switch the positive and the negative. You will notice the sound of the bass reduces dramatically due to an effect called phasing"

      Actually many years ago I did try reversing speaker wires at a party and did notice a reduction of around 50% in the base due to an effect called "blowing up your speaker".

      I can't say for certain this was simply due to reversing the speaker leads, I was using far more powerful amps than the speakers were rated for but this is one experiment I won't be rushing to try at home.
  • by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) <michaelmtripp&gmail,com> on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:42AM (#4493686) Homepage
    I sacrificed the possibility of a quiet computer when I chose an AMD 1500+ for the CPU in my computer, so now I've gone to the other extreme and been proud of just how loud my PC runs. What I really want is a diesel generator that I can use as a long term UPS because then when I want to show it in top form I can just pull the pullcord and it will be the loudest computer for miles around. Also, I will put a fart can on its exhaust system, I hope the cops don't catch up with me for my modified exhaust.
    • Yeah, You know when your computer kicks ass, when you have duel exaust ports, flames out of the tail pipe, and a low rumble in parallel with some high powered whine,screaming from under the cover, and built-into-the-case straps to hold her steady!

      Whoa boy!

  • What about fluids? (Score:4, Informative)

    by kylef ( 196302 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:44AM (#4493692)
    This is quite timely, with the release of Windows XP Media Center Edition [microsoft.com] creating the need for a silent box that won't detract from that $2000 sound system! They use mostly Zalman Tech [zalman.co.kr] heatsinks in this system for noise reduction, but I wonder whether air cooling will continue to be viable in the next few years? Fluid cooling systems were necessary for the Cray supercomputers of the 70s because of superior heat transfer characteristics. This may be the case in the near future if silicon densities increase much further. But fluid cooling is also good for silence as well. The LA-class fast attack submarine that I was on for a while used a chill water cooling system for the sonar display equipment. And you can imagine how much silence is paramount in that setting! (Of course, they also used magnetic rotating drums for display buffer memory, if you can imagine...)
  • by Drunken Buddhist ( 467947 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:46AM (#4493698) Homepage
    Zalman CNPS6500A-Cu: $50
    Zalman ZM17CU: $18
    Thermaltake 420AD: $60
    Seagate Barracuda: $80
    Thermaltake Xaser II: $100-180
    Being able to ditch the hotplate, and just warm food on your casetop: Priceless.
  • So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jpmorgan ( 517966 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:49AM (#4493710) Homepage
    So some guys with a website bought a bunch of large heatsinks from other companies, built a computer that uses almost entirely passive computing and we're expected to do what? Commend them on their innovative use of a credit card? ;)

    And it's not like super-quiet computers haven't been done before. Yawn. Boring.

  • by BoBaBrain ( 215786 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:51AM (#4493714)
    My PC has a button on the front that eliminates noise completely. It eliminates those annoying lights on the case too...
  • by NewtonsLaw ( 409638 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:52AM (#4493721)
    In the process of building a PC-based PVR I was worried that the noise of a PC might be distracting when placed next to a TV set in the family room.

    I needn't have worried. The PC I'm using is a 1.8GHz P4 with a 7200 RPM Seagate HD, Sony CDR/RW and DVD drives plus a top-spec video card.

    The noise of the hard drive seeking when doing time-shift is about the only barely audible sound -- and you can only hear that if you mute the TV.

    Some PCs are just very quiet anyway.

    In my office I have two tower systems and two mini-tower systems with a total of 8HDs, 4 PSUs and 4 video cards. Once again, the loudest noise used to be the clicking of my IBM Deskstar drive until it died (yeah, mine too) and now there's just a very gentle white noise from the air being blown around by all those fans. It's certainly not noisy.

    Just choosing your hardware properly will likely negate any need to take special care to cut noise levels.
  • by valmont ( 3573 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:53AM (#4493727) Homepage Journal

    imagine a paradoxally silently humming, mysteriously stealth, decibel absorbing, reality distorting beowulf cluster of those.

  • Totally silent PC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shepd ( 155729 ) <(slashdot.org) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:56AM (#4493733) Homepage Journal
    Even more quiet than some Macs.

    Buy a mobo with a VIA CPU on it. Take off 486 CPU Fan/HS combo. Replace with a large heatsink. Build/buy P/S with no fan (VIA CPUs take very little power, so building one is not hard for someone with some electronics knowledge). Load up O/S through the network, put in a lot of RAM, no hard drive.

    There. Totally silent PC. And it probably only cost you $200 CDN. Wow. Hard to believe, huh?

    Even VIA [via.com.tw] themselves know their CPU rules for this. Stop using Intel/AMD if you want quiet and lower power, with enough horses to power most modern OSes.
  • Quiet? (Score:3, Funny)

    by e8johan ( 605347 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:57AM (#4493737) Homepage Journal
    I used to work for having a silent computer but now I've put away the computer in a closet, done some cabeling and I don't have to worry. (The closet is quite big, and chilly since it is on an outside wall that is badly insulated). Actually, clothes also dampen sound really well...
  • forget rotating disk drives. Get a mobo with RAID and a bunch of totally solid state flash hard drives [sandisk.com]. they're electrically identical to laptop hard drives, so a $25 adaptor will allow them to be used in place of any old IDE hard drive in your RAID, but you'll have to change the "I" in the acronym from "Inexpensive" to "Independent", if you know what I mean.

    On the other hand if you think about the performance you'd get from the right kind of RAID where the individual "disks" have specs like these [sandisk.com]... suddenly everything else seems small.
    • forget rotating disk drives. Get a mobo with RAID and a bunch of totally solid state flash hard drives [sandisk.com]. they're electrically identical to laptop hard drives, so a $25 adaptor will allow them to be used in place of any old IDE hard drive in your RAID, but you'll have to change the "I" in the acronym from "Inexpensive" to "Independent", if you know what I mean.

      On the other hand if you think about the performance you'd get from the right kind of RAID where the individual "disks" have specs like these [sandisk.com]... suddenly everything else seems small.

      Yeah... but flash drives have a limited number of write operations. They're find for digital cameras and the like, where they'll only get written on a few thousand times, but once you tried to run a full OS on them, you'd reach their limit and your data would start to disappear. They're great though on things like Linux/BSD router boxes where you can have the OS on a read-only disk.

  • Cool... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Alien Being ( 18488 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @03:59AM (#4493743)
    This one goes to -11.
  • by tchueh ( 305012 ) <`moc.liamtoh' `ta' `112tim'> on Monday October 21, 2002 @04:00AM (#4493752)
    After sitting next to my computer for the past couple years, I almost believe that the noise coming from it has seriously hindered my hearing. It's hard for me to hear people whispering to me, and sometimes I can't even hear my profs in lectures.

    This is one of the main reasons that I'll look toward a "silent" pc with decent performance, rather than a "Tweaked out" pc that'll make me deaf before I'm 30.

    I gotta hand it to the guys at Hardcoreware.net. They went all the way with this, which is something i'd like to do...

    Well, either that or just buy a Mac.
  • Why do they need to go to such extremes, my PC can go down to 0dB.. all I have to do is push the power button ;-)
    • Re:I wonder..... (Score:5, Informative)

      by xercist ( 161422 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @05:19AM (#4493947) Homepage
      Actually, dB is a logarithmic scale, so 0dB is not actually *zero* like you assume, as 10^0 == 1. You could have something that was at -1dB which would be quieter than that. On this scale, "complete silence" really doesn't exist. It all depends on how sensitive your measuring device is.
  • Silent PC? (Score:4, Funny)

    by cosyne ( 324176 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @04:05AM (#4493769) Homepage
    So it can't scream in pain when it gets /.ed?
  • Closet PC... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @04:11AM (#4493787) Homepage
    A friend of mine had a great idea... which I eventually used... a closet PC.

    For those of you with the advantage of having a closet in your room (ie, not living in a college dorm), just putting a door (sliding or closing) between yourself and your beast can probably reduce your PC to fanless levels (I barely hear my monitor more than my PC in da closet).

    My PC: Athlon 900 w/stock fan, 4x80GB IDE drives, geforce2mx video, 300W PS + LOTS of fans

    1) ACPI on my mobo sucks, and I can't resume with my wireless keyboard as easy as I'd like to
    2) CDRW/DVD drives are still on the unit; I'd like to replace them with firewire/usb2 external devices, but haven't had the cash to do it.

    Im interested in knowing if anyone else has opted for this low-tech, low-noise solution?
  • i am running an aging dual p3-500 (slot 1) system. while it may not have the sheer processing power as the newest high end chips, the disk system employs 10k rpm ultra2 drives. The system is LOUD in its full tower case. there are two problems with it...

    1) power supply fan is very loud

    2) the hard drives sit in fan-lined carts for easy removal. so not only do i hear the high pitched noise of the disks spinning but the fans cooling them.

    I have tried pulling the fans off those 10k drives and i started hearing weird noises from the drives. My conclusion? i need fans on them period.

    maybe there is a better way to cool them, any ideas would be nice. (and no pulling them out of the system is not an option)
  • by JohnnyBigodes ( 609498 ) <.morphine. .at. .digitalmente.net.> on Monday October 21, 2002 @04:22AM (#4493813)
    After reading the headline, I thought "cool, another one of those 'some guy blasted a PC into oblivion' page with pictures of bullets puncturing the case". Well, served as an incenting to read up the article...
  • The whir of my computer never inteferes with my very important work at Slashdot.

    What do I do? I am the Mayor, of Course.

  • by Brother52 ( 181351 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @04:36AM (#4493846)
    CPUs and cases without fans are not very rare among brandname boxes (Compaq, for example), but I've yet to see a fanless PC PSU.

    Is it really that hard make? I don't mind it to be heavier or more expensive - the reliability (no moving parts) and noise level are much more important in a lot of cases (pun intended :)

    I was thinking about building one myself: old-style with a huge transformer, but then I heard that some powerful ATX PSUs can have their fans disconnected under reduced load. Can anyone clarify?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 21, 2002 @04:39AM (#4493856)
    As far as I know, the Transmeta Cruesoe CPU doesn't need a CPU fan, so it would be a good candidate for a silent PC.
  • by gbsallery ( 468182 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @04:52AM (#4493880) Homepage
    Bah, I'm sure my PC is at least as quiet as theirs. Again, the PSU fan is the only fan turning in the system. The rest of it is water-cooled through an extremely bodge-tastic radiator, like this [colour9.com].

    As I'm using a decent pump, this is completely silent. And it looks scary.
  • by krazyninja ( 447747 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @05:04AM (#4493911)
    Is there any standard way/method of testing these claims that every vendor/organisation makes? For instance, I can think of a number of ways in which this claim can be twisted: Ambient sound, position/location of the computers, position of measurement, calibration of the dB meter, temperature of the air measured at various instants of time, material on which the computers stand, consistency of readings, etc etc...Who validates all these claims? How can we truly believe these "cheapass" claims (in the same words of the author) ??
  • Silence! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Deton8 ( 522248 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @05:05AM (#4493913)
    I'd accept a few degrees hotter silicon for the huge reliability boost of getting rid of the fans on the processor and graphics card (MTBF circa 15,000 hours in the real world contrary to their b.s. specs, divided by two since there are two of the little bastards). Your remaining fan in the PSU case needs a fan rotation alarm on it, and if unattended, some kind of thermal shut-off or redundant fan. One nice trick for quiet fans is to use one much bigger than you need and then run it at a slower speed. Another tip is to mount the disk drive and fans on Sorbothane [sorbothane.com] standoffs, and maybe stick a couple of slabs of Sorbothane on the walls of the PC case. One quibble with the article -- for best cooling, you want as small a case as possible, not as big as possible. The objective should be to maximize the velocity of the airflow over the heatsinks, and you do this by constricting the space around them. One innovative way this has been done is through the use of engineering foams like E-PAC [dmtgmbh.de] which allows the designer to create engineered air ducting which forces the airflow over the parts where it is needed. Some other people have asked why the PSU fan is necessary -- having just gone through CE and UL testing on one of my products, you can't imagine the kind of pain the test lab would make you go through if you took the PSU fan out of the PSU case. It's only a practical proposal for a major corporation with a lot of money and time to throw at it.
    • Re:Silence! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tidan ( 541596 )
      for best cooling, you want as small a case as possible, not as big as possible

      Actually... I don't think we're looking at improving heat transfer via forced air, so a smaller case would not help. The mode of heat transport in this application is mainly free convection and not forced convection.

      As we all know from Intro to Heat Transfer, the transition to turbulence occurs at a Rayleigh number of 10^9. This number is related to physical properties of air, and is proportional to (vertical length)^3. Turbulence from free convection will improve heat transfer immensly. The longer your vertical plate is (taller case), the larger your region of turbulent flow will be, which leads to improved heat transfer, and cooler components.

      I too, am a rocket scientist. :)

  • by juventasone ( 517959 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @05:25AM (#4493955)
    The guys at Silent PC Review [silentpcreview.com] would scoff at the "hardcoreness" of hardcoreware.net when it comes to silencing PCs. After being on their mailing list for a year, I can tell you that they're waaay ahead of these guys in every aspect of PC silencing, many of which I've implemented myself.
  • Why no sealed case? (Score:5, Informative)

    by PsyQ ( 87838 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @05:26AM (#4493957) Homepage
    I've been using an acoustically sealed case from Noise Control [noisecontrol.de]. I really can't hear my PC anymore.

    I also use one of Noise Control's modified Enermax PSUs and a Silverado CPU cooler. That's all I did to my PC to make it quiet, everything else is stock. A quiet case seems to be the most logical (and least expensive) first step if you ask me. If you can still hear any of your components after you've put them behind 2 cm of noise blocking fluffy stuff, you can start replacing noisy those one by one until the noise stops.

    Noise Control now has their own fan control circuitry and new modified PSUs come with it built-in. Also, they have hard drive cages that catch vibrations before they reach your case. With all of that equipment it should be easy to quiet any PC.
  • by N Monkey ( 313423 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @05:45AM (#4493995)
    It's not difficult to achieve.

    Due to a hard disk error, my home PC is both dead and silent.

  • by Kasmiur ( 464127 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @05:49AM (#4494006)
    As soon as I woke I knew something was wrong. And looked around my room. Noticed it was darker than usual. After turning on the bedroom light I looked and saw my pc was off. Then I found out the power went out in the middle of the night. If it wernt for my pc and my wakeing up I could have been late for work.

    I actually find the gentle hum and whirl of my pc comforting. along with the blinking yellow light and the faint green glow it gives my room.
  • by mosschops ( 413617 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @07:40AM (#4494249)
    The full-copper version of the Zalman P4 heatsink weighs 898g (that's about 2.1 pounds). That's nearly TWICE what Intel recommend as the maximum weight for a P4 heatsink. Moving the PC around with the heatsink attached could cause serious damage.

    Zalman also do an alternative P4 fan, which still uses the copper base but is made mainly of Alumin(i)um. It weighs in at just 400g, which is much safer. It doesn't cool quite as well, but I believe it still does a very good job. The ~2700rpm fan supplied with the heatsink is pretty much inaudible anyway - I've got one in my system, and I'm very fussy about PC noise.
  • Could be quieter.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fweeky ( 41046 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @07:48AM (#4494278) Homepage
    The Barracuda V [storagereview.com] is actually somewhat quieter [storagereview.com] than the Barracuda IV [storagereview.com] they used.

    Use the extra leeway to add a few fans; don't forget, if everything's running close to their design limits now, it'll probably get hairy if you have a hot summer.

    Plus it's really a good idea to keep components like HD's fairly cool. Let them fry and you risk reducing the service life of the drive and increasing the chances of data loss. You at least want reliable storage, right?

    Also, you should be careful with that huge-ass Zalman cooler. They're very heavy, and will happily tear off the socket if you happen to move the machine anywhere. The full Cu version is about 200g heavier than AMD's maximum recommended weight.
  • by Hyped01 ( 541957 ) on Monday October 21, 2002 @11:19PM (#4501454) Homepage
    This is no major feat. This is so NOT a feat, that it's amazingly NOT one.

    I own 5 IBM Intellistation M Pro workstations (Netfinity Servers by another name). They are dual CPU beasts that support (mostly externally - only 6 internal bays) 29 SCSI (UW2) and 4 EIDE (ATA100). They contain 3 massive case fans, one massive power supply fans and the CPU fans.

    With the stock fans and a quiet hard drive, they are ungodly quiet. You can barely hear them with your ear on the case. With the stock drive, they are a little louder... a whopping 43 decibels with *2* XEON processors.

    With a well selected drive and CPU fans (only 1 was the stock IBM fan so I had to find a silent one for the 2nd CPU), it drops below the 40 mark at 1.5 feet distance.

    Oh... and just for those disbelievers, here's the pdf's to the manuals for the slightly louder of the Intellistations (I have 3 models... but this is the only one I could find online...)

    M Pro [www.asso.pl]

    - Rob

To err is human, to moo bovine.