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Quiet + efficient PC for always-on audio and video, ...that's what I want!
2Bdecided
post Sep 10 2009, 12:40
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As topic really - that's what I'm looking for!

Many of the quiet and power-efficient PCs are very small, but I don't really care what the size is, so I don't want to pay extra or sacrifice performance to get something far smaller than I need.

I want a PC which I can leave on 24/7 without worrying about running costs, but which can play back audio bit-perfectly (external DAC is fine, but decent PCI sound card would be better), and play full HD content (e.g. BBC HD, which is H.264 1080i50 with MBAFF). Needs IEE1394, a way of getting DVB-S2 into it (implies another PCI slot!), and some kind of PC monitor and TV out.

Ideally, it would be able to handle video editing and complex AVIsynth scripts, but wouldn't use many Watts of power when sitting idle or doing less intensive tasks.

Any suggestions?

(I'm in the UK, and I'm not looking to spend a fortune.)

Cheers,
David.
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onkl
post Sep 10 2009, 14:16
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Are you looking for pre-assembled systems? Otherwise you can build a very silent system with standard components. Add a decent soundcard/dvb-card and your set. The most important part would be a giant cpu cooler and a quiet power supply. Depending on your needs you add a SSD or some 5600rpm drive in a decoupled QuietDrive.

http://www.silentpcreview.com/ is a good start.
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pawelq
post Sep 10 2009, 15:26
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Just a word of caution on 24/7. I have a quiet (not silent - SSDs are very expensive) computer, which I intended to keep on all the time for general use and music playback through an external soundcard/DAC (no video). It is quiet and works pretty well, except the always on thing. At least in my combination of hardware components, drivers and system (Vista) after roughly 3-4 days of uptime certain operations (mostly display) become sluggish leading to droputs in audio stream, and the only thing that helps is a restart.

Oh, one more thing. If you want quite, you may want to pay special attention to what keyboard you get. Most of them are very noisy, it took me some research time to find one that is resonably quiet still being comfortable, and reasonably priced.


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Ceterum censeo, there should be an "%is_stop_after_current%".
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qristus
post Sep 10 2009, 16:35
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Here is my media server setup:

Asus M3N78-EM, Socket-AM2+
Silverstone SST-LC19B-R HTPC, Black,
AMD Athlon X2 4850e 2.5GHz
NorthQ 3392 Media Center Cooler

This was purchased back in February, so better options are probably available, but it might give you a starting point. The motherboard's on-board graphics chip is a GeForce 8300 which supports DXVA for video acceleration, so playing Full HD video content has not been a problem. It also has an HDMI connector. The case I'm using only makes one expansion slot available, so if you need both PCI audio and a TV decoder card you'll need a bigger one. I'm using a Squeezebox for audio, so I can get by with the one slot for TV. This is my second Silverstone case and I'd buy a third one if I was building again, they're pricey but the build quality and layout has been very good in my experience, and they look good enough to blend in with existing AV equipment. With the cooler mentioned it's also quiet enough that we don't notice it among the fridge etc., but not completely silent if that's what you need (for that you'll probably need a special case/PC tailored for recording studio use, for instance).

24/7 uptime was not a problem for me running 64-bit Vista Home Premium, nor has it been after upgrading to Windows 7.
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Squeller
post Sep 11 2009, 18:52
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May I add questions? Anyone having experience with quiet Notebooks? I'm rather interested in those, because of the display. I want to upgrade to a stronger notebook... Doesn't have to be a new one, because it only needs to do audio.

My current setup is:
- IBM Thinkpad T22 (its somewhere in the 800mhz range) with SB-Card for PCMCIA
- XP, fb2k in fullscreen and Girder for a lot of fun in remote controlling.

BUT Problems: Noisy fan especially if the thing gets warm. SpeedSwitchXP (a cpu throttling software) cannot help much. Complete Windows lockup after 1.5-2 hrs.
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jdub
post Dec 8 2009, 17:14
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QUOTE (Squeller @ Sep 11 2009, 13:52) *
May I add questions? Anyone having experience with quiet Notebooks? I'm rather interested in those, because of the display. I want to upgrade to a stronger notebook... Doesn't have to be a new one, because it only needs to do audio.

My current setup is:
- IBM Thinkpad T22 (its somewhere in the 800mhz range) with SB-Card for PCMCIA
- XP, fb2k in fullscreen and Girder for a lot of fun in remote controlling.

BUT Problems: Noisy fan especially if the thing gets warm. SpeedSwitchXP (a cpu throttling software) cannot help much. Complete Windows lockup after 1.5-2 hrs.

Take your laptop apart. I dont care if you dont have the tools or you're afraid: Buy them. Stop being a pussy, set aside the hour and a half and take your laptop apart. You will find the heatsinks caked with dust and hair. Clean them off and replace the thermal paste if you have any.

If you wanna get fancy replace a fan or two as well. Your laptop will run worlds better unless the heat has permanently damaged components which is somewhat rare.

When re-imaging xp in case thats something you want to do, look into the following terms: "nlite" "ryanVM update pack" and "BTS packs". Half a days research + Half a days work and your laptop will no longer crash.

This post has been edited by jdub: Dec 8 2009, 17:24
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smok3
post Dec 11 2009, 10:33
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i turned my old pc into something like that (but its more of a file/web/ftp server with some desktop attached as well), what i did was new/cheap small housing, (took most of the HDs into the new machine), huge fan for the dual-core opteron, removed anything that had a propeler and replaced it with something without (GPU for example). The os is mint7 x64 (sort of ubuntu) and then i somehow managed to get cool and quiet working, so the cpu sits at 1Ghz most of the time..., of course no avisynth here and i didnt really bother with sound at all (i know its working, but thats all). This new nvidia passively cooled gpu is still good enough to make some use of those zexy compiz stuff tongue.gif

so its:
- web server (lighttpd + php + mysql)
- ftp server
- ssh server
- samba server
- netatalk server (talks to my mac)
- print server
- 2nd desktop

inxi -F returns
CODE
System: Host kravca Kernel 2.6.28-11-generic x86_64 (64 bit) Distro Linux Mint 7 Gloria - x64 Edition
CPU: Dual core AMD Opteron 170 (SMP) cache 2048 KB flags (sse3 nx lm) bmips 4020.44
Clock Speeds: (1) 1000.00 MHz (2) 1000.00 MHz
Graphics: Card nVidia D9M-20 [GeForce 9400 GT] X.Org 1.6.0 Res 1280x1024@50.0hz
GLX Renderer GeForce 9400 GT/PCI/SSE2 GLX Version 3.0.0 NVIDIA 180.44
Audio: Card nVidia CK804 AC'97 Audio Controller driver Intel ICH at ports dc00 e000
Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Version 1.0.18rc3
Network: Card-1 Marvell 88E8001 Gigabit Ethernet Controller driver skge v: 1.13 at port a000
Card-2 nVidia CK804 Ethernet Controller driver forcedeth at port b000
Disks: HDD Total Size: 329.4GB (51.2% used) 1: /dev/sda HDT722516DLA380 164.7GB 2: /dev/sdb HDS722516VLSA80 164.7GB
Partition: ID:/ size: 149G used: 38G (27%) ID:/home size: 151G used: 120G (84%) ID:swap-1 size: 3.04GB used: 0.00GB (0%)
Info: Processes 160 Uptime 23 min Memory 495.5/988.8MB Client Shell inxi 1.0.6




btw, did you consider mac-mini with (obviously) windows (or maybe the new quad-core 27" imac)?

This post has been edited by smok3: Dec 11 2009, 10:46


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PANIC: CPU 1: Cache Error (unrecoverable - dcache data) Eframe = 0x90000000208cf3b8
NOTICE - cpu 0 didn't dump TLB, may be hung
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hawkeye_p
post Dec 11 2009, 10:48
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If you strive for low power consumption and quietness, you definitely should consider an SSD.
Contrary to what an earlier poster said, they do not cost a fortune (depending of course how
vast your music library is).
According to Amazon 128 GB are available for not much more than 200 Euros.
(Of course this one will not be very fast, but for a music library it should be sufficient)

A liabs Gria▀le
Ralf
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