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"Silent audio computer", ...how to build a pc for music listening
aabxx
post Feb 24 2003, 18:11
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I would say my solution is as good as it gets.. my
home system:

My quick duron was first underclocked to a measly 600 mhz..
this allows me to just play a very high quality mpeg-4 video
file at dvd resolution, while doing colour leveling and a fair
amount of sharpening.

Then, I removed my case fan, motherboard fan, and
the fan on my gfx card (it's a nvidia card, but not the
latest model so it just about works without the fan
without underclocking). The PSU-fan was difficult to
disable in a simple manner, so I just cut off the
internal wires going to the fan.

So, no fans left on anymore. Unfortunately, the hard
drive makes more noise than all these fans combined.
And it made the whole case vibrate.

So.. I basically removed the case, and put up the
motherboard on a plastic box on the floor, with
the psu nearby. Then, I attached a cable to the
motherboard which would allow me turn on the
computer. Last step was to isolate the hard drive
a little, so the noise it made would be far less.
It lies in multiple boxes made out of plastic.

I can still hear the hard drive humming, but all
in all it's still impressive, and almost as close to
noisefree as my computer can get. Of course, I'm
thinking of isolating the hard drive in a more
effective manner so the loudest thing will be
the monitor (and the monitor as you might
guess doesn't exactly create much noise..)

If this sounded like an inelegant solution, sure..
but it works, and it's dirt cheap and easy.
And the computer case was ugly anyway biggrin.gif
As a bonus, seeing my whole setup lying in
the open on the floor together with other
stuff like router and amplifier etc is sort of
impressive in its own right, in a geeky sort
of way.
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Artemis3
post Feb 24 2003, 18:36
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This is only a reminder: Hard Disks and CD Drives dissipate heat at the sides, precisely at the place where it contacts with a (hopefully) metal case. If you put an insulation tape right there... hmmm, well, you better live in a cold weathered country like Finland or something happy.gif

For me, the use for a silent machine could be to play music/video or do some non cpu intensive (office?) job, certainly not 3d games. Having an underclocked 3d card when you can have a cheapo motherboard embedded one? i also like the idea of small for these kind of PCs, so while not perfect, i think the road to go could be micro, or maybe mini for 3d power happy.gif.


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niktheblak
post Feb 24 2003, 23:25
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QUOTE (Artemis3 @ Feb 24 2003 - 07:36 PM)
This is only a reminder: Hard Disks and CD Drives dissipate heat at the sides, precisely at the place where it contacts with a (hopefully) metal case. If you put an insulation tape right there... hmmm, well, you better live in a cold weathered country like Finland or something happy.gif

Yes, you are right but you also have to consider that hanging the HDD's in the air/rubberband isolation is even worse than taping when considering heat transfer. Air is much poorer heat conductor that plastic used in insulation tapes. There is a reason why I mentioned 5,400 rpm drives. Those combined with a good computer case that provides a mounting place for HDD fans (like Chieftec or Antec) makes the taping a non-issue.

And nowadays most computer cases use rails to mount optical drives. These rails provide extremely little direct metal-to-metal contact between the drives and the case. In that case, taping makes hardly any difference at all.
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Patsoe
post Feb 25 2003, 00:48
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QUOTE (aabxx @ Feb 24 2003 - 06:11 PM)
I would say my solution is as good as it gets.....

Yeah right wink.gif I had been watching this thread trying not to start about my own rig since it isn't really finished yet. But this kind of statements is forcing me to tell you all about it now smile.gif

Low power CPU. In the first place: when you start off with a chip that doesn't draw loads of current, that's easier too cool than one you have to mod to stay cool. So, I got myself a Celeron Tualatin 1200, which even with its boxed cooler never reaches more than 10K over ambient temp. (Another reason was that I wouldn't part from my BX motherboard, and I could keep it running with the Celeron).

No silent coolers! I considered to get some kind of silent cooler for a while. But looking at many measurements all over the net, I came to the conclusion that silent coolers are a marketing delusion. Silent cooling actually equates to less cooling. Ofcourse, better bearings are more silent, but with fans, noise comes from the blades mostly. I've been reading many spec pages and tests, and I can only conclude that Papst and Panaflo are silent because there is less output.
Don't get me wrong. If I'd buy fans, I would probably buy Papst fans. But that's because they're reliable, not because they're silent.

Sober watercooling... So, that's that as for fan coolers. I'm going the watercooling way... And I want the most silent, and cheapest solution I can get. In my rig are now a Koolance chipset cooler (which doesn't have an easy job cooling a cpu, but hey, it's half as expensive as a "real" block), a 30 litres reservoir (radiators are expensive and if they're not they still need fans), an Eheim pump. I haven't found the sweet spot for the pump yet, neither for the water level in the reservoir. That's why it's all unfinished. No measurements done, and it will take another month because I can't find time or motivation tongue.gif

Any other fans? GPU? Stop gaming if you want to take the easy route; I have an Ati Rage 128, it doesn't know what heat means smile.gif Ofcourse a slightly newer chip like Radeon 7200 can still be passively cooled, but it gets too hot for my taste (you can't put a finger on it) and I don't use its processing power.
Northbridge? Well, a godlike chip as is the i440BX should be spoiled, so I bought an overly expensive fanless goldpainted Zalman NB32J block, that looks as if it could easily cool a CPU. The BX managed well with the famous little green sink, but it deserved better smile.gif
A fanless PSU? Either too expensive or too risky. Mine still houses a fan. I found that it doesn't really need to be pushing much fresh air, as long as there is nonzero flow, the PSU is quite happy (in temperature terms). So, the fan grille was removed and the fan rewired to 7V. A fanless PSU is expensive, see for example Engelking in Germany. And leaving a PSU that wasn't designed for running fanless when I'm away... well, I'm too much a chicken for that. Anyway, it is silent enough.

Hard disks: FDB motors rather than isolation. See storagereview for noise measurements. Don't think getting a 5400rpm disk will matter. I've had some, and they don't measure up to a Barracuda IV. There is ofcourse the Seagate U6, which is practically a 5400rpm version of the Barracuda IV, but it's soo slooow. And besides, according to storagereview, the Barracuda V at 7200rpm produces less noise than the U6. Guess what's coming my way with postal service... tongue.gif
If you really must have a 5400rpm unit, wait for the new Seagate 5400.1 drive to come available. It should be a slow version of the Barracuda V.
Please, don't go isolating hard disks. Isolation is not a good thing if you want your disks to last, at least that's what I think. I also think you won't need it with a Barracuda IV or newer generation.

As for enclosures - I have seen a plastic casing with double walls, called istyle or something. But it was too expensive. And if you don't have any noise in your rig, you don't need double walls...

Sorry for the long blahblah. Hope someone picks the useful ideas out of it...
Edit: I figured, having written a book chapter, I might as well structure it smile.gif
Oh, and did I mention my silent solution still overclocks 24%?

This post has been edited by Patsoe: Feb 25 2003, 08:00
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ff123
post Feb 25 2003, 03:27
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I'm going to upgrading my system in the coming weeks. Here's what I'm planning to buy:

1. Athlon XP 2100, cooled by a Zalman CNPS5100-Cu
http://www.zalman.co.kr/usa/product/cnps5100Cu.htm

This is a heavy coppper heatsink, which is spec'd to cool up to an Athlon 2600 in quiet mode (20 dB)

2. 300 W power supply
http://www.nexustek.nl/Nexus_NX3000.htm
< 26 dB(A) in average PC consumption

3. Seagate Barracuda IV 80 GB
25 to 33 dB, depending on the operating mode

4. NVidia GeForce Ti4200, cooled by a Zalman ZM80A-HP
http://www.zalman.co.kr/usa/product/zm80a-hp.htm

This is a massive passive solution (i.e., silent)

I have no plans to add a case cooler.

ff123

Edit:
In light of the fact that I'm really pumping out the heat with the Athlon and the Ti4200, I've decided that I probably will add a case fan, a Papst 8412NGL 80mm fan (12 dB)
http://www.endpcnoise.com/cgi-bin/e/00025.html

Edit2:
Maybe I'll make that a Panaflo FBA08A12L1A with voltage lowered down to 7 volts.

Edit3: Maybe I'll try Thermalright's SLK-800 or SLK-900 as the CPU heatsink with another Panaflo at 7 V as the fan.

This post has been edited by ff123: Feb 26 2003, 19:50
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DonP
post Feb 25 2003, 03:59
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QUOTE (NumLOCK @ Feb 24 2003 - 06:09 AM)
lengths).  With cheap video board and 17'' screen, using average refresh rates, I've found that the screen becomes *very* blurry and tiring to the eyes, when the cables reach about 2.5 meters in length.

Cheap cables can do you in too. I've had ok results with ~4 meter cables using a triplex
of rg-59 on 19 to 23 inch monitors. I don't know what the video card was, the computer was
an IBM unix workstation of about 1994 vintage. Normal pre-assembled cables use very
thin coax for each primary color which is certainly more lossy, and maybe not as sharp?

With the classroom I mentioned, the computers were against the wall, so the cables weren't
necessarily much longer than they would be with a deskside computer on the floor.
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SometimesWarrior
post Feb 25 2003, 07:30
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QUOTE (ff123 @ Feb 24 2003 - 06:27 PM)
4. NVidia GeForce Ti4200, cooled by a Zalman ZM80A-HP
http://www.zalman.co.kr/usa/product/zm80a-hp.htm

This is a massive passive solution (i.e., silent)

I have no plans to add a case cooler.

ff123, if you haven't seen the Silent PC Review article (link) about the ZM80, you should be aware that the reviewer also had a Ti4200 and could not get it to run at a reasonable temperature without pointing some kind of low-speed fan at the heatsink. Perhaps you will have better luck.
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SometimesWarrior
post Feb 25 2003, 07:45
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My current dual-XP1600+ machine is so noisy I can hear it from the other side of the house. I plan to order two Thermalright SK-7's and replace the horrible HSF's I have right now, Vantec CCK-6027D's. ("Not a lot of noise", HardOCP said...) I tried removing the 60mm fans and rubber-banding 80mm case fans in their place, but temperatures went up too high.

I'm not trying to silence my machine, or even make it whisper-quiet. The only way to cheaply silence this computer would be to severely underclock the processors, which I'm not willing to do. However, I only have a "need for speed" 20% of the time, so I wish there was some way to throttle the CPU speed on a desktop machine. If I had a P4, I could just throttle it by killing the fan. wink.gif

What about using "mobile" processors in a machine other than a laptop? Also, has anyone read a good guide on DIY temperature-sensitive fans?

This post has been edited by SometimesWarrior: Feb 25 2003, 07:46
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ff123
post Feb 25 2003, 08:10
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QUOTE (SometimesWarrior @ Feb 24 2003 - 10:30 PM)
ff123, if you haven't seen the Silent PC Review article (link) about the ZM80, you should be aware that the reviewer also had a Ti4200 and could not get it to run at a reasonable temperature without pointing some kind of low-speed fan at the heatsink. Perhaps you will have better luck.

Thanks for the link. I've decided that I will add the case fan, then (I edited my previous post). Hopefully, that should be sufficient to keep temperatures down.
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Continuum
post Feb 25 2003, 08:19
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QUOTE (aabxx @ Feb 24 2003 - 06:11 PM)
If this sounded like an inelegant solution, sure..
but it works, and it's dirt cheap and easy.
And the computer case was ugly anyway biggrin.gif
As a bonus, seeing my whole setup lying in
the open on the floor together with other
stuff like router and amplifier etc is sort of
impressive in its own right, in a geeky sort
of way.

You sure are aware that a computer emits radiation, of whom you are obliged to protect your environment? Your solution might be illegal. ph34r.gif

And I wonder, how do you protect your PSU from overheating? Which is not completely undangerous.
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KikeG
post Feb 25 2003, 09:25
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QUOTE (ff123 @ Feb 25 2003 - 03:27 AM)
1. Athlon XP 2100, cooled by a Zalman CNPS5100-Cu
http://www.zalman.co.kr/usa/product/cnps5100Cu.htm

Last time I checked, Intel CPUs were safer for running with poorer dissipation, since Athlon CPUs don't have built-in temperature monitoring and Intel do. AFAIR, a hot Athlon will fry whilst a hot Pentium P4 will shutdown before much harm is done. Someone corrects me if I'm wrong.

QUOTE
2. 300 W power supply
http://www.nexustek.nl/Nexus_NX3000.htm
< 26 dB(A) in average PC consumption


Mine, QTechnology 300W, bought at SilentPC ( http://www.silentsystems.nl ) is just inaudible. It seems that there's a new one even more silent, Nexus NX-3000, just 22 dBA.

This post has been edited by KikeG: Feb 25 2003, 10:51
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Gabriel
post Feb 25 2003, 09:31
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Hard drive considerations:

A current 7200rpm drive (Barracuda IV) is more silent and is producing less heat than an old 5400rpm (IBM) hard drive.
If you want, you could still put a big heatsink on top of the hardrive, or several small ones (you know, all the 486 and Pentium heatsinks that you still have).
Disk temperature can be monitored by tools such as speedfan.

Another solution would be to go with 2 2.5" hardrives in raid. It would probably be more silent than a Barracuda IV, but would cost a lot more.



CPU fan considerations:

If you do not need much power, the old PIII/Celerons are able to run up to 500mHz with passive cooling.
You could also get a C3 from Via, but it's a bad choice if you want to encode music (very slow).

A good solution would be a P4 with speedfan. As you know, a P4 is throttling when overheating.
So you can use speedfan to reduce your fan speed, and the p4 will be clocked down.
If you want more power (as an example for games or encoding), higher the fan speed with speedfan, and the p4 will be back to its original speed.
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Gabriel
post Feb 25 2003, 09:47
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Just found this
Fanless heatsink with fluid inside:
http://www.tsheatronics.co.jp/zen/english/.../ncu1000_e.html
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arman68
post Feb 25 2003, 09:48
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QUOTE (Gabriel @ Feb 25 2003 - 08:31 AM)
A good solution would be a P4 with speedfan. As you know, a P4 is throttling when overheating.
So you can use speedfan to reduce your fan speed, and the p4 will be clocked down.
If you want more power (as an example for games or encoding), higher the fan speed with speedfan, and the p4 will be back to its original speed.

Not quite...

If you turn the fan off, the P4 will start throttling around 70C. I am not sure how smooth is that throttling though. I have had experience of it with P2, P3 and Pentium Pro, and it was more like stalling than throttling.

You should not use thermal throttling to control your CPU speed: it is a safety feature (and one of the main reasons why I prefer Intel to AMD). In any case having your Intel CPU reach high temperatures shorten its life. It might not be very good too for other components in your case.

If you want to run your CPU slower, just get an overcloker motherboard and use it to underclock your CPU. It will generate much less heat, use less power, and with a good case airflow you might even be able to use passive CPU cooling (ie: Zalman Flowers)
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Gabriel
post Feb 25 2003, 10:15
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PII, PIII and PPro were unable to automatically throttle themselves. They just go into halt mode. But p4 are able to throttle themselves.

I guess it's not the same for old PIII because it was not efficient with those processors: When I throttle my PIII by 50%, it's obviously slower, but the temperature reduction is only very small, so in case of overheating, throttling would not save this processor.
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Patsoe
post Feb 25 2003, 14:35
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In light of the fact that were talking audio computers here, you don't want any throttling to occur! Neither do you want mobile procs, which are using basically the same kind of processes.
A couple of years ago, pc audio sounded terrible on many procs using HLT instructions, and people found that their setups sounded better running a distributed computing client all the time. Ofcourse things have changed, and motherboard power lines as well as sound cards have been adapted to cope with the switching noise. Still, I don't think one should harass the sound system extra with such unnecessary throttling noise.

To those who cut down on cooling: I don't have measurements to confirm, but I am quite sure a soundcard performs better in a temp-regulated case; hey, all semiconductors do. And they live longer. You should cut down on fans, not on cooling!
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Trelane
post Feb 25 2003, 15:27
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Nobody's mentioned laptops yet!

My PC (which is a laptop) runs its fan at extremely low speed (barely audible in a typical room) in its battery saving mode. The battery saving mode cuts the processor speed in half and slows the hard drive down. Normal CPU temperatures range from 95 to 110 degrees F.

Laptops have two advantages over desktop machines in that they have passively cooled power supplies away from the machine itself and cases designed specifically for maximum cooling. It's a shame they're a pain to tweak and so damn expensive smile.gif

My laptop:
Toshiba Satellite 2805-S503
P3 900 MHz/384 MB of RAM/Geforce2 Go/40 GB 2.5" HDD
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NumLOCK
post Feb 25 2003, 16:45
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I have a japanese Panasonic T1 laptop which has no fan, and is very quiet.

However:
- it doesn't have a suitable sound board
- it doesn't have DVI output
- my silent pc is even more silent laugh.gif


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SometimesWarrior
post Mar 6 2003, 15:32
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Sorry for resurrecting the thread, but this site is just too good to pass up:

http://www.geocities.jp/numano3/

This guy builds phenomenal heatsinks and crazy cases to achieve a silent, fanless P4 3.06GHz system. Perhaps I haven't looked around enough at silent PC mods to gain some perspective, but I've never seen anything like this.
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JEN
post Apr 10 2003, 20:36
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OK... I have decided to join in with the cat theme avatar biggrin.gif

Anyway, for those of you who have plenty of money to spend on silencing your pc! I recommend you visit the link below!!!

The link below! smile.gif
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Joseph
post Apr 10 2003, 21:37
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http://www.alienware.com has some pretty small liquid cooled media centers for sell up to 3.06 GHz, w/remote ect.
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atici
post Apr 10 2003, 21:46
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I recently discovered something which I liked a lot : CPUidle. You need to install it with Motherboard Monitor. What it does is it sends pause instructions to the CPU when the CPU is idle thus the processor consumes less power.

It effectively reduced CPU temperature more than 10 degrees celsius for my Athlon + Asus A7M266 mobo. I use around 15% CPU time usually listening to music, browsing, etc and 10 degrees is really amazing for a software solution. If your CPU is cool to begin with the CPU fan could rotate less and make less noise (if your mobo is smart).


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cd-rw.org
post Apr 10 2003, 22:26
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I think I will switch from this server cased behemoth to something like this after the summer: http://www.shuttle.com/index6.html . Althouhg I have heard some comments that Shuttle wouldn't be that quiet, but we'll see. Available with Intel chips & CPUs, which is nice of course (mandatory, actually).


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CiTay
post Apr 10 2003, 22:46
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QUOTE (atici @ Apr 10 2003 - 10:46 PM)
I recently discovered something which I liked a lot : CPUidle. You need to install it with Motherboard Monitor. What it does is it sends pause instructions to the CPU when the CPU is idle thus the processor consumes less power.

It effectively reduced CPU temperature more than 10 degrees celsius for my Athlon + Asus A7M266 mobo.

Yes, it's only needed for AMD, or it has to do with the APIC/ACPI mode. With my Intel-based PCs, XP somehow uses HLT instructions by default, leading to 36C idle CPU temp for the P4 2.4 GHz rig (with In-A-Box cooler).
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ff123
post Apr 11 2003, 02:40
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QUOTE (atici @ Apr 10 2003 - 12:46 PM)
I recently discovered something which I liked a lot : CPUidle. You need to install it with Motherboard Monitor. What it does is it sends pause instructions to the CPU when the CPU is idle thus the processor consumes less power.

It effectively reduced CPU temperature more than 10 degrees celsius for my Athlon + Asus A7M266 mobo. I use around 15% CPU time usually listening to music, browsing, etc and 10 degrees is really amazing for a software solution. If your CPU is cool to begin with the CPU fan could rotate less and make less noise (if your mobo is smart).

Wow, this is a great program. I use an Athlon XP 2200+ thoroughbred; don't know whether it's A or B, and CPU temp dropped at least 13 deg C -- it's coming down as I write. I was running at about 52C in idle.

Thanks for the tip!

ff123

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