Friday, September 09, 2011

Any Techies Out There ?

Apologies for the lack of posts - 12 hour days still taking their toll, and last weekend I did a rare thing for a man of advanced years, lobbed a sleeping bag in the boot and took off for a party in the wilds of Wales, hosted by an old friend from way, way back.

It's all still going to hell in a handcart quite nicely without my running commentary, so what I really want to ask is - any of you built a fanless PC ? In my old age I'm beginning to resent the noise, especially as most of the PCs around the house are basically Web clients, music players and word processors - only a couple do serious work.

Ideally I'd like a fanless motherboard and PSU that can still cope with decent graphics, maybe a TV card, and a couple of full-size hard disks. What I see out there are devices designed to be crammed into as small a footprint as possible, whereas I'm happy for the box to be a decent size - indeed, it should allow for a more powerful processor and motherboard if you have big fat passive coolers and a passively cooled power supply.

Does such a thing exist ?


JuliaM said...

I've seen all sorts of odd cooling systems (including water-cooling!), but if your fans are THAT noisy, it seems like they must be working extra hard.

Have you given them a real good deep clean? Mine pick up an amazing amount of dust, and so get deep-cleaned once a month.

Anonymous said...

Just change your psu for a silent one, and change your cpu fan to a quiet one (like a zalman). You will be hard pressed to hear any noise from your pc if you do this. Go to PCs sold for music producers are incredibly quiet The previous comment regarding cleaning fans is also very good. My lenovo laptop was initially nearly silent but two years later the fan is clogged and very loud, when it gets too annoying I will take it apart and clean it. Good Luck

Anonymous said...

Be careful of people talking about Silent PC's, some of them seem to have redefined the word silent to mean quiet, sometimes only a bit quieter than the average as well, maybe they can't hear very well.

I am currently using an Antec P182 (current version is called P183 v3)
However if I was 'building' again I would get the bigger Antec P193 v3
The p182 was supposed to be big and for sure you can fit everything normal in there, but if you want to be quiet you don't want it all packed in tightly as that gives the fans extra work.

I originally wanted fanless also, but was scared off by some people claiming even if you had a good CPU passive cooler there is a risk that other chips on the MB can get damage without some air flow.
I'd rather have quiet and reliable, my current PC you can hear if you are working on it but those sitting a few meters away can barely hear it at all.

The simplest solution might be to get a low spec laptop, well high spec as in newer low energy CPU but low spec graphics etc.
My family, brother and parents use only laptops, and because they only use them for web browsing the fan rarely kicks in. Except one time last winter when my brother was sitting too close to the fire!

bodo said...

My case fan vents out the back. A carpet tile fastened to the wall behind the PC stops a lot of the reflected noise. Much less annoying.

banned said...

Not here yet but "graphin" technology is the way forward.

Sam Duncan said...

Micro Mart magazine gave this behemoth a glowing review a few months ago. It uses a sort of passive liquid cooling, using convection rather than a pump, and actually seems to work for grown-up CPUs running at real-life speeds. Costs £125, mind you.

Anonymous said...

I think this is what you are looking for, I found it from looking at the link from previous poster, its a bundle of fanless hardware for making 100% silent PC.
Products from Nofan

kb said...

Your requirement for hard disks somewhat negates the noiselessness stipulation, esp. as the 5400/7200rpm noise is right in the middle of what most people find "whiny".

I would suggest keeping a fileserver elsewhere (attic?) and going for a thin client, possibly with some flash disk if you need it.

Some useful suppliers:

Wildgoose said...

I ran a fanless mini-ITX Linux system for a long time after getting sick and tired of just how loud my souped-up PC was. It had a good looking glossy black case, but was very heavy because the entire case was in effect being used as a heatsink. If you're not playing games much more demanding than say Quake 3 then it will be more than adequate. The only advice I would give would be to buy a larger rated power brick, (they use laptop style power supplies to keep the heat away from the computer).

Other than that, consider a mini-Mac. Unfortunately I think that the latest model has ditched the built-in optical drive, but I find my mini-mac to be very quiet and neat. You can still put Windows/Linux on it either via VMware, Parallels, VirtualBox or dual-booting with Bootcamp.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

I've built one that is almost completely silent - it has only one moving part (a tiny fan that you really really can't hear), and uses a solid-state hard drive.

As a bonus, it only consumes 17 watts (yes, seventeen, that is not a typo) when up and running as a Windows 2008 Server. I haven't used it as a workstation but I guess it would be perfectly capable of the usual Office-and-Browsing type workload, though probably not for gaming and suchlike. There's even a DVD drive - though of course that is not silent!

I'll send you my real email address in case you want more details.