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Inexpensive Silent PC suggestion

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by dsavitsk, Apr 3, 2008.
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  1. dsavitsk
    I am thinking about putting together a silent PC for audio use. For what this will be used for, performance is actually not that important, so long as it is quiet. So what I am looking for are motherboard, processor, videocard, PS, and case suggestions for a quiet and inexpensive PC. It will probably dual boot Windows (XP most likely) for certain software (RMAA), but otherwise FreeBSD for day to day use. Generally, I'll use it with my own USB DAC for playback, and also run Slimserver for the rest of the house. My sense is to use last generation parts to save some money, and also perhaps to underclock to eliminate a processor fan, etc. I haven't really kept up on hardware lately, so any suggestions are appreciated. I don''t care if it is ugly, just that it is quiet and cheap. A prebuilt system is fine, too.
     
  2. Operandi
    The key is big heatsinks and slow turning fans. Thermalright and Zalman make some very nice heatsinks. Both are top performers the key difference bing Zalman heatsinks come integrated with fans that are quite enough for 98% of the quite PC crowd. Thermalright on the other hand usually ships their heatsinks without a fan so it's up to you to find one.

    Make sure you choose a motherboard and video card with passive cooling. Small high RPM fans are big culprits and tend to die quickly.

    Whatever heatsink/fan you choose you will probably want to run it at reduced speeds (even the quietest fans don't cut it for me at 12v). Yate Loon, Panaflo (80-92mm), JMC (for 4-pin PWM CPU fans), Sanyo Denki, NMB and the lower RPM Deltas are all fans I've had good luck with.

    You will also want to make sure you choose a case that isolates the hard drives from the internal metal chassis of the case to prevent the case from resonating from the hard drives motor. I like Lian Li personally, Antec is another good choice if you don't mind plastic and steel.

    A high quality PSU that is highly efficient (less wasted energy as heat), and has a quite fan is also important. Seasonic is really all I buy in that department.

    I'll also recommend you check out SPCR if you haven't yet.
     
  3. VeipaCray
    How about a Mac Mini? Silent, fast, cheap, you can install bootcamp and dual boot windows or OS X (darwin is derived from freebsd).

    Jordan Hubbard left the FreeBSD team a few years ago to go work for Apple. Jordan K. Hubbard's Home Page
     
  4. vhobhstr
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by VeipaCray /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    How about a Mac Mini? Silent, fast, cheap, you can install bootcamp and dual boot windows or OS X (darwin is derived from freebsd).



    My Mac Mini (1.83 Ghz core duo) isn't silent since the fan is always running, but it's not so loud either. My iBook was silent though.
     
  5. HFat
    VIA makes cheap, slow CPUs and motherboards that don't require any fans. They've just released a new one (or is it still vapourware?) so you might possibly find good deals on C7s.

    There are (pretty) silent systems built on them.
    A cheap and simple solution would be too get something like the MSI Axis 700 and to replace the power supply (I understand the stock one is not silent).

    Solid state drives should be silent but expensive. An alternative would be a large but fairly silent (read: slow but not too expensive) laptop hard drive.

    I'm not saying any of this is the best idea out there or anything... just that it'd be cheap and easy to implement unlike quiet systems based on regular PC parts.
     
  6. Uncle Erik Contributor
    http://www.silenx.com has some nice solutions to noise. A co-worker introduced me to SilenX a few years ago, and I've been pleased with their products.
     
  7. VeipaCray
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by vhobhstr /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    My Mac Mini (1.83 Ghz core duo) isn't silent since the fan is always running, but it's not so loud either. My iBook was silent though.



    Heh... touche! Mine's so quiet, I didn't even realize it had a fan. After you posted that I had to go look.

    They say you learn something every day. [​IMG]
     
  8. VeipaCray
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Uncle Erik /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    http://www.silenx.com has some nice solutions to noise. A co-worker introduced me to SilenX a few years ago, and I've been pleased with their products.



    THANKS!! You may have just solved my noisy reef aquarium fan problem.
     
  9. trinkus79
  10. dsavitsk
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by VeipaCray /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    How about a Mac Mini?



    I'm really just opposed to Apple, for reasons not worth discussing as it will surely throw the thread off course [​IMG] The last Apple I had (and probably the last I will have) was a II+ (that still runs! -- I played Olympic Decathlon a couple of x-mases ago.)

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by HFat /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    VIA makes cheap, slow CPUs and motherboards that don't require any fans. They've just released a new one (or is it still vapourware?) so you might possibly find good deals on C7s.



    Interesting. I didn't know these existed. Newegg seems to have one for ~$100 which isn't too bad.
     
  11. MoNelly
    I recently built an incredibly quiet Intel-based PC. The key is to get a good hard drive (I like Western Digital), and the quietest possible CPU cooling and video-card cooling. Then you put it in a good case with a quiet power supply.

    I used the Scythe Ninja SCNJ-1000P heatsink: Scythe NINJA PLUS CPU Cooler

    This ECS graphics card (sans fans): ECS Web Site

    Antec's excellent Sonata case: Antec.com - Sonata Family
     
  12. cconnaker
  13. Bizzel
    FWIW, the newer Mac Minis with the Core 2s run cooler still, so the fans should spin up less often.
     
  14. JamesL
    I've always kept away from via motherboards.
    They're not exactly quality motherboards..

    My pick would be an IP35-e motherboard, with a C2D Allendale or even cheaper
    Seagate tops Western Digital by a (very)slim margin when it comes to silence. Or you could go with WD's green drives that run at 5400rpm.
    Ram of course, doesn't make a difference..good ram on sale ($35 free s/h)

    Fans and the case -
    Yate Loons 120mm fans are definitely recommended.

    Case - P180's are extremely quiet, but isn't exactly a budget-case.

    quiet, reliable, cheap
     
  15. FinnishPower
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