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Friday 18 April 2003

When will noise be a PC issue? [lurks]

You may recall that the PC formerly known as Wench, self destructed. So in a hurry I stole the missus PC which was the original and longest-serving Wench hardware incarnation. That left me in a pickle as to what to do to replace the missus' PC with. First off I ordered a 1.3GHz Duron to see if, ahh, the previous Wench hardware that failed (sigh) actually worked. The fan failed on the CPU, as you may recall, frying the CPU. Sadly no go, the mobo DC-DC converter was fried as well. AMD are fucktards for not putting thermal protection on their CPUs.
Anyhow, so ... I need a new PC for the missus. Loads of spare bits and bobs lying around the place now. I had hard drives, memory, CPU and so on. So I thought I'd order an Asus 'Terminator 7' barebones PC from overclockers. Fairly smallish but not incurring the big cost hit of a crampt aluminium Shuttle rig.
So my £88 pounds bought me a dinky little micro tower case with a 150W PSU, 52X CD-ROM, VIA KL133 chipset mobo with integrated graphics, LAN, floppy and nice front panel audio and USB ports. Bit of a bargain really. I hadn't seen any reviews, didn't really care that much given it's the missus PC :) Subsequently found this TechZone review which has some good pics.
I built her PC and ghosted the old HD to a slightly less ancient one. It's all good. The thing is, the case is smaller than you'd think. It has an interesting swing-out chasis to get into the thing properly so it exposes the motherboard allowing you to shove memory and CPU in etc. Gosh couldn't the Shuttle do with that.
It's got a tiny little PSU mounted on the front panel and a HUGE big ass fan on the back panel. Bit of an overkill I thought but being an Asus they probably thought someone was going to slap in some evil ninja Athlon. When I powered it up, the fan sounded like a bloody hoover it was loud. So I just unplugged it and set about installing software. (4 days without the PC and the missus forgot the Windows password necessitating a reinstall - priceless eh?)
Then I got a beep. Machine no boot. Go into BIOS and ... the power supply is overheating. Get this, there's no fan in the PSU. It relies on that huge fan on the back panel to suck air from a gap under the front panel and through the back. Without that, it overheats in minutes. Lame!
So ... the gorgeously silent Wench obviously pleases me while watching suspense dramas in the lounge, but now there's absolutely no chance that the PC can be on in the bedroom while one of us fancies a kip.
And it made me think, my Shuttle (while it worked) was also insanely loud. Loud rear extractor, super loud annoying tiny fan on the PSU and the PSU fan and so on and so forth. These smallish systems from these guys are just amazingly loud. It's like people that design them just don't think about this crap at all.
There's obviously a bit of niche activity for those wanting to address the whole thing but it does make you wonder. I'd like to see these fucktards starting to quote noise figures for their systems along side the other specifications they proudly bandy around.
Then again, I'd like to see Duracell put the rated capacity on the side of their batteries too but it aint gonna happen...
Seriously though, someone should go into business building silent PCs suitable for peoples lounges and bedrooms etc. Stealth PCs or something. No sharp edges.


  1. I've been looking for a nice, simple, quiet PC for my living room, to be housed, eventually, in an AV cabinet in my living room, and this blog about the Terminator sounded great... until the 8th paragraph. BAH! Still, it reminded me about the new super small VIA Epix 10000 motherboard they released recently so I went poking about for it. However, my head was soon turned by this ... ain't it lush? And it must be quiet too.

  2. That looks bloody ideal. Not cheap though! 500 nicker for a box that has a 933MHz C3 (stinky!), still for a lounge server it looks the nuts and it'd do the job!

  3. I know, still it's lush. That new board VIA have just come out with the VIA Epia M10000 has a faster processor AND hardware mpeg decoder (and encoder? it's got PVR written all over it). The mobo is supposed to retail for £90. Worth a woot? Epia M10000

  4. Very interesting indeed. I think something like this would be worth experimenting with at some stage. To be frank though, for a server I'd really rather not muck about with VIA. I'm not that bothered about size either really, it's the drive to miniturization that's made these damn noisy boxes in my view. My current machine is utterly quiet because it's running a Celeron with a really big passive heatsink on it and I carefully chose the PSU and put a damn quiet drive in it. I think my next server (and boy does Wench need upgrading) will be along the same lines but I might have to go to town on CPU cooling efforts since all decent CPUs run hot these days. Probably a Celeron with a Zalman cooler or somesuch.

  5. Personally I think I'll just wait for this lot to get done and use my Xbox as a PVR/Lounge server, and perhaps supplement it with one of these, as my current sattelite decoder is a bit wanky tbh.

  6. Yes well, an Xbox really isn't up to running a mail server, ftp server, DC hub, DC client, various BT trackers, IDent client, Rebot and a game server eh? :) Not to mention Digiguide, which I must renew as it's expired - bleh!

  7. Well, for that sort of service a small, quiet home entertainment pc is kinda misplaced. I'd rather just stick a 'proper' pc on the LAN somewhere to run those services and use the xbox for entertainment.

  8. Well you can of course do what you like. However having a PC accessible for IRC and web browsing in the lounge that has Digiguide on it etc is dramatically more useful than the Xbox is for these sorts of things. The Xbox is a good media player and games box and it does some other nifty stuff too but it does not compare to proper multitasking apps running on a separate TFT screen.

  9. I've spent a fortune trying to create the silent PC without much success. One of my HD's packed up last week after only 12 months because it overheated in the accoustic sleeve I put on it. Manufacturers set it back saying it had been in accoustic hood and therefore I had voided warranty. I also managed to melt chip and MB because builders dust had clogged up my silent fans (which I suppose was my fault! ). That was expensive week!