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Tom's Reviews Expensive, Noiseless Case 343

Posted by michael
from the earplugs-much-cheaper dept.
hakker writes "Toms Hardware Guide is running a review of a new case that claims it provides noiseless computing. The TNN 500A case from Zalman Tech is fanless (including PSU), and uses a bunch of heatpipes to move heat outside of the case from sources inside the system. Potentially costing as much as $1400, how much is your peace and quiet worth?"
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Tom's Reviews Expensive, Noiseless Case

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  • I say, Wow! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:45AM (#8005728)
    Wow! I am sure I am not alone in saying $1400 for a case is a lot of money.

    $1400 would sure buy a lot of Lord of the Rings DVD's or a lot of hookers. Since I am on Slashdot, you know they will be robotic hookers.

    • by Frymaster (171343) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:15AM (#8005867) Homepage Journal
      Expensive, Noiseless Case

      so, essentially, a g5 right?

      • Re:I say, Wow! (Score:4, Informative)

        by soft_guy (534437) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @05:41AM (#8006203)
        They say the G5s are quiet, but on the other hand they have like 9 fans and I used to have a G4 tower that sounded like a fscking tornado. So, when they say it is "pretty quiet" I think they must mean that it is very loud. I'm here typing this on a PowerBook G4 with the fan going. It is not quiet.
      • by AlaskanUnderachiever (561294) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @06:00AM (#8006228) Homepage
        I second that. A G5 is silent like a moped is fast. Sure it's quiet compared to the screaming 3.2ghz rig sitting next to it but that's not saying a hell of a lot. I've used some heatpipe cooled computer setups (there's a few noiseless PC manufacturers from S. Korea actually) and THAT is silent. With the right HD and optical drives, the only thing that will tell you your computer is on is the monitor and the power LED on the front. Now, show me a theatre PC style case for one of these and I'll buy it tomorrow.
        • Re:I say, Wow! (Score:3, Informative)

          by AKnightCowboy (608632)
          Now, show me a theatre PC style case for one of these and I'll buy it tomorrow.

          My home theater PC is quiet enough to be inaudible from 5 feet away. A simple Zalman flower cooler with the fan turned all the way down cooling an Athlon XP 2400+, and another adjustable speed case fan turned all the way down, and a Nexus power supply from quietpc. A couple of 200GB Maxtor drives with fluid dynamic bearings round out the machine. The most noise it makes is if I play a DVD and even that is nearly silent with

      • by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Saturday January 17, 2004 @11:14AM (#8007140) Homepage
        I own the 2ghz dual processor G5, and it's a really sweet machine. In fact, I'm typing this on it right now.

        I have it under my desk, and at this moment, it's just about noiseless. If I turn off my music, I can hear a slight whir and some HDD noise, but if I put the music back on or stop trying to hear it, it's totally inconspicuous.

        But when I do rendering for my video projects, the fans turn up, and I can hear them clearly even over my music. I actually like the way they sound for the short time they're on; I guess it acts as some kind of reassurance that my computer is trying its best to get my render done quickly :-). Another factor, of course, is that it does in fact get my render done fast, so I never have to listen to it for very long.

        Apple brand loyalty aside, I don't think it would be worth a $1,400 case to make my computer more quiet than the G5. On the other hand, I have no idea how much my G5 case would actually cost as a standalone unit. They're using some pretty pricey components in there.

        D
    • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:33AM (#8005919) Homepage
      $1400 would sure buy a lot of Lord of the Rings DVD's or a lot of hookers

      Hmmm...one $1400 hookerbot, or 1400 $1 hookerbots?

    • by glenebob (414078) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @06:16AM (#8006261)
      You'd be better off getting the case and gluing a pocket pussy on the front. Then you'd kindof have a hooker bot that you could keep, and she'd be QUIET!
    • You can get as close to silent as you need for a lot less than $1400, with an ordinary case, a Zalman fan, a quiet power supply, and a hard drive noise dampener. I did it for under $300. (Not counting the case, motherboard, and hard drive, which I recycled from my previous system.)

      Unless you get under the desk and put your head next to the case, the only thing you can hear is the CD-RW drive when it's running. (Which makes it arguably quieter than the Zalman -- the Tom's Hardware reviewers stated they co
  • by DeathPenguin (449875) * on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:46AM (#8005730)
    ...unless you're running one of these [tomshardware.com] :)
  • Hmm.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by qewl (671495) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:47AM (#8005737)
    $1400 for a quiet PC or $1400 for a bunch of strippers and beer.. decisions, decisions..
  • by jeffskyrunner (701044) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:49AM (#8005745)
    I know as a college student that a quiet atmosphere while doing work is valuable. The question for most would be, is it $1,400 worth. I *know* that I could not afford that while trying to pay tuition, renting a house, and feeding myself. Somethings are necessary, and some are just...not. Now, if someone gave that to me as a gift or something, no way i would complain :)
    • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:41AM (#8005943) Homepage
      I know as a college student that a quiet atmosphere while doing work is valuable

      Earplugs, or ear protectors (available at gun shops), will do better in that case, because they will also block noises other than your PC. (Just be careful what you say if you go to a gun shop--I got some strange looks when I walked in and said I was looking for something to deal with a noisy neighbor!). BTW, earplugs and ear protectors stack--they tend to have different noise blocking characteristics, so using both helps.

      It is situations where you don't want to block other sounds that an expensive low noise PC makes sense. Two examples come to mind.

      First, home theater. If you have a PC as part of a home theater (or simply live in an apartment and the PC of necessisity is in the same room as your home theater), then earplugs won't work.

      Second, a home recording studio. Again, space considerations might force the PC to be in the same room as the instruments, and so a low noice PC would be very useful.

    • by Jebediah21 (145272) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @04:48AM (#8006093) Homepage Journal
      I liked the white noise my computer provided at college. Living in the dorms people would be up at all hours making noise outside. Leaving a loud computer on was the only way to drown some of that noise out without leaving a TV or music on. Other people thought my room was "quiet" too.
    • Good to Know Info (Score:3, Informative)

      by Alien54 (180860)
      from deep in the review:

      In evaluating the overall temperature cooling and performance of this chassis, we found the TNN 500A able to run at optimum cool temperatures when placed in roomy quarters with adequate ventilation, which provided for effective heat dissipation capability. In other words, we do not recommend placing the Zalman TNN 500A under a desk, or in the farthest corner of a desk butted up against the side of a desk or a wall. A better solution would be to place this unit in the middle of a d

  • $1400? (Score:5, Funny)

    by PaulK (85154) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:49AM (#8005747)
    As expensive as that case is, it sure is gonna be quiet. It'd be months before I could afford to buy anything to put in it that made noise.
  • hmmmm.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by graveyardduckx (735761) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:50AM (#8005749)
    for $1400 I'll rent the apartment next to mine, put the computer over there, leave the air conditioning on, drill a hole in the wall, and run my cables to it through the wall while leaving my monitor, keyboard, and mouse in my apartment... and still come out ahead!
    • Re:hmmmm.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rockwood (141675) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:14AM (#8005864) Homepage Journal
      While avoiding the $1,400 fee by attempting to relocate the cases out of audible range may initially sound like a great idea, not to mention less expensive, you eliminate the access of the system being readily available.

      ie: MS Office component not installed, please insert ms office cd and click 'ok'. I'd hate to run back and forth for such a thing.

      People want their pleasures with their convenience. And while it seems (by the current posts/threads) that the pleasures for most are spending the $1,400 on a hooker, some of us have the fortunate position to have married our hookers. So while our payments are much higher for these pleasures and last the remaining part of your life.

      ok, off track a little. If relocating the case is the more cost effective, then you'll need to have a cd server or other means readily avaiable.

      I do agree that $1,400 is not worth the pleasure of a quite office - but then what other solutions are feasible?
      • Who says you'd have to run back to the box to get the to a CD drive?

        Simply run a USB2 or FireWire line from the remote box to the actual desk, set up a hub at the other end of it, and you can run an external CD/DVD burning drive, an external floppy drive, an external sound-card, and even an external video capture device. Of course, trying to use all of those devices at once might lead to a slowdown, but you at least are available to avoid having to get up and walk just to insert a disk for a small file tra
      • Re:hmmmm.... (Score:5, Informative)

        by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @04:01AM (#8005998) Homepage
        While avoiding the $1,400 fee by attempting to relocate the cases out of audible range may initially sound like a great idea, not to mention less expensive, you eliminate the access of the system being readily available

        Actually, I've been thinking about this. What do you actually need on your desk?

        • Monitor
        • Keyboard
        • Mouse
        • Optical drive
        For the monitor, DVI can handle a few meters, and there are repeaters that can extend that, at a cost of about $250 per 5 meters. There are also DVI->optical->DVI cables that can handle very long distances.

        For keyboard and mouse, USB2 can be up to 30 meters, if you chain some hubs together. Bluetooth might also be a possibility.

        For optical drive, USB2 would work.

        This seems reasonably feasible.

        • Re:hmmmm.... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by zakezuke (229119) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @04:30AM (#8006054)
          Why bother with DVI cable? Why not go with coax R G G H V? My Sony 20e10 works just dandy with a three meter cable. I'm not sure the max length on it, but it's pretty easy converting a monitor to BNC connectors. While DVI gets points.... Coax is much more down to earth and they have the stuff at home improvment shops, the last time I looked. If 5 wires are too bulky, cut it down to three with sync on green.

          I have thought about it actually... putting the PC in the closet, BNC connectors in the wall... exhost vent to the outside, USB run as well for jacking in various things. I decided to invest in a hepa filter instead. It's lower then my pc fans, so I don't hear them anymore, and I can still hear my hard-drives clicking away.

  • by robdeadtech (232013) * on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:51AM (#8005753)
    Sears carries one [sears.com] for $600... And thouugh you'll need a tad more square footage to put it, it's ripe for some great extreme case mods.
  • by F2F (11474) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:52AM (#8005757)
    Fanless cases running VIA EPIA chipsets and cpus have been available for some time and are quite useful, especially when running operating systems [bell-labs.com] that allow one to stick a huge monitor in front of them, a keyboard, a 3-button mouse and connect to the massively parralel machines in the quite noisy, but lovely air conditioned, server room.

    I can't run Quake on one of these [mini-box.com], but then again it's research we're talking about -- if I wanted games I'd buy a PS2.

    The only fan I have is, funnily enough, on my video card.
  • by Saven Marek (739395) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:53AM (#8005760)
    > Potentially costing as much as $1400, how much is your
    > peace and quiet worth?

    I'd value it highly, but not that high. Almost all of my computing life has been spent around equipment with fans, drives or printers that clatter whirr hum or otherwise make other white noise underneath. That's stretching back to the late 1970s.

    On a few occasions I've had a chance to use an entirely silent machine, one of which was a 700MHz iMac belonging to a dear friend, who has since sold it on for a G4 model. When I used it however, the sound from the HD was undiscernable, and with no fan inside it was genuinely silent. Browsing online and emailing while it was raining gently outside was an experience, at my own desk I often have no idea it's been raining for hours as I've been working with the white noise from at least two PC cases.

    If I could have genuine silence again, I would. I'm considering putting all the noisy components in another room and cabling through the wall for the KVM.

    The silence is well worth it. Perhaps if I won the lottery I'd invest in $1400 per case for it, but not on my current salary.

    nude macgirls webcam [151.197.31.93]
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:54AM (#8005764)
    my room sound's eerily quite without it. Besides, the noise helps droun out my roomates, always a plus.
  • by xankar (710025) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:56AM (#8005774) Journal
    My box is located in my bedroom, and I have an assload of fans.

    I recently discovered that I can't sleep without the computer running. I actually find the noise pleasant.

    I wouldn't shell out 1400 bucks for insomnia.
  • by ikewillis (586793) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:57AM (#8005778) Homepage
    Perhaps if you could retrofit a Mac motherboard into it...
    • by afidel (530433)
      That's one reason a friend bought a G4 cube, he wanted to run Pro Tools on a silent PC. Of course the limited internal expansion ended up being the downfall so he now has a shiny (and louder) dual G5 tower.
  • Silence? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bluewee (677282) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:57AM (#8005780)
    Could someone fill me in on the background of "silence". How many dBs is silent?
    • Re:Silence? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Zero.

      Kristopher
  • After loading up my case with 8 fans to control the heat from an excessive amount of drives, I placed some soundproofing paneling on the inside. From there, I ran KVM cables about 10 feet or so to a closet. I close the door on that side, but the hatch to the attic is cracked just a bit to keep the closet cool. Of course, it's not *completely* noiseless, but pretty damn close. Only costs were for the KVM cables, and maybe a couple of bucks a month for the warm air that leaks into the attic. And I'd cert
  • recording box (Score:5, Informative)

    by paradesign (561561) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:59AM (#8005793) Homepage
    this should be great for recording engineers trying to keep their studios as quiet as possible. you dont realize just how much ambient noise there is arround you until you step into a mix room of a recording studio, its an alien experience.
    • Or put the machine outside the studio, with some cat5 cable connecting (there must be air ducts somewhere...) it to a dumb terminal in the studio with no moving parts in it at all.
  • Quiet! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bluewee (677282)
    If I wanted to put my computer in my Closet, what would be the easiest way of allowing me to connect my monitor / keyboard / usb goodies[toothbrush :D] at my desk, about 10-20ft away.
    • I would get a powered USB hub, that would pretty much cover everything but the monitor. As for the monitor, you'd have to get extension cables. If you want to go all out, get a flat panel with a DVI input - as the signal won't degrade over the DVI extension cables like it will over the analog VGA ones (up to a point, but 20 feet you should be ok).
      • Re:Quiet! (Score:4, Informative)

        by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:25AM (#8005893)
        Another way to do it would be under the "dumb terminal" model. The computer in front of you having very little power, and the computer that actually does the work sitting somewhere in the house. Doesn't quite work for those who need high-end video cards, but for your typical office PC, there's several solutions which allow you to have the real work be done in another room...
  • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:01AM (#8005801) Journal
    ...in three easy steps.

    1. Antec Performance One P160 case [antec-inc.com].
    2. Nexus [nexustek.nl] PSU, fans and CPU heatsink and fan.
    3. Samsung SpinPoint [samsung.com] series of HDDs.

    Zalman's products aren't bad but, IMHO, Nexus' are superior.

    Oh, and either ditch the jet engine that masquerades as a graphics card with something quieter or replace its fan too.
    • Totally agree on the Nexus count.. just put in a Nexus cpu fan and 2 case fans and the quiet, gentle hum is great. I'd also recommend good old standard Seagate for a quiet hard drive (switched from a Maxtor - good god was that loud).
    • I'd go with a Seasonic Super Silencer 400 [siliconacoustics.com] power supply, Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 HDs, Pabst hand-balanced fans, and fan isolators [siliconacoustics.com]. I also put a Zalman ZM80C-HP heatpipe cooler and fan on my GeForceFX 5700 Ultra.

      The nice thing about that power supply is that it's high-efficiency, meaning less waste heat in the AC to DC conversion process. That also means lower power consumption, which my APC SmartUPS's load meter confirms. Less waste heat means less work for the cooling fans.

      The Seasonic Super Tornado p
  • by Chatmag (646500) <editor@chatmag.com> on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:02AM (#8005808) Homepage Journal
    The American Tinnitus Association [ata.org] has a wealth of information regarding hearing and tinnitus. It's well worth your hearing to do whatever you can to prevent hearing loss or damage.

    I've suffered with tinnitus for years, and have changed fans several times looking for something quieter. It's amazing the amount of noise the average fan produces, and it would be well worth it to me to quieten down the office even more.

    Of course, all those years going to rock concerts at the Grande in Detroit probably didn't help either.
    • I find fan noise very pleasant. While at work, because of the whir of fans around me, It completely masks out the ringing in my ears. It's only when I get to the quietness at home do I notice them ringing again.

      I very much doubt the db level of computer fans can come close to further damaging the inner ear..... Unless you're using one of These [go.com]
  • At work i have a linux terminal server for the students and i use it myself. The Fujitsu Futro i use as a terminal client is dead silent. The new computer lab uses diskless old intel P2 200mhz terminal clients and they are silent aswell.

    Our old computer lab on the other hand would make a jetfighter green of envy. The noice is abnoxious and disturbing. Since both labs is in opposite sides of a corridor the difference is extreme.

    The only really silent computer i have seen elsewhere is one from Fujitsu wich
  • A cheaper solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sokk (691010) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:07AM (#8005833)
    I have a totally silent workstation.

    I've got a empty room besides mine, and some months ago I got the idea of putting the computer in the other room (while having the monitor, keyboard, mouse etc in my room). So I drilled a hole in the wall, and bought extension cables for the monitor, keyboard and usb. On my end I've put a USB-hub, so my extension cable give me four usb inputs (nice if you've got memory card readers, joysticks etc). I've been thinking about buying an USB2 CD-writer, but since I already own a cd-writer it seemed like a better idea to somehow get my cd-writer inside my room. I managed to get an IDE-cable through the wall, and I now only have to reach a little to use the cdrom drive. I've also put an own power switch on my side (extended), so that I don't have to leave the room to restart my computer.

    I tried putting the computer back, just to check the difference. It's huge!

    Because I have my workstation in the same room as I sleep, I can set some downloads for the night (eg. Linux ISOs) -- and sleep :).

    Cost: ~60 bucks. (usb hub included)
    Value: Great! ;)
  • What about... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by inode_buddha (576844)
    Heatsinks without fans? Does anybody still do those? One box I have here pulls about 70 watts per CPU using aluminum wide-fin sinks and *no* fans. The HDD noise is greater. FWIW cost-wise I picked it up on E-bay a couple years ago for $150 USD. And no, performance does *not* suck for day-to-day desktop apps (sorry, not a gamer). Does anybody still design shiznit like that?
    • As long as your cpu's not under much load this [xoxide.com] cools pretty well without a fan, and even if the fan's on, a large fan @ fewer rpms will move as much air with less noise than a smaller one running faster.
    • Sure... Most of the major PC builders try to use heatsinks without fans wherever it's possible. It just makes sense from an RMA perspective. Why bother with warranty replacements of fans that got clogged up with lint and pet hair and failed?

      Every Dell Optiplex desktop I've worked with since the days of the XMT and GXMT series of Pentium 90-100Mhz boxes used oversized heatsinks for the CPUs with no fans attached to them. Even on the slot 1 Pentium II and III Optiplex models, they attached big heatsinks
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:12AM (#8005859) Homepage
    If you want a truely silent PC, then you will need one of these flash drives. It will cost you a shit-load of money, but it's a solution non the less. Check them out here http://www.m-sys.com/

    • Flash drives are only rated for a certain number of cycles. The cells wear out after a certain number of times they're written to. I'd hate to have a flash drive that expensive just die on me.
  • by ezraekman (650090) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:13AM (#8005861) Homepage

    ...if you're an audio engineer, video producer, or run a studio. A case like this allows you to work with instruments and other devices, while editing the sound live, with easy access to your monitor/keyboard. This is particularly useful for those who operate recording studios as a side business, out of their home or office space... or people trying to develop their own music, semi-professionally.

    People who know how to do this can start up their business without spending well over $1,400 building a soundproof room. For full-blown recording studios, this is a no-brainer. They probably wouldn't think twice about spending double that to keep the sound engineer from getting distracted and/or missing sound details just because of a noisy fan.

    • Absolutely (Score:3, Informative)

      by The Tyro (247333)
      I just built a computer for a guitar-playing colleague who uses his box to mix/record music professionally. It's a well-cooled P4 (with 2gigs of pc3200, CL2 RAM to hold some of the larger samples)... but he had to disable some of the fans because his musical ear could pick up the white noise in the background of his recordings.

      I agree... professional audiophiles will pay that amount easily. In my experience, when someone does music for a living, their ear is often able to pick out those subtle imperfecti
    • ...if you're an audio engineer, video producer, or run a studio. A case like this allows you to work with instruments and other devices, while editing the sound live, with easy access to your monitor/keyboard. This is particularly useful for those who operate recording studios as a side business, out of their home or office space... or people trying to develop their own music, semi-professionally.

      What you really want in this case is a small fanless (and possibly diskless) PC acting as an X Terminal.
  • by foo fighter (151863) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:18AM (#8005877) Homepage
    You know those sweet looking cars you see in auto show reports? Those one-offs designed to get people excited about the manufacturer and looking at its other models? Ever try to buy one? They're frickin' expensive. A concept of a $15,000 vehicle will set you back six figures.

    That's what this case is, a concept. It's a limited run designed to get the money of early adopters, get people excited about the manufacturer and looking at its other products, and test the market viability of such a product.

    It's very cool, I want one but can't afford one, have looked over their other products (well-priced nice stuff and I'll probably get one of their quiet CPU HSFs), and look forward to this case hitting the $100-$200 price range where I'll be able to afford it.

    As far as Zalman is concerned with me, they have a success in a $1400 case. Crazy, huh?
  • Bah (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Feztaa (633745) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:19AM (#8005878) Homepage
    My noiseless case [members.shaw.ca] was about $150, thankyouverymuch.
  • by linuxguy (98493) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:32AM (#8005916) Homepage
    After years of trying to build and buy quiet PCs I
    finally stumbled upon a Dell 400SC. That thing is
    super quiet and super cheap. I have a few of them.
    You can pick one up for about $399 and most of the
    time there is a $100 rebate on them that brings the
    price down to $299. Free shipping too.

    Oh and I do have the completely silent VIA based
    mini-ITX system also that I boot over the network.
    But it aint fast. I end up using my Dells most of
    the time. They are not as quiet as the VIA, but
    they are *very* quiet.

    Here is the unofficial FAQ [aaltonen.us] with
    tonnes of more information for those interested.
  • by UPAAntilles (693635) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:36AM (#8005925)
    I like the sound of fans in my computer, it's reasurring. I know that everything is working properly. Now, when it gets a high workload, the fans speed up. If I'm not doing anything to it at the time, I'll look to what's causing it. Or, for example, if I turn it on, and the fans spin up, but nothing else does. Noise has become a diagnostic tool of sorts. Now, I've heard my share of windtunnel cases (not my computers, other peoples), but I've never owned a computer considerably louder than my P-166. I use my Dell as white noise when I sleep too. (the second quietest computer I own is my Dell XPS [dell.com], that model has 5 fans in it, though you wouldn't know by listening to it)(don't flame me over that either, I build my own computers in most cases, but in this case it was $400 cheaper than building my own (seriously!), gotta love gotapex and Dell e-mail coupons, but I'm getting off track)

    It's not worth the cost in my opinion. Especially not that $1400 monetary cost, but the loss of my fans as diagnostic tools is too much.
  • The powermac G5s are awfully quiet. You can barely hear them. For the price of the case you can get a nice computer.
    • Hmm.... generally true, but the fans in the G5 spin according to heat/processor load. It's not a "guaranteed quiet" machine so much as it's a "normally quiet" machine.

      For something like a recording studio, this could pose problems because they might put the CPU under high load with virtual instruments and such, and suddenly have the fans speed up - making it noisier at just the wrong time.

      The G5's are also suffering from other noise issues. Many (my dual 2Ghz G5 included) suffer from electrical chirpin
  • by abischof (255) * <alexNO@SPAMspamcop.net> on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:39AM (#8005938) Homepage

    Instead of spending $1400, how about assembling a case around a fanless Antec Phantom 350 [theinquirer.net] power supply?

    One of the most chunky pieces of metal was the Phantom 350, a fanless 350w power supply. Yes, you heard that right, a completely fanless power supply, for those into low noise PCs, this is the one for you. It combines the legendary Antec quality with high efficiency parts, and a massive, heavy, ribbed aluminum case. The entire case acts as a heatsink, and runs utterly silently. For $169 MSRP, it looks like quite a deal.

  • by teamhasnoi (554944)
    Sure, they aren't absolutely noiseless - the fans come on when you're playing a game or running something processor intensive, but they are quiet enough to have to strain to hear.

    I have a 733 Quicksilver mac at work and that can be one noisy computer at times; my PC at home takes the cake - it's loud as hell, which is unfortunate since that is my recording PC.

    I'll be soon recording on my Powerbook, which is fast, beautiful and quiet.

    Plus, I can take it to a pals house to lay down some tracks. I will nev

  • ... and keep computers on the other side of wall.

    For that kind of money, I could keep ALL of my gear
    in the next room & fit a noise-isolarion port
    between the two rooms, no? ;-)
  • by flacco (324089) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @03:40AM (#8005941)
    i sent my noisy pc along with $999 to some guy in india named Haji, who will be doing my computer work for me for as long as i live. not only is it quiet, i have $401 left over for hookers and beer.
  • by teledyne (325332)
    For probably the same amount as that case, you can buy yourself a Vapochill, which will undoubtedly drop the temperature to around -5 to 5 degrees F. Of course, it still has fans and hard drives and optical drives, but you could create a case for your case. Using the same methods to make ported speaker enclosures, you can create a windy path for the sound to slowly leak out. Sorta like how Bose WaveRadio's work, except using eggcrate foam in the inner paths to dissipate the noise, rather than channel it o
  • Surely you can get decent noise cancellation hardware inside your (standard) case for less than 1400 bucks?

    Especially since the constant drone /tone of fans and drives would seemingly be easy to cancel. Even if you just ducted your main inlet fan and put some noise cancellation on that.

  • by Honkytonkwomen (718287) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @04:18AM (#8006037)
    When I consider the noise my wife would make if I spent $1,400 on a case, my current case is quieter.
  • if there are any fans in my iBook I have yet to hear them. I think I paid about $1400 for it too (that might be before the memory upgrade though).

    My other laptop, a Compaq, that has an external fan gets noisy running Windows. In Linux the fan is always off, unless I run something that loops for a long while like Setiathome.

    Seems like they should easily be able to make noisless laptops these days by simply backing off the clock speeds a bit. They would still perform perfectly adequately. Batteries w
  • These guys have been selling this for a long time:
    http://www.calmpc.com/ [calmpc.com]. There biggest problem may be the lack of distribution in the US, but ordering from Korea went very smooth in my experience.

    OK, maybe this doesn't support a 4GHz P4, but I'm running a 1 GHz PIII in one of these with a high end ATI video card and using CompactFlash for a harddrive.

    There's special heat dispensers for the power supply, CPU and graphics card.

    It's just amazing. You hit the power on button and nothing happens. Then all o
  • $1400!? Try $100! (Score:5, Informative)

    by LauraW (662560) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @04:29AM (#8006053)
    A quiet PC is great, but $1,400 is a bit extreme. Last summer I decided my PC was too lound and made it a lot quieter. The parts I used were:
    • Evercase 4252 case [newegg.com]: $37. About as un-cool looking as you can get, but it has good airflow and the openings on the front are baffled a bit to keep it quiet.
    • Fortron 300W PS [newegg.com]: $24 A no-name brand. But it uses a 12cm fan instead of the usual 8cm ones, so it can turn more slowly (and quietly) and still move enough air.
    • Thermalright Heatsink [newegg.com]: $39. Huge and a pain to install, but great heat transfer. Just make sure its weight doesn't rip the CPU socket off your motherboard.
    • "Stealth" fans [newegg.com]: 2 x $8. These are reasonably quiet and easy to find. The Panaflo fans are quieter but more expensive and hard to find.
    • Fan speed control [newegg.com]: $19. Ugly, but it works. I actually used two small, single-fan controls that dangle inside my case, but I can't find them online.
    • Vibration absorption mats [newegg.com]: $15. Dampens vibrations and covers annoying ventilation holes in the side of the case
    That's what, $150? You can send the extra $1250 to me.

    The links are to Newegg just because I like them and it's easy to find things on their site. I'm not affiliated with them, ymmv, void where not prohibited, etc.

  • by iamhassi (659463) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @05:15AM (#8006141) Journal
    It's call "extension cords". 15 foot USB cables for mouse & keyboard, VGA extension cable for monitor, and volia! Shove PC in closet 15 feet away and you have noiseless computing at your disposal.

    Or you can spend $1400.

  • by iamhassi (659463) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @06:16AM (#8006258) Journal
    is it just me, or do the pictures [tomshardware.com] look pretty bad [tomshardware.com]?

    Looks like he just whipped out a cheap digital camera and started snapping away, which is fine for your dime-a-dozen review site, but this is Tom's Hardware, which I'd argue is one of the largest review sites online (surprised they don't have a magazine yet). You'd think he could invest in a little better lighting or something, especially when it's a review of a product they have in office.

  • Price? (Score:4, Informative)

    by value_added (719364) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @06:16AM (#8006259)
    I'd say the value of peace and quiet was somewhere between $439 and $1,500 according to the pricing of professionally-made isolation enclosures (for studios, etc.) seen here [acoustilock.com], here [custom-consoles.com], here [plasmic.dk] and here [elias-audio.net]. On the other hand, if I was cheap, I'd say the home-made approaches seen here [barnabas.com], here [ruggels.com] and here [lysator.liu.se] suggest it's about $100 plus time and labour.

    A case that functions as a heat-sink is a brilliant idea. I do hope the idea if not the product takes off but for now I doubt any of us are reaching for our cheque books.

    Personally, I gave up on the idea of swapping out noisy components for quieter, better-engineered replacements (expensive idea if you have multiple systems) and built my own box. The results are always better and you get way-kewl furniture as a bonus. 3/4-inch MDF is cheap, 3/4-inch birch isn't much more, and even if you double-wall the enclosure for a dead air layer (highly recommended), you'll shell out less than $100. The time? Skip tee vee for a night or two and pretend you're Norm -- plaid shirt required, of course.

    Oh, and if you're living with rackmount equipment and need a solution, this [rewci.com] centrifugal fan (read "bathroom) is probably the quietest in existence, moves lots of air, and works great either housed in a cabinet or installed in the ceiling of a small closet.

  • by volpe (58112) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @06:21AM (#8006270)
    What is all this fascination with fanless cases? I always thought fans were an indication of how powerful your computer was, and therefore how cool you are. If your computer doesn't need enough fans to make it sound like a jet engine, well, then your computer just isn't doing anything worthwhile.

    My computer has more fans than CleverNickName.
  • by Glowing Fish (155236) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @06:57AM (#8006355) Homepage
    At first I thought it said "expensive, noisy case" and thought it was more about SCO...
  • by D4C5CE (578304) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @07:40AM (#8006428)
    Wondering why another issue is commonly overlooked, though it might justify to shell out even as much as $1400 for a design like this:

    Probably much more likely than heatpipes, fans will fail one day, especially if they draw dust and vapors into the PC/server in some environments.

    I would not want to be liable for a system that starts a fire rather than powering down after running for a while without cooling, e.g. as it fails to recognise a broken fan a few years down the road.

    A case like Zalman's could be dropped at a client's site e.g. even at a petrol plant in the middle of a desert, without having to worry just as much - about travelling a long way for service every now and then, or about potential responsibilities for applying only second-best components which are bound to break in a possibly hazardous way some day.

    Not that magically nothing's prone to go wrong anymore at all, but isn't it a good start that due to the absence of fans, you may spare yourself one nightmare?

  • by mm0mm (687212) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @07:53AM (#8006453)
    SilentPCreview.com [silentpcreview.com] has reviews for "silent" PC parts(cases, CPU fans, power supplies, etc), and you can probably get some idea from them if you want to build a quiet system. I don't live in recording studio, so I don't think I would ever need this one to create 0db environment. My neighbors are obnoxiously noisy already, so what's the point?

    Besides I've been using a laptop primarily and it's quiet enough (...duh) even without water cooling thingy. Laptop these days are not so expensive, you can get a good one for $1400 and less. Of course if you need to build a server, laptop won't work, but for 'home' use, laptop works good enough and is quiet.
  • A Cheaper Solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by fozzmeister (160968) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:28AM (#8006526) Homepage
    There are cheaper solutions such as Hush ATX [mini-itx.com] and the Hush ITX [mini-itx.com] computers
  • by Zero Sum (209324) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @08:51AM (#8006582)
    I have a full SCSI box in a cheap case that is now situated where I sleep. Awful. Easily fixed. I replace on 80cm noisy fan with 2 90cm roller bearing quite ones, took out all screws and placed a vibration absorbent washer between metal surfaces, and finally lined the inside of the case with carpet underlay. Total cost about $10US. Now my kids think it is permanently turned off rather than permanently turned on.

    Heat pipes are probably an unecessary overkill.

  • by macemoneta (154740) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @11:06AM (#8007095) Homepage
    The COCOON [plasmic.dk] enclosure seems like a better idea. While hideously expensive, it's still lower cost than this solution.
  • Air (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chunkwhite86 (593696) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @01:48PM (#8008063)
    This case, even at this price, is *perfect* for industrial applications, and other applications that have a high amount of dust, soot, or other particulate matter in the air.

    Since there are no fans, there is no requirement to circulate air *inside* the case, so the inside stays nice and clean - even in a very dirty environment.

    Ever seen the inside of a PC that's been at a coal mining operation? Or at a volcanic research station? Or a military PC used outdoors in a dusty environment? They get pretty filthy inside very quickly, and it is this filth that causes fans to fail, and then the components to fail.

    If someone uses this case to sell a packaged boxed PC solution for dirty air environments, it's a winner.

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