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Media Hardware Technology

Completely Silent Media PC 275

Posted by timothy
from the nothing's-completely-silent dept.
Kez writes "Zalman's first completely fanless PC case, the TNN 500 was an impressive piece of engineering, but it was very bulky. Aiming their new chassis at those looking to build multimedia PCs and who don't want noisy fans to spoil their experience, the TNN 300 is smaller than its predecessor. From the Hexus.net review: 'It's a niche product that will appeal, in no uncertain terms, to a select bunch of users that value silence above all else. If you happen to be one of them, the TNN 300 is a pretty unique product that will appeal to you.'"
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Completely Silent Media PC

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  • Noisy PC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by johnnyb (4816) <jonathan@bartlettpublishing.com> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:42AM (#13277521) Homepage
    I never really noticed how much noise my PC was making until I finally turned it off!
  • Bucking the trend. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrRay720 (874710) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:43AM (#13277527)
    Newer mode = smaller number! I can't remember the last product I saw that on.

    Still, silent computers really are the way forward. Who wants fans buzzing at you non-stop? The noisiest components in a PC should be the HD and the optical drive.

    No... I don't mean use an IBM Deathstar and wait for the click of doom, either.
    • I think if you really want a quiet PC [ltsp.org], get rid of the disk, as well. Mount a network drive from a server room. This simplifies backup, sharing, expansion and reduces the cost and heat at the desktop. As for CD/DVD, I really don't want a 52X drive that sounds like an airliner taking off, but you can't buy 8X drives anymore. That just leaves the high-frequency from the HV supply in the CRT monitor, but a flat-panel LCD will look better on my desk anyway.
    • actually that's not that hard to do with a PC with many fans.
      Start with low noise fans, put them on a controller at about 5V and you'll never hear them.
      I have 3 case fans and CPU fan, all at around 5-6V, the fans are not what you hear from the computer.
      Of course I have one of the early WD 7200 SE Caviar drives, that might still be the dominate noise source if the fans were at 12V....

      But when running with just the Seagate 7200.7 drive it's hard to notice the computer is on unless there's total silence in th
  • by soop (22350)
    How will I know when I walk into a room that my pc is on if I can't hear fans humming?
  • by CPUgrind (630274) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:43AM (#13277531)
    With a silent media PC would you at least be able to use closed captioning so you know what is going on?
  • by ReformedExCon (897248) <reformed.excon@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:45AM (#13277540)
    Sometimes, when the lights goes out, you can really hear what it is like to be in total silence. The refrigerator stops running, the air conditioners stop running. The computer fans and drives stop spinning, and suddenly you're thrust into this silence that is eerily uncomfortable.

    When the power comes on and all those once-dead appliances roar to life, it is like stepping back to reality.

    I personally can't stand to be somewhere without sound. I can appreciate sound kept to a minimum, but there has to be some indication that things are running, in my opinion. So that when things do eventually expire, that it's not until days later when the CPU has melted itself into the motherboard that I find out the cooling system broke just as silently as it ran.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Living in Florida, I get this all the time, especially when a hurricane is coming through. It just goes to show how noisy our lives have become. Is it any wonder some many people don't get good sleep and are permanently irritable?

      I personally like the lack of electric crap buzzing around me, and I'm sure we'd all be somewhat saner if appliances weren't squealing and buzzing around us all of the time.
    • i allow the soft musical chirps of my UPS sooth me...
    • by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@pacbe[ ]net ['ll.' in gap]> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:22AM (#13277774) Homepage
      That's almost the opposite of me. You don't really notice how noisy your life is until you go out and take a hike in the middle of a forest. No road noise, no freeways/expressways, no fans, no hum of lights or electronics, no buzz of compressors and no creaking of houses and water pipes.

      It's like being totally comfortable, like being submerged in warm water with the lights off, and no external stressors. Only the occasional bird, the sound of the ground underfoot, and the rustle of the wind keeps you company.

      After an experience like that, I am bugged by the hiss of the hard drive on my otherwise silent laptop, the sound of the freeway in the background, the buzz of fans in the kitchen. It's why I want my next computer to run fanless, and with enough ram to never spin up the harddrive.
      • It's like being totally comfortable, like being submerged in warm water with the lights off, and no external stressors. Only the occasional bird, the sound of the ground underfoot, and the rustle of the wind keeps you company.

        Wow that "nature" sounds like a great place! Does it have wi-fi?
      • I personally enjoy the sound of a bat making a high velocity turn into the forest.
        I live at a river side. The bats hunt insects on top of the river and sometimes have somekind of rusttles where they swoop all over, make high velocity turns, fly throught the vegetation with allmost no sound etc.
        Also looks very cool when you sit in the dark forest, next to the river, looking at them against the clear, bright Finnish night sky.
      • Parent is right. You've gotta get yourself into a silent area, a forest or other, every once in a while. It'll open your ears to the sheer amount of noise you are living in day by day.

        I've become quite sensitive to noise over time. It is definitely a factor in my buying decisions now.
      • middle of a forest tends to be noisier than a silentroom, with wind etc.

        yes I've been to a forest. I can see forests from the window to the horizon.

        easiest way to get a silent computer though is to look outside the box... or rather the room, and place the actual unit to tother room from where you actually use it from(and for those bitching about cdrom access.. usb drives baby!).
      • True, the outdoors do have a different feel from indoor noisy environments. However, nature is anything but quiet. The sound of an occasional bird(my outdoor excursions have way more than occasional birds), ground underfoot(snow, leaves, and sticks make huge noises), and rustle of the wind(seems like a roar at times) are not subtle stimuli to me. In addition to these things mentioned, there's squirrels and other animals that make a racket, limbs falling and trees cracking, water rustling and roaring, etc.
    • by gobbo (567674) <wrewrite@gmail . c om> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:01AM (#13278082) Journal
      Habituation happens when a stimulus is so consistent that it interferes with sensitivity to our environment, so we filter that, for instance, flat-line sound out, it becomes part of the baseline condition, a new version of silence in a way.

      Our audio environments are so suffused with fans and other hums that our bodies are adapted to these sounds. Without them the soundscape [uoregon.edu] feels empty and eerie. Think of it as an extension of chronic industrial disease, however. Case studies in the Sahel discovered that 70 year-olds showed no significant hearing loss, due to typically healthy blood and an extremely quiet environment.

      Some of that deep discomfort people feel when they're camping away from honking traffic is also due to ideology that's sunk down into the bones over a few industrial generations. Silence [www.sfu.ca], not just quiet but really quiet, is deathlike, an absence of life, an absence of civilization. It's dangerous.

      Interesting how I can always hear these "silent" computers. It really is relative.

    • Sometimes, when the lights goes out, you can really hear what it is like to be in total silence. The refrigerator stops running, the air conditioners stop running. The computer fans and drives stop spinning, and suddenly you're thrust into this silence that is eerily uncomfortable.

      Hmm. In my experience power failures are terribly noisy--all the UPS's kick in and alarms start wailing. Then the generators start to turn over--yikes!
    • So that when things do eventually expire, that it's not until days later when the CPU has melted itself into the motherboard that I find out the cooling system broke just as silently as it ran.

      Ironically, you've just hit on a strong point of passive cooling. Unless the laws of thermodynamics change suddenly, the cooling fins on the 300 will just keep doing their job. Forever! No motors to burn out or bearings that need lubing, just heat flowing through aluminum, I assume, and dissipating into the air a
  • by kyouteki (835576) <`kyouteki' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:45AM (#13277543) Homepage
    This is wonderful. I have an HTPC in my living room, but it is enclosed in a cheap MATX case with 3 small case fans, plus the CPU fan. Since I don't like turning it off (thus preventing me from recording TV programs), the sound of the fans is just something I've learned to live with. However, with a case like this, I could enjoy my expensive home theatre setup just that much more.
  • by Zemplar (764598) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:46AM (#13277547) Journal
    ...you can hear their servers grinding to halt!
  • Also: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by imstanny (722685) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:46AM (#13277550)
    Another selling point is that the dust collection is kept to a minimum, and there's no need to worry about dust getting stuck in the most crucial areas like the fans or heat sinks.
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @08:50AM (#13277566)
    My first attempt [archive.org] was to build a stylish case with large fans, quiet hard drives, and a massive heat sink for the CPU. It worked fairly well, though the CD drive was incredibly loud in comparison.

    My second attempt was far more successful. The CPU is in another room, with a hole in the wall for cables. This is a far better approach as the only noise I hear is the quiet hum of the monitor.

    There's one down side, of course. I have to walk through a couple doorways to put in a CD, though that's a fairly rare occurrence these days. If I was really hardcore I'd have a USB CD-ROM drive next to the monitor to solve that problem. Still, it's probably good to get me out of my chair from time to time.
    • The Dell X1 [stud.ntnu.no] can do without fan because it has a ULV Pentium and is therefore supposedly very quiet. (I'll know how quiet shortly).
  • A not-direct quote FTFS:
    It's a product that will appeal to a select bunch of users that value silence above all else. If you happen to be one of them, it will appeal to you."
    Yes, if you happen to be one of the people to whom it will appeal, then it will appeal to you.
  • fanless not silent (Score:2, Insightful)

    by skatephat420 (803185)
    Just because the computer is fanless doesn't mean it is completely silent. After all, it still has a harddrive right?
    --------------
    Expectations are the mother of all sorrow
  • by dogpuppy5 (906007)
    Anyone who's been to a car audio store knows what the amplifiers look like. Their entire case is one big heat sink. Plus, the use more electricity than a PC. Yet they don't need a fan.
    I've been waiting for case manufacturers to turn the case into a big heat sink. If the audio folks can do it, why not the computer people?
    • by edremy (36408)
      You mean kind of like this [quietpcusa.com]?

      It's by the same people. I've got some Zalman fans and heatsinks in my machine and they are really nicely done.

    • For audio equipment, the big heat generators (the output driver FETs or transistors) can be physically removed from the Printed Circuit Board and mounted to the heatsinks. Connections are made with a couple wires. This is not possible with the major heat generators in a personal computer - the processor, bridge, video, and memory must be mounted on the PCB because of the speed of the signals going into and coming out of these components. Long runs mean delays and (more importantly) bad signal quality. P
    • Anyone who's been to a car audio store knows what the amplifiers look like. Their entire case is one big heat sink. Plus, the use more electricity than a PC.

      And anyone that knows anything about car audio would know that those "1200 WATT" amplifiers don't use nearly that amount of power (the typical 20-30 Amp fuse on the side of the amplifier is a pretty good hint). The typical PC that consumes a constant 150W or so of power has a lot more heat to deal with.
      • You had better tell that to all those dbdraggers who run well over 3000wrms. There are plenty of 1000+wrms amps out there (class D), and they do plenty fine with heat. My 600wrms amp (DEI) rarely has heat issues unless its been sitting in the sun, or run for 6 hours straight without much ventilation, and its a few years old. Aside from whats been posted above, most media boxes will probably stay on a lot longer than most persons amps will. I don't know any people in car audio who run their vehicles 24/7 all
  • Alternative reviews (Score:5, Informative)

    by flurdy (301431) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:09AM (#13277657) Homepage
    Here are some alternative reviews and piccies while the site is slashdoted: dutch site [tweakers.net], uk site [pcw.co.uk], toms hw [tomshardware.com], japan [coneco.net].

    ok its a google search, but usefull
  • what? no link? (Score:4, Informative)

    by dostick (69711) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:10AM (#13277661) Homepage Journal
    There's link to shameless plug "review site" but no link to product itself. Not even in the sidebar thing on top.
    Here it is. [zalman.co.kr]
  • Just drop the innards of the computer (minus the hard drive of course) in an aquarium full of oil
  • Coral Cache (Score:2, Informative)

    link [nyud.net]
  • Weird form factor (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes.xmsnet@nl> on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:24AM (#13277796)
    For a media PC, I'd want a 44 cm or 19" wide pizza box, not a tower.
    And it still looks like a PC: way too fussy and with blanked-off plastic panels, instead of a metal front plate like other A/V components [denon.com]
  • Overrated.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by chewy_2000 (618148) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @09:25AM (#13277799)
    Why would you bother with that? The Hush PC [hushtechnologies.net] (no affiliation) looks much better for most silent applications, especially HTPC - it's small, (the case in the article looked huge) it looks good and it's silent. Shame it looks like it's hard to upgrade, not to mention massively expensive. And, contrary to TFA's claims, it has been around for a few years now.
    • Re:Overrated.. (Score:2, Informative)

      by jtosburn (63943)
      Thanks a lot. I get all excited, as they do look awful good, and then realize that they're only sold as complete systems with Windows MCE. And they start at 700 Euro, with most systems being well over 1200. Such disappointment! Oh well.
  • Anandtech Post (Score:2, Informative)

    by HansF (700676)
    Not really a mirror, but some pics from this case are at anantech [anandtech.com]. They took them while visting Computex.
    Just wanted to mention it since zalman.com and hexus.net are currently down.
  • If you want a silent Pc then simply do what we did in the computing industry in the 70's and 80's put the computer in a box with the air vented to a fan in another room. recording studio's do this all the time. we use dryer vent to duct the air from and away the box. using a simple booster duct vent fans in the other room.

    other advantages are you can use disposable HVAC filters on the intake so the Pc is almost perfectly clean all the time.
  • That new? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by torpedobird (895167) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:03AM (#13278088)
    I have a Cube sitting here from years ago with not a fan in it, and with a barracuda hard drive, the thing is silent.

    There were hundreds of computers with one or no fans back in "the day" where megahertz was what really counted, not gigahertz. Hard drives WERE the loudest part.

    Now we seem to have left all that behind in the name of going faster. My LCIII can still check mail, and I can still do graphic design on my cube.

    I like my lower power bill and quieter room.
  • by paranerd (672669) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:07AM (#13278118)
    My media PC has been stone silent ever since I switched from oss to alsa.
  • Except for its mostly-quiet hdd and optical, the Mac Mini is basically silent. We run a couple in my office and even when I put my head next to the Mac Minis, the other computers sitting across the room (a Compaq EVO D500 workstation and a Dell PowerEdge 700 server are each louder).

    I'm surprised Apple hasn't released a media-edition Mac Mini... I'd pay $300 extra to get one with an integrated TV tuner, AM/FM receiver, some additional A/V inputs/outputs, and TIVO/MythTV-like software.
  • I seem to recall another article too because this thing is way old:

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/08/20/075823 9 [slashdot.org]

    HJ
  • So you want to impress me with a fanless computer? Hah! My C=64 doesn't even need heat sinks. That's what I call progress!
    • When my 1989 Dodge Omni went into the shop, they found that the computer was failing and needed to be replaced. Being a true geek, I asked if I could have the old one. They shrugged and handed it over.

      After a reasonably frustrating time getting the case open, I uncovered a VIC-20 motherboard fitted with a bunch of massive heat sinks.

      No, I am not kidding.
  • Don't see the point (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @10:49AM (#13278585) Homepage Journal
    when you can get a silent Athlon 64 in a tiny Shuttle XPC SN85G4 [digit-life.com]. I bought one bundled with an Athlon 64 3000+ and it's quietest, fastest desktop I've ever owned. Suse justs hums along silently on this thing. The proprietary Shuttle cooling system is silent and effective. The DVDRW is the loudest thing on this system. Outpost.com is selling the deal I got for $379 Add memory, hard drive, CDROM, and the 64 bit OS of your choice (Suse is flawless) and you're in business.
  • by timbck2 (233967)
    Yet another article with a review of yet another PC case. This is marketing, folks, not news.

    And this case happens to be butt-ugly -- which would be fine in a hidden, rack-mounted media center, but I sure wouldn't want it in my living room!
  • by nightsweat (604367) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @11:07AM (#13278762)
    Wouldn't that make it hard to hear the dialog from the movies?

    Of course given the quality of most movies these days you may be on to something.
  • Save yourself a bunch of money and get a cheap VIA EPIA board and pop it in a nice tiny HiFi unit friendly case like a Travla C137 http://www.travla.com/Products/products.html [travla.com]

    A 486 can to MP3 comfortably. A fanless 800Mhz C3-Nehemiah can do mpeg2 & 4 comfortably, and with the mpeg2 and 4 hardware acceleration features of the Via CN400 northbridges' built in graphic chip, it can do it with pleanty of spare juice to do background work like streaming digital terrestial video streams from the TV Tuner card
    • A 486 can to MP3 comfortably.

      A DX2 maybe. Back in the day I had a 486-33 laptop and it could play MP3s only in mono and downsampled to 22.5 kHz :) I'm sure the software has improved though.

      A fanless 800Mhz C3-Nehemiah can do mpeg2 & 4 comfortably, and with the mpeg2 and 4 hardware acceleration features of the Via CN400 northbridges' built in graphic chip, it can do it with pleanty of spare juice to do background work like streaming digital terrestial video streams from the TV Tuner cards to the

      • A 486 can to MP3 comfortably.

        A DX2 maybe. Back in the day I had a 486-33 laptop and it could play MP3s only in mono and downsampled to 22.5 kHz :) I'm sure the software has improved though.


        A 486 is going to have problems with MP3, I doubt even a DX4 100Mhz would be able to handle high bit rates like 256kbps. Formats like OGG and FLAC would be out of the question.

        Just get a Pentium. I have a P120 that I put an Athlon heatsink on (not the fan, just the huge chuck of aluminum and copper) that seems to stay p
  • by infonography (566403) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @11:35AM (#13279058) Homepage
    I just got a ASUS DiGiMatrix [digit-life.com], it's not only silent but it fits in with my stereo components. I just got it and haven't worked out all the features but it's been working well as a normal component in my network running headless without an issue. All the software is Windoze so I put XP Pro on it and manage it from my linux box w/ Terminal Services. Take a look.
  • There are ways, not including convection, to move air without fans. Heck, The Sharper Image advertises theirs every day. And it would even help keep dust out of your PC.
  • Literally (Score:4, Insightful)

    by richmaine (128733) on Tuesday August 09, 2005 @12:18PM (#13279442)
    According to the article, the PC generates "literally no noise" and you have to put your ear right up next to the case to hear it.

    This is apparently the Orwellian definition of "literally", where it is used with the meaning of "not literally".
    • I doubt this one will be completely silent.. the only way to see how silent the computer *can* be is to turn it off..

      the HD will still generate noise, the fan will still generate noise. unless you completely elimite those.. the noise will always be there. some people just have less sensitive ears then others.

      but one factor you need to figure in is everyone is in a different environment that has different levels of ambient noise.. so your difinition of silent and my version of silent can differ a lot.
  • i have never heard a hard drive that was even near completely silent. both my xbox and my HD cable box / DVR have no moving fans, but i can hear their hard drives across the living room, sometimes even with the TV on.
  • When does "completely silent" not equal silent?

    When the guy who wrote the article title realizes that there's other things making noise inside the case than fans.

    I'm not saying that a fanless case doesn't have interest, I spent a lot of time tuning a HTPC to function quietly without overheating, so I get the point. This case isn't a solution in my opinion because it's far too large to be useful anywhere other than under a desk, where you most likely wouldn't care so much about noise.

  • I realized this when my computer died on me one day. I never turn my PC off and that was the first time in months that my PC was off for the night. I couldn't not go to sleep that night. I got used to the noise so much that without it I kept tossing and turning the whole night.

    The silence during the night creeped me out so much that I turned on my fan (in the middle of winter), took another blanket and only then was I able to sleep.
  • C'mon Slashdotters, how many times must we quiet/silent PC enthusiasts link it before you actually take a look and read what constitutes a silent PC? http://www.silentpcreview.com/ [silentpcreview.com]

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