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How Neuros Built Their Nearly Silent HTPC 199

Posted by timothy
from the more-power-than-my-best-machine dept.
JoeBorn writes "Neuros has a blog posting discussing how they created their latest 'thin' HTPC to be nearly silent. Instead of using a net-top architecture (Atom or the like) they used a full 2.7GHz CPU and put their effort into making that nearly silent. The article talks about their efforts on fan selection, placement, control, and vibration dampening. This route was chosen to 'give more headroom' for CPU-hungry apps (web and otherwise) including Adobe Flash. Their solution costs $279; is this an appropriate trade-off for a device powering your TV?"
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How Neuros Built Their Nearly Silent HTPC

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  • by newdsfornerds (899401) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @04:39PM (#31810964) Journal
    Vibrations may be damped. Vibrators may be dampened.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by j0hnyquest (1571815)
      i feel sorry for the poor lonely fool who voted this witty comment as 'offtopic'.
    • They once translated "inertial dampers" in one of the Star Trek movies into my native tongue as "inertial dampeners". In another movie, a different translator translated it as "inertial sordinos" - or is it "muffler" in English? (Not to mention the "overcoating/topcoating device", DS-9's "Bullet-head" starship, "rotating drive" and many other jewels...)
    • by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:25PM (#31811360)

      My good sir,

      I request more information on these devices called "vibrators" and how they may become dampened. A quick search through the literature seems to suggest that the female of the human species uses it a kind of cleaning device. I give you my sincerest thanks in advance.

      John C. Cluelessicus
      Director of Research into the female sex,
      Local Dungeons and Dragons fan club

  • What about power? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @04:45PM (#31811018) Journal

    An HTPC is likely to be left on 24/7 for recording, etc. Being power efficient is important under those circumstances.

    • what is the power use of a cable card tuner?

    • RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xtravar (725372)

      Power = heat. Their very first point in the article...

      1. Low power components: (45W CPU, no optical drive or HDD, nothing extra) less power means less heat generated in the first place, thus less for fans to need to remove.

    • by Anpheus (908711)

      Shouldn't be 24/7. Modern S3 sleep is very efficient and works well with timers. Using Windows as an HTPC with sleep enabled will let the PC go to sleep, wake up to record, and then sleep again.

  • silentpcreview (Score:5, Informative)

    by illaqueate (416118) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @04:47PM (#31811034)

    silentpcreview.com is where users should go. the linked story isn't any different from the many forum posts describing silent systems people have made

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Colonel Korn (1258968)

      It's pretty easy to make any non-gaming system completely silent. Just get a giant heatsink, a 120mm Nexus or similar fan for it, and a fan controller, and put it in a nice vibration mitigating case like an Antec Solo. silentpcreview.com is definitely a great source of information for making it all work.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by illaqueate (416118)

        Even gaming, if you aren't massively overclocking a good tower heatsink is good enough to run with little air flow. The main issue is the video card, however one would not hear the video card typically over sound unless the ambient temperature is high. There are of course aftermarket parts for the video card as well.

        Another issue with any system, not only game systems is the sound of the hard drive. Many hard drives, especially older hard drives become loud over time. It doesn't matter how much you dampen t

        • by mcvos (645701)

          Even gaming, if you aren't massively overclocking a good tower heatsink is good enough to run with little air flow. The main issue is the video card, however one would not hear the video card typically over sound unless the ambient temperature is high.

          The Arctic Cooling Accellero S1 is an excellent passive cooler for many graphics cards. A few years ago at least, when I got mine for my ATI HD3850.

          For most games, you really don't need the latest power guzzling high-end graphics card. I'm a gamer and I'm quite happy with this setup (although I stay away from high-powered FPS games).

          Another issue with any system, not only game systems is the sound of the hard drive. Many hard drives, especially older hard drives become loud over time. It doesn't matter how much you dampen the vibration. The best results depend on getting the right model (some Samsung and WD are popular right now if I'm up to date)

          They were when I got my machine, at least. And there's the WD Green Power line that's quieter and uses less power (funny how those two often go together) than most harddrives. F

      • by pthisis (27352)

        Once you put a fan in it, it's not silent. Even underclocked 120 mm fans with good bearings make some noise.

        When I built my htpc 9 years ago, finding a suitable fanless power supply and silent drives were the major hurdles. The second is easily solved without searching nowadays; the first still requires a bit of digging.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by illaqueate (416118)

          Technically yes, it's not silent, however most are aiming for quiet not so much perfect silence (good fans running in 800rpm are relatively quiet). It's possible to do silent, however you run up the price sometimes in aftermarket parts doing that. Once you get fanless then you notice the sound of the hard drive, so you put in an SSD instead, etc.

          The ghetto method to do perfect silence is to put the computer in another room, for example in the closet of an adjoining room then run an hdmi cable (to the receiv

          • Re:silentpcreview (Score:4, Informative)

            by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:40PM (#31811896) Homepage Journal

            There's silence and then there's silence. I've built a half-dozen system for my little project recording-studio and none of them register over 20dB. With a little baffling, they don't register at all anywhere near the microphones or audio monitors.

            And they're really nothing fancy, built mainly in rack-mount server boxes with some additional soft stuff inside. I've got a new i7 system that has a lot of horsepower and it's still right around 20-25dB. SSDs were key because the loudest thing were the rumbling hard drives. Still pretty expensive, though.

            On the other hand, my wife does fluid dynamics modeling (other side of the house) on an HP workstation that sounds like a '67 Harley Shovelhead in comparison. I'm going to have to get her a pair of those ear protectors the guys who work on airport runways use so she doesn't go deaf.

        • This is true but the barely there air movement noise my Noctua 120mm's make when running for example is so slight that the high pitched squeel of a powered up electronic device is noisier.

        • Sometimes home theater equipment has its own fans already, so they will make some noise, just like any fan will. They key is to make everything very quiet, so that it does not disturb you. That is very doable.
          • Except your speakers, of course.

            If you have a good speaker system, and a taste for Black Metal or similar, you should be able to use unmodified 1U servers, 15K RPM fans and all, as "comparatively silent" set-top hardware.
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              The only 1U server that wasn't horribly loud that I've ever seen was a Cobalt, and they had gimpy processors. Not long ago I sold an IBM eServer 325 and it was probably louder at full fan (which it pulled on every cold boot for a couple seconds) than my former Cisco Catalyst 5000, 8U and full of fans. This is typical, because servers usually have full-power componentry, and poor airflow, meaning they have high-speed fans.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LordVader717 (888547)

          Going completely fanless is often overkill. A decent fan at minimum power will hardly make any noise.
          If my computers much quieter than my TV, my Stereo system, and all my consoles, I really don't see the point in crapping out over a power supply.
          DVD drives are the biggest problem, which is why I just always copy the DVD to a hard drive before playing it.

  • Slashvertisement (Score:5, Interesting)

    by migla (1099771) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @04:51PM (#31811070)

    "This is one slashvertisement I'd like to read", I thought to myself, but I was disappointed, because I expected lots of pictures and details, which I didn't get.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JoeBorn (625012)
      Here's a review of the device with pictures, etc: http://www.geardiary.com/2010/04/10/review-neuros-link/ [geardiary.com]
  • Oops (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @04:52PM (#31811080) Journal

    Fatal error: out of dynamic memory in yy_create_buffer() in Unknown on line 0

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 10747904) (tried to allocate 77824 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/webform/webform.module on line 1029

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 8650752) (tried to allocate 4864 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.module on line 779

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 11010048) (tried to allocate 77824 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/pathauto/pathauto.module on line 182

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 4718592) (tried to allocate 19456 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/img_assist/img_assist.module on line 730

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 10747904) (tried to allocate 2 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/webform/webform.module on line 688

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 262144) (tried to allocate 19456 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/cache.inc on line 151

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 524288) (tried to allocate 19456 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/path.inc on line 70

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 11272192) (tried to allocate 59 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/menu.inc on line 211

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 4456448) (tried to allocate 5 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/modules/image/contrib/image_attach/image_attach.module on line 132

    I gave up hitting refresh after so many memory errors.
    Try the Coral Cache until their server comes back to life:
    http://open.neurostechnology.com.nyud.net/content/Silent_HTPC [nyud.net]

    • Re:Oops (Score:4, Funny)

      by sgbett (739519) <slashdot@remailer.org> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:06PM (#31811218) Homepage

      Hah, the coral cache has cached the error!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Posting anon:

        A Silent HTPC
        Tue, 04/06/2010 - 22:13 -- Joe

        We've just released a practically silent Neuros LINK v1.2 [neurostechnology.com] (codenamed "Phantom") and figured some of you would be interested in the process.

        Of course, there are easier ways to create a silent computer, the easiest being a net-top solution, with an Atom processor or the like. We've decided not to go that route with the LINK simply because we didn't want to make the sacrifice on CPU horsepower. Sadly, as we all know, there are still plenty of web apps

        • by nabsltd (1313397)

          3. vibration dampening neoprene mounts dampen any vibration before it causes noise. Vibrating sheet metal is a great source of very annoying noise and strategically placed vibration dampeners are very important.

          If your case has issues with vibrating sheet metal, then it's not a very good case. Good HTPC cases are made of aluminum so that each surface can be much thicker while still keeping the weight down.

          4. Intelligent Fan control: We implemented the PWM (pulse width modulation) scheme to control fan speed throughout the system so that the fans would spin down (in a coordinated way) under normal use and only spin up when needed under heavy load (or in a closed cabinet where airflow is limited).

          This is purely my opinion, but I have found that disabling any system that changes the fan speed on the fly leads to a less annoying HTPC. Although it might be slightly noisier all the time, the ramp up and spin down can often be more noticable. It's also possible to hit a boundary temperature where the fan sp

  • The Full Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by theY4Kman (1519023) <they4kman@gmail.com> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @04:53PM (#31811092) Homepage

    We've just released a practically silent Neuros LINK v1.2 [neurostechnology.com] (codenamed "Phantom") and figured some of you would be interested in the process.

    Of course, there are easier ways to create a silent computer, the easiest being a net-top solution, with an Atom processor or the like. We've decided not to go that route with the LINK simply because we didn't want to make the sacrifice on CPU horsepower. Sadly, as we all know, there are still plenty of web apps and inefficient video streams that require CPU cycles. Instead, we architected a full power PC to be silent (or silent to an excellent approximation anyway) Click more to see what it took, or if you just want to buy, go here: [neurostechnology.com] we're good with that too.

    1. Low power components: (45W CPU, no optical drive or HDD, nothing extra) less power means less heat generated in the first place, thus less for fans to need to remove. Although its a 2.7GHz CPU, the Sempron 140 still only consumes 45W, so we felt that was a nice tradeoff between performance and a manageable amount of heat.

    2. Better Fans: We employed large, expensive, 120mm fluid dynamic bearing fans that are about as quiet as computer fans get. In fact they are pretty much silent save for the air they move.

    3. vibration dampening neoprene mounts dampen any vibration before it causes noise. Vibrating sheet metal is a great source of very annoying noise and strategically placed vibration dampeners are very important.

    4. Intelligent Fan control: We implemented the PWM (pulse width modulation) scheme to control fan speed throughout the system so that the fans would spin down (in a coordinated way) under normal use and only spin up when needed under heavy load (or in a closed cabinet where airflow is limited).

    5. Elimination of most moving parts in addition to reducing power (and heat), the elimination of optical drives and harddrives means the elimination of the noise they generate. The flash drive used on the LINK is obviously silent (certainly to the unaided ear anyway)

    6. Intelligent fluid dynamics of the entire system. One of the obvious benefits of controlling the whole system is that we have access to architect all the assembled parts when together, not just individual pieces. Thus we were able to replace the 70mm CPU fan with a larger, quieter 120mm fan that generates enough excess airflow that it can be used, in conjunction with a well placed power supply fan, to draw air to cool the north and south bridge chipsets of the motherboard well. If you open the case of the LINK, you'll find the components form a carefully developed airflow channel that covers the CPU, GPU, memory and power supply. Although the power supply is capable of running passively without a fan at all (it only operates at maximum ~40% of capacity in the LINK) we placed another fluid dynamic bearing fan to draw air into the power supply because it aided in creating the airflow channel needed. It also gives more headroom in case you do want to expand the LINK.

    Although not obvious at first glance, there are a host of important details that were necessary to reduce noise levels to the level you'll find in the LINK. As one example, open the LINK case and you may notice there are standoffs that separate the main fan from the case by 10.5mm This distance was arrived at through careful research and testing. Place the fan too close to the case vents and turbulence is created that generates audible noise, too close to the heat sink or other components and you disrupt the airflow channel and not only generate noise, but also adversely affect the cooling.

    So how quiet is the Phantom? 20 dB or less typically, but if that means nothing to you, put a different way, sitting on the couch 6 feet away, its probably less

    • Has most of the relevant points, and a non-slashdotted link (no pun intended)..
    • by thsths (31372)

      > So how quiet is the Phantom? 20 dB or less typically

      That may sound low, but as geeks should now, dB is a unit of acoustic power, which is only a very rough indication how loud it is perceived.

      If you are so much into technically details, why don't you give the sound level in Sone? That would make a lot more sense - and the number would be impressively low, I assume.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:01PM (#31811170) Homepage Journal

    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 12058624) (tried to allocate 35 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/menu.inc on line 1224 ...
    Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 1048576) (tried to allocate 4864 bytes) in /var/www/open.neurostechnology.com/includes/theme.inc on line 890 ...

    - it's so silent, nobody can hear it scream.

  • Atom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (etreufamla)> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:07PM (#31811222)

    I know I've posted this on every single discussion involving the Atom ... but I have to say it again:

    The Atom processor is amazingly powerful. The Atom 330/510 are dual core, 2 threads per core processors @ 1.6ghz. They are fucking amazing. And if your apps are well developed, and they can take advantage of multicore machines, it's a very powerful platform. I've seen some netbooks (based on Atom 270, single core, 2 threads) with windows that just crawl at doing just about anything but basic web browsing. But that's because windows sucks, not because Atom sucks. Try getting an Intel mini-atx Atom 510 based mobo and put 4 gb of ram in there. Using the embedded GMA intel card, I can run compiz at full speed @ 1990x1200 with all visual effects turned on, plus chrome with 30 open tabs, while gcc is compiling something on the background and still have a great performance. One of the appliances I develop (security) is based on an Atom 330, and we can run 16 ffmpegs encoding MPEG4 video @ 720x576 just fine. And you can run the 510 essentially fan-less by just adding a slightly better heatsink. It uses very little power, it runs very well, and completely quiet. For a completely silent machine, all you need to do is get one of this mobos in their 12v version, add an external laptop power brick, remove the fan and add a better heatsink. Or just use the 270 version (single core, 2 threads) that is completely fanless out of the box.

    Noone needs a fucking 2.8Ghz dual core processor just to run flash video, all you need is a better OS and a little optimization.

    BTW: This Intel mobos I'm mentioning are mini-atx and retail for ~$80, processor and everything. That is, mobo+cpu for 80 bucks. Nothing beats the Atom.

    • by djrogers (153854)
      "Noone needs a fscking 2.8Ghz dual core processor just to run flash video, all you need is a better OS and a little optimization." An Atom alone is fine for the 360/480p YouTube stuff, and low res hulu, but try watching some 720/1080p flash on that n270 and you'll learn what a slideshow is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061)

        I am playing back 8 720x576 channels at qmin 1 qmax 1 on that machine. How about that?

      • by Albanach (527650)

        As others will say - offload the video. My Atom n270 with 1gb ram can comfortably play 1080p video. CPU load average might hit 20%. Video is handled by Nvidia Ion.

    • The trouble is, if you want to, say, run Flash video, you don't really get to choose how much optimization the producer of that particular video did.

      If you look at Neuros' previous product in the same vein, it was a totally silent, totally fanless, passive-cooled-in-a-plastic-box type of affair, based on some embedded ARM media SoiC. Why did they switch to an x86 board whose processor sucks down more power than their entire previous design?

      Because, being a fairly small outfit, they can't control the m
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by spire3661 (1038968)
      For MY personal PVR needs, an Atom just isnt going to cut it. My HTPC server uses alot of CPU power to detect and edit out commercials as well as compress the video into various formats. An Atom would choke on that workload. Also, encoding is the wrong word to use there, you are NOT encoding 16 streams, you are merely laying down 16 data tracks. Thats about as impressive as saying you have 16 torrents going at once.
      • Re:Atom (Score:5, Interesting)

        by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (etreufamla)> on Sunday April 11, 2010 @06:50PM (#31811962)

        No, I used the right word, I am encoding.

        I use a card with 8 SAA7134 chips that deliver 25 FPS (PAL) @ 720x576. That's 8 V4L devices delivering MJPEG video. I do motion detection on all 8 channels, and re-encode that as both Theora AND FLV at the same time. So I have 16 motherfucking ffmpegs doing encoding. The motion detecting daemon delivers raw video to all 16 ffmpegs, 8 output Theora and 8 output FLV. So, yes, I am encoding 16 videos at a time.

        • by thijsh (910751)
          Awesome, just fucking awesome... I never realized the Atom had *this much* power (and with that I mean processing, the rated power-use is like 8 watts). They should be at least 10 times more efficient as most desktop processors.

          /me writes down an Atom based silent PC on my wish-list...
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Awesome, just fucking awesome... I never realized the Atom had *this much* power

            Atom is derived from Pentium M, which had by far the best TDP of its day; the chip has been further optimized for power consumption and process-shrunk substantially. At the same time, they have SSE3, and enough core to actually do it, so it's screaming fast on workloads which can take advantage of same.

            (and with that I mean processing, the rated power-use is like 8 watts)

            7 for the latest and greatest. AMD Geode pulls about 7W for a slow x86 chip :)

            They should be at least 10 times more efficient as most desktop processors.

            That's probably a fair guess. If the atom has enough power for what you're doing (the multimedia encoding thing is an extreme exam

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jedidiah (1196)

        ...like what the other guy said about ethernet.

        What you put in front of the TV is not necessarily the thing you are going to transcode or commflag with.

        The whole beauty of not using a Tivo is that you can separate functions like this. The monster Quad Core with 8TB doesn't need to be shoehorned into a silent HTPC case.

        It can noisily go about it's business in an entirely different room.

    • by nxtw (866177)

      The Atom processor is amazingly powerful. The Atom 330/510 are dual core, 2 threads per core processors @ 1.6ghz.

      And each core is about four times slower than my 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo. No thanks!

    • Noone needs a fucking 2.8Ghz dual core processor just to run flash video, all you need is a better OS and a little optimization.

      Hehe... I need a 3.5ghz quad-core. But I actually encode H.264 in realtime from time to time.

      Those Atom 330's and D510's really are affordable, and quite powerful. They come close to Pentium D's in performance, but without the 100+ watts power consumption.

      A lightweight OS with efficient multiple-core usage (*cough* Linux) can make good use of them. They're a tad weak in Vista/Win7, but still better than anything single-core.

      P.S. Did you mean 1920x1200?

      • Actually, it's 1980x1200.

        • Perhaps not. 1920 x 1200 is the standard "super-high-res" single screen, and 1920x1080 is the FullHD resolution (or whatever they're calling 1080p nowadays - probably true full high def or something). The next res up is 2560x1600 (I think) which you'll get on your 30" Dell/Apple LCD display.
          • Many displays have unusual resolutions, and a weird aspect ratio (i.e not 4:3 or 16:9). The display I was talking about is an LG Flatron W2243S. It's native resolution is 1980x1200, that is an aspect ratio of 1.65 instead of 1.77777 (regular widescreen or 16:9).

            • Oh, and, also, there is only one defintion for HD: 1080p/i vertical resolution. Many people called DVD "HD" too, but that's not correct (DVD is limited to whatever resolution that norm uses, for example, 720x576 for PAL). There's a difference between saying something has a "high definition/very high definition/super-uber-amazing definition" (all coloquial terms) and the actual definition of HD which is 1080p/i.

              • Wikipedia says 720p+ is HD. Microsoft and Sony seem to say the same for their consoles.

                Since wikipedia lists resolutions up into the thousands, I'm going to say 720p+ is the correct definition of HD - not merely 1080p/i

            • The only Flatron W2243S I could is the W2243S-PF which is a 22" wide screen with the standard 1920x1080 (ie 1080p) res. I couldn't find any display with a native 1980x1200, any references to that res I could find were typos. 1920x1200 is the standard resolution of most current 24" displays, which use the standard wide aspect ratio of 16:10. 4:3 is becoming rare these days and it's essentially goen from the low-end market, where 16:9 models are increasingly popular; but I think 16:10 is currently the most wi

    • by JoeBorn (625012)
      I'm from Neuros and as others have suggested, we'd LOVE to use an atom solution. The issue, as fuzzyfuzzyfungus suggested is that we can't anticipate what users will want to use the machine for, and sadly much of that is not optimized. flash 10.1 did not completely solve this problem (and its not available in 64bit yet anyway). Further, flash isn't the only inefficient application out there, and the entire point of our box is flexibility, and that you can run virtually any application you want without ha
  • Fan = not silent. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Sunday April 11, 2010 @05:08PM (#31811232)
    Its quiet, not silent. Last silent system I built is carved out of a solid chunk of aluminium. No fans, no moving parts at all.
  • I am not impressed. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by trum4n (982031)
    I, a 22 year old nerd, have been building fanless, high performance machines that are silent since the 90's. My first PC I built when I was 12 was silent. A fanless gaming machine. Rubber o-rings kept the loudest part, the hard drive, from making noise. The power supply fan was removed, and the case slotted to allow passive convection cooling. This is a really unimpressive "break through." My 2 cents.
    • I, a 22 year old nerd, have been building fanless, high performance machines that are silent since the 90's. My first PC I built when I was 12 was silent.

      Ok, but you left out one important detail. They are silent, but did they actually ever work?

      Otherwise, my parents have an Apple II that has been silent since the 80's. Now beat that!

      • by TeknoHog (164938)

        There are power supplies designed to be fanless. In addition, you can use laptop HDs and CPUs; for the latter you generally need a specialized motherboard (usually Mini-ITX), but it's a great way to save power and hence cooling requirements.

        "Laptop" CPUs are pretty much the same as their "desktop" counterparts, except they are the best picks of the lot to allow lower voltages, and you can usually undervolt them further.

    • by mirix (1649853)

      My tabulating machine doesn't have any fans. The relays and card punch solenoids make an awful racket though.

    • by Tim C (15259)

      I, a 22 year old nerd, have been building fanless, high performance machines that are silent since the 90's. My first PC I built when I was 12 was silent.

      You're 22 now, you built your first PC at 12; it's 2010, that makes your first build 1999 at the very earliest. I'm not sure if that *really* qualifies for "since the 90s".

      • You're 22 now, you built your first PC at 12; it's 2010, that makes your first build 1999 at the very earliest. I'm not sure if that *really* qualifies for "since the 90s".

        I second your statement. There is nothing nerdy/impressive about trum4n (982031)'s math skills.

  • I am already using a "Mac mini" for my HTPC solution and it is pretty much silent. While I don't claim this to be the yard stick to measure by, I would be interested in seeing how quiet this computer is in comparison and how other HTPC oriented solutions compare, especially ones with non-netbook processors. I did look at buying the Shuttle X27D a while back, but it ended up being about the same price as the mini for the same, or reduced, features. I also looked at putting my own together with a mini-itx mot

    • I agree. My mac mini is pretty much silent. Unfortunately the cheap external hard drives that i have attached to it are not.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        The only sound I get from my Mac Mini is the internal HD or the time machine back up HD.
        Easy to fix with a lower cost ssd and network storage solution.
        Another issue is ram, 4gb seems a nice number.
  • I find fans with ball or "fluid" bearings to be noisier than sleeve/bushing bearings with more noticeable tonals than broadband noise. They are only preferred because they outlive the cheap sleeve type fans. If you compare fans across a given size, you'll find that the noise level is proportional to the cfm/rpm irregardless of the brand.

    So the important thing for a quiet fan is go big and go slow. Or for silent, go fanless. Use a heat pipe to channel the heat out to a heatsink on the back of the chassis

    • That's because ball bearings are built for longer life; they tend to be loud and annoying after a short while due to the point contact on the bearings. Sleeve bearings don't last as long, but the contact area is larger, so the noise is lower. When I went looking on the silent pc sites, sleeve bearing fans ruled the roost.
      • by timeOday (582209)
        I recently switched to fluid bearing fans and they certainly seem quiet; if they're louder I don't think it's much. But extended life is a huge advantage too. Fans are the #1 failure item on PCs, far more than HDDs in my experience. Granted, replacing a fan isn't too expensive, but the hassle and downtime isn't worth it, and in fact the better fans may even be cheaper if they last at least twice as long (we'll see).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JoeBorn (625012)
      I'm from Neuros (to get that out of the way) You shouldn't lump ball bearings in with fluid bearings. Fluid bearings combined the long life of ball bearings are are practically silent. But you are right about going big and slow. That's why the product uses a 120mm fan that's speed controlled, in typical use its under 1000 rpm and pretty much dead silent.
  • Why does it have to be silent? Sure quiet is nice but you're watching LOTR with the 7.1 Surround sound and you're worried about 30dB coming from your HTPC.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JackSpratts (660957)
      a box like this can easily become the primary way to play your stored music. if i had one that's what i'd use it for. i may watch a few movies a week - but music runs all day every day at my place, often very quietly, streamed off several external hard drives attached to a computer in an upstairs closet. silent yes, but impractical to control, and as for remote access, forget it.
  • The video you see in Flash is ISO H.264.

    An AppleTV has only a 1GHz Pentium M and it does full-screen HD playback of ISO H.264 in its NVIDIA GPU. No fan is needed. No special engineering. Same as a DVD player.

    The GPU on Atom systems, NVIDIA Ion, has hardware H.264 decoding that can play HD without much help from the CPU at all.

    So in this device you're putting a much bigger CPU and an arrangement of fans in your living room to enable Adobe to continue to lock up ISO video behind their proprietary software vid

  • Filters, every fan should have one. I wish there were standard 120mm mounted filters. Think about all the dust that DOES end up in your case and you'll realize it's a great way to filter the air. Also dampening is awesome.... get with it case manufacturers.
    • by DeBaas (470886)

      Filters, every fan should have one. I wish there were standard 120mm mounted filters. Think about all the dust that DOES end up in your case and you'll realize it's a great way to filter the air. Also dampening is awesome.... get with it case manufacturers.

      They exist, see here [lmgtfy.com].

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