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Building a new quiet PC... any suggestions?

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Building a new quiet PC... any suggestions?

Postby Boone on Mon Sep 08, 2003 6:51 pm

I'm looking to build a new PC. My tower needs to be retired. But what do I get? Here's what I want to do with my box:
- Download digital pictures from firewire drive, store &/or edit them
- Download digital video from MiniDV camera, store & edit
- Record TV. I have a TiVo, but I envision recording TV shows at high quality and archiving them (divx or whatever) to DVD discs. Using my TiVo to archive to VHS really ruins the image.
- Gaming won't be a priority. The last 2 games I really got into were Mafia and Operation Flashpoint. Half-life2 and Doom3 just don't interest me much. I'll probably keep playing SimGolf and Simcity, though.

This box will be part HTPC and part workstation, so it'll have to be good at both. Whatever it is, it's gotta be quiet. I've got a Tornado 1000 case, and I hate each and every one of its 7 fans.

So..
- Processor: Which runs cooler, AMD or Intel? This is important!
- TV card: I've heard great things about the Hauppage 250 card, but should I go HD now?
- case: I want small and quiet, with USB2 and Firewire ports in the front and back. If I go with a SFF case (like Shuttle, etc), will it run quiet and cool enough?
- Video output: If I archive TV shows and later wish to watch them, I think something that has at least SVideo out is required, but if I go HDTV later, then DVI will become important.
- Audio output: Optical Toslink will be required to hook up to my receiver if it's in the living room, but other than that, standard PC speakers will be used.

Thanks for any help!
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Postby Boone on Mon Sep 08, 2003 6:52 pm

I love this idea (Pentium-M in a small case), but it's not out yet, and I'm afraid of only 1 PCI slot.

http://www.mini-itx.com/#story0234
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Postby CDRecorder on Mon Sep 08, 2003 7:17 pm

I've heard that Intel processors run cooler than AMD.
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Postby aviationwiz on Mon Sep 08, 2003 7:27 pm

Intel CPU's do run a lot cooler than AMD CPU's. I would recomend only using Vantec Stealth fans if noise is an issue.
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Postby tazdevl on Mon Sep 08, 2003 7:37 pm

CDRecorder wrote:I've heard that Intel processors run cooler than AMD.


Depends... Athlon64 2.2GHZ with a PR rating of 3200 (P4 3.2GHZ) has a LOAD temp of 39C. Pretty damn good when compared to a 3.2GHZ P4.

Boone, best way and only way is to go H2O. Innovatek makes a small kit that might fit into a SFF with some modding. Also, Aseteks has a kit and Swiftech has one with a 80MM radiator. At a minimum you want to cool your CPU and GPU, which are the biggest sources of heat and noise in the case.
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Postby Boone on Mon Sep 08, 2003 8:44 pm

I'm hoping to avoid a water cooling setup. I'd like it to be semi-portable (pick it up and take it to the living room), and water coolers have external radiators, right?

I like the heat pipe idea from Shuttle, assuming it keeps the processors from melting.

Also, I keep thinking that due to TV show recording I might need 2 hard drives... that would probably increase heat as well. Maybe it's impossible to build exactly what I want?
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Postby integspec on Tue Sep 09, 2003 12:03 am

Try these sites which specialize in the silent devieces

http://www.silentpcreview.com/
http://www.silent.se/

Also check silentpcreview forums where you get everlasting... thereads on silent psu, fans, etc...

Btw, in my pc the worst noise makers are the case / psu fans. (Wife is threatning to move out :-( ). Not the cpu cooler fan. Also the HDDs make some considerable noise. Regarding the case, I have seen Lian Li having a midtower padded case to keep noise being emanated at a minimum.
Also try www.dansdata.com on the same topic. HTH.

Cheers.
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Perfect Computer?

Postby NeilPeart on Tue Sep 09, 2003 1:21 am

Boone,
Your future computer will be a delicate balance of power and silence, and it will also require some compromises to work properly. First of all, you didn't state your budget, so I will assume no more than $2,500. You CAN use the Shuttle boxes to achieve the computer that's in your mind. If you're an Intel fan, go for the Shuttle SB61G2 and PIV 2.4C or if you like AMD (or want to save some cash), go for the Shuttle SN45G and the Barton 2800+. These chips are powerful and very good values (and they both hover around the $170 mark). There are probably some better deals and better bang-for-buck CPUs, so check the market regularly, but make sure you get the 800MHz FBS PIV “C” and the 333MHz/400MHz FSB 512KB cache AMD Bartons. Also, go for the cheaper OEM processors, since the Shuttle systems include their own customized heatsinks. Regarding heat, the PIV 3.2C actually runs much hotter than even the AthlonXP 3200, so the old AMD heat argument is no longer valid – AMDs Barton and Thoroughbred are much cooler than the old Thunderbirds of yore. Since both of these motherboards use dual-channel chipsets, use two sticks of RAM for the best performance (especially important for the Intel box). I like the Corsair TWINX1024-4000, which is a pack of 2 512MB DDR500 sticks, for a total of 1GB RAM. This is a very good amount of RAM and will not require upgrading for a while. These modules are also overclockable (they have 100MHz headroom), but this doesn’t necessarily mean they will run at low latencies. However, as has been discussed on Anandtech, LostCircuits and AcesHardware, modern chipsets are more memory-bandwidth hungry (especially PIVs) and latencies are hardly important anymore (the difference between 2 and 4 CAS cannot be felt and is barely measurable). Therefore, don’t worry too much if you can’t hit the best latencies. Also, if you don’t plan to overclock at all, just buy the much cheaper XMS3200, which will run at DDR400 (the FSB of both systems). Then get the 2 hard drives. This is entirely up to you: you can the very fast WD Raptors, but you may not need their speed, and they are noisier and generate more heat than their 7200RPM brethren. You can also go for the Seagate Barracuda series which are very quiet but don't provide the best performance (I hear the Samsung drives are also very quiet and are decent performers). For a hybrid of quiet and performance, the Maxtor 8MB or WD 8MB series are great (I prefer the WDs 8MB for storage, Seagates for quiet boxes, and SCSI for the OS and apps). This depends on your budget, your capacity requirements, your personal "quiet factor," and your lust for performance. Also, there is only 1 internal 3.5" bay for the drives, so you will have to sacrifice the floppy bay for one of the hard drives. Another caveat, there is only 1 optical disc bay, so on-the-fly copies are out of the question; this may or may not be a deal-breaker for you regarding the Shuttles. Are you ready to jump aboard the DVD writer bandwagon? I am personally waiting a bit, but if I were in the market I would look hard at the upcoming Plextor 8x and Lite-on 8x models, as well as the current champs, the Sony DRU510A and Pioneer A06. If you just need a good CDRW/DVD combo, the Samsungs are the one to beat, with LG and Plextor making decent ones too. Now for the cards: both boxes have 1 AGP & 1 PCI. I would definitely get a dedicated card for the AGP, as the onboard graphics are weak (the Intel one is terrible) and your system's performance will feel sluggish when 3D tasks are encountered. Here is where you need to make another choice: do you want to go for an AIW card for graphics and TiVo functions, or do you want to get a simple 3D card for AGP & a PCI WinTV card? For a box like that, the Radeon AIW 8500, 9700 and 9800 are great choices, because everything is integrated onto the card. However, if you like to upgrade your graphics card more often, get separates so you won't lose TiVo functions when you upgrade the graphics card to next-year's model (though this may not apply to you, because you said you're not a big gamer). The on-board audio is very decent on these boards and both boxes feature optical output. To address the "silence issue:" both of these boxes are fairly quiet, but the fans grow louder as the internal temps increase, so you may notice an increase in noise as you work on CPU-intensive things, such as divx/mpeg/xvid encoding. There are 2 fans on the AMD box (one 40mm PSU, 1 80mm CPU/system fan) and 3 on the Intel box (same arrangement as AMD + a 40mm on the northbridge. This system will be sexy and powerful, and you friends will be wowed if you color match and use an attractive monitor (the Samsung SM-172T come to mind). Every client of mine has absolutely loved their Shuttle machines, and they are great with the wife factor. :lol: I hope this wasn’t too exhausting, but building “the perfect system” requires much research and planning. Have fun. 8)
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Asus S520/A, Plextor UltraPlex 40TSi, Lite-on XJ-HD166S, Pioneer DVD-106S, Toshiba SD-M1712, Plextor PX-R820Ti, Plextor PX-W1210TS, Plextor Premium, Samsung SM-352B, Teac CD-W540E, Yamaha CRW-F1, Plextor PX-708A, Sony DRU-510A
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Postby Turkeyscore.com on Wed Sep 10, 2003 7:39 pm

if you arent going to be gaming on it or doing anything else really demanding, take a look at the mini ITX computers, they are small and quiet, and they are cheaper than the Shuttles and other SFFs. (for dvi, you could get one of the pci video cards)

Just something you might want to consider. They can be completely silent i think.
They are via processors integrated into the motherboard.
www.mini-itx.com (newegg also has them, but mini-itx.com has lots of info on them.
zzzt *pop*
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Postby Boone on Wed Sep 10, 2003 7:49 pm

mini-itx is intriguing, but I think they have but 1 PCI slot. If I wanted a TV tuner card I'd have to get something like an ATI all-in-wonder. I've heard, however, that they're not the best for MPEG compression. Also, the strongest mini-itx is 1 GHz, and I wonder if that's enough power to watch HDTV (which I've heard can require ~1.4 GHz Athlon).

I've done more looking, and I'm convinced that no one makes *exactly* what I want. :(
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Postby Turkeyscore.com on Thu Sep 11, 2003 8:27 pm

i think that the mini itx does have pci splitters, as for the low clock rate...that is what drove me away from them. I dont know anything about hdtv....I mean, the monitor I have was a $15 used....17" :)

http://mini-itx.com/store/default.asp?c=8#p50 (here is what the splitter looks like)
zzzt *pop*
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Postby hjs on Fri Sep 12, 2003 2:57 pm

Use Zalman stuff ;)
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Postby Turkeyscore.com on Sat Sep 13, 2003 6:24 pm

:-? I dont get it :-?
zzzt *pop*
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Postby Stoner on Sun Sep 14, 2003 2:37 am

Because some zalman products have quiet dba during operation, which can be said about a lot of the current cooling products on the market, especially the thermal adjustment fans, when set to Low.
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