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Ask Slashdot: Passively Cooled Hardware For Game Emulation?

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the such-nice-toys dept.

Desktops (Apple) 229

akutz writes "I recently sold a 2011 Mac mini on Craigslist because after using it to rip my Blu-ray collection, I tried to use it as an emulation station connected to my TV. However, emulators like Dolphin, BSNES, etc. would cause the Mac mini's fans to spin up like turbine engines — much too loud for my liking. I ask, therefore: What hardware would you recommend for building a passively cooled mini-system that will serve as a media center's emulation station?"

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I AM ALREADY TOO COOL !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346170)

Because I am, that's why !!

Xbox? (1)

Deathnerd (1734374) | about 3 years ago | (#37346176)

What's wrong with buying an old xbox, and softmodding it with a Linux distro? That'd be the cheapest, most effective option IMO.

Re:Xbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346184)

Loud, really loud

Re:Xbox? (0)

MichaelKristopeit413 (2018846) | about 3 years ago | (#37347020)

the xbox is certainly louder than the mac mini... i have a 2010 mac mini, so i can't speak for the 2011, but i'm very sensitive to fan noise in my media room, and i can't hear the mac mini at all... even when using it for video editing large 1080p videos.

pretty sure this is just an attempt at anti-apple "news".

slashdot = stagnated

Re:Xbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347348)

Replace the stock fan with a quiet 80mm fan, point it inwards so it cools better, It requires cutting some plastic away to make space, but isn't difficult, I've done two. if necessary also mod the fan so it runs slower.

TBH, I don't know why they didn't design it that way in the first place. When you can easily make space for a 80mm fan, why put a 60mm (or whatever it was) size fan in, and why doesn't it blow across the heatsinks for more effective cooling? I can only assume the designers were morons or just didn't give a fuck. These changes if done at the design stage wouldn't have increased the cost at all and could have had a noticeable impact on the fan noise.

Re:Xbox? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346202)

What's wrong with answering the question that was asked, instead of the question that you have in your head?

Re:Xbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346290)

What's wrong with answering the question that was asked, instead of the question that you have in your head?

How demanding this one! Kids have no respect nowadays.

Describe the goal, not the step (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37346696)

I think it has something to do with Describe the goal, not the step [catb.org] . The goal is to play video games originally designed for discontinued platforms using a more modern computing platform. The step might involve a Mac mini.

Re:Describe the goal, not the step (2)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | about 3 years ago | (#37347370)

Was your comment aimed at the original question asker? If so, I'm not sure why.

"I recently sold a 2011 Mac mini on Craigslist because after using it to rip my Blu-ray collection I tried to use it as a emulation station connected to my TV. However, emulators like Dolphin, BSNES, etc. would cause the Mac mini's fans to spin up like turbine engines — much to[sic] loud for my liking. I ask, therefore: What hardware would you recommend for building a passively cooled mini-system that will serve as a media center's emulation station?"

Re:Xbox? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#37346236)

It would be cheap, but if you what you want is a quiet system it would not be effective.

Re:Xbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346282)

honestly if "hey let's ask Slashdot about this" is your first approach to problem-solving ... you know, instead of matching your specs against parts that are available on the market ... you really should not be building any computer systems. sure, users here can recommend this and that but it won't fix the real deficiency. not only should you be able to do this on your own, it should be easy for you.

Re:Xbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346380)

I mean, seriously, why would anyone ever try to do something that they don't already know exactly how to do? And then they have the audacity to ask for help? Fucking asshole.

Re:Xbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346518)

I mean, seriously, why would anyone ever try to do something that they don't already know exactly how to do? And then they have the audacity to ask for help? Fucking asshole.

the question, my false-dichotomy AC pal, is whether remote help from a bunch of strangers who can only communicate via text is the very best way to do a potentially complex task for the very first time. i submit that it is one of the worst ways and likely to cause problems not easily solved by someone who cannot see the thing. the way to learn this is in person with a friend or a hired person who is willing to show you how.

or at least read enough to really understand the subject to where searching for parts based on your own specs is something you can do yourself. if i don't know how to change a tire on my own, rebuilding a modern engine is not a wise choice for my introduction to auto mechanics.

that is what your knee-jerk "anyone who disagrees with the premise must be an asshole!" prevents you from understanding. maybe you still disagree. now you at least understand.

Re:Xbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347008)

a bunch of strangers who can only communicate via text

We can do a whole lot with text, but communicate?
( ).( )
ffpbptbptt!

Re:Xbox? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346300)

What's wrong with buying an old xbox, and softmodding it with a Linux distro? That'd be the cheapest, most effective option IMO.

Not quiet, too slow to do serious emulation.

Re:Xbox? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346306)

I did that with my original xbox and it worked great. Wasn't that loud either. You can probably find one for abo 20 bucks now.

Re:Xbox? (1)

spazdor (902907) | about 3 years ago | (#37346502)

Horribly loud. Though, doing this with a smaller, quieter Wii might be just the ticket.

Re:Xbox? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 3 years ago | (#37346954)

I second the Wii. Homebrew Channel has several great emulators.

Re:Xbox? (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 years ago | (#37347314)

Uhhh...it sounds like an F16 taking off?

Anyway let old Hairyfeet set you up and show you how its done. First I'd start with this box [newegg.com] , while personally i like a little more elbow room he said little so little it is. Next up for a nice powerful but cheap CPU I'd go with this Phenom triple [starmicroinc.net] if he has a tight budget or this Phenom II quad [newegg.com] if he has a little more to spare. I have this Phenom II chip in my own system and it is easy to under and over clock, and I have built plenty with the first Phenom triple chip, both are great.

Then you'll have to measure the depth to know how big a HSF you can go for, bigger is of course quieter so if it has enough room (haven't used a shuttle in awhile so I can't remember the depth offhand) I'd use something like this [newegg.com] which if you turn on C&Q when you aren't slamming the Deneb this will be pretty quiet. Then for GPU something like this HD6570 [newegg.com] which IIRC is the largest AMD makes that will still go low profile and passively cooled.

Finally slap in a 1Tb Samsung EcoDrive (quiet as a church mouse) and 4Gb of RAM along with Win 7 HP X64 (or the OS of your choice) and voila! You are good to go friend! Enjoy!

I could make it a hell of a lot more powerful and silent cooling BTW, but that would increase size. You can't beat the laws of physics, if it is powerful it is either gonna need fans or a big ass heatsink to cool the sucker. I've found most liquid cooling to be just as noisy if not more than regular HSFs, it just moves the fans from the CPU to the radiator. But this should give you a nice combination of speed and quiet and when you aren't slamming the living hell out of the Deneb all you will hear is the quiet hum of the PSU, that's it. With mine I hear the AC on the far side of the room more than I do the PC not 3 feet away from me, its nice.

check out logic supply (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346186)

I haven't bought anything from them recently, but they were nice to deal with in the past. They have a whole bunch of passively cooled (even sealed) systems that aren't too expensive. I have been considering picking one up for some time to use as a router/firewall.

Re:check out logic supply (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 3 years ago | (#37347544)

Second the above. You don't even need passively cooled, though they do have a large selection of C7 and Atom-based options that are passively cooled. I have an HTPC, most of whose components were bought from LogicSupply... the only moving part in that system is the stock cooling fan for the P8400 CPU, and it is damned near silent.

It shouldn't be too hard to put together a silent or nearly silent system that's got plenty of horsepower for what the submitter suggests. It will, however cost. Probably more than getting a Wii and installing homebrew, which will do most, if not all, of what the submitter is asking for. As others before me have suggested, perhaps getting the Nintendo would be a better idea....

short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fans (5, Informative)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 3 years ago | (#37346192)

i've ried to go fully fanless, with very low-power CPUs (atom, E-350) and no graphics card. The T climbs quickly. OTOH, a low-power CPU (i3 2100T with the included 600 RPM fan, a PSU with a quiet FAN and an 80+ gold rating, and probably no graphics card, will make no audible noise, less than the hard disk. silentpcreview.com has lists and reviews of components.

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (5, Informative)

greg1104 (461138) | about 3 years ago | (#37346370)

Right; the next jump from "the Mac Mini fans are too loud" doesn't have to be fanless, which is particularly troublesome in an emulator situation where the CPU will always be running. The key to low noise fans is to get big ones that move air even at lower speeds, which right now means 120mm. Using fans that are too small, in order to make the case really tiny, is what the Mac Mini does wrong for this application. A case like the Sugo SG05-B [newegg.com] will give you those in a reasonable form factor. It won't be tiny, but there's a fundamental trade-off here: you can either make your fans cool well, be small, or be quiet--never all three at once. I have done here on past emulator boxes is to use a case with a larger fan like that, combined with one of the Zotac Mini ITX boards using an Intel Atom processor.

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346566)

I think the person asking the question didn't do their research. The MacMini 2006 that I have (yes it would SUCK to try and play a PS2 or Gamecube game on it, but read further) never goes to "Turbofan Jet" mode unless the fan sensor has been unplugged. When running it full tilt on a Folding@home or similar program, isn't loud at all.

What does this say? It says that either the design of the MacMini 2011 is terrible, requiring the fan to run at full power, or the more likely problem is that the EMULATORS themselves are not running on the hardware efficiently.

Now consider that most of the emulators are designed to run on Windows. ZSNES started in DOS, SNES9X started in Windows, both of them were ported to MacOS/Linux later. The story is the same for pretty much every emulator. The person asking the question didn't say if they were running Windows with BootCamp, or in a VMware Fusion or Parallels, or something else.

Front-end and back-end (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37346818)

the more likely problem is that the EMULATORS themselves are not running on the hardware efficiently.

Now consider that most of the emulators are designed to run on Windows. ZSNES started in DOS, SNES9X started in Windows, both of them were ported to MacOS/Linux later.

That shouldn't really matter. As long as multiple platforms can run the same programming language (C++ runs on every 32- or 64-bit platform that runs unmanaged code, and x86 assembly runs in DOS, Windows/x86, Linux/x86, and modern Mac OS X), an emulator can be written with a separation [pineight.com] between the platform-specific front-end and the platform-independent emulation engine. Now if the front-end takes up more than half the CPU time, that's a completely different story.

The real problem is that standards for emulator accuracy increase over the years, and for example, bsnes takes a lot more CPU time because it emulates the corner cases of the Super NES chipset more closely. In addition, people expect to be able to emulate fifth- and sixth-generation consoles nowadays (PS1, N64, PS2, and GameCube/Wii).

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 3 years ago | (#37347596)

Having a small fan doesn't need to be a hinderance.... I have a mini ITX-based HTPC system with a 1.5" fan on the CPU, and it's still damned near silent, even when watching h.264 full screen 1080p video. If you have sufficient air flow around the CPU, then you don't need the CPU fan to move much air specifically over the CPU. Put it in a case like this one [logicsupply.com] , and minimize the number of moving parts (in my case, no moving parts aside from the CPU fan), and you can do quite nicely with a small fan keeping the CPU cool and still being quiet.

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 3 years ago | (#37347850)

>>If you have sufficient air flow around the CPU, then you don't need the CPU fan to move much air specifically over the CPU.

Right, which is something a lot of people ignore. They'll make a silent PC and then stick it into a cramped airless cabinet beneath their TV, and then wonder why their new linux-based DVR keeps skipping as the CPU desperately tries to step down its power use to keep the temps under control.

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346412)

A no-fan hot CPU temperature does not make a difference since the i3 is putting out more heat any way you look at it. The Atom TDP is 8 or fewer watts. The i3 is putting out more than 8 W of heat, that is for sure. That a fan is there does not change anything. Except that the fan itself is adding heat, to the tune of a watt or more.

NEXT !!

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 3 years ago | (#37346562)

E-350's have decent graphics capabilities and you can pick up CPU+MOBO combo's for a very nice price [newegg.com]
and then a CASE+PSU combo's for [newegg.com]

The bare-bones system will thus cost as little as $130, and will kick the snot out of Atom solutions.

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (1)

gregrah (1605707) | about 3 years ago | (#37346710)

Wow that is a very nice price for a silently cooled cpu+mobo - I might need to order one.

Just wanted to add that for a PSU in this system you would definitely want to go with a picoPSU [silentpcreview.com] .

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 3 years ago | (#37346744)

for the same price, you can get an H61 board, and a Pentium or i3 (the 35W versions are nice, and not that muh more expensive) that will "kick the snot out of" the E-350, except for graphics, and even there...

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (1)

gregrah (1605707) | about 3 years ago | (#37346854)

Link?

If I can get an i3 and H61 board for $89 I'd probably buy that instead.

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | about 3 years ago | (#37347084)

If I can get an i3 and H61 board for $89 I'd probably buy that instead.

Very unlikely, as the cheapest H61 board is about $40, and I can't find an i3 that will fit it for less than $110, and both those prices are rock-bottom, include rebates, etc. Real world would be closer to $180 for the combo.

That is the best idea (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 3 years ago | (#37346746)

However if you insist on fanless, the answer is to go large, not small. A tiny system like a mini has to have fans since there isn't much room for heat sinks. In terms of moving heat you can have surface area or airflow, and tradeoff between the two, but you have to have one or the other.

So you get a large case, for full sized ATX parts. Then look at graphics cards that you can get fanless, or get an aftermarket fanless cooler from someone like Arctic Cooling. It is expensive and you don't get high end, but so long as you get a big ole' block of aluminium, you can have a mid range or lower end GPU with no fans.

For CPUs stick with a dual core Sandy Bridge. Emulators don't tend to use more than 2 cores (many only use 1) and moar cores = moar powers. The Core i3-2100T is what you should look at. Extremely low power dissipation, like 35watts TDP. You probably can't find a fanless processor heatsink, but just buy a really overkill one and take the fan off. Something like an Arctic Cooling Freezer 13, which is stupid massive. It is rated for 200 watts with its fan so 35 watts without should work.

For PSUs you want them efficient. You can find some that are fanless, and also some that have fans, but will turn them off under a light load. The Corsair AX750 is such a PSU. It has a fan but can provide perhaps 20% of its power with the fan off. That would probably do it, given that your system will not need much power.

Stick with non overclocked RAM and don't put too much in the system, it generates heat too. That means 1333MHz standard "value" RAM for Sandy Bridge.

That leaves just the harddrive. These make more noise than you'd think. Getting a 5400rpm drive helps, as slower speed means less noise, and heat. Also getting a case that has silicone isolator pads helps. However the real answer is an SSD. No moving parts, very little noise (all electronics make a tiny bit of noise). Expensive, but if you demand no noise, that is what you need.

Ultimately the GP has the right of it though. For less money you can just get a more powerful system with large, slow fans. Unless you have a really quiet room, you aren't likely to hear it, and you sure won't when you are emulating as the sound from the games will drown it out.

However if you want real fanless, it is a real option. Just remember you have to spend more, and settle for lower end parts. It'll still be powerful, but not as powerful as the amount of money you spend would imply.

Re:That is the best idea (3, Informative)

nabsltd (1313397) | about 3 years ago | (#37347128)

However if you insist on fanless, the answer is to go large, not small. A tiny system like a mini has to have fans since there isn't much room for heat sinks.

Tell that to the massive heat sink on the ASUS E35M1-I [newegg.com] motherboard.

With that and a quiet laptop hard drive and fanless power supply, it's finally truly possible to build a completely silent (from 3 feet or so) small form-factor machine that doesn't perform like 5-year-old hardware.

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 3 years ago | (#37346784)

good remarks, you could go with an external picoPSU and small case. The cheapest I could find is the T-3410 at logicsupply.com: case+ picoPSU (35W cpu max, no room for expansion ie no graphics card) is around $70. That brings you down to a single fan: the Intel stock one, @600RPM, is silent. I've done that exact build for a friend. Tried it for me as a fully passive E350 with Asus's passive board, but lost my nerve seeing the temp was always 60-70 C, and added a small, and noisy, fan. I should have gone with the i3 + big slow fan.

Silent PC Review (1)

gknoy (899301) | about 3 years ago | (#37346866)

Silent PC Review's articles, while not always about the latest hardware, are REALLY well written. They do lots of sound related testing (decibels up close, decibels from far away, etc), and often have lots of very detailed pictures. Their article is the primary reason I bought my Antec Mini P180 (which, granted, is likely not at ALL what the original poster wants).

To the original poster: Build a silent PC yourself, with the hardware necessary to meet the performance needs of your emulators. Large fans that spin slowly are your friend, as would be water cooling. Note that frequently the cost of doing this is noticeably more than "Buy a used XBox" or "Buy a Mac Mini", as you will end up buying parts that are of relatively high quality, and perhaps investing in something expensive like water cooling. Emulating things is likely a lot more processor intensive than watching HD movies, these days, as so many chipsets now support the movies in hardware, whereas emulation is often about CPU mojo.

Generally speaking, making sure that your case uses large heat sinks and large-diameter fans (which can throttle their speed) makes for a nearly-silent PC system. My Mini P180 probably meets your sound requirements, though I expect you want something in a smaller form factor.

Looking at their site, you might like some of these articles. For the older ones, which are from nine months ago, you can likely use the same case/fans/PSU and drop in a similarly priced newer-generation motherboard and processor pairing and get similar results.

Fanless i5 (£1223): http://www.silentpcreview.com/aleutia-h3r [silentpcreview.com]
- Basically, an i5 system in a small form factor box which is effectively a giant heat sink. They don't recommend it for a media pc but it looks like it'd have plenty of mojo for emulation. (I assume, as I haven't done any emulation of recent systems ever.)

Mid-level gaming build ($1000): http://www.silentpcreview.com/Silent_Mid_Gaming_PC [silentpcreview.com]
- Tower form factor. You probably want something smaller.
- Note the Really Large heat sink on the CPU, and the very large fan on that. It's worth it.

Small Form Factor gaming rig ($1000 to $1200): http://www.silentpcreview.com/Silent_Gaming_System_Build_Guide [silentpcreview.com]
- Another i5 system, with aftermarket cooling accessories for the video card and so on.
- Stays cool and relatively quiet at a 1 meter distance even under sustained heavy load (Crysis).
- This is probably the one most like what you want.

Re:short answer: you don't, go for slow, silent fa (1)

cgenman (325138) | about 3 years ago | (#37347086)

As a long-time hardware silence modifier, I second silentpcreview.com.

Some Rules:

1. Be aware of how much air circulates around the device. Those TV cubby-holes that are built to enclose systems are absolutely terrible for air circulation. Either put the system outside of the TV stand, or add fans there too.
2. BIGGER fans can move the same amount of air while moving more slowly... the smaller the fan, the more it tends to scream. Certain big 'ole desk or table-fans can run slowly enough to be silent, yet move a hell of a lot of air. You get a lot more mileage than you should by pointing a 2' wide desk fan at the back of a computer.
3. Faster components, when run more slowly, need less cooling. If you're getting an i3 processor that goes up to 3 ghz, get the one at 1.5 ghz, or underclock one down further. Don't go for the top-of-the-line graphics card, go for the budget model of the same year, if it is using similar parts.
4. Always go for full sized (3.5") Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) based Hard Drives, spun at 5400 RPM. I believe Seagate (Barracuda) and Maxtor (now part of seagate) made these. HDD's are by far the most difficult component to quiet down without accidentally destroying them.

reserator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346224)

Emulation like the dolphin is hard on hardware. You'd have to pony up for some serious cooling, like the zalman reserator.

Uh, deal with it? (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | about 3 years ago | (#37346310)

You can't do Gen6 emulation without real hardware- real hardware is not passively cooled. Liquid cooling mitigates the problem though, I guess.

That really depends on what you're willing to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346322)

On the one hand, you could open up your mac mini, disconnect the fans (or replace them with a quieter one) and let your mac mini silently cook itself to death over a year or two. On the other hand, if you're pro, but lazy, you can go out to any storage store, but a large-ish bin, fill it with a non-conductive liquid, throw your mini into (place it gently), and run a pump into another room with a cooling mat. This is close to silent and looks strange but it'll keep your mini ice cold.

if you're not willing to touch you mini or immerse it in water, go to bestbuy or your local electronics dealer and buy a longer cable ( i assume you're using the HDMI port), make sure you get one long enough to run into another room, then you can either make a hole in your wall (pro tip: holes behind your television are invisible), and just run your mini in another room.

on the other hand, if you're lazy like me you'll just go on the internet, download ubuntu netbook, and get the ubuntu emulators, Ubuntu is linux so you're run better, and hopefully cooler, cutting down on fan noise

--MH

Re:That really depends on what you're willing to d (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 3 years ago | (#37347432)

i always wanted to try immersion cooling. finding the right non conductive liquid is the trick, as far as i can tell. That, and sealing all your connections. turns out, non conductive liquids seeping into your electrical contacts is not helpful.

Go to silentpcreview.com (4, Informative)

IYagami (136831) | about 3 years ago | (#37346326)

http://www.silentpcreview.com/ [silentpcreview.com]

Or a complete solution from Zotac for330 USD:
http://techreport.com/articles.x/21556 [techreport.com]

Re:Go to silentpcreview.com (1)

gregrah (1605707) | about 3 years ago | (#37346542)

The review on the Zotac box doesn't include any noise measurements. In fact - the only mention of noise that I found in the review was:

I worry about its aural characteristics trending toward a high-pitched whine over time, and I'd actually prefer a slightly larger enclosure if it accommodated a bigger heatsink-and-fan assembly that ran quieter under load.

Probably not a great recommendation for a user who is looking for a silent pc.

Re:Go to silentpcreview.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346734)

silentpcreview doesn't seem to update very often. The recommended fans page was last updated in 2007.

Re:Go to silentpcreview.com (1)

gregrah (1605707) | about 3 years ago | (#37346826)

You're correct that they don't update as often as other review sites - but they do still release new reviews periodically, and their reviews are the best for anyone who is first and foremost interested in building a silent PC.

I'd also add that not a lot has changed in fan technology over the past few years. The Noctua and Nexus 120mm fans at the top of the page are still very high quality fans that are as quiet and reliable as anything else you'll find on the market.

Re:Go to silentpcreview.com (1)

Xtravar (725372) | about 3 years ago | (#37347142)

And their forums are an awesome resource.

I recently made a 'quiet-ish' gaming HTPC. It has all top-of-the-line hardware in a smaller form-factor case (antec nsk24800). I had to mod the case, the VGA card, and the heatsink to get everything fitting and decently cooled. Was it worth it? Probably not... but it makes the geek in me happy. My final build photos are here: http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=62147 [silentpcreview.com]

Just use a console (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346348)

Hack your Wii and throw SNES9x GX and FCEUX GX on it. BSNES by its very nature is going to consume a lot of power, its focus is accuracy, not optimization. Also anything that can Dolphin at a decent speed is going to consume a lot of power, I don't think you could passively cool it unless you used watercooling.

Re:Just use a console (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346630)

Agreed. YOU DON'T NEED BSNES. Zsnes is much more efficient and unless you care how fast the triforce animation spins, is good enough for 99.9% of games.

Re:Just use a console (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347632)

Unless you want to play Earthworm Jim 2, or AGTP's translation of Cu-on-pa or Shin Megami Tensei, or SD Gundam GX, or a half-dozen BS-X data packs like BS Konae-chan, or Power Slide FX, or Super Mario Odyssey, or Speedy Gonzales, or...

And even at that, if you want to play Battle Blaze, F1 Grand Prix, SOS, etc then you need to use the newest Snes9X releases that are more accurate and... wait for it... twice as slow as the older ones, and not much faster than BSNES!

But hey, Mario and Zelda work okay, that's close enough to 99.9%, right?

Re:Just use a console (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347670)

Zsnes is much more efficient and unless you care how fast the triforce animation spins, is good enough for 99.9% of games.

Here's a list of 100 known bugs with ZSNES, from their site: https://zsnes.bountysource.com/development/bug_report [bountysource.com]
There are hundreds more not on the list. And there are only about 1,200 unique SNES games. But even going off just the official list, your 0.1% was only off by a factor of 80 or so.

Re:Just use a console (2)

gknoy (899301) | about 3 years ago | (#37346892)

The AC parent makes a good point, in case it's lost in moderation:
Why do you want to emulate the Wii? It's likely cheaper to just BUY one, and then put some Wii-specific NES/SNES emulators on it. Substantially cheaper than building your own silent gaming(emulation) PC.

Not sure if this is what you're looking for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346350)

My laptop does a pretty good job at staying silent when I'm running emulators. When I run games like FEAR 2 and APB Reloaded at max settings, I can hear the fans, but they are extremely quiet compared to desktop towers. My desktop idling drowns out any sound my laptop under full load. Hell, my 2TB external hard drive is louder than my laptop under full load.

My laptop is an ASUS G73SW with a Sandy Bridge i7 2630QM with an nVidia 460M 1.5GB graphics card, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD. It is so quiet the only way I can tell my computer is on when the lid is closed (I have sleep/hybernation disabled on lid close) is by looking at the lights on the side. I got mine off of Newegg for about $1100, which is cheap for the power you get from it, but may be overkill for what you're looking for, and is likely larger than the system you're looking for. Being able to run many modern games at max settings at 1080p or near max settings means it should be more than enough to handle Dolphin. I've run emulators from the NES era up to the N64/Playstation/Dreamcast era without any performance issues from my PC (I have run into emulation bugs, though they are documented in the emulators themselves). I haven't tried PS2/Gamecube simply because I don't know of any emulators that run the games reliably and I have systems that can run them in hardware (hacked/modded Wii and PS2).

try PFMD (1)

Skewray (896393) | about 3 years ago | (#37346352)

Just take your Mac Mini and drop it into a bucket of PFMD (perfluoromethyldecalin, otherwise known as artificial blood plasma). The heat conducts away and even if the fan starts up, you won't hear it. Too bad you sold it already.

Re:try PFMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346472)

That's freaky!? What about dropping it in a bucket of real blood?! Mwuhahahahah!!1!!1!

Re:try PFMD (1)

EdZ (755139) | about 3 years ago | (#37346762)

Or Flourinert. Or Novec. Or Galden. Or Midel 7131. Or Luminon Tr-i. Or Transformer oil (if you can find it and filter it). Or if you're on a budget less than the few thousand these liquids cost, regular mineral oil. Of course, you don't want to dunk HDDs or optical drives in it.

Can't have everything (0)

Malvineous (1459757) | about 3 years ago | (#37346360)

Passively cooled, mini-system, emulation. Pick two.

MicroATX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346372)

If you build with a microATX, you might be able to go with a power supply instead of an adapter. This would provide one less fan.

Go with hardware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346470)

Here is an option for some of those systems:
* SNES flash cart [retrousb.com] $145
* NES flash cart [retrousb.com] $135

The only fanless emulation I've experienced was a fully cracked PSP with:
* PSP2600 1.2.0 (atari 2600)
* SMSPlus 1.2.55 (GG, SMS)
* Masterboy V2.10 (GB, GBC, GG, SMS)
* Nester J 1.12 (NES)
* picodrive 1.35b R (Megadrive/Genesis)
* Snes9x Euphoria R2 (SNES)
* gpSP Kai 3.4 test 3 (GBA)

And with an 8GB SDHC + Memory Stick Pro Duo adapter, you can fit one copy of EVERY GAME ever made for all of those systems [pastebin.com] (except the GBA collection, which is quite large).

Intel Atom D525 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346512)

I'm just finishing up a bar-top arcade machine project. I chose a passively cooled Asus AT5NM10T-I, which uses a Intel Atom D525, and cost me less than $100 at NewEgg. It works great for everything except the most modern games on MAME. The emulators I'm using for NES, SNES, the Gameboys, Genesis, Atari 2600, etc. all run without even a hiccup. I only run into problems with the N64 emulations, but I think that's a limitation of the emulator, not the system. Temperatures have never exceeded 150F.

BTW, check out HyperSpin for a front end on an arcade box if you're going with a Windows OS. It takes a lot of effort to get the artwork together for everything, but when you're done it's just about awesome.

ACube's Sam4x0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346552)

Check out ACube Systems series of Sam main boards (runs Linux or AmigaOS). 100% passive cooling, pretty good performance.

http://www.acube-systems.biz/

Ok here's what you do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346568)

Buy the best computer (within your budget) that will play all your games. Heat is irrelevant atm.

Now, take it apart and put it back together without the fans inside a mini-refrigerator. The fridge will keep it cool (not a freezer as that will make it too cold) and you won't have to hear a thing as mini-refrigerators don't make much noise.

Uh... silent system to run Dolphin? (1)

jensend (71114) | about 3 years ago | (#37346606)

All reasonably modern machines, including silent low-end machines (like the passive AMD A-350 setup one person suggested), are well above the requirements of emulating 5th-generation or slower consoles (i.e. up to and including the n64 and original Playstation).

But for newer consoles you have to have a fair amount of speed, and any system with the capacity to run Dolphin at playable framerates is going to need a fan. You can make a fairly quiet system that will do it (look for mid-range low-wattage CPUs and GPUs, and check out silentpcreview), but the combination of CPU and video card requirements for Dolphin mean a totally passive setup is out of the question - even with ridiculously large heatsinks etc.

Re:Uh... silent system to run Dolphin? (2)

jensend (71114) | about 3 years ago | (#37346824)

Oh, and use snes9x or some other reasonably speedy emulator rather than bsnes unless you're playing a game that snes9x etc can't handle well. bsnes is more accurate than other emulators but that comes at a tremendous performance cost. Your mac mini likely wouldn't ramp up fan speeds doing snes9x.

Re:Uh... silent system to run Dolphin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346864)

i beg to differ if he got a big enough heat sink it could passively cool it but we are talking basketball size here...

You probably wont be able to get anything capable of running dolphin quiet at anything under a mid tower case size unless you fabricate the case your self then you might be able to work it out to fit a big enough heatsink onto a matx or itx. Another though would be getting a black edition cpu with more power than you need and under volting and under clocking it to make it run cooler and allow you to either passively cool it or have the fan running slow enough that you cant hear it.

IF a e350 can run it then i got a laptop with one it runs really quiet and really cool it never gets too hot on my lap.

alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346722)

spinning heatsink, no fan slower RPM

Raspberry Pi (1)

gauthamg (2427650) | about 3 years ago | (#37346732)

How about the Raspberry Pi? https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Raspberry_Pi [wikimedia.org]

Re:Raspberry Pi (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | about 3 years ago | (#37347526)

Because it's not released yet, and because it's impossible to run Dolphin on a sub 1GHz ARM.

mod 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37346764)

AT&T and Berkel7ey handyC, you are free

Aquariums! (1)

bmo (77928) | about 3 years ago | (#37346780)

Take Mac Mini motherboard out of chassis.

Replace hard disk with SSD

Submerge everything in a mineral oil filled aquarium. Put in fake fish, gravel, a castle, and a bubble pump, for an authentic effect.

??????

Profit!

--
BMO

Most emulatable systems require low hardware (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 3 years ago | (#37346844)

Up to a Playstation 1 you only need an 800Mz machine with a decent video card. Dreamcast needs a lil bit more for smooth operation but it's fine.

PS2 is where stuff gets tricky, because the devs haven't bothered to support heavy multi-threading or multiple cores to any reasonable degree, but most games can be run at decent speed and compatibility.

You really do not need much hardware-wise until you get to PS2-level stuff.

Re:Most emulatable systems require low hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347102)

Take a look under the speedhacks in pcsx2, there is now an option that enables multithreaded VU. The speedups are significant too, but it will require more than 2 cores to be effective. epsxe/pcsx are also capable of running pretty well on 300MHz machines, just so long as they are bolstered with a decent video card to offload some of the work.

Big and slow... (1)

talesin (562730) | about 3 years ago | (#37346868)

...fans, of course.

Fanless is a nice thought, but doesn't tend to work out well even when engineered on a whole to shunt heat efficiently. Not really going to find a mini-system that'll be able to be too quiet, but a nice mid-tower hidden in the back with a USB hub taped down by your TV usually works out well. Built mine with four (five, counting the PSU) 120mm fans; one intake/HDD, one exhaust, and two just to move air over the CM Hyper 212 CPU cooler (in/out sandwich).
Running all four at 800rpm makes them whisper-quiet; even with HDD isolation rubbers, the drive read/write is significantly louder than the fans.

Still keeps an Athlon X4 635, three 2TB WD Green drives, and a fanless Zotac GF 460 GTX down below 35C at idle (and that's just the HDDs peaking that, the rest idle about 27C), popping up to just shy of 60C on the video card at full load for an extended period; none of the rest going above 45C.

Tears along in zsnes, MAME, epsxe, pcsx2, mupen64... and can rock along in TF2 at 1920x1080 with no issues if something more modern is wanted.

Go custom (1)

wesleyjconnor (1955870) | about 3 years ago | (#37347076)

I got a whopping great big aluminium heatsink custom made for an old hp ultra small last year took the cover off and stick it directly on the cpu, it wasnt pretty but it worked a treat, stuck it in a cupboard and forgot about it

Mini isn't really a good idea... (1)

frooddude (148993) | about 3 years ago | (#37347078)

Small spaces make quiet cooling difficult. Bigger fans are quieter at moving the same amount of air. The more air you move over a given heat sink the better the cooling (with diminishing returns, see various HSF reviews). So go for something larger with good airflow and some very quiet fans.

My HTPC has a PSU with a fan that I've never heard since it's temperature controlled and I'm not abusing it. The HSF is a Scythe Ninja something or other with a Panasonic D12SL 120mm fan, can't hear it. Graphics card is an MSI N460GTZ Cyclone. Sounds like a loud card, right? Well it's dead silent on movies (good for those quiet scenes) and none of the games I play have "quiet" atmosphere so when it does get cranking I still can't hear it over the audio of the game. You can always get aftermarket coolers for real silence if that's where you want to spend your money. All that packed into an Antec Solo with a cheap 64GB SSD, although when I had the 320GB single platter spindle in there you couldn't hear it at all.

Ps3 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347088)

Ok , not passive, but a modded ps3 runs emulators quietly. (sony antisue) at least so i have heard (/sony antisue)

Small, quite, and performance... choose 2 (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | about 3 years ago | (#37347112)

As the subject says, small, quiet, and performance, choose 2. You can easily make a passive cooled (quiet), high performance system to do emulation, it won't be small. You can build a small, high performance system, it won't be quiet. You can build a small and quiet system, it won't have the performance needed. Pick your poison. Personally I am of the quiet and high performance kind of person. Go get a nice Antec Fusion Remote MAX case, slap together a nice Intel i5 system, put in a big massive Noctua NH-D14 heatsink on it, along with a passive AMD/ATI HD5750, and be done with it. You can try and get by with one of the 35W TDP Intel's in a mATX case, but it might not be enough for you to do some of the trickier emulation. Heck, some SNES stuff still can't be done right on the fastest CPU's under emulation, let alone anything past the 16bit era....

submerge in mineral oil (3, Informative)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 3 years ago | (#37347126)

Simple solution:

Buy several large 4 liter cans of shop grade mineral oil (It doesnt have the "perfume" normally found in baby oil, which is also mineral oil), and a small aquarium. Put some shiny black light aquarium rocks in the bottom.

Put the systemboard, including the heatsink and fan, directly into the aquarium. (I would suggest something in a tiny form factor, like a mini ITX, since you can use a beefy wall wart to power it, rather than a full blown PSU.)

Route cables up and out the top through a repurposed aquarium filter tube. Where the charcoal filter would be in the tank filter, use wireties to control the cabling. You can put a cable switch box in there to serve as the port end connect point, so your normal AV and HID cables arent hanging out of the "water".

Populate the tank with those mechanical bobbing fish, and some bubbler toys.

Fill the tank with the mineral oil, drop in some aquarium bubbler stones for dramatic effect, and place a blacklight in the aquarium tank light of the cover.

VOILA. Something that wont sound like a jet engine, has heavy thermal mass to dissipate the heat of the system, has a continual supply of lubricant for the ball-bearing CPU fan, and makes an interesting accent to the room all in one go.

The fish arent real, and the mineral oil doesnt evaporate, so you never have to clean the tank, assuming you keep ambient dust out.

Re:submerge in mineral oil (3, Informative)

adolf (21054) | about 3 years ago | (#37347512)

Mineral oil works.

But one should be aware of the effects of condensation. Any water which condenses in the system (and it will, especially if you're pumping non-dry atmospheric air through it for show) will settle to a layer at the bottom, and may eventually become ruinous to any electronics it finds.

Not that this is likely to be a big deal straight away, but it could eventually become one. Keeping the board(s) elevated a bit, with a little drain valve under the layer of rocks should fix that up neatly enough. A few drops of a water-based dye that isn't solvent in oil (food coloring?) to better visually differentiate the layers might be fun, too.

Such home modification generally stipulates the use of an aquarium made from either acrylic or non-tempered glass, but both are easy to find (10gal and smaller are generally non-tempered, as a rule).

Later on down the road (probably years from now), just drain off the water. There's no need to try to get it all out since that won't happen anyway. Then, for maximum material efficiency, just boil the results to get rid of the water and put it any leftover oil back in the tank. :)

Simplest Solution (1)

josiahgould (2401420) | about 3 years ago | (#37347140)

Why does it have to be emulation? You can pick up most of the systems you'd want to play for cheap, and most of them have Flash Carts or Mod Chips available.

Re:Simplest Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347482)

i have such a setup and it requires 4 separate powerstrips to hold all the various wall warts.

Re:Simplest Solution (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | about 3 years ago | (#37347728)

As someone who is in the process of collecting the consoles of my youth, "cheap" gets you what you'd expect, the loose, crumby, stained, faded console from the bottom of someone's cupboard, or from the box in their attic. If that's what you want, great, but to get a nice one you have to pay more. Not to mention that 5 or 6 consoles multiplied by "cheap" = "expensive". And, personally, I would rather save my consoles the wear and tear of being used every day and sitting exposed in a dusty environment.

It depends what your priorities are, but the benefits of the emulation option that I can see are:
  1. It's a single box (no need for a mess of cables at the back of the TV and no need to swap them in and out)
  2. Younger members of the family don't need to remember which console their favourite game is on, just select it from a list
  3. NES+SNES+Megadrive+Master System+N64+Playstation...etc..: One alone is "cheap", once you add them all up, it comes to "expensive"
  4. One box that can be made to look "wife-friendly" i.e. like it belongs next to your satellite box/expensive TV and not in a child's bedroom
  5. The box can also play DVDs/CDs/BluRay/Movie Files off USB/Hard-drive

Don't forget file servers! (1)

Above (100351) | about 3 years ago | (#37347176)

Like many tech-savvy home users I want a file server at home,but the reality is 95% of the time it is doing nothing. Be it noise (fan less), eco-friendly (use less electricity) or room friendly (make less heat) a low powered fan less system seems to be a great idea.

But it's damn hard to find. There seems to be an assumption that low powered and fan less means you want super-small. Pico, or mini-ITX. No one seems to think you would use it for a file server, so > 2 SATA cuts your choices by 50%, and > 4 almost doesn't exist.

I'd be ok with CPU's with speed step that could step _way_ down, like down to 5W, but they don't seem to exist. No one makes motherboards with Intel mobile processors for end users. Repurposing a laptop has other drawbacks.

I think it's an untapped market...perhaps a small one, but big enough more solutions should exist.

Re:Don't forget file servers! (1)

erice (13380) | about 3 years ago | (#37347474)

No one makes motherboards with Intel mobile processors for end users. Repurposing a laptop has other drawbacks.

I think it's an untapped market...perhaps a small one, but big enough more solutions should exist.

Really? Google for "atom server board". You will find several options.

Use MAME + mini itx (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347210)

Just get a via mini-itx and use MAME.
via processor's are fast enough to run mame no problem above 1Ghz
www.mini-itx.com

Big box (1)

GWBasic (900357) | about 3 years ago | (#37347262)

I bought an HP "box" about 6 months ago for my TV. It's big and powerful enough that the fans don't go crazy when I run ZSNES. My opinion: go with something about the size of a home theater receiver, because it'll be able to move enough air to cool itself without making lots of noise.

Shelf? (1)

sootman (158191) | about 3 years ago | (#37347302)

Why not just put it into an entertainment center with an open back (for ventilation) and a closed front?

As others have pointed out, the way to get rid of the noise from a small, fast fan is to replace it with a big, slow one. Not exactly easy in a Mac mini, but if you added some big slow fans to the entertainment center to move the air around the Mini (or whatever you get) then the fans inside might not have to work as hard. Another option would be to remove the case from the Mini. I don't know if the new 'unibody' models use the aluminum enclosure to transfer heat but once it's open, you could easily move a LOT of air across it and/or add custom fans and heat sinks.

Since you brought it up, what software did you use for ripping BDs on a Mac?

My experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347304)

I've had no trouble using my wife's Hp Mini 110 as an emulation station. I wipe windows from it and installed linux and had no trouble playing anything up to 64bit games. Never tried anything newer than the N64, though.

That being said, it's so quiet, you wouldn't even know it's on. The downside is the battery life, but if you're paying at home, just use the cable. :)

A-Tech Fabrication (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347350)

The guys at A-Tech Fabrication [atechfabrication.com] build to order fanless, fully passively cooled computers and cases. I just ordered one for myself and am super-excited. There’s a long thread at AVSForum [avsforum.com] about them too. I dunno what the people talking about how it is “impossible” to get a passively cooled computer are talking about—I’ve had one for years.

ASRock makes quiet barebones PCs (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 3 years ago | (#37347416)

Try one of the ASRock barebones PCs [newegg.com] . I bought one to replace my last home-built silent PC.

Aleutia boxes are good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347434)

http://www.aleutia.com/

I have a Dual core T2 with 4GB and a 128GB SSD. It has no fans and is completely silent. It was reasonably priced, and works great for MAME and UAE (the two game emulators I use).

Surround it in ice cold beer! (1)

Covalent (1001277) | about 3 years ago | (#37347464)

If this is in a rec room or den, just buy a mini-fridge. Cool your CPU and your beer of choice at the same time. You'll have to get creative with the cabling, and your electric bill will suffer, but so long as there's nothing perishable in the fridge you can run it at the lowest setting. And the large thermal mass of all of that beer (you'll have to keep it stocked, of course) housed in aluminum (with its high thermal conductivity) is the perfect heat sink.

Re:Surround it in ice cold beer! (1)

CagedApe (1516545) | about 3 years ago | (#37347756)

Actually this won't work. The condensers in a refrigerator are not meant to be operated constantly, they kick on and off. As soon as you put a heat source, i.e. a cpu, into your fridge, the condenser will go into constant draw. This will burn it out in approximately 1-3 days. You COULD however swap the condenser from something that is meant to have a constant draw like a window A/C unit. But even then, you'd have trouble keeping it cool effectively.

mini-box.com (1)

dalias (1978986) | about 3 years ago | (#37347620)

My favorite source for passive-cooled computers is mini-box.com. They have some great mini-itx boards (both integrated cpu and socketed) as well as ideal enclosures and power supplies for fanless operation. I'm using the board with the Atom D510 and M350 enclosure with M3-ATX power supply. The plain pico-PSU power supplies are cheaper, but be aware that they pass the 12v rail from the DC input directly to the motherboard/drives and may not work if your 12v brick cannot deliver stable 12v. I like the M3-ATX because it handles wide input voltage range and I can use it directly with a 12v lead-acid battery system and charger and even hot-swap temporary power sources (like 8-10 alkaline D batteries) in as backup while servicing the main battery system.

pico-psu (1)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 3 years ago | (#37347646)

I've been building a lot of mini-itx systems lately and attempting to keep them as quiet as possible. I've built several systems that are near silent and only have one fan in them, yet perform quite well...as long as the motherboard's built in video card is good enough for you. Just get a PICOPSU-160-XT and a (fan-less) power brick from mini-box, and it moves a great deal of the heat outside the case. Get a good, low-noise cpu fan and an SSD hard drive, and it will be whisper quite. Add a water cooled cpu cooler and it would be dead silent. Heck I live in Texas and don't use the AC a lot to save on my electric bill, and all my pico-psu systems have been holding up fine.

If you want a top of the line video card, throw all the above out, because a pico-psu just won't cut it. Outside of that, I love them.

low end cpus are not good for EMU uses media cente (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 years ago | (#37347686)

low end cpus are not good for EMU uses also for a media center you may want to have to room for a x4 pci-e cable card tuner. A big HDD to hold data. Maybe a SSD for the OS and apps.

Some Emulation setups like visual pinball + pinmame you need a better video card then on board Intel video.

Mini itx System (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37347752)

Go for something with an ITX board with a fusion E350.

My preference would be the ASUS AT5IONT-I-DELUXE because it has a wireless card built in. and one of the silverstone itx cases for reliability.
the board is completely passive and the integrated graphics are enough to handle most stuff

Mac Mini Fan Control (1)

cmholm (69081) | about 3 years ago | (#37347780)

Based on my own experience, reflected in a number of anecdotes in support forums, I believe the Mac Mini (and Macbook Pro) is configured not to run the fan at all until the CPU temp hits 80 C (and thermal shutdown at 90), at which point you go from zero dB fan noise to turbine mode. A frequent mistake when opening up a Mini is to leave the fan control lead unplugged, causing the fan to go max rpm the moment power is reapplied.

A workaround is to have the fan spin at a lower rpm, and ramp up gradually as the temperature climbs, for which I use Fan Control [lobotomo.com] . It allows you to set a number of fan speed profiles, and is free speech/beer. My Mini's fan is usually turning at 1500 rpm in a quiet home office, and is largely inaudible to me until it hits 3000. Using this tool in the tropics, I've never had the Core Solo system go beyond 70 C (and 4000 rpm), even while running Handbrake.

HP Microserver (1)

kevinroyalty (756450) | about 3 years ago | (#37347810)

take a look at the HP Microserver. it's a dualcore AMD CPU, supports 8GB RAM, no OS (install what you want), gig ethernet, and you can put up to 4 hard drives in the case, and 2 expansion cards. small, and quiet, and uses very little power (no fan on the CPU, but a large 120MM fan for the case).

Throttle the CPU (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 3 years ago | (#37347856)

The problem I've seen from games and emulators is that if your CPU has the horsepower, they will max it even if they don't need it. Why does a 3D game need to render at 160 FPS when my hardware is only capable of displaying 60 FPS? It doesn't, but it's hard-coded to render as many FPS as possible so it does.

The easy fix I've found is to throttle your CPU. For older versions of Windows and Core processors, you could use a utility like RMClock [rightmark.org] to limit its max GHz. For i3/i5/i7 processors and Windows 7, you can lower the max processor performance under control panel -> power options -> change plan settings -> change advanced power settings -> processor power management -> maximum processor state. My laptop used to run 3D games at 2.4 GHz at a sweltering 88 C and fan spinning like a turbine. I limited it to 1.78 GHz (75%), which dropped the temp to 70 C and the fan noise is bearable without headphones. The drop in framerate is mostly imperceptible.

I don't know what options OS X has for throttling CPU speed, but that's what you should be looking for. Emulating really old games should easily be doable with the CPU throttled to its minimum.
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