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A PC Case with External Power Supply?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the out-of-the-box-thoughts dept.

Hardware Hacking 138

aralin asks: "I am building a new home server (web server, email, source code repository, ...) and don't really need that much performance, but would like to make it ultra quiet. I have found some quiet, one platter harddrives and can get a lower-end graphics card without a fan. I underclock the CPU so it never really needs cooling, besides the load on the computer will be quite low, most of the time. What I cannot get around easily is the power supply. They are quite noisy and the quiet ones are really expensive. I'm just not going to put half of my budget on a power supply. Do you know any company that manufactures PC cases with external power supply or do you know any other cheap solution to a quiet PC?""So, I recently looked at the Mac Mini and it got me thinking, why couldn't PCs have an external power supply, like the Mac Mini or notebooks. Would it be so hard to make a case like that? It could be even smaller than the typical Mini-ITX cases, and with all the bricks from routers and external harddrives and other devices, I wouldn't mind one more lying around in exchange for the bliss of absolutely quiet PC in my bedroom."

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138 comments

won't be that much cheaper (1)

enrico_suave (179651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368538)

well it depends on how much wattage, look how well the brick is doing for the power hungry xbox 360 ;)

I don't think you'll be saving money though... What *IS* your power supply budget there are quiet, or quieter power supplies that are good and quiet (or with a little ingenuity and bravery can be made quieter -- especially if the draw is low ) that aren't *that* much... Yes the totally passive/fanless ones are pricey.

I did a review of a casetronics c137 case [byopvr.com] with a via epia m10k mobo and it had a brick power supply (although there still was some power supply guts in the case and still had a fan!)

*shrug*

e.

look at the mini-itx power supplies (2, Informative)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368543)

You can get an external power brick just like a laptop. Normal ATX connection, usually lower watts.

What is your budget? (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368546)

You can get decent quality PSUs with 1 120mm fan in them for ~$100 these days.

The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (5, Insightful)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368573)

$60 is quite reasonable and it's very quiet. Considering how little you'll be loading it, the fan will probably never reach past 20dB. That's basically silent from 4 feet away sitting on the floor next to a desk.

Your idea would require a LOT of wire running from the PS on the floor for the different voltages, and the PS would still have to be well ventilated and thus off the carpet. There isn't much of a market for your idea at a $40 price. The near-silent Zalmans and the fan-less supplies already have the higher price points covered.

Finally, some people do put their systems in a closet or adjacent room and drill holes for the cables. Not much point in only separating the PS if the hard drive will still make a miniscule amount of noise. People who care that much just move the whole system instead.

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368907)

I think you make a great point. I don't think there's much point in silent (at least no fan) computers, the number of trade-offs to get there are pretty severe. Complaining about a computer whose total accoustical emissions is less than 30dB seems pretty spoiled to me. I also don't think it takes much to quiet a computer acceptably.

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (2, Interesting)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368966)

"Complaining about a computer whose total accoustical emissions is less than 30dB seems pretty spoiled to me."

No, it just means that there are people who are more sensitive than you are. There's nothing wrong with that. For instance, some people (like me) can hear the whine of a CRT, while others (like my wife) think that said people are nuts. Some people use their computers for noise-sensitive recordings, in which case 30dB is far too loud. My computer is virtually silent within 4 ft (Seasonic S12-380 PSU, 1 92mm Nexus @ 12v, 2 92mm generic @ 5v, 1 80mm generic jury-rigged for my video card heatsink), but the low hum of the fans is occasionally bothersome.

Just because you don't understand that some people are sensitive, there's no reason to call them "spoiled." It's wonderful that you have no problems with your hearing (I consider being able to hear a CRT whine a hearing problem, as it's seriously bothersome to me), but don't slam those of us who do.

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (1)

flonker (526111) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369347)

For many years, I thought *I* was crazy for being able to hear the CRT whine. Do you have any idea what frequency or db it is at, and why most people can't hear it?

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (1)

brain defrag (940949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369391)

What you hear in CRT whine is the horizontal scanning frequency. The PAL system generates noise at 15.625 kHz, and NTSC creates noise at 15.734 kHz. Computer monitors aren't always as noticable because the horizontal frequency can extend from 17-30 kHz. I couldn't give you a dB level, though.

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (1)

brain defrag (940949) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369404)

What you hear in CRT whine is the horizontal scanning frequency. NTSC has a frequency of 15.734 kHz and PAL has a frequency of 15.625 kHz. Try it out in Cool Edit or some other sound file editor that lets you generate tones. Computer monitors aren't always as noticable because their horizontal scanning frequencies can range from 20-30 kHz, outside of the range of human hearing. I couldn't give you a dB level, though.

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (1)

WebCrapper (667046) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369569)

Yea, I can hear the CRT, the laptop power supplies and all that. Unfortunately, my wife just got me a 42 inch plasma for XMas and I can hear that too - just don't have the heart to tell her.

My wife would be able to hear it, but due to hearing damage from being a professional musician, thats not gonna happen.

My issue is, I'm building a new computer too (LONG overdue) and I'm faced with the same decisions. I've basically decided that its going to annoy me no matter what. I've also decided that since its going to cost me an arm and a leg to get it, I'm buying it in X pieces per month. The power supply isn't going to cost as much as the processor, but its still a decent amount. I'm making mine as quiet as I can, putting extra rubber washers in it, etc and hope that helps a little.

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (2, Insightful)

jbert (5149) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369613)

Personally, I wouldn't actually purchase the X pieces a month, instead just put the money away. Component prices are still on a general downwards trend, so buying everything at the last moment will generall get you a better deal.

This is assuming that you can't make use of the new components in some other way before you have them all.

On the quietness front, I bought an Antec Sonata case (has a big, variable speed case fan, nice rubber mountings for the hard drives and generally good build quality) and was pleased with the low noise of the case fan. Now...if only I had spent money on a quieter CPU cooler.

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (1)

WebCrapper (667046) | more than 8 years ago | (#14370597)

Well, there are 2 issues causing me to buy piece by piece...

1 - APO address. Its really a pain to get stuff shipped to me because half the idiots on the web selling things tend to think these are PO boxes or someone trying to get an international shipment for free. In fact, I saw a seller on eBay (in Ohio) that jacked APO shipping prices up $39.95 on top of his $25 fee - all that for a power supply. I'm sorry, but $25 is enough to cover your packaging and the 3 minutes it takes to fill out a customs form.

2 - My wife currently is upset about the amount of computers in the house as it is and thinks I have enough to build another computer as it is (nope). So, I'm slowely getting packages for a part here, 3 parts there, as I can afford it to slowley build one up. One day, the case will show up, we'll have a fight and all will be well after I rebuild the apartment after she blows up. (Kids, don't try this at home)

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (1)

name773 (696972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369326)

i'm still assembling a server that is intended to run without administration while i'm away at school next year. and while i could buy a very nice computer with a small number of fans for a reasonable price, i decided to go for a low power (in both senses) computer with no moving parts.

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (1)

/ASCII (86998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369774)

I didn't have to make any _severe_ tradeoffs to make my computer silent. I use a Zalman Reserator to cool the whole computer, I have an AMD64-3000+ (slightly undervolted), two generic graphics cards (nvidia, don't remember type, but not suitable for high-end gaming), and a Seagate HDD and a fanless silverstone power supply. All of these components are connected to the Reserator, and I built a really thick, well isolated box that I keep the HDD in. Even at one foots distance, the noise from the computer is drowned by the noise of blood running through my ears. The noise from the HDD when it's seeking can be heard up to three feet away, though.

Took some time to build custom heatsinks for the power supply and for the HDD, but in the end I don't see what parts of the computer would be significantly different if I had allowed it to make noise. (I could have added better graphics cards, but there is no need for me, since I do all my gaming on consoles. Speaking of which, wonder how I can silence my 360...)

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14369856)

I didn't have to make any _severe_ tradeoffs to make my computer silent. I use a Zalman Reserator...

A cooling tower next to your PC is not a severe tradeoff? ;-)

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (1)

/ASCII (86998) | more than 8 years ago | (#14373178)

Is it? Not to me, anyway. My computer is hidden behind the sofa, there is plenty of room for a cooling tower there as well. I can see that if you want to take your computer with you to a LAN party, it would be a problem, though.

Re:The ZM300B-APS is NOT loud or expensive (1)

Zemrec (158984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14370512)

the noise from the computer is drowned by the noise of blood running through my ears


Damn, you can hear blood running through your ears? Either you have super-hearing, or some bizarre anatomy going on there.

I have had mild tinnitus for as long as I can remember, and in a quiet to near quiet environment the ringing can be very annoying. For that reason I like to have a fan noise in the background, but computer fans and drives aren't quite the right sound.

If it's a server - hide it in a wardrobe (1)

TERdON (862570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368577)

If put in a closet, it won't matter if it sounds much, and you shouldn't really be using it day-to-day anyway if it's a server. There are possibilities for remote admining on aswell Windows as *nix, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Re:If it's a server - hide it in a wardrobe (1)

Mooga (789849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369171)

Why would you put a server in your bedroom?
Servers are made to hold stuff. Holding stuff need space. Space means lots of big HDDs. Big HDD means it will generaly be loud. Unless you are living in a one room apartment, put it in another room. If you share your place with someone who you don't want touching your computer, get a locking case and make it headless and just remote in from your main computer for touching up.
And if it must be in your bedroom for some reasion, put it in a closet or maybe under the bed. Hiding the sound will probably work better then getting rid of it all together.

Re:If it's a server - hide it in a wardrobe (1)

TERdON (862570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369751)

put it in a closet

Duh! That was exactly what I suggested (a wardrobe is a type of closet). And not all wardrobes are in the bedroom even though it's the most commom (of course, some other closet is even better, I give you that)...

maybe under the bed

Been there, done that. Won't work. If possible, worse, as the computer is a lot closer to you with its sound.

Remember Ohm's Law (3, Interesting)

Ben Jackson (30284) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368581)

Power supplies put out a lot of current at relatively low voltage. Typical power supplies use 18AWG copper wire on the pigtails going to the motherboard. At about 6.5ohms/1000' I figure about a .035V drop on a 1' pigtail with 4 +5V wires (5V @ 22A, an old PS I have here, at max load). If you just extended that to 15' you'd have 15x the drop, or about .5V. So your "5V" would be 4.5V, which is probably out of spec. The problem is worse at lower voltages or higher currents (I think the latest motherboards use mostly 12V partly for this reason).

You'd need a gang of 4+ 12ga or 10ga wires to keep the drop reasonable over a 15' distance. Now you're starting to see why power is distributed across the country at hundreds of thousands of volts, and newer cars are going to 24V or 48V systems.

Muuuch easier to get a supply with only one fan (no need for a 550wa monster for a small system!) and if necessary replace it with a quiet fan. I got some panaflos and replaced several of mine and they were silent.

Re:Remember Ohm's Law (0)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368613)

There are more than just a few cables. Recall the media power comes from the PSU not the mobo. So you'd have at least an HD [4 wires] + mobo [20 wires] for a total of at least 24 wires.

And generally if the poster doesn't know about basic wiring electronics [e.g. ohms law] he/she shouldn't be wiring up a power supply outside of the "plug it into the mobo" routine.

Tom

Re:Remember Ohm's Law (1)

vidarlo (134906) | more than 8 years ago | (#14371390)

Power supplies put out a lot of current at relatively low voltage. Typical power supplies use 18AWG copper wire on the pigtails going to the motherboard. At about 6.5ohms/1000' I figure about a .035V drop on a 1' pigtail with 4 +5V wires (5V @ 22A, an old PS I have here, at max load). If you just extended that to 15' you'd have 15x the drop, or about .5V. So your "5V" would be 4.5V, which is probably out of spec. The problem is worse at lower voltages or higher currents (I think the latest motherboards use mostly 12V partly for this reason)

It's no problem to build a PSU that outputs 5.5 volt. Oh, what happends if you suddenly draw 0.5A through it? Voltage'd rise. But that can be solved, with the voltage depending on the current drawn. It is relatively easy to design such a feature, essentially a resistor and a transistor. Yes, more components are needed to stabilize it, and make it work. And it'd add around 1$ to a mass-produced PSU.

Then why not the Mac Mini? (4, Insightful)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368590)

So, I recently looked at the Mac Mini and it got me thinking, why couldn't PCs have an external power supply, like the Mac Mini or notebooks.
Then why not buy the Mac Mini? You can do all you want to do with it, and if you have absolutely the need for it, you can always install GNU/Linux on it.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (-1, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368624)

Cuz it's a mac? :-)

Those things are highly annoying.

That and "install GNU/Linux on it" is harder than it seems. outside pre-packaged distros [and even then] it's hard to find good info on how to setup a mac if you're from a PC background. There is no bios and the OF bootloader doesn't work on the Mac Mini [at least it didn't when I hit the magic key combos].

Most Mac users I see at OSS conventions run the default MacOSX that came with the box. Probably because they too couldn't be bothered to figure it out.

Now my Dell laptop ... that got gentooed fairly quickly out of the box :-) lilo worked just fine.

Tom

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (2, Insightful)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368677)

Nice try, troll!

But simply google for 'linux mac mini'. First hit is Installing Debian GNU/Linux on the Mac Mini [sowerbutts.com] , an easy to follow guide on how to set up Debian.

Oh, and BTW, a driver for the Broadcom chipset used by Airport Extreme is indeed available now!

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (1, Funny)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368698)

Nice try, except with a logitech "mac comptaible" USB keyboard ***NONE*** of the keyboard shortcuts work with the mac-mini. Not "hold C" or "alt-option-o-f" or the many others. Not a single one.

You probably need a blessed official Apple keyboard or something.

Basically once I got yaboot [improperly] installed my Gentoo setup wouldn't boot and I couldn't boot off the MacOSX Installer CD [hitting 'c' or not]. It could be just my Mac is broken but it booted OSX just fine and worked correctly while up. I think the BIOS, er, sorry "open firmware" is just crap and didn't recognize my keyboard [or allowed startup combos].

Frankly I'm not impressed by a computer lacking a BIOS [or monitor of some sort]. Even my 8051 board has startup software to help use it...

Tom

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14368800)

Tom, you remind me of the guy who wrote Ask Slashdot to pose this abysmally stupid question [slashdot.org] (paraphrased):

When Stephen Job announced his "I-Minor" McIntosh, it caught my eye. Wanting to buy or build a small computer for my already cramped breakfast bar, I started pricing out similar hardware. The results startled me. Most of the configurations I found cost more than the humble US$499 of the "I-Minor", often much more. To match price with MAC I had to configure with a much bigger shuttle-style case.

So here's my question. What PCs are currently on the market to compete with this? When my woman asks for the "cute little I-Minor McIntosh with dotMax Tigger OS® that MAC just invented", what real computer can I buy instead?

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (-1, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368834)

My PC doesn't cost 650$ [what the mini costs here]. It costs about 1200-1300$. It's also a full fledged desktop with an AMD X2 4200+, 1GB ofram [not 256M], a tv tuner, PS/2 and USB and parallel and DB9 serial ports.

I can easily open it up and replace a broken component or even upgrade it. I can add a "super drive" [we call them an LG multi-drive in the real world] for much less. My processor can multitask and work faster while not generating more heat [or taking more power].

Your macmini may be fine for your "I only browse the web and that's it, right? oh and email!" life. And frankly I don't see a problem with that. I just find that setup fairly lame for a person who does "work" with their computer.

And most Macs suffer the "NIH BAD!" syndrome which makes repairs and upgrades costly.

Enjoy your Mac.

Tom

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (1)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368967)

Complete bullshit you are writing here. Either you're a troll, or your mind got severely damaged during birth or something (most probably though through the extended use of Windows). I should have known right away, since you are marked as a foe of one of my friends. Darn.

Oh, and BTW, PowerPC cpus can do multitasking just fine, which only proves that you have no clue about what you are talking.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (1)

chez69 (135760) | more than 8 years ago | (#14370579)

The processor in that mac mini is way too slow for the amount of money your going to pay for it, once you load it up to make it more then a conversation piece, the price is too high.

it's a nice little box, but the processor is way to slow.

PEBCAK (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368833)

Computer lacking a BIOS?

Take ten seconds (and I'm giving you way more time than any user with a clue should need) and think about what OpenFirmware is.

Yes, it's just another form of BIOS with a fancy name. (In fact, it happens to be more advanced than most typical PC BIOSes...)

Re:PEBCAK (-1, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368839)

Yeah, except OF didn't work on my Mac Mini [at least the the way I found on the web].

May I take this time to mention there was

NO FUCKING MANUAL

With the mac mini?

At least my PC tells me "hit F2 to go into setup" [usually in engrish].

Tom

Re:PEBCAK (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368870)

The mini should have included a manual. I was able to download the pdf from the manufacturer, just like any other decent computer manufacturer.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14368895)

Nice try, except with a logitech "mac comptaible" USB keyboard ***NONE*** of the keyboard shortcuts work with the mac-mini. Not "hold C" or "alt-option-o-f" or the many others. Not a single one.

I had the same problem. What you need to do is to get open firmware to not boot automatically. I'm not sure if you can do that from OS X. I did it by bashing the keyboard during boot, and after about 20 tries I got the open firmware boot prompt. (Combinations of shift, alt, delete and the C, O, F keys seemed to work best, but I'd recommend hitting as many keys as possible. Including caps lock.). Great fun.

Once you have the prompt up type:
setenv auto-boot false
reset-all

This disables auto-booting and instead you'll get the open firmware boot prompt everytime you start the computer.

To boot normally simply type:
mac-boot

To boot OS X:
boot hd:,\System\Library\CoreServices\:tbxi

To boot a CD:
boot cd:
or
boot cd:,\\:tbxi

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (2, Informative)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368943)

In a shell on MacOS X:

% nvram auto-boot?="false"

This disables auto-booting and will drop you into the OF console after power-up or reboot.

HTH

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (2, Funny)

chez69 (135760) | more than 8 years ago | (#14370491)

i'm glad I don't have to type in strange commands in a mac to do stuff, like in linux.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (3, Informative)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368923)

Nice try, except with a logitech "mac comptaible" USB keyboard ***NONE*** of the keyboard shortcuts work with the mac-mini. Not "hold C" or "alt-option-o-f" or the many others. Not a single one. You probably need a blessed official Apple keyboard or something.
I'v investigated this issue a bit, and as it looks, there are indeed some problems with non-Apple keyboards at the low level, i.e. when you want to interact with OF at boot. Some Logitech keyboards seem to work though (besides the Apple ones of course).

OTOH I may have found a solution to your problem: before you reboot to boot from the non-MacOS X install medium (i.e. Debian, *BSD, whatever), open a shell in OS X and type:

% nvram auto-boot?="false"

This will automatically drop you into the OF console after power-up or reboot. (See excerpt of dW article below.)

Frankly I'm not impressed by a computer lacking a BIOS [or monitor of some sort]. Even my 8051 board has startup software to help use it...
BS, OpenFirmware IS a BIOS, it just has another name! And you can use OF just fine! In fact, it's quite advanced when comaper to a PC-style BIOS.

From An embedded view of the Mac Mini, Part 1 [ibm.com] :

Many people assume that, since the Mac doesn't display a prompt to enter a PC-style BIOS, it's not configurable. In fact, it's quite the opposite: the Mac's boot firmware is years more advanced than PC boot firmware. It has a command prompt which is a full-featured Forth interpreter. Open Firmware needs some kind of console. On older Macs, you could use a serial port, but the Mini doesn't have serial ports, so Open Firmware connects to the keyboard and display by default. The display has to be some kind of VGA display. The video output won't work properly until the system's fully booted, because the boot firmware doesn't know about video refresh rates. If you went ahead and got into Open Firmware without knowing this, just type mac-boot to cause it to boot up. Open Firmware is also useful for ejecting stuck CDs; the Mini has no eject button. The trick is to get into Open Firmware and type eject cd.

In the long run, you might want a way not to use a display. Displays chew up power, and if you're using the machine in an embedded project, you may not have any actual use for one. You're in luck: Open Firmware can be configured to run over the network! All recent Macs, including the Mini, support this. Apple's Tech Note 2004 (see Resources) discusses the procedure for setting this up. This does require an ethernet connection: you can't use the wireless network to do it.

A few other likely things to do at the Open Firmware console are disabling auto-booting (setenv auto-boot? false), or setting the machine to verbose boot mode (setenv boot-args -v). Verbose boot mode will be familiar to experienced UNIX users, who have probably been wondering where the familiar and comforting string of console messages have been going all this time.

Verbose booting is most useful if you're trying to debug driver problems that occur early in the boot. You can also tell the machine to go into verbose boot mode by holding down command-V.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (0, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368972)

That's information I could use BEFORE I made my mac mini unbootable.

Fortunately I bought it at a slave-wage best-buy and I got a full refund. Woohoo!

Tom

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14370068)

So I take it that the moment you bought your MacMini all the other computers in your house were instantly rendered useless and unable to connect to the internet to do a tiny bit of research? Wow you must be incredibly stupid!

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369974)

Oh, and another comment. Logitech doesn't make a single Mac keyboard. Since they ARE USB HID compliant, they will work with a Mac and are technically "Mac compatible", but since they weren't designed for a Mac they're going to be missing 2-3 Mac-specific keys without which your life is prone to be a nightmare.

Look at it this way - While there are many reasons that Windows sucks, would you laugh at a person who flamed it because it is heavily dependent on right-clicking for much functionality and they couldn't use such functionality because they have a "Windows-compatible" Apple one-button mouse? Yes, an Apple 1-button mouse WILL work under Windows since (like Logitech USB keyboards) it's USB HID compliant, but your life is going to be a miserable fucking nightmare if you use a one-button mouse with Windows. There are workarounds for not having the right button, but they are a royal pain in the ass.

BTW, before you complain about vendor lock-in, Apple has done NOTHING to prevent people from making third-party fully functional keyboards for their systems - look at Mac specialists like MacAlly and Kensington. (Kensington makes a lot of PC stuff now, but they were originally one of the main third-party Apple accessory manufacturers.) Just because Logitech doesn't bother to make a fully functional Mac keyboard doesn't mean that Apple has done anything to prevent them from doing so.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (1)

topham (32406) | more than 8 years ago | (#14370289)

Huh?

I've been using a Logitech keyboard with my mac for over a year.
The only thing I had to do was re-map the MEDIA key to act as an Eject. And even that wasn't necessary, it was just a convenience. Logitech even marks the keys with Apple symbols.

Mice can be a bit of an issue, but both my Logitech and Microsoft mice work fine on my Mac.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14372512)

Aha. The impression I got from the previous poster was that the Logitech keyboards were missing important Apple-specific keys. It sounds like in your case, some remapping did need to be done and such remapping might cause a problem in OF.

I definately have used PC mice with Macs - the only difference is that until recently, Mac mice had fewer buttons. :)

Still, the guy I was replying to was bashing the Mac because of problems using hardware that wasn't designed for use with the Mac.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14368713)

Haven't noticed you around lately, Tom. Glad to see you're still as ignorant as ever.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (-1, Troll)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368729)

I haven't gone anywhere. Maybe you're just too busy fucking your sister to realize life goes on like normal for the rest of us.

Tom

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14369439)

Please stop posting your comments; you're giving Canadians a bad reputation.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14368822)

Gentoo, Debian, and Slackintosh both work great on the mac mini.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (3, Interesting)

Mooga (789849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369194)

I don't know what mac users you know but I've seen some people do some crazy stuff on macs. As for running Mac OS, ofcorse they do. If they wanted to run Wondows or *nix they would buy a cheaper computer and do so, not an expencive mac. And why not just use a MacMini out of the box? You can set up remote accsses with a mac and I've heard that you can load librarys that would let you run standered linux programs on a mac. (I don't know for a fact or how to do this).

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (2, Informative)

amper (33785) | more than 8 years ago | (#14371059)

As a diehard Mac user, I've been mulling over buying a couple/few mini's myself for just this reason. I haven't been able to find anything remotly equivalent on the x86 side, but I might go ahead and build a couple of PC's out of standard components anyway. The OS's I plan to run are OpenBSD, Fedora Core, and Mac OS X/Mac OS X Server (have many machines available for this). Here's what I came up with:

Antec SLK1650B case w/350W supply: $100 at CDW
Intel BOXD915GAGLK motherboard: $145 at CDW
Intel Celeron 2.53 GHz CPU: $110 at CDW
Kingston 256MB memory: $35 at Kingston
Sony 52x CD-ROM: $25 at CDW
Seagate 40GB Barracuda HDD: $65 at CDW

for a grand total of about $480, compared to the Mac mini's $499 in a minimal config.

Using the PC parts I get:

Standard 3.5" HDD (faster than Mac mini 2.5" drive)
x86 compatibility (less of an issue nowadays with good PPC distros available, and Apple going to x86 shortly)
Easy repairability (compared to Mac mini)
Gigabit Ethernet (not *really* needed, but why not?)
PCI slots
4 SATA ports

Using Mac mini's, I get:

Smaller form factor (by a huge margin), lower power requirements (probably--need to do more investigation of Pentium M systems))
Mac OS X compatibility (less of an issue nowadays with Apple going x86 shortly)
Big company support (may be an advantage for some people)

Right now, for me, the big issue is the repairability, so I'm probably going the PC route right now. All my main desktops are still Mac OS X, however. YMMV. Of course, I won't be buying anything until after Macworld SF...

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14371749)

As a diehard Mac user, I've been mulling over buying a couple/few mini's myself for just this reason. I haven't been able to find anything remotly equivalent on the x86 side

Rumor has it this'll be solved by Apple at Macworld in early January.

I have my credit card ready.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14372740)

I haven't been able to find anything remotly equivalent on the x86 side, but I might go ahead and build a couple of PC's out of standard components anyway.

Aopen have one. [linuxdevices.com]

This "MiniPC" will also be quite a bit faster than the Mac Mini, even without taking OS X's sluggishness into account.

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (1)

amper (33785) | more than 8 years ago | (#14372900)

Nifty.

Except for the fact that the AOpen Mini PC doesn't actually seem to be available, although Engadget has reviewed one on 22 December 2005 that costs 700 quid...the Register's review of the same unit is a bit more extensive, but they rate it somewhere below the Mac mini.

The Linux Devices article, published 1 November 2005, claims the unit will be available throught Tiger Direct "this month", but a search of the Tiger Direct web site turns up no mention of this product.

I still wish Apple would take an iMac G5, rip out the screen, turn it sideways, rackmount it, and sell it as an iServe...

Re:Then why not the Mac Mini? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14372993)

The Linux Devices article, published 1 November 2005, claims the unit will be available throught Tiger Direct "this month", but a search of the Tiger Direct web site turns up no mention of this product.

Sounds like they might be hard to find in the US...

Here in Australia, you can pick one up for ~$1100 (~$800 US) with a Pentium M 740, 512M RAM, 40G hard disk and DVDRW (although that's from a seller who isn't know for being cheap, they're probably available for a couple of hundred less elsewhere).

I still wish Apple would take an iMac G5, rip out the screen, turn it sideways, rackmount it, and sell it as an iServe...

I've been wishing for a headless iMac with an upgradeable video card since the first iMacs were released. Unfortunately, no-one at Apple is listening :(.

12V, 5V (0, Redundant)

St. Arbirix (218306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368617)

I've often wondered, with as much small digital equipment as people have around their houses, why we don't run a general 12VDC and maybe a 5VDC line to every plug in the house besides the 120VAC.

It would certainly cut down on the number of wall-warts hogging outlets, besides fixing issues like these.

Re:12V, 5V (0)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368638)

Even inside your house you can have hundreds of feet of wire. Think from one side of your basement to the other than up two stories...

The loss on a 5V line at 50-100 ft would be too much for it to be useful. So even in your house you need 110V [or 220-240 if you're one of them European weirdos] to avoid huge losses.

That said ... why not invent a PSU that can provide one desktop, chargers [phone, ipod, etc], and other low power items? Think of a 5.25" bay device which has "outlets" for other DC devices. :-) That'd be cool.

Tom

Re:12V, 5V (1)

KurdtX (207196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368668)

That said ... why not invent a PSU that can provide one desktop, chargers [phone, ipod, etc], and other low power items? Think of a 5.25" bay device which has "outlets" for other DC devices. :-) That'd be cool.
What, like USB?

Re:12V, 5V (0, Flamebait)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368685)

Shut your gob! :-)

For the record not everything runs off 5V or can tolerate a max of 500mA ... :-( That said, ..., devices could be made with this in mind but then you'd still want a cell phone or alarm clock that could work without a PC [or while the PC is on for that matter].

The device I had in mind would have both 5V and 12V and allow at least a sink of 1Ah per port. A standard PSU can support this and when the PC is off the PSU wouldn't need a fan to supply 5W or 12W to a something like a cell phone charger... But to be universal the 5V side could be "USB" [with the upped amperage] plugs powered whether the computer is up or not. The 12V side would need a different plug to prevent people from introducing 12V to a 5V circuit.

Mostly I'm confounded by the "every manufacturer has their own plug" system. Who cares who makes the AC adapter for your cell phone? It's cheaper for the consumer if more companies could make UL/CA listed power supplies.

Tom

Re:12V, 5V (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368856)

OK, between this and some of your earlier posts in the thread I've come to the conclusion that you're either a troll or completely clueless.

You do realize that the USB charging/sync cables available for many devices (cell phones, iPod, etc) do not require a PC to operate, and simply need +5V and ground to be provided to a standard USB female connector in order to work? As a result, you can have one cable that charges from a PC, or with a single "universal" adapter, from automotive power or AC. (An example is the BoxWave VersaCharger, which has a USB female connector and can either plug into a +12V DC auto power port or 120VAC home power, and charges anything that supports USB charging.)

Yes, 2.5W is too little for some devices, but it's sufficient for charging most portable electronics. I believe 1394 specifies even higher power per port. (12v @1A I think???)

Re:12V, 5V (1)

samjam (256347) | more than 8 years ago | (#14370021)

I have slowly destoryed a P800 and P900 by charging with non-approved USB charger cables.

I'm now on an Orange SPV C550 which is designed to charge via US, but unlike previous smartphones, this seems to do some USB neogitation before it starts to charge. My PC needs to be booted, and my 12V car-lighter:USB adaptor wont charge it.

Sam

Re:12V, 5V (1)

plover (150551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368697)

I've been thinking of mounting a power supply under my desk for just this purpose. Provide +5 and +12 VDC directly, and add a couple of voltage regulators to offer +9 and +3. I'm really, really sick of the collection of bricks and wall warts I have under here.

There are several reasons I haven't done it yet. The toughest is I'd need a supplier to deliver the dozens of shapes of coaxial connectors that all these gadgets use. I don't really want to strip the cables from the bricks as that makes most of these things non-portable (camera charger, network hub, etc.) It'd be much better to have a drawer full of unused warts that I could just chuck them in while selecting an appropriate wire.

The next reason is most of the power supplies I own are switching power supplies, and I'd have no guarantee that any device would be drawing enough to keep the PS hot. (Hanging a 50W resistor in here doesn't seem like a very good idea, either.)

Finally, probably the biggest reason of all is I'm lazy! :-)

One thing that I am eyeing up, however, is the iGo over at Radio Shack. They have a universal brick with changeable $10 tips that must have regulators built right into them. Maybe hook their brick up to my PC's external +12VDC jack, and octopus out a couple dozen wires or something. I don't know, it sounds expensive. Oh well. Guess I'll live with four power strips and the two dozen outlets and warts.

Re:12V, 5V (1)

jaredmauch (633928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368735)

Well, if you're going to do it, at least consider doing something sensible with how you set it up, grab a PV (solar) panel and a deep-cycle battery with a reasonable Ah rating and generate/use your own free power :).

I have a quick & ugly Solar [nether.net] page with links to the build-it-yourself charge coltroller ($55) and places that have generally reasonable prices on the batteries & panels. Then you can take the voltage and step it to what you need, either up or down. Then you also have a built-in UPS system :)

Re:12V, 5V (1)

plover (150551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369063)

Thanks for the advice and the page regarding solar power. I've been considering what I might be able to do with solar power, but there's a small problem. I live 45 degrees north of the equator!

If you check out my weather station's history, [comcast.net] you'll find at the bottom is a chart with the amount of solar radiation landing on my house. The last three days have brought me peaks of 120 W/m^2, 80 W/m^2 and 16 W/m^2 (granted, there's probably snow sitting on the sensor today, but there's snow sitting on the weather station's solar cell as well.) And none of the days recieved more than 60 Watt-hours for more than four hours per day. This is really typical weather for this time of year.

The $400, 85 Watt Kyocera panel is 16% efficient, and is rated 85 Watts only in 1kW of sunlight at 25 deg C. I'd be looking at maybe getting 6 Watts for four or five hours per day for at least three months out of the year. I'd be hard-pressed to recharge a flashlight battery!

Even in the summer, on the brightest days of the year I typically get only momentary peaks over 1kW. It's certainly not an average up here.

Regarding the iGo "tips" (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368893)

I believe the switching regulator is in the power supply, the "tips" just provide different voltage sensing resistors.

The way most switching power controller ICs work is that they continuously try to keep a voltage input equal to an internal reference voltage which is usually around 1.2 volts. To get higher voltages, a resistive voltage divider is used to sense the output voltage. For example, if one connected a 200k resistor between the output and the sense line, and a 100k resistor from the sense line to ground, then the output voltage would be 3.6 volts.

The nice thing about putting the divider network in the tip is that the power supply will now regulate the voltage that appears at the tip, AFTER any resistive losses between the switcher and the tip. (This works because the sense line going back to the switcher isn't carrying any current, only the output line.)

Re:Regarding the iGo "tips" (1)

plover (150551) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368968)

Wow, thanks, that just made it all make sense! And it means the tips themselves are dirt-cheap to make, requiring only two resistors instead of a chip. Clever, clever!

Of course that means I can't use a setup like that unless I want to wire up a power controlling IC for each jack in addition to all the rest of the work. :-( Of course, it would be a cookie-cutter circuit, once it's done it's just a matter of copying it lots... hmm...

Antec P180 (2, Informative)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368625)

do you know any other cheap solution to a quiet PC?
You don't list what your budget is so I don't know what cheap means to you. Since you mention any other solution, I'd go for a quite case and look at the Antec P180. You can always put in a new quiet power supply later. I bought this case several weeks ago for $120 and was really impressed by how quiet it is.

Here's a photo tour [silentpcreview.com] . A small review [silentpcreview.com] . A larger review [silentpcreview.com] .

You also might want to ask on the forums at Silent PC review [silentpcreview.com] . There are people there who have a lot of experience building silent PCs and will be able to let you know if there is an external power supply that would fit your requirements.

Re:Antec P180 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14370094)

Of course, by the time he's bought an expensive case and silent power supply, that's approaching the price of a Mac Mini without even having bought a computer to put in it

Why spend all the time tinkering just to get a larger, noisier and more expensive PC, when the Mac is ideal for such jobs?

Antec Sonata 2, $100-$120 (4, Informative)

lucm (889690) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368661)

You get a good, quiet PSU with the case, and there is even a knob where you can set the fan speed. The hd are mounted on rubber washers, not directly on metal, so even at full spin they are not noisy. You also get a heat duct that drains the cpu heat outside the case.

The Sonata 2 ships with one 120mm fan, I advise you to add a second (plenty of sockets on the case). Big fans turn slowly, which is less noisy.

This is what I have at home, and if you unplug the blue leds there is no way to tell if the power is on unless you put your hand behind the psu fan.

This being said, I advise you to always put the psu at the top of your list when you buy a pc. Good, reliable power will give your hd a longer life.

Simple (1)

MikShapi (681808) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368666)

1. Stock el-cheapo PSU.
2. 80mm Vantec Stealth fan to replace original one. Maybe zalman has a standalone standard 80mm fan, which, if they do, probbably comes with a nifty little rheostat to control the RPM.

Problem solved. On a budget.

Re:Simple (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14371854)

You will be likely shortening the lifespan of your PSU doing that. I did that too, and mine burnt out after two years. When I got the quality replacement, I noticed just how much more surface area its aluminum heatsink had to keep it cool.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14372458)

Not neccesarily - Vantecs, in spite of being very quiet, give good airflow.

Besides - even if it does croak after 2 years, for the price it cost you, just buy another one. And another one. Still a hell of a lot cheaper than quality hardware.

Re:Simple (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14372532)

Not really. I got my replacement for $70. That's the price of 2 cheap supplies without me having to crack them open and put in a different fan. More importantly, I don't have to worry about them dying on me when I really need that computer to work.

If you need to get something done... (-1)

john_is_war (310751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368671)

Just build a custom case. Get some aluminum, cut and bend it, rivet it together, etc. etc. Or you can just take a regular case and don't put in the PSU. You can come up with your own custom solution, whether it be a molex coupler or some other idea.

Google? (2, Funny)

KurdtX (207196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368684)

I don't suppose google has been of any help, has it?
http://www.google.com/search?q=quiet+psu [google.com]

I seemed to find a pretty quiet PSU pretty easy, dunno about you:
http://www.endpcnoise.com [endpcnoise.com]

Because while an external PSU might be cool, you're really only trying to solve the noise problem.

The Mac Mini is a Personal Computer (PC) (1, Informative)

bergeron76 (176351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368712)

If you mean a Windows OS PC, you don't have a lot of options. You said you underclock your current "PC", so you don't need high performance. If you speak Linux, pick up an embedded box - like a gumstix.

If you're a gameboy and need a superfast_quiet_windows_pc_that_mom_wont_hear_late _at_night you're stuck with the hardware that MSFT offers.

[ Please insert another coin to continue... ]

Re:The Mac Mini is a Personal Computer (PC) (1)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368808)

You're not making sense. You're not stuck with what a single vendor offers unless you go with a Mac.

You're more constrained with Windows than a Freenix (i.e. NetBSD or one of the Linux-based OS) but you're even MORE constrained with a Mac.

Get a fanless Xterminal and put your main CPU in a separate room.

The experts (1)

sgent (874402) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368720)

in this area isSilent PC Review [silentpcreview.com] . For silent computing, take a look at their recommended page.

Probably the best PSU for your use is a Seasonic S12-330W. About $50, and coupled with a Antec 3000B or similar less than $80. If you want more powerful, I'd look at the Antec P150 with included NeoPower 430.

Power supplies aren't noisy... (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368740)

Power supplies aren't noisy, their cooling fans are.

An external supply might still need a fan, plus the cabling will be a pain in the posterior.

Something you're also overlooking, the internal power supply's fan is part of the overall cooling system for the case and its contents. You'll still need a fan inside the case.

Back in the PC/XT days there was a case that needed some of the holes in the front covered up in order to increase the velocity of the air being pulled through the case by the internal power supply's fan in order to get enough cooling. It's all a system.

An internal supply with a quality quiet fan will probably have all its other components of a similar high quality, including big efficient heat sinks, and enough power output available (i.e., a low enough output impedence) that it'll probably be loafing along most of the time which means lower stress on its components and a longer life, so skimping on the power supply may well be false economy. A server needs to be stable and reliable. A first rate power supply is the first step towards that. A lot of what appear to be other hardware or software problems often turn out to be caused by a dodgy power supply.

We make exactly this type of case.. (3, Informative)

xtal (49134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368747)

I got sick of not having what you described, so I partnered with a company to make them. (obviously I have a commercial interest).

You can see one of our cases reviewed on EPIAcenter.com [epiacenter.com] right now.. I think it's pretty close to what you want, and if it isn't, a few minutes on the phone can have it customized any way you want.

Boot off flash and NFS mount a partition to a server in another room and you have your perfectly silent PC.

The power supply is a hybrid; get a DC/DC converter from a company like mini-box.com, then get one of their external notebook-style power adapters.

Re:We make exactly this type of case.. (1)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14371556)

Boot off flash and NFS mount a partition to a server in another room and you have your perfectly silent PC.

Did you even read the post? At all? You know, it starts with "I am building a new home server ..."

He wants a silent *server*, not a silent workstation. And the server he speaks of is evidently going to be in is bedroom (likely because Mom doesn't want it in the living room).

obviously I have a commercial interest

Obviously. That's why you ignored what the original poster asked for and offered a solution that didn't really apply. Welcome to the Marketing Department!

Re:We make exactly this type of case.. (1)

xtal (49134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14372978)

..and if you looked, you'd realize most of the options that are there are just as well tailored to a silent-ish server. You're not going to get silent when drives are running, but you can come very close. As I pointed out, a quick call and it's easy to do a one-off just for that application.

Happy 06, and not from the marketting department. :-)

p/s can be modified to reduce noise (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368753)

Disclaimer: Don't do this unless you're pretty comfortable working with high voltages and large capacitors.

Disassemble the power supply. Unbolt the fan from the side. Reinstall it using longer bolts and a few rubber washers to hold the fan away from the side of the p/s case. Use foam tape to fill the gap between the fan and the case. Your power supply should now be significantly quieter.

Silent Power Supply (1)

MissingIntellect (583853) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368802)

I forget who, but somebody makes a silent power supply that has no fans, just a giant heat sink. It might not have enough wattage for a high-end gaming rig (dunno) but for your needs it's probably more than enough.

You used the key words yourself (2, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14368825)

You mentioned Mini-ITX in your article... Have you looked AT ALL into products designed to be used with Mini-ITX boards? There are numerous ATX compliant power supplies that operate using DC/DC conversion and only need a single 12V input, and most vendors that sell such DC/DC power supplies (such as mini-box.com) also sell high-wattage 12V supplies too.

Have you looked into a Soekris box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14368954)

I believe Soekris [soekris.com] boxes will run off of a power brick. Compact Flash is typically used but a laptop hard drive might be used on them.

Try a Shuttle Zen (3, Informative)

Wwolmack (731212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369128)

Shuttle's ST62K has an external power supply, and uses socket 478 cpus:

Review at Silent PC Review [silentpcreview.com]
Shuttle Product Page [shuttle.com]

$215 at Newegg [newegg.com]

Just unplug the fan mon! (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369226)

PC Power supplies are switching, and emit less heat with less load. Since youre not using much power in the first place, just open the power supply (DISCONNETED !!) and unplug the fan inside). Youll just need the additional budget of a screw driver... or the trouble of borrowing it.

I've powered PC motherboards using batteries before (not the harddisks)... they dont use much power. If the CPU power is low too, and you can make do with bootable USB key instead of harddisk, you might be able to just use two power adapters... 5V and 12V.

Old notebook, no fans (1)

Jebediah21 (145272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369305)

Wouldn't an old notebook, sans fans, work perfectly for this?

SilenX (3, Informative)

dFaust (546790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369366)

You could check out SilenX [silenx.com] . While their PSUs can get pricey, a 300W model can be had for $59.95 and is rated at 14dba. That's under load... not under load the fan can run even quieter. That puts the SilenX's loudest at being nearly 3x quieter than the Zalman mentioned in another post when the Zalman is running at it's quitest. The Zalman can reach up to 30dba, which is something like 32x louder than 14dba.

I've only owned SilenX's fans, but I'm EXTREMELY pleased with them. A 92mm 14dba fan and 120mm 14dba fan (~17dba combined) quieted my system considerably while actually lowering temps. I haven't tried their PSUs, but I'm expecting one any day now and have read plenty of great reviews of them.

How about this... (1)

p7 (245321) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369445)

http://www.mini-box.com/s.nl/sc.8/category.13/it.A /id.300/.f [mini-box.com]

Did a little looking around, since I know the Dell GX620 in it's ultra small form factor. I didn't read the manual, but it claims to be able to run most P4 boards up to 3Ghz.

Seasonic S12 series (2, Informative)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369511)

You really can't beat the Seasonic S12 series. Extremely low noise (silent for most purposes under normal conditions), clean power, high-efficency (less heat / wasted power), active PFC (easier on the power lines), auto 120/240 voltage.

The S12 comes in a 330W version that should be fine for your PC. It runs around $55-$65 on the 'Egg or other online stores.

Pair it with a nice case (Antec 3000SLK or perhaps P180), a decent CPU heatsink (Scythe Ninja, Zalman, or a number of others), and a decent mobo/GPU (no fan), and a nice drive (Samsung is the best, Maxtor/Seagate/WD FDB drives can be pretty quiet as well), and you have a nice quiet system.

Check out http://silentpcreview.com/ [silentpcreview.com]

Re:Seasonic S12 series (1)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14369710)

I bought a Coolermaster ATC-630 case for my lounge HTPC, with a nice new Asus motherboard with integrated nvidia graphics and everything else on board. It's a mythtv box so needs to be nice and quiet.

I got Cool 'n' Quiet working with the Athlon64 under Linux no problem so the fan throttles down to ~600rpm when it's not doing much. The psu supplied with the case was a different matter - horrendously loud and didn't throttle under low loads.

I looked everywhere for external PSUs but as mentioned the only ones available are low wattage mini-itx ones. So I just bought a nice quiet enermax 300watt psu, bought some extension cables and have it hanging out the back of the machine.

It looks a bit ghetto, but I don't care as the thing is sat in a hifi rack anyway so most people won't see it, and even better it means the psu heat stays outside the case. Works like a charm and I can't hear the box now, even under load. I'll probably dremel a hole in the case at some point though so I can route the cables better and ditch the extensions.

The psu is an Enermax EG285SX, and I highly recommend it. The motherboard is an Asus K8N-VM CSM with integrated DVI and everything. The motherboard I can't recommend though, until Asus fix their fecking BIOS and website.

Wires (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14370017)

In general, low-voltage power supplies and long wires do not mix. One of the reasons that the power supply is inside the case is to keep the wires reasonably short. Even if you use larger gauge wires, excessive wire length can cause problems with voltage regulation.

Build an enclosure or buy a quiet case. (1)

WarPresident (754535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14370526)

$100 at Best Buy or Newegg for an Antec Sonata is cheap and easy. Or go out and buy a sheet or two of MDF, eggshell foam and build an enclosure with baffles and 120mm fans for intake and exhaust.

The only downside to the Sonata is Antec's stupid idea of extra "cooling" by perferating the top 4 inches of the sides of the case. Block these with foam or tape over them to attenuate the noise of humming (or shrieking) CPU and/or graphics card fans.

Morex (3, Informative)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14370531)

I have a Morex 80 W PSU, with a laptop-style 12 volt adapter outside the case. Inside the case there's a circuitboard that generates the other voltages. No fans in either part. Bought mine from www.hrt.de, and I've used it to power both an EPIA board and a Pentium III ATX system with equal success.

The main limitation with these PSUs is the number of drives you can use. This Morex has only one connector for desktop optical and hard drives (and a couple of smaller connectors for floppy and mobile drives), but I've managed to use a HD and a DVDRW drive with a dual adapter. On the other hand, if you need more power, I think Morex makes these for up to 200 W.

Another Room (1)

ThePepe (775625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14370674)

Put it in another room and run extension cables. Seriously, nothing else will work.

Used to see them in Akihabara all the time (1)

really? (199452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14371277)

Yup, that's right, full size cases with an external power supply. The "problem" was that the cable was relatively short - about 60-80 cm, if I recall correctly. A bit fuzzy about the details, but I think they were sold under the "Windy" name ... a Soldam company.

I am not an EE, and all that, but I think the main problem with having long low voltage wires is loss ...

Dumpster Diving (2, Informative)

j()nty (741565) | more than 8 years ago | (#14371755)

I use an old desktop PC to do this job. I salvaged it from an office. Hardware is:

  • Compaq Deskpro EN Small-Form-Factor. The SFF matters because the regular EN can be noisy.
  • PIII 800MHz
  • 256MB RAM
  • Built in Intel graphics, 1024x768 16 bit colour
  • Built in Intel NIC, 100Mb/s
  • 3 PCI slots for whatever else you want to add
  • New 200GB Seagate drive
  • New DVD RW

This runs my email, internal web server, internal DNS and DHCP, file server, print spooler, version control, and so on. It never even notices the load from 3 concurrent users.

The Deskpro EN SFF has just one, small fan in the power supply. The Seagate drive is nice and quiet.

I am sat 1 metre from the machine as I write this, the rest of the house is silent, and all I can hear is a low whirring noise from the fan. The central heating radiator in the other corner of the room makes more noise.

  • Pull on your old jeans and get into those dumpsters
  • Visit your local tip if they have a section for recycling electronics
  • Search eBay where you should get a similar machine for maybe $100. You will have to replace HD and DVD.

Re:Dumpster Diving (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14372251)

CAUTION
If you thrash those machines in a hot enviroment the fan speeds up and makes a Racket!
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