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 Post subject: Greetings
PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 5:37 pm 

Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 5:22 pm
Posts: 78

I'm slowly gearing up toward building or buying a new computer. Before I post questions at what seems a bunch of incredibly helpful people here in this forum, I thought I'd introduce myself.

I'm no stranger to silent/quiet computing. In 1991, with my then blazing fast 33 MHz 486 (later updated to the ~100 MHz Cyrix quasi-Pentium), I was already thinking quiet and silent. I spliced some carbon resistors in line with the chassis fan to reduce the speed and noise. I solved the power supply fan noise with an opened paper clip wedged carefully into the exhaust grill to prevent fan rotation. A truly high tech solution. :D Of course, in those days there was little I could do about the hard drive noise. Nonetheless, I already had started my battle with computer noise, long before the topic became popular.

In the mid 1990s I bought a then super modern 233 MHz Pentium MMX. After about 10 minutes of running the new box, I powered down, opened the box, and almost literally yanked the stock CPU cooler fan from the box. I ran the box just fine without that fan noise for several years. I modified the power supply fan with the same paper clip trick. Fortunately I never experienced power supply problems with such a simplistic hack. :shock: But once again, I could do little about the hard drive noise.

Then Seagate introduced their Barracuda line of hard drives with dynamic fluid bearings. I'm sure I'll evoke a few understanding smiles, but when I first plugged the drive into my box and powered up, I panicked for about two seconds because I heard no noise. Nothing! Of course, as I watched the monitor I knew the box was running. I still remember giggling like a little boy with my new silent box.

Yes, silent. Not quiet, silent. Of course, inaudible is the more correct term because if I place my ear within 6 inches of the box I actually hear some noise. Barely. I still remember a brother staring at my monitor with an open mouth. I realized he was staring abnormally and I asked what was the matter. He wanted to know what black magic I practiced to simulate a computer screen on my monitor with my computer powered off. :D Eventually I convinced him the computer was running.

My next trick was to replace the MMX with a 400 MHz K6-III+. Along with expanding to the motherboard's full 256 MB capacity, well, I thought I owned a racing car! By then a handful of web sites started appearing regarding quiet and silent computing. As a resulting precautionary measure I added a voltage-modified 120 mm chassis fan with a Zalman bracket and the box has ran like that since. And with the K6-III+, I reduced energy consumption. The K6-III+ was and is one of the best CPUs ever designed, a true treasure.

I then modified my power supply by splicing some carbon resistors to reduce the voltage to 7 volts. I figured that was a safer solution than my infamous paper clip. 8)

I have been happily using that box for many years. Basically I am a skilled office user. I never have been into computer games, videos, or high-tech audio. Surfing, email, and using my box as a glorified typewriter satisfies me. My hardware and software works just fine for occasional multimedia files. Nonetheless I like to consider my current box one of the earliest post 486 era silent computers.

My 486 remains fully functional but sits on the shelf and I am not too enthused about retiring another functional box. Especially a silent and energy efficient box. Yet there are a few things I'd like to do that my current box does not support. I like to tinker with GNU/Linux (actually almost entirely Slackware), and I have a second box that I use mostly for that purpose. Another speed demon --- a 350 MHz PII Deschutes. That box has a first generation AGP Banshee Blaster that helps offset the slower CPU. I added another Seagate silent drive. A free hand-me-down box, but I never have been able to make that box silent --- only quiet. Despite another carbon resistor mod to the power supply fan, there is an acoustics problem with the case chassis that allows me to still hear the fan. The power supply is inaudible when out of the case. Although the box rests on the floor about five feet from me and behind a file cabinet, I have unusually super excellent hearing and the noise bothers me despite most people not noticing.

Still, I want to tinker more extensively with GNU/Linux (Slackware) --- particularly with hardware virtualization, now that the Linux kernel supports that natively. Thus, my dissatisfaction with the noise in my test box and the lack of such support with my current hardware has me thinking that perhaps I ought to consider a new box, but something that will last me a good many years.

I've been spending way too much time reading various essays and articles about all the new hardware, as well as scanning the forum here. Because I have been content with my silent 400 MHz K6-III+, the information is all new to me because I never had reason to keep pace with hardware evolution. So much to learn! At times my mind is quite numb with all the new info. Still, I have made up my mind that I want virtualization support, silence, and energy efficiency. So at that point I'll stop and merely say hello. Thanks for all the great info posted around here!

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2007 1:02 pm 

Joined: Thu May 31, 2007 12:44 pm
Posts: 1
Great story. I too had one of those wonderful Cyrix chips but mine was a 133+. Seemed a big step up from my DX4-75 at the time (which was overclocked to 95MHz anyway without any trouble), but that's still a 35% increase!

I bought a silent PSU about 2 years ago but it's sat in a cupboard ever since, I just couldn't be ringed to put it in. Lazy, yes, but I was kinda hoping to do a full upgrade to my ageing Athlon XP 2000+. But my old PSU started emitting a worrying metallic rattle recently, so I panicked and finally installed the new PSU. That started me off, I guess.

I've just installed an AC Copper Silent onto my Athlon to replace my stock hs/f, which had been rattling ever since I installed it 5 years ago and poked a finger into it at full speed. 8) I'm chuffed to bits that I've managed to get CPU idle down to just over 40°C, with peak temp of 50°C after 30mins @ 100% CPU. It was formerly idling at 57°C :shock:

The best thing about all this is that it's now actually quiet. It's still relatively noisy compared to the sound of the bedroom walls, for example, but it's a lot quieter without that annoying rattling CPU fan.

I also loosened the screws on the HDD a touch, and that's reduced the HDD noise subjectively by about 25%.

Next thing is to whip out my only case fan (wholly unnecessary as I only have one HDD @ 27° and an ATI Radeon 9000 E.C. in the case) and that should leave me with one final mod option... elastic HDD suspension :D

Thanks to everyone on this forum, it's been an entertaining week's reading up, and I've enough ideas to get to a point at which this can be a silent Home Cinema box for the front room....!

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