An "even quieter" Mac Mini

Info & chat about quiet prebuilt, small form factor and barebones systems, people's experiences with vendors thereof, etc.

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Hifriday
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An "even quieter" Mac Mini

Post by Hifriday » Thu Mar 02, 2006 7:41 pm

Apple has released their new Mac Mini with the Intel Core Duo/Solo processor and on their website they claim "the new Mac mini is even quieter than the already whisper-quiet previous generation."

With my 1st gen Mini, the only noise was the soft hum of the notebook HDD (I put a Samsung in mine) muffled inside it's case, and very rarely heard the CPU fan ramp up (it's a second machine so rarely do anything processor intensive), it's hard to imagine it being even quieter. Maybe Apple is referring to the noise under load?
For the low-end Solo model the cost is now $599 with a 1.5ghz chip, not exactly cheap, but a pretty good deal compared to a SFF Pentium-M system. It even comes with Front Row remote control/home media interface. Although you probably won't be able to install Windows on the Mini, am I wrong to assume the 1.5ghz chip should provide similar computer power to a 1.5 Pentium-M which is really not bad.

I ordered a Solo model (the Duo was attractive but at $200 more seemed overpriced) and hopefully it'll arrive shortly. Anyone else already have their Core Mini?

Hifriday
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Post by Hifriday » Sat Mar 04, 2006 12:27 am

Apple delivered early and my Intel Core Solo Mini has arrived! My initial impressions here. It does seem quieter than my 1st gen Mini, but oddly my old Mini seems louder than before. It was very quiet perched on a loudspeaker, but now laying on top of a desk I can clearly hear the fan/exhaust. I'll need to recheck that.

CA_Steve
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Post by CA_Steve » Sat Mar 04, 2006 6:52 am

Nice. Thanks!

bbzidane
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Post by bbzidane » Wed Mar 15, 2006 10:15 am

just wondering, do you know what is the source of the noise in the new intel mac mini?
im curious to see if it is possible to make it even quieter, near silent if possible

JimX
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Post by JimX » Wed Mar 15, 2006 10:37 am

Hifriday, very nice blog!

Hifriday
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Post by Hifriday » Fri Mar 17, 2006 8:44 pm

I haven't gotten around to taking apart my Core Mini, but I suspect it has the same two sources of noise, the notebook HDD and the single cooler fan. From the overall noise level, I am guessing the Fujitsu HDD in my Core Mini is very quiet and maybe even quieter than the Samsung? However guessing from the heat, probably the fan cannot be run much slower/quieter. For the G4 Mini on the otherhand, as that runs cooler, I believe slowing down the fan might work. As there doesn't seem to be any software utility to control fanspeed on the Mini, I plan to try hooking up a fanmate controller shortly and will post my results.

JimX and CA_Steve, thanks for your kind comments.

dschneider
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Post by dschneider » Mon Mar 20, 2006 11:15 am

I don't know a whole lot about computers but I have been waiting to buy a smaller, quieter machine because I was hoping that I would be able to get the new Intel Mac Mini and install Windows on it as I have some programs that are only for Windows. Is it a lost cause to think that someday Apple will produce a machine that you can put Windows on? I thought that it was going to be possible with the Intel Mac Mini but sounds like not?

Diane

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Post by derekva » Mon Mar 20, 2006 11:24 am

Officially? Not sure.

Unofficially, you bet. :D

-Derek

derekva
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Post by derekva » Mon Mar 20, 2006 11:40 am

Ars Technica has the 'official-unofficial' instructions:

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060316-6393.html

-Derek

dschneider
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Post by dschneider » Mon Mar 20, 2006 11:44 am

Cool! But I have a question. Is it possible and perhaps easier to just wipe off OSX and have Windows as the only OS?

Diane

Hifriday
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Post by Hifriday » Mon Mar 20, 2006 12:51 pm

Thanks to Erssa's link from the iMac discussion I managed to follow the detailed instructions and got XP to boot on my Core Solo Mini. It took some trial and error, and searching forums to overcome some of the problems but overall wasn't too bad; my experience here.

It's still somewhat of a Beta solution and might be a while before all problems are solved, but at this stage it does seem like you get much of the XP functionality and most of the Mini's hardware working.

This current solution does involve making use of OS X to prepare for the XP install, but certainly it is possible to wipe away most of OS X after your install (or possibly all of it) if that's really what you want. OS X is a nice OS with some useful features, and certainly worth a try even if you don't plan to switch. Also you are paying for OS X when you buy the Mini, if you don't need it there are other small/quiet Windows PCs that might be better value depending on what you want to use it for.

dschneider
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Post by dschneider » Mon Mar 20, 2006 1:10 pm

Hifriday: Thanks. Interesting! Which other small, quiet Windows PCs are you referring to? I have been considering this one:

fixed embedded long URL


Diane

Hifriday
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Post by Hifriday » Mon Mar 20, 2006 1:35 pm

Hi Diane, before we forget

WELCOME TO SPCR !! :D

Sorry can't get through to your link. Maybe you are referring to the HP s7320n? I don't have any personal experience with that model, but it seems like a good valued, small (not tiny), and potentially quiet machine.
However it's hard to give you a recommendation without knowing how you plan to use your computer. Just light use (such as surfing, email, mp3) or something more intensive (video encoding, HTPC, number crunching, 3D graphics) or ? Also what do you consider quiet enough?

dschneider
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Post by dschneider » Mon Mar 20, 2006 2:02 pm

Thanks for the welcome and sorry that link was the wrong one and that it was so unwieldy. It is the HP s7310n that I am looking at. I do need a machine for light use only (email, surfing, photos). I don't know how to quantify what I would consider quiet. I would like something quieter than what I have that's for sure (It's just a funky FrankenPC).

Diane

Hifriday
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Post by Hifriday » Mon Mar 20, 2006 6:32 pm

I was quite tempted to get a HP s7300 series myself, my thoughts on it here, but unfortunately it is only available in the US. From all user reviews it should be noticably quieter than the usual FrankenPC, especially since it uses a cooler running notebook processor. If you go for it, I'd recommend the higher spec'd s7320n which was $500 after $50 mail-in-rebate, you get double the memory, slightly faster CPU slightly more hard drive space, and Windows MCE.

If you're up for spending more, there are plenty of Small Form Factor barebones out there which some retailers/builders will sell already configured if you're not up for building one yourself. These include Shuttle's XPC line and AOpen's XC Cube/Mini lines. These little cube-like PC's can be much more stylish (depending on your taste) and some look very nice on the desktop. Not all of them are quiet though, as it is harder to cool a smaller case and plus it's much closer to your ears on the desktop. However there are a few that use an external AC/DC power adaptor and are in general very quiet. You can see some of them reviewed by SPCR as well as various users opinions in the forums, but keep in mind quiet standards for most SPCR enthusiasts tend to be more extreme.

dschneider
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Post by dschneider » Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:36 am

I actually did read the reviews of the Shuttles and AOpen's XC Cube/Mini on here a few months ago. It didn't sound like they were as quiet or any quieter than either the Mac Mini or the HP s7300 series and after seeing a Shuttle in a store I decided against either of those options.

I guess my question now is is the Mac Mini appreciably quieter than the HP s7300 series?

jaganath
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Post by jaganath » Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:47 am

I do need a machine for light use only (email, surfing, photos).
Have you considered a mini-ITX PC? They will handle light tasks fairly well and are very small (17cm x 17cm). Also they are not difficult to run passively/with only one quiet fan.

VIA EPIA SP13000

doudou
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Post by doudou » Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:08 am

Hifriday,
since you have XP running on your mac, have you tried speedfan to monitor the fan ?
I know speedfan needs to know the sensor on the mobo, but maybe it's a standard one and it may work ?
anyway it's worth a try isn't it ?

Hifriday
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Post by Hifriday » Tue Mar 21, 2006 11:50 am

doudou

Yes the first thing I ran was Speedfan, all details/screenshots on my blog page. Unfortunately 4.28 didn't pick up any voltage/temp/fanspeed sensors However it does pick up 2 speed controls on a FDC37n972 chip but it doesn't have any affect on the fan.


Diane

Keep in mind if you plan to put the Mini on top of a desk, it's noise will be much more noticable, whereas for the HP if you decide to put it on the floor, even if it is louder, it's noise will be less obtrusive. My Mini is barely noticable when I have it in my bedroom, but a little too loud for me when I am sitting up close with it on the desk of my small study.

As Jaganath suggested, Mini-ITX PCs are nice small and quiet. IMO a little underpowered but should be fine for the use you mention. Not a lot of retailers carry this so you might need to look online to get one.

dschneider
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Post by dschneider » Tue Mar 21, 2006 6:56 pm

jaganath wrote: Have you considered a mini-ITX PC? They will handle light tasks fairly well and are very small (17cm x 17cm). Also they are not difficult to run passively/with only one quiet fan.

VIA EPIA SP13000
I did look at these before too. A little pricey and I am in the USA so even more so. I am not up for a barebones - I am looking for prebuilt. Thanks for the thought though.

dschneider
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Post by dschneider » Tue Mar 21, 2006 7:02 pm

Does anyone know if Windows MCE is built on XP Pro or Home or something completely different?

MajereXYU
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Post by MajereXYU » Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:44 pm

MCE is built on top of XP Pro with some of the more advanced networking features disabled (VPN for one).

Basically, MCE is XP Pro with additional software.

Also, I have a MacMini G4 1st gen and I can attest to its quietness.
If you have a really really quiet room, then you can hear it but its noise is not too obstrusive.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a cooler-running, quieter Windows machine and you just can't beat the build quality on this little machine. It consumes around ~25W on average, MAX load being 85W (extreme case scenario) so it fits the power bill quite nicely.

On the plus side, while you now can install Windows on Core-Solo and Core-Duo Mac Mini's, you can also try OSX which is a joy to use and offers some pretty neat features and programs. Just give a try to the iLife suite (iPhoto, iWeb and iMovie are the most sought after).

You're welcome to email me with any further questions you may have about the Mac Mini or even OSX (the Mac Operating System).

majerexyu[at]gmail[dot]com

jaganath
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Post by jaganath » Wed Mar 22, 2006 1:18 am

I am not up for a barebones - I am looking for prebuilt.
Logic Supply have a mini-ITX pre-built on sale at the moment:

Hush Mini-ITX Pre-built for $900

They will also build a mini-ITX system to your specifications:

Logic Supply-Custom Systems

The prices for those seem quite reasonable at less than $500.

They also do custom Pentium M systems.

Hifriday
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Post by Hifriday » Wed Mar 22, 2006 9:13 am

jaganath wrote: The prices for those seem quite reasonable at less than $500.
If you add in DVD drive, 512MB RAM, 60GB HDD, OS, building fee, and shipping you're probably looking at more than $600, the price of the Mini Solo shipped. With the Mini you're also getting wifi, bluetooth, remote, gigabit lan plus a smaller form factor and more powerful CPU. So unless you need a fanless system or don't need any of the upgrades, these ITX systems don't seem as good value as the Mini.

As for the Mini, if you don't need it's super small size and don't plan on using OSX then other options like the HP are probably even better value.

NineBoxes
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AOpen miniPC

Post by NineBoxes » Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:19 am

Has a macMini look-alike (there's no apple otherwise indistinguishable)
http://minipc.aopen.com/Global/

And an uglier look-alike but more capable in the works. And they are pricey.

I can't hear my macMini duo b/c of the roaring of three Antec Sonata boxes in the room. They are I think 32 dBA "quiet". The mac fan always run, if I put my ear against the edge of the box I can hear the fan, otherwise not.

The Shuttle xpc sd11g5 (also "quiet") is more noise, I think that one rates at 25 dBA.

bbzidane
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Post by bbzidane » Sat Mar 25, 2006 10:40 am

the aopen minipc actually look to be a bit competitive with the mac mini
the old version barebone that supports only pentium-m costs roughly 330 CAD or 280 USD, which comes with a slim dvd/cdrw combo drive, add in a cheap 1.5 p-m for roughly 60 USD, 80gb notebook drive for 80USD, 1gb of memory for 80 USD and its roughly on par with a mac mini

the only downside being an older processor, no remote and no operating system

Rory Buszka
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Post by Rory Buszka » Sun Apr 02, 2006 3:09 pm

All I can say is it's time for a native Virtual PC. And Virtual Mac would also sell pretty well, I'd imagine.

rei
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Post by rei » Wed Apr 05, 2006 9:52 pm

well, it's official. you can boot xp with apple's blessing on the intel macs.

jaganath
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Post by jaganath » Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:06 am

you can boot xp with apple's blessing on the intel macs.
Not quite. They'll allow you to boot XP on them, but they're not supporting it, ie anything goes wrong while running XP you're on your own.

x1m
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Post by x1m » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:44 am

Well I received mine on Friday and so had a couple of days to play with it. It's on the desk and I can clearly hear a buzzing, which I'm guessing is the hard drive. Under load, it doesn't seem to get that much louder (Core Duo). The hardrive is a STxxx so I'm guessing a Seagate - 100gig btw.

In absolute terms it's not very loud at all, but the buzzing is quite grating.

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