fanless workstation

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

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vjekob
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:02 am

fanless workstation

Post by vjekob » Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:49 am

I'd like a fanless/zero noise "mini" pc to be used as a home workstation (virtualization,
sw development, video, graphics etc.) with possibility of using it with two monitors.
After digging around on the web, I've identified the following possible solutions (in increasing order
of cost/performance):
(a)Taking an Intel 5G nuc eg. NUC5i5RYB (i5 5250U) 15W + Newton-S-RY-i5 case and making it fanless
(b)Something similar on ebay/amazon (with OEM boards) 15W i3-5010U -> i7 5500U
(c)Asus H170i/H170i-pro/Z170i + quad core i5 6500T/ i7 6700T 35W + Impactics C3LH case
( (a) and (c) are basically solutions which I found on the atlastsolutions webpage)

I don't have any experience using pcs of (a) and (c) class to know exactly
how much better one is over the other and whether I would need the higher performance (I usually
overdo it with getting better components :D ), nor do I have experience
with the OEM mother boards on ebay - so would appreciate any suggestions
on what would be good enough for my requirements. I see that the 7th gen nucs
are coming out with even more 4k features and optane technology , so not sure
if it's worth buying high performance now.

CA_Steve
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Re: fanless workstation

Post by CA_Steve » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:00 am

Welcome to SPCR.

What s/w are you using? Are you doing any 3D rendering/stuff that needs heavy graphics support / acceleration?

Akasa supports some newer NUC boards..through Skylake at the moment. Probably 3+ months out for the new Kaby Lake....and I recommend waiting to build newest gen systems for at least three months to let the firmware bugs settle out.

Note that these builds rely on 15W CPUs...which are the laptop variety. Great for many uses, but if your apps require heavy lifting, you'll be trading off time for the small footprint.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

vjekob
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:02 am

Re: fanless workstation

Post by vjekob » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:20 am

Thanks,
As far as graphics goes, I'm not using much at the moment except for
sketchup, but will work with photoshop and various other software
both in design and photo/video editing (nothing full time, but I don't
want to spend the money and end up with a "slow donkey" :D
My (c) option is 4core/8thread using an ASUS board - will this be
somehow out of date also in 3 months - I presume ASUS will put out
some newer boards to follow with Kaby Lake ?

vjekob
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:02 am

Re: fanless workstation

Post by vjekob » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:26 am

I just noticed some posts on another forum about the Z270 chipset - so
I presume the boards are available. Overall, from what you write, I somehow
conclude that a build (using 4core processor) rather than the nuc in a silent
case is the way to go - right ?

CA_Steve
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Re: fanless workstation

Post by CA_Steve » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:46 am

Photoshop uses gfx acceleration for display as well as for some functions (filters, etc). However, I think the integrated gfx won't slow down your tasks as Intel has really upped the iGP functionality over the last several generations.

Video editing: really depends on what s/w used and how much time you spend using it. Handbrake, Vegas Pro, and Adobe Premiere all can benefit from more CPU horsepower. Some functions can be greatly accelerated using Intel's QuickSync functionality in the CPU, or if using Open CL - the GPU can also greatly accelerate some functions. Tradeoffs for speed/quality can apply.

So, if you are looking for maximum flexibility, yeah I'd suggest going with a 65W desktop i5 and not the clock nerfed 35W T processor. Modern CPUs are all about clocking up/down as needed for the task and only use the power needed. A 65W class i5 uses the same power as the 35W T up until it needs to push the load higher for a heavier task.

Which leads to something like the HDPlex cases. Some configurations can handle up to 95W CPUs, so a 65W one is no sweat. Unfortunately, their site is down atm...but here's the main link. There are a couple of reviews here you can search for as well as a 2016 build thread. Also provides the possibility of adding a discrete lower power gfx card if needed later.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

CA_Steve
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Re: fanless workstation

Post by CA_Steve » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:37 pm

Another thing...if part of your tasks include encoding/decoding 4k video, HDR, and/or Wide Gamut (rec.2020) it might be worthwhile to wait a few months for Kaby Lake. Here's an overview of the updated gfx engine @ Anandtech.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

fjf
Posts: 192
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Location: Europe

Re: fanless workstation

Post by fjf » Sat Mar 25, 2017 2:57 am

Asus z170 deluxe--i7-6700--Ninja 4--32GB RAM G.Skill RipJaws V--GTX960--LG 27MU67--2 samsung SM951 M2-256GB each--Seasonic SS520FL (fanless)--Silverstone FT05

vjekob
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:02 am

Re: fanless workstation

Post by vjekob » Sat Jan 20, 2018 2:32 pm

Well, I haven't been waiting for Kaby Lake but have unfortunately had health
problems in the family - so I'm back at the drawing board for the workstation pc.
I've come up with the following component list - was wondering whether
there is a better alternative. I want a stable, silent/fanless pc, not interested
in overclocking, led's etc. - purely workhorse , as small as possible and biggest
bang for the money with power to spare for a couple of years - yes, I keep my pc's for
a long time - right now, I'm sitting in front of a core 2 duo laptop
(which is constantly slowing down and the fan is making me sick ;), so
the new pc should be a big improvement. I'm also working on a Xeon
All in one ESXI server for back up/running VM's etc., so I don't need any backup
storage in the workstation pc. I chose the HDPLEX H1.S rather than HDPLEX H5
due to size (and money) - not sure whether I'm limiting myself too much
with the smaller case (no external graphics card and max 32GB RAM), but the size sure is attractive.

i5-8400 cpu 200Euro
samsung 960 pro 512 GB M.2 SSD 276 Euro

Asus Z370-i 190Euro
OR
ASRock Z370M-ITX/ ac I 127Euro

Memory DDR4-2666 2*8GB 158Euro
OR
Memory DDR4-2666 2*16GB 310Euro

Case HDPLEX H1.S V2 + 160W AC-DC + 160W DC-ATX 251 Euro

CA_Steve
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Re: fanless workstation

Post by CA_Steve » Sat Jan 20, 2018 4:18 pm

Welcome back. Always nice to see another HDPlex build.

Note that Asus z370 boards aren't on HDPlex's compatibility list - your Asrock mobo is.

I'd lean toward the 960 EVO SSD unless you are planning to do really intensive tasks (rendering 4k models/4k+ video editing, etc...).

RAM amounts: how much are you using for your typical workload now and how is it limiting you? One downside to the 1 yr delay in build - RAM prices have skyrocketed.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

vjekob
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:02 am

Re: fanless workstation

Post by vjekob » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:57 pm

Thanks for the welcome.
The 960 PRO is 270Euro with 5year or 400TBW guarantee
and a little faster,
the 960 EVO is 200Euro with 3year or 200TBW guarantee
Don't you think the difference is worth the 70 Euros ?

I just received a small 6 lan fanless mini-pc with i3-7100U
via Aliexpress to be used for router/firewall and virtual wifi ap controller,
and am waiting for memory to arrive - I'd like to see how this
pc does with a windows 10 installation and some of the
programs I would like to use - if this works well enough, then
I will certainly be happy with the i5-8400 in the small
footprint HDPLEX H1.S. I'm a bit undecided whether to
go for the larger HDPLEX case to future proof things (even the case)
although I tend to forsee that the future will bring even more
power into such a small box with the lithography going to 10nm
or lower. If I had the money to throw around, I would just buy
both cases and play with them, but that;s not the case ;) - any
opinions would be welcome.

I know about the Asus not being suported but the HDPLEX people
mentioned Asus and Gigabyte being best when I asked about
using the i5-8400 in the H1.S. I can't see what benefit I would
gain from the Asus board vs Asrock unless the quality was much
higher - any opinions ?

CA_Steve
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Re: fanless workstation

Post by CA_Steve » Mon Jan 22, 2018 3:02 pm

Don't you think the difference is worth the 70 Euros ?
As stated with the earlier caveats: nope. I think most failures will be infant mortality. As for 3 yr vs 5 yr and difference in writes...google ssd torture test and get a feel for what the specs say vs test results.

Intel and AMD seem to be happy to keep the locked-clock CPUs in the 65W TDP bucket. Don't see that changing. If you think you'll want a 95W CPU, or want to add a ~75W gpu, then get the 2nd gen H5.

Seems like what HDPlex people are saying may conflict with what's in their compatibility list...you might just ask them directly if your Asus board is supported with the case you want to get. Asus vs Asrock: Both are decent. I tend to look at stuff like the LAN NIC and audio codec solution (if using analog in/out) everything else being equal.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

vjekob
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:02 am

Re: fanless workstation

Post by vjekob » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:14 am

I'd appreciate an opinion - with the Intel security business going on/stopping release of new chips (which will probably mean new development/products with maybe lower TDP coming in near future), Ryzen and what is coming next, should I maybe halt on this build for a while / what's the smart thing to do ?

Olle P
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Location: Sweden

Re: fanless workstation

Post by Olle P » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:13 am

There's just about always something "new and better" just a few months away.
That said I think it could be worthwhile to wait at least for the near releases of new Intel chipsets and new AMD products.
After that any releases are more uncertain in time and impact.

vjekob
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:02 am

Re: fanless workstation

Post by vjekob » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:04 am

OK thanks, it was a gut feeling and I'll go with it - maybe all this security dust clears and both intel and AMD stabilize on
the new round of chips - in the meantime, I'll keep an eye on the fanless case situation and will do my best to
post info on the new build.

CA_Steve
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Re: fanless workstation

Post by CA_Steve » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:44 am

I think the Spectre/Meltdown stuff will be mitigated through bios/firmware/driver/OS/app patches. Unless you are planning to run a server farm instead of building a workstation, I wouldn't worry about it. If you want to wait for chip level design fixes, it'll be another year before you build.

Other stuff for the waiting game: Intel is releasing the H370 chipset in March/April, I think. Upside: cheaper than z370. downside: If March/April release, wouldn't do a build until May/June in order for BIOS/firmware/driver patches to settle down.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

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