EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

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Lumpy Custard
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EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by Lumpy Custard » Fri Dec 31, 2010 8:53 am

Hi everyone,

I've spent the past few months doing a lot of reading about how to silence computers, and I think i've now narrowed it down to these two choices for myself. A little background: I'm looking for a PC that is ultra quiet to use as my main computer, but also as a music server. I am very sensitive to background noise, and now that i have decided to use my PC as a music server (i have a substantial stereo setup), i can't handle the sound of my pc when listening.

What I want to use the PC for besides as much silence as possible for music listening, is a little bit of gaming (SCII is the main "new" game that would probably tax the system i'd like to play), and also music recording. Right now, i'm deciding on the balance between total silence vs. power. I know I can get a totally silent PC from EndPCNoise, but they don't have the same options available that Puget does for near-silence.

Anyone have advice on the route i should go? I would love to be able to hear for myself just how quiet "quiet" is with the Puget system to make my choice, but i don't think that is possible. I am fully willing to spend about 3 grand or less, so price is not an issue, though i won't be going all solid state for the hard drives (planning on having one 80-120 gig for all my applications, and a 2 TB for data).

If i go with a EPCN HFX Classic, i am deciding which of their processors to use as well, it will be one of these:
i5 670 3.46 GHz 4M
i5 750 2.66 GHz 4M
i7 860s 2.53 GHz 8M

The rest of the system i am pretty clear on what i want, but i'm a little lost on what processors are ideal for what, and which will serve my purposes best. Thanks for any advice! Also, i know it would likely be cheaper to build something myself, but I'll pay the premium to have someone who really knows what they are doing do it, and save me time and effort.

frenchie
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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by frenchie » Sat Jan 01, 2011 9:05 am

I'd go with Puget just because it'll be easier to upgrade/change things around. I don't know what kind of customer support EPCN has either...
If SPCR recommends Puget (the serenity system anyways), you can't go wrong !
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Lumpy Custard
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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by Lumpy Custard » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:00 am

I'm sure you are right! Maybe this PC i will go with the Serenity, and if i am still finding it audible i'll take the step to completely silent the NEXT computer hah. I tend to hang on to my computers for quite a while, so who knows, maybe by then an even more ubar fanless cooling solution will be around.

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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by boost » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:51 am

I disagree. With a "substatial stereo setup" and a sensitivity to noise you should go for noiseless.
I would go for the HFX classic.
For the CPU i would choose the i760, for SCII the fastest graphics card you can configure at EndPCNoise: the 240GT.
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frenchie
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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by frenchie » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:35 am

MikeC measured 15dBA at full load, and only 12 dBA at idle. When listening to music, I doubt you'd break the 12dBA mark (idle noise of the serinity). and 12dBA is hard to hear !
The only reason I trust the serinity more than the HFX is that I haven't seen an SPCR review of the HFX yet :)

On top of that, it's really really expensive for what you get IMO ! a quick customized system with endpcnoise and puget yields a ~600 $ price difference (almost the exact same hardware) !!!
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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by boost » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:56 am

frenchie wrote:The only reason I trust the serinity more than the HFX is that I haven't seen an SPCR review of the HFX yet :)
Look here. Unfortunately there aren't any more recent ones.
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Lumpy Custard
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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by Lumpy Custard » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:01 pm

I guess this must be a fairly common topic here... more power, but not as quiet? or quiet but less power? I'm still kind of unsure what to go for. I should clarify though what i mean when i say i'm sensitive to noise. I unplug my fridge, which is in the other room, when i listen to music. I also have all of my LED's taped over and went to great lengths to remove any sources of light. I've been calling this approach the "room of doom" and i know it's a little odd but it's much more fun for me to listen to music this way. I also listen to a lot of music that has periods of silence or near-silence, and i really don't want the detail in those parts tainted by the whir of a fan or hard drive. I'm still hoping in the next couple years i could store everything on solid state drives as lossless, but that time is too far away at the moment.

Anyway, I appreciate the comments and advice. I'm not particularly computer savvy so it's nice to hear from people who (probably) are. One thing about the EPCN CPU question... the 3 i listed are the "best" (ie most expensive) that can be used with the HFX Classic, and i'm sure there are advantages to all of them. the i760 doesn't appear to be an option for the HFX Classic. For my purposes though, i'm wondering which ones are most conducive. I'm guessing the most taxing thing i'll be doing is the recording and playing SCII... I'm really not much of a gamer per se though, so if i have to run things a little sub-optimal but i can play fine that's alright.

The other thing i'm wondering about is USB 3.0... i don't believe it's found in the HFX system i am looking at. How important do you guys see that becoming over the next ~4 years? I do use a USB DAC for my audio (Ayre QB-9) and i think for full high-rez (192/24) USB 3.0 is going to be important. Not totally sure on that though... I do know there's a bunch of hoops to jump at the moment to play any 192/24 files (of which there's hardly any anyway right now...)

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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by frenchie » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:13 pm

boost wrote:Look here. Unfortunately there aren't any more recent ones.
That's a slightly different case, it's the "mini" version in the review ;)
For example, it doesn't have a reglar ATX PSU, can't take a PCIe video card, and the review sample came with a 31W TDP pocessor...

As for the USB 3.0... I guess you could get a USB 3.0 PCI adaptor card as an upgrade when you have to. Who knows what kind of transfert protocol we'll be using in 4 years ?

And once again, at 12dBA from 60cm away in the anechoic chamber, it's just one dBA higher than the noise floor.
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HFat
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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by HFat » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:25 pm

Considering the amount of money you're spending, the cost of SSDs and the cost of a NAS or low-power server...
Put your spinning disks in another room if they bother you. A network cable can carry data a lot faster than your music requires, even at that ridiculous resolution.

USB2, while slower than the current standard ethernet speed, is fast enough as well. USB1 can already do 24/96 (2 channels).
There's a limit to how ridiculous audio can get. Nobody's even thinking about recording at a resolution that would require USB3.

You can hear a signal which has less power than the noise floor however. That's not voodoo. Effort is much better spent at silencing gear than supporting resolutions at which, as Lumpy says, no music is available.

ist.martin
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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by ist.martin » Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:01 pm

Why do you need to have the PC in the same room as the stereo?

My old Linksys wireless G router serves up a consistent 13.6 MbPS of internet downloads to a PC that's 40 feet away in another room. That's way more than the highest fidelity music needs. And if you can't get your head around wireless, an Ethernet cable gives you effectively unlimited bandwidth, and is 0 dB.

It should be trivial for the PC interface hardware in your listening room to be 0 dB.

Lumpy Custard
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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by Lumpy Custard » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:31 pm

That's a good point. I am hesitant to do a lot of wireless stuff as I know this has an impact on electronics (however small it may be). I guess my pc doesn't have to be in the same room, but I'll need a longer HDMI cable at least, and how to sort out getting it out of sight. Cutting at walls is something I don't think I can do in my current location.

For anyone else who might be interested in the silent stuff at EPCN, they recently changed up some of the stuff they offer in the HFX Classic. They have the i7-2600k now which is a big step up from what I thought was the top for their build before. It's still a lot of money but I am leaning towards them still.

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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by Quest » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:49 am

I realise you actually have similar requirements to me as I'm a audio person as well.
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=61334

In my opinion there can only be two ways about it:
1. Buy 2 PCs. One for games and one fanless for music (dedicated). My friends have bought sonore PCs (sonore.us) to use for audio only, but now there are other options like Bryston BDP-1 and the upcoming Weiss MAN202.

I like this approach, but it is pointless if you (a) are not hardcore gamer that needs alot of compromises on the PC; or (b) plan to keep your other PC on to do surfing while listening to music (like I often do).

2. If combining into 1 PC, if you make a decently thought out PC which is 20dbA or so, honestly the difference is marginal if you are seated as far away as I am (4-5m), even during silent passages in music. If you're seated nearer, probably it'll make more difference.

It's important to ensure that the case is also in a location that does not make the noise more apparent at your seating location. In my case (if you see my pic), the casing fans are facing right, towards the speaker/wall and hardly any sound is leaking from the front.

Of course, going HFX is also an option. :) I would also take a look at it myself. Only thing is with fanless PCs, due to higher temps, lifespan tends to be a little shorter I would think. Secondly, fanless doesn't mean 'noiseless'. HDD idle noise and so on will probably add more noise than u think. Decently ventilated fanless case (more noise from components) vs more sealed case with 1-2 fans.. tough fight? :)


About PC in different location: The only reason why I keep my PC in my rack is because I need to use a good power cord with it and with my power regenerator. Of course, if you aren't into this, and are fine with running a long cable (hdmi or otherwise - i have 2x 15m hdmi cables that work fine, but i use much more expensive cables for stereo), then this is fine as well, but I would advise against wifi for audio.

Lumpy Custard
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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by Lumpy Custard » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:30 am

Looks like we want nearly exactly the same things! Reading your thread (and even the mention of SC2) was like thinking out loud for me haha. Also, are those 1027's or 1028's? Either way, nice choice! Also couldn't help notice the Nordost in there. Heimdall, right? I use Tyr all the way through from my DAC>pre>power>speakers. Magic cables.

I hate the term "audiophile" but that for me is first and foremost over my other tasks for my PC. It slipped my mind earlier but i also use power conditioning and upgraded power cables in my system. I use an Isotek Sigmas and Nordost Brahma, so i would like to utilize those for my PC as well.

I'm overseas at the moment for probably another month but I will watch your thread to see what you go with and how it works. Thanks for the info!

Quest
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Re: EPCN Fanless or Puget Serenity SCPR? (+processor advice)

Post by Quest » Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:42 am

Yup, using heimdalls as speaker cables due to the slight bias to warmth among the range, but I use frey elsewhere. Don't quite like Nordost power cords though, and am using black sands and lessloss. I'm headed overseas too so don't expect any progress.

From what's happening in my thread, it appears my best choice is to upgrade my existing casing. I've already accepted fans rather than going totally fanless, so that's that. I reckon no matter how good we do our multi-purpose PC, it'll never be as good as a modified one just for audio. So if really wanting zero compromise then we have to go for that (or a cdp) anyway.

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