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Fanless Computer with PCI-E Expansion

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I have been reading this websites forum postings for over a year. What a great site. This is my first post. I currenctly use a low end PC to stream music to my system and I am tired of the background noise it puts out. I am ready to jump to a fanless PC. I have read the CAPS forums extensively and want to assemble my own server. I currently own the Elfidelity USB card which I would like to continue using for now with the intention of upgrading later.


I would like to ask the community if anyone has found a fanless unit with a PCI-E slot that is capable of solid streaming and rendering. The closest candidate I have found is this unit from Shuttle on Amazon.


[h=1]Shuttle XPC SH170R6 SFF Intel Skylake H170 Chipset LGA1151 i3/i5/i7/Pentium, Support 4K HD Video, Dual-channel DDR4 Max 64GB[/h]



While the CPU has a heat pipe cooling mechanism the power supply has a fan. Of course the power supply could be replaced with a Teradac power supply.



Has anyone found a better candidate with a PCI-E slot. I would like to keep this project under $700



Thank you for any input you can share.

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The CPU heat pipes are cooled by the fan FWIW.


Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Not sure about costs ... but first place to look is Small Green Computer. They somewhat specialise in bespoke "audio" computers.


Second do you want / need something off the shelf? If not look at Streacom's line of fanless cases which you can build something to your needs using.



...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Shame the Streacom's are a bit over priced in my opinion (for what you get), go with an HDPlex if you want to go this route.


If fan noise is not a concern other than when connected to the same power supply as the motherboard. You could always power the fans separately, along with any non essential streaming components. Then your choices for casing become numerous and much cheaper. Use a big heat sink for the CPU. Or just get an embedded motherboard, like this one.





(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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You could also try a picoPSU with a brick in place of the power supply with fan if it doesn't exceed the power rating. Less hassle and cost than a Teradac. Upgrade to a LPS to supply the pico later. I use one without problems in my server.


picoPSU-160-XT, 160watt (200watt peak) , 12V input DC-DC ATX Power Supply



This is a great bit of kit. I already own a 2x 4-12v El Cheapo Linear Power Supply I use to power my ElFidelity USB card and Regen. The picoPSU and another El Cheapo seems like a much more affordable power supply than theTeradac "Have a Fever" PSU for computer.

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I would love to buy a SGC unit but at $1200 its more than I would like to invest at this point. I am on the look put for a used CAPS unit be it DIY or a SGC unit.


Not sure about costs ... but first place to look is Small Green Computer. They somewhat specialise in bespoke "audio" computers.


Second do you want / need something off the shelf? If not look at Streacom's line of fanless cases which you can build something to your needs using.

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hello sandston - i've got a project in the works to do the same. After giving up streaming via NAS due to noise and dropped signals, here's what some research came up with:


Design Criteria


    1. It's tiny
    2. It lives by the Stereo (connects to a DAC and Integrated Amp)
    3. It holds all music, in all formats (m4a, mp3, flac, wav, ogg, etc)
    4. It plays 24bit/192kHz without any downsampling - HD Audio Codec (Realtek ALC269 or better)
    5. It syncs wirelessly with other machines (i.e. for running back-ups, managing additions, editing the library), preferably via WiFi rather than bluetooth. (802.11 b/g/n)
    6. DNLA compliant
    7. The operation is controlled via remote, from another machine, Android phone, etc. (PC, Mac or other) - WiFi (Bluetooth could be offered as an option)
    8. It uses an already existing free music app for management, play, remote control, etc - e.g. musicbee, foobar2000, vlc, etc so users can keep using what they like. Nothing bespoke.
    9. It offers 2+1 USB (two 3.1 type A and one type C) for connection to an external DVD/CD burner and whatever other device (USB key, external drive, phone, iPod, etc)
    10. TosLink S/PDIF for connecting to a DAC (or DAC/Amp). Option for mini-TosLink/3.5 audio jack out.
    11. Coaxial option for connection to a DAC (or DAC/Amp).
    12. Low or no noise components, so SSD drives. Passive cooling.
    13. Has capacity for 1Tb memory. These should be easy to swap out, so accessible
    14. Includes LAN port for hardwired net connectivity - Network RJ-45 10/100/1000 Mbps ethernet
    15. Low power (it'll be on all the time), at or below 25W
    16. Video port is an option, but not critical. HDMI?

    17. Option 01 - Micro VortexBox http://shop.smallgreencomputer.com/Micro-VortexBox-vbMicro.htm ($760usd)



      Option 02 - Dedicated Laptop


      needs USB to S/PDIF (e.g.: M2Tech - HIFACE-TWO - Hi-End SPDIF Output Interface -BNC Version)


      • Western Digital My Passport 1 TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive - $120





      Option 03 - Custom Unit using Ultra-Compact PC Kit

      Gigabyte Brix, model: GB-BXCEH-2955 $170

      http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4860#ovIntel Celeron 2955u 1.4GHz

        • Supports 2.5” thickness 7.0/9.5mm Hard Drives (1 x 6Gbps SATA3)
        • Ultra compact PC design at only 0.52L
        • 1 x mSATA SSD Slot
        • 2 x SO-DIMM DDR3L Slots (1333/1600 MHz), 16GB max RAM
        • IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 4.0 Mini-PCIe card
        • HDMI Plus Mini DisplayPort Outputs (supports dual displays)
        • Intel® HD Graphics
        • 4 x USB 3.0
        • Gigabit LAN Realtek RTL8111G
        • Headphone jack with S/PDIF, Realtek ALC269 (All DACs supports 44.1/48/96/192kHz sample rate, SPDIF-OUT support 16/20/24-bit format and 32/44.1/48/88.2/96/192kHz rate)
        • VESA Mounting bracket
        • Dimensions: 42.8 mm x 107.6 mm x 114.4 mm (1.69" x 4.24" x 4.5")


      Zotac ZBOX CI323 NANO-Plus Barebone Mini PC




      • Intel Processor Intel N3150 quad-core 1.6GHz, up to 2.08GHz (better chip than Gigabyte Brix Celeron 2955u )
      • 2GB DDR3L (two slots up to 8GB, one slot occupied)
      • Wireless 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0
      • Ethernet 2x 10/100/1000Mbps with antenna
      • Onboard 32GB M.2 SATA SSD
      • 1 x 2.5-inch SATA SSD/HDD (Samsung 850 Pro Series Internal SSD, 2.5-Inch, 1TB SATA III, 3-D Vertical or 500Gb for $218)
      • CIR Infrared Port
      • Audio: Stereo output, Lossless Bitstream via HDMI, Combo mini-optical S/PDIF / analog stereo
      • USB: 1 x USB 3.0 type-C (front), 2 x USB 3.0 (1 front, 1 back), 2 x USB 2.0 (back)
      • Card Reader: 3-in-1 (SD/SDHC/SDXC)
      • 127mm x 127mm x 45mm



      Option 4

      Raspberry Pi 2 B +HiFiBerry Digi+

      https://www.hifiberry.com/digiplus/ $40 (HiFiBerry Digi+ transformer version)

      https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/raspberry-pi-2-model-b/ 4 USB ports, HDMI, Ethernet, 3.5mm Audio, Micro SD card slot, 1Gb Ram, $60

      https://www.raspberrypi.org/products/usb-wifi-dongle/, Edimax 150 Mbps Wireless 11n Nano Size USB Adapter (EW-7811UnR2), $17

      Raspberry Pi Western Digital PiDrive 1TB Hard Drive Kit Now Available For $80Western Digital PiDrive Kit, $80

      Micro SD Card (32Gb minimum, SanDisk Ulta $16)

      Samsung 850 Pro Series Internal SSD, 2.5-Inch, 1TB SATA III, 3-D Vertical, $612

      Total: $40 + $60 + $17 + $80 + $16 = $213 + memory ($612) = $825

      Add-ons - Add-On Boards and Modules within Raspberry Pi - MCM Electronics Category


      RaspyFi - Pi never sounded so good!

      https://www.hifiberry.com/guides/hifiberry-installer/ (https://www.hifiberry.com/guides/setting-up-volumio-to-get-great-audio/)

      https://volumio.org (audio optimized alternative to Raspbian) https://volumio.org/get-started/ for set-up instructions

      http://moodeaudio.org/ Audio player for Raspberry Pi

      SyncMe Wireless for Android devices.

      MediaMonkey can play 24/192 with ASIO plug-in



      PINE A64+ Home - PINE 64


      • 64bit Quad Core ARM A53 1.2GHz CPU
      • Dual Core Mali 400-MP2 GPU
      • 2GB DDR3 SDRAM
      • MicroSD Slot Supports up to 256GB
      • 10/100/1000 MB Ethernet port
      • 2 x USB 2.0 host
      • 4K x 2K HDMI port
      • 3.5mm Stereo Output mini-jack with Microphone Support
      • Muti-Channel Audio output through HDMI
      • Real-Time Clock capability built in
      • Built in 3.7V Lithium battery charging circuit
      • 5 Megapixel Camera Port
      • 4 lanes MIPI video Port
      • Touch Panel Port Included
        As yet, there's no plug-in like the HiFiBerry, but that couldn't be far behind.

      Hope that's not too much... The last few options would require some work to set up, but could be made quite lean if all they're doing is sending music to a DAC.

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Thats a whole lot of research. I appreciate it but the main criteria I am looking for is a PCI-E expansion slot so that I can use a Audiophile USB card like the SOTM, Paul Pang or JCAT. I currently have the ElFidelity card. All of these cards allow you to power them via an external power supply which eliminates noise generated by the computer. From what I understand the creator of this site Chris C has worked with SOTM to create a USB card that will work using an mSATA port. This is done in conjunction with the SOTM SATA noise filter. While I sure this is a great solution which allows the use of a lot more of the mini PC available it is out of my budget. What I am trying to find is a mini PC or bare board that retains a PCI-E expansion slot so my ELFidelity card can be used. As budget permits I can then upgrade to a better card in the future.

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The ASRock Q1900M motherboard is a good choice if you don't need a lot of CPU horsepower

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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SOtM now have external usb device.ado t need pcie slot.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I have a Streacom FC8 Evo Fanless Chassis loaded with a ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe LGA 1155 Intel Z77 mini-ITX board running an I7-3770T CPU and 16GB RAM. I use the single PCI slot to run my OS disk (OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD 240 GB) but of your course you can do differently. The music is stored on a 480GB SSD (480GB Mercury Electra 6G SSD 2.5" Serial-ATA 7mm 6Gb/s). Unfortunately I did not do my research properly before buying the motherboard so it did not meet the geometric specifications from Streacom for that chassis. So I had to be creative with the heat pipes but made it work in the end. With the proper board choice it would be more efficient.


Music is a collection of FLAC & DSD played by JRiver operated via JRemote on the iPad. Playback is off my LAN into a Sonore Rendu (original version, not Signature). The system has been up about 18 months and I am pleased with the results.


Hope this helps.



Nearfield Desk System: PC with JRiver MC > Sonore microRendu > Schiit Gungnir USB DAC > 6CB5A Amp  >Dave's Cables > Omega Super 3 Desktop Speakers on 1-3/4" Maple Butcher Block Table


My "Living Room" System: Sony HAP-Z1ES Player, 2 Pass Labs XA60.5 (Mids/Lows), Pass Labs XA30.5 Amp (Highs), First Watt B4 & B5 Crossovers, Nuforce MCP-18 Preamp, Oppo BDP-103D Video Player, Parasound 275v2 Amp (Center), Parasound 275v2 Amp (SL, SR) Paradigm 90P Full Range Speakers with Powered Subwoofers, Paradigm CC Center Channel, Paradigm Mini Monitor Surrounds, Sony KDL46XBR9 Monitor

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