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Here's a few handy explanations for terms common to the commercial arm of the world of quiet computing:


1. Quiet = Sounds like a jet engine

2. Very Quiet = Sounds like a vacuum cleaner

3. Silent = Can be heard quite easily from next door


Power = heat = fans = noise. The faster a fan spins the more noise it makes. The bigger a fan is the slower it can run and still shift the same amount of air. The closer you are to the fan the more you will be able to hear it.


Seriously now, and starting from the premise that the system needs to be in the listening room, by far the best way to start is with a CPU/Chipset that doesn't need a fan! If the motherboard will provide adequate power for your needs and all is passively cooled, then you can build a silent system. So, how much power you think you need is the place to start. My Samsung Netbook will play 24/192 files without breaking a sweat, the tiny fan runs somewhat but is inaudible from more than 2 feet away. This has all the power I need. I believe the same can be said for the Mac Mini. The latest Atom boards from Intel can form the basis of a silent system, if self-build is something you're looking at. (There's a recent thread about the Intel D510M0, for instance).


If your fancy is for a monster media server type of thing serving audio, hd video, internet streaming movies and the like then you will need a lot more power. Having a look in the 'Equipment' section of the forum, to see how Chris has approached the problems (and the solutions he found), would be a good place to start.


As far as power supplies and hard drives go, again, if they've got fans then they will make a noise. The manufacturer will claim they are 'silent', but if they have moving parts then they won't be! WD 'Green' series drives consume less power then most and will therefore run cooler. Solid State drives have no moving parts and consume much less power than their spinny brothers - expensive but no noise!


As far as power supplies are concerned, unfortunately you have to buy what you need - if your machine needs 300w to run at full chat, then you need a 500w power supply. I'm not that up-to-speed here, but the bigger the fan, and the slower it runs, the less noise it will make - so that's what I would look out for, for any given wattage capability.


Having been down this road a few times, I now start by looking at the purpose - how much power do you need in order for the computer to fulfill its purpose. (This isn't the same as 'How much power would I like'!!) If I need a lot of power, (video rendering, photo manipulation, web server functions etc), then I build or buy what can be hidden away - if it's in the cupboard under the stairs then I can't hear it and it can make as much noise as it wants!


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First off, if your Motherboard permits via Bios you probably want to underclock and undervolt your CPU, this will make it run much cooler. From there you can use heat pipes and a 120mm fan running at the lowest rpm. I actually have one computer with a Pent4 HT CPU which normally runs hot, now I only need heat pipes no fan.




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i must say that i am impressed by the prompt replies that i am getting on this site! because my listening room is also my recording room i am tending towards my desktop pc being out of the room and running a longer firewire to my RME 800. my only problem will be connecting the monitor so that it is accessible to view comfortably. i keep designing and redesigning the layout of my room. i have the basics; acoustic panels, bass traps and a fairly good equpiment setup. recording ability adds a whole other dimension to just sitting in my carefully positioned listening chair, closing my eyes and enjoying music! i'll share some 24bit recordings on this site when i am happy with the engineering! once again, thanks for the suggestions. Bob, i was looking at the WD 'Green' series today online as i need to add another hdd. after being a fan of seagate for a number of years, myself and friends have noticed a drop-off in the quality of their products and so i am looking for an alternative. Dynobot, thanks for giving me something else to investigate! the digital domain opens up whole new possibilities but also new problems. i find it fascinating!


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Well then, yes, you are going to need some grunt! The monitor shouldn't be a problem, you can just run a long dvi/vga lead along with the firewire cable. A wireless keyboard and mouse and you're good to go. My son has a bunch of 'Greens' fitted to a Drobo and they really do run that bit cooler. Might be worth checking around the recording forums - there's bound to be some chatter on these that will give you an idea about their suitability for hard-disc recording.


The room layout I've used and seen most often, is to site the desktop behind the wall against which the studio kit is positioned. That way you can keep the connecting runs as short as possible, which always helps.


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