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Hardware Hacking Power

A PC Case with External Power Supply? 138

Posted by Cliff
from the out-of-the-box-thoughts dept.
aralin asks: "I am building a new home server (web server, email, source code repository, ...) and don't really need that much performance, but would like to make it ultra quiet. I have found some quiet, one platter harddrives and can get a lower-end graphics card without a fan. I underclock the CPU so it never really needs cooling, besides the load on the computer will be quite low, most of the time. What I cannot get around easily is the power supply. They are quite noisy and the quiet ones are really expensive. I'm just not going to put half of my budget on a power supply. Do you know any company that manufactures PC cases with external power supply or do you know any other cheap solution to a quiet PC?"
"So, I recently looked at the Mac Mini and it got me thinking, why couldn't PCs have an external power supply, like the Mac Mini or notebooks. Would it be so hard to make a case like that? It could be even smaller than the typical Mini-ITX cases, and with all the bricks from routers and external harddrives and other devices, I wouldn't mind one more lying around in exchange for the bliss of absolutely quiet PC in my bedroom."
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A PC Case with External Power Supply?

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  • well it depends on how much wattage, look how well the brick is doing for the power hungry xbox 360 ;)

    I don't think you'll be saving money though... What *IS* your power supply budget there are quiet, or quieter power supplies that are good and quiet (or with a little ingenuity and bravery can be made quieter -- especially if the draw is low ) that aren't *that* much... Yes the totally passive/fanless ones are pricey.

    I did a review of a casetronics c137 case [byopvr.com] with a via epia m10k mobo and it had a brick pow
  • by (H)elix1 (231155) <slashdot.helix@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Friday December 30, 2005 @09:52PM (#14368543) Homepage Journal
    You can get an external power brick just like a laptop. Normal ATX connection, usually lower watts.
  • You can get decent quality PSUs with 1 120mm fan in them for ~$100 these days.
  • $60 is quite reasonable and it's very quiet. Considering how little you'll be loading it, the fan will probably never reach past 20dB. That's basically silent from 4 feet away sitting on the floor next to a desk.

    Your idea would require a LOT of wire running from the PS on the floor for the different voltages, and the PS would still have to be well ventilated and thus off the carpet. There isn't much of a market for your idea at a $40 price. The near-silent Zalmans and the fan-less supplies already have the higher price points covered.

    Finally, some people do put their systems in a closet or adjacent room and drill holes for the cables. Not much point in only separating the PS if the hard drive will still make a miniscule amount of noise. People who care that much just move the whole system instead.
    • I think you make a great point. I don't think there's much point in silent (at least no fan) computers, the number of trade-offs to get there are pretty severe. Complaining about a computer whose total accoustical emissions is less than 30dB seems pretty spoiled to me. I also don't think it takes much to quiet a computer acceptably.
      • "Complaining about a computer whose total accoustical emissions is less than 30dB seems pretty spoiled to me."

        No, it just means that there are people who are more sensitive than you are. There's nothing wrong with that. For instance, some people (like me) can hear the whine of a CRT, while others (like my wife) think that said people are nuts. Some people use their computers for noise-sensitive recordings, in which case 30dB is far too loud. My computer is virtually silent within 4 ft (Seasonic S12-38

        • For many years, I thought *I* was crazy for being able to hear the CRT whine. Do you have any idea what frequency or db it is at, and why most people can't hear it?
          • What you hear in CRT whine is the horizontal scanning frequency. The PAL system generates noise at 15.625 kHz, and NTSC creates noise at 15.734 kHz. Computer monitors aren't always as noticable because the horizontal frequency can extend from 17-30 kHz. I couldn't give you a dB level, though.
          • What you hear in CRT whine is the horizontal scanning frequency. NTSC has a frequency of 15.734 kHz and PAL has a frequency of 15.625 kHz. Try it out in Cool Edit or some other sound file editor that lets you generate tones. Computer monitors aren't always as noticable because their horizontal scanning frequencies can range from 20-30 kHz, outside of the range of human hearing. I couldn't give you a dB level, though.
            • What are you talking about, my monitor says Freq-Horizontal is 67KHz, which is WELL outside any humans hearing range. Of course partial harmonics are possible. I think the real answer is that what you are hearing is overscan at the edges of the display, either vertial or horizontal where the electron beam is hitting outside the normal area of focus.
          • Some people don't notice, some people do, and some monitors are far worse than others. As people age their hearing in that range (and probably other ranges as well) tends to degrade. It used to drive me nuts at 17, at 27 I dont find myself noticing it as much. But I also think monitors are getting better.

        • Yea, I can hear the CRT, the laptop power supplies and all that. Unfortunately, my wife just got me a 42 inch plasma for XMas and I can hear that too - just don't have the heart to tell her.

          My wife would be able to hear it, but due to hearing damage from being a professional musician, thats not gonna happen.

          My issue is, I'm building a new computer too (LONG overdue) and I'm faced with the same decisions. I've basically decided that its going to annoy me no matter what. I've also decided that since its going
          • Personally, I wouldn't actually purchase the X pieces a month, instead just put the money away. Component prices are still on a general downwards trend, so buying everything at the last moment will generall get you a better deal.

            This is assuming that you can't make use of the new components in some other way before you have them all.

            On the quietness front, I bought an Antec Sonata case (has a big, variable speed case fan, nice rubber mountings for the hard drives and generally good build quality) and was pl
            • Well, there are 2 issues causing me to buy piece by piece...

              1 - APO address. Its really a pain to get stuff shipped to me because half the idiots on the web selling things tend to think these are PO boxes or someone trying to get an international shipment for free. In fact, I saw a seller on eBay (in Ohio) that jacked APO shipping prices up $39.95 on top of his $25 fee - all that for a power supply. I'm sorry, but $25 is enough to cover your packaging and the 3 minutes it takes to fill out a customs form.

              2
              • or put new computer in old case.. no fight...

              • 1 - APO address. Its really a pain to get stuff shipped to me because half the idiots on the web selling things tend to think these are PO boxes or someone trying to get an international shipment for free. In fact, I saw a seller on eBay (in Ohio) that jacked APO shipping prices up $39.95 on top of his $25 fee - all that for a power supply. I'm sorry, but $25 is enough to cover your packaging and the 3 minutes it takes to fill out a customs form.

                Huh? Isn't that all the more reason to order everythi

        • I have a a server behind me with 10 hard drives (not quite ones either) and more 80mm x 20mm and 120mm x 25mm fans than you can shake a stick at (I forget what the CPU fans are but they're loud and IIRC move air at 84cfm). Above that I have a Cabletron 2H252-25R (24-port 10/100) that is not quite. Sitting on that is a Cisco Pix 520 that is damned sure not quite. Did I mention the HP LaserJet 8550N next to my desk and the ceiling fan and floor fan I have to keep me cool in this room? The point is some pe
      • i'm still assembling a server that is intended to run without administration while i'm away at school next year. and while i could buy a very nice computer with a small number of fans for a reasonable price, i decided to go for a low power (in both senses) computer with no moving parts.
      • I didn't have to make any _severe_ tradeoffs to make my computer silent. I use a Zalman Reserator to cool the whole computer, I have an AMD64-3000+ (slightly undervolted), two generic graphics cards (nvidia, don't remember type, but not suitable for high-end gaming), and a Seagate HDD and a fanless silverstone power supply. All of these components are connected to the Reserator, and I built a really thick, well isolated box that I keep the HDD in. Even at one foots distance, the noise from the computer is d
        • the noise from the computer is drowned by the noise of blood running through my ears


          Damn, you can hear blood running through your ears? Either you have super-hearing, or some bizarre anatomy going on there.

          I have had mild tinnitus for as long as I can remember, and in a quiet to near quiet environment the ringing can be very annoying. For that reason I like to have a fan noise in the background, but computer fans and drives aren't quite the right sound.

    •   Your idea would require a LOT of wire running from the PS on the floor for the different voltages

      Why? Notebook power supplies only provide one voltage to the notebook; regulation down to 12V/5V/3V/etc. is done in the notebook, not the PSU. Why couldn't it be the same for PCs?

  • If put in a closet, it won't matter if it sounds much, and you shouldn't really be using it day-to-day anyway if it's a server. There are possibilities for remote admining on aswell Windows as *nix, so that shouldn't be a problem.
    • Why would you put a server in your bedroom?
      Servers are made to hold stuff. Holding stuff need space. Space means lots of big HDDs. Big HDD means it will generaly be loud. Unless you are living in a one room apartment, put it in another room. If you share your place with someone who you don't want touching your computer, get a locking case and make it headless and just remote in from your main computer for touching up.
      And if it must be in your bedroom for some reasion, put it in a closet or maybe under
      • put it in a closet

        Duh! That was exactly what I suggested (a wardrobe is a type of closet). And not all wardrobes are in the bedroom even though it's the most commom (of course, some other closet is even better, I give you that)...

        maybe under the bed

        Been there, done that. Won't work. If possible, worse, as the computer is a lot closer to you with its sound.

  • Remember Ohm's Law (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ben Jackson (30284) on Friday December 30, 2005 @10:02PM (#14368581) Homepage
    Power supplies put out a lot of current at relatively low voltage. Typical power supplies use 18AWG copper wire on the pigtails going to the motherboard. At about 6.5ohms/1000' I figure about a .035V drop on a 1' pigtail with 4 +5V wires (5V @ 22A, an old PS I have here, at max load). If you just extended that to 15' you'd have 15x the drop, or about .5V. So your "5V" would be 4.5V, which is probably out of spec. The problem is worse at lower voltages or higher currents (I think the latest motherboards use mostly 12V partly for this reason).

    You'd need a gang of 4+ 12ga or 10ga wires to keep the drop reasonable over a 15' distance. Now you're starting to see why power is distributed across the country at hundreds of thousands of volts, and newer cars are going to 24V or 48V systems.

    Muuuch easier to get a supply with only one fan (no need for a 550wa monster for a small system!) and if necessary replace it with a quiet fan. I got some panaflos and replaced several of mine and they were silent.
    • There are more than just a few cables. Recall the media power comes from the PSU not the mobo. So you'd have at least an HD [4 wires] + mobo [20 wires] for a total of at least 24 wires.

      And generally if the poster doesn't know about basic wiring electronics [e.g. ohms law] he/she shouldn't be wiring up a power supply outside of the "plug it into the mobo" routine.

      Tom
    • Power supplies put out a lot of current at relatively low voltage. Typical power supplies use 18AWG copper wire on the pigtails going to the motherboard. At about 6.5ohms/1000' I figure about a .035V drop on a 1' pigtail with 4 +5V wires (5V @ 22A, an old PS I have here, at max load). If you just extended that to 15' you'd have 15x the drop, or about .5V. So your "5V" would be 4.5V, which is probably out of spec. The problem is worse at lower voltages or higher currents (I think the latest motherboards use
  • by dorkygeek (898295) on Friday December 30, 2005 @10:04PM (#14368590) Journal
    So, I recently looked at the Mac Mini and it got me thinking, why couldn't PCs have an external power supply, like the Mac Mini or notebooks.
    Then why not buy the Mac Mini? You can do all you want to do with it, and if you have absolutely the need for it, you can always install GNU/Linux on it.

    • As a diehard Mac user, I've been mulling over buying a couple/few mini's myself for just this reason. I haven't been able to find anything remotly equivalent on the x86 side, but I might go ahead and build a couple of PC's out of standard components anyway. The OS's I plan to run are OpenBSD, Fedora Core, and Mac OS X/Mac OS X Server (have many machines available for this). Here's what I came up with:

      Antec SLK1650B case w/350W supply: $100 at CDW
      Intel BOXD915GAGLK motherboard: $145 at CDW
      Intel Celeron 2.53
      • As a diehard Mac user, I've been mulling over buying a couple/few mini's myself for just this reason. I haven't been able to find anything remotly equivalent on the x86 side

        Rumor has it this'll be solved by Apple at Macworld in early January.

        I have my credit card ready.
      • I haven't been able to find anything remotly equivalent on the x86 side, but I might go ahead and build a couple of PC's out of standard components anyway.

        Aopen have one. [linuxdevices.com]

        This "MiniPC" will also be quite a bit faster than the Mac Mini, even without taking OS X's sluggishness into account.

        • Nifty.

          Except for the fact that the AOpen Mini PC doesn't actually seem to be available, although Engadget has reviewed one on 22 December 2005 that costs 700 quid...the Register's review of the same unit is a bit more extensive, but they rate it somewhere below the Mac mini.

          The Linux Devices article, published 1 November 2005, claims the unit will be available throught Tiger Direct "this month", but a search of the Tiger Direct web site turns up no mention of this product.

          I still wish Apple would take an iM
          • The Linux Devices article, published 1 November 2005, claims the unit will be available throught Tiger Direct "this month", but a search of the Tiger Direct web site turns up no mention of this product.

            Sounds like they might be hard to find in the US...

            Here in Australia, you can pick one up for ~$1100 (~$800 US) with a Pentium M 740, 512M RAM, 40G hard disk and DVDRW (although that's from a seller who isn't know for being cheap, they're probably available for a couple of hundred less elsewhere).

            I still

      • Right now, for me, the big issue is the repairability, so I'm probably going the PC route right now.

        If you can reliably and for free fix a computer within the usual 2 to 3 day time that Apple can fix one, then it might be worth weighing that as an option.

        Otherwise, being that your comfortable with Macs already and they support windows and linux filesharing and remote access, for the form factor, quietness, and price, I don't see how you could do any better.

        • If you can reliably and for free fix a computer within the usual 2 to 3 day time that Apple can fix one, then it might be worth weighing that as an option.

          Usual 2 to 3 day time? I know a lot of mac users, used to be one myself, and the usual story of AppleCare service is either an instant turnaround in the store, or a litany of tears. I also cannot count the number of slashdot comments I've seen (from different people, even) that detail an encounter with AppleCare that led to several weeks without a l

    • Why not? Connectors. Some people like high quality audio and video coming out of their HTPC, so the Mac Mini is not suitable for purpose in many home theatre environments. Possibly slightly off topic, but if you want a silent home theatre PC, the mac isn't an option. (In a fit of marketing madness if you ask me, a good quality digital audio out would make the mac mini the ultimate all in one HTPC).
  • 12V, 5V (Score:1, Redundant)

    by St. Arbirix (218306)
    I've often wondered, with as much small digital equipment as people have around their houses, why we don't run a general 12VDC and maybe a 5VDC line to every plug in the house besides the 120VAC.

    It would certainly cut down on the number of wall-warts hogging outlets, besides fixing issues like these.
  • Antec P180 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Matt Perry (793115) <perry.matt54NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Friday December 30, 2005 @10:15PM (#14368625)
    do you know any other cheap solution to a quiet PC?
    You don't list what your budget is so I don't know what cheap means to you. Since you mention any other solution, I'd go for a quite case and look at the Antec P180. You can always put in a new quiet power supply later. I bought this case several weeks ago for $120 and was really impressed by how quiet it is.

    Here's a photo tour [silentpcreview.com]. A small review [silentpcreview.com]. A larger review [silentpcreview.com].

    You also might want to ask on the forums at Silent PC review [silentpcreview.com]. There are people there who have a lot of experience building silent PCs and will be able to let you know if there is an external power supply that would fit your requirements.

  • by lucm (889690) on Friday December 30, 2005 @10:31PM (#14368661)
    You get a good, quiet PSU with the case, and there is even a knob where you can set the fan speed. The hd are mounted on rubber washers, not directly on metal, so even at full spin they are not noisy. You also get a heat duct that drains the cpu heat outside the case.

    The Sonata 2 ships with one 120mm fan, I advise you to add a second (plenty of sockets on the case). Big fans turn slowly, which is less noisy.

    This is what I have at home, and if you unplug the blue leds there is no way to tell if the power is on unless you put your hand behind the psu fan.

    This being said, I advise you to always put the psu at the top of your list when you buy a pc. Good, reliable power will give your hd a longer life.

  • 1. Stock el-cheapo PSU.
    2. 80mm Vantec Stealth fan to replace original one. Maybe zalman has a standalone standard 80mm fan, which, if they do, probbably comes with a nifty little rheostat to control the RPM.

    Problem solved. On a budget.
    • You will be likely shortening the lifespan of your PSU doing that. I did that too, and mine burnt out after two years. When I got the quality replacement, I noticed just how much more surface area its aluminum heatsink had to keep it cool.
  • Google? (Score:2, Funny)

    by KurdtX (207196)
    I don't suppose google has been of any help, has it?
    http://www.google.com/search?q=quiet+psu [google.com]

    I seemed to find a pretty quiet PSU pretty easy, dunno about you:
    http://www.endpcnoise.com [endpcnoise.com]

    Because while an external PSU might be cool, you're really only trying to solve the noise problem.
  • If you mean a Windows OS PC, you don't have a lot of options. You said you underclock your current "PC", so you don't need high performance. If you speak Linux, pick up an embedded box - like a gumstix.

    If you're a gameboy and need a superfast_quiet_windows_pc_that_mom_wont_hear_late _at_night you're stuck with the hardware that MSFT offers.

    [ Please insert another coin to continue... ]

    • You're not making sense. You're not stuck with what a single vendor offers unless you go with a Mac.

      You're more constrained with Windows than a Freenix (i.e. NetBSD or one of the Linux-based OS) but you're even MORE constrained with a Mac.

      Get a fanless Xterminal and put your main CPU in a separate room.
    • yes, because no-one will sell you components for x86 machine, will they? it's not as if you can't buy everything from a silent PSU to a 3.5" drivebay cigarette lighter at just about any computer shop in the world or anything...
  • in this area isSilent PC Review [silentpcreview.com]. For silent computing, take a look at their recommended page.

    Probably the best PSU for your use is a Seasonic S12-330W. About $50, and coupled with a Antec 3000B or similar less than $80. If you want more powerful, I'd look at the Antec P150 with included NeoPower 430.

  • Power supplies aren't noisy, their cooling fans are.

    An external supply might still need a fan, plus the cabling will be a pain in the posterior.

    Something you're also overlooking, the internal power supply's fan is part of the overall cooling system for the case and its contents. You'll still need a fan inside the case.

    Back in the PC/XT days there was a case that needed some of the holes in the front covered up in order to increase the velocity of the air being pulled through the case by the internal power

  • by xtal (49134) on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:02PM (#14368747)
    I got sick of not having what you described, so I partnered with a company to make them. (obviously I have a commercial interest).

    You can see one of our cases reviewed on EPIAcenter.com [epiacenter.com] right now.. I think it's pretty close to what you want, and if it isn't, a few minutes on the phone can have it customized any way you want.

    Boot off flash and NFS mount a partition to a server in another room and you have your perfectly silent PC.

    The power supply is a hybrid; get a DC/DC converter from a company like mini-box.com, then get one of their external notebook-style power adapters.

    • Boot off flash and NFS mount a partition to a server in another room and you have your perfectly silent PC.

      Did you even read the post? At all? You know, it starts with "I am building a new home server ..."

      He wants a silent *server*, not a silent workstation. And the server he speaks of is evidently going to be in is bedroom (likely because Mom doesn't want it in the living room).

      obviously I have a commercial interest

      Obviously. That's why you ignored what the original poster asked for and offered a solut
      • ..and if you looked, you'd realize most of the options that are there are just as well tailored to a silent-ish server. You're not going to get silent when drives are running, but you can come very close. As I pointed out, a quick call and it's easy to do a one-off just for that application.

        Happy 06, and not from the marketting department. :-)

  • Disclaimer: Don't do this unless you're pretty comfortable working with high voltages and large capacitors.

    Disassemble the power supply. Unbolt the fan from the side. Reinstall it using longer bolts and a few rubber washers to hold the fan away from the side of the p/s case. Use foam tape to fill the gap between the fan and the case. Your power supply should now be significantly quieter.
  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7&cornell,edu> on Friday December 30, 2005 @11:33PM (#14368825) Homepage
    You mentioned Mini-ITX in your article... Have you looked AT ALL into products designed to be used with Mini-ITX boards? There are numerous ATX compliant power supplies that operate using DC/DC conversion and only need a single 12V input, and most vendors that sell such DC/DC power supplies (such as mini-box.com) also sell high-wattage 12V supplies too.
  • Try a Shuttle Zen (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wwolmack (731212) on Saturday December 31, 2005 @01:18AM (#14369128)
    Shuttle's ST62K has an external power supply, and uses socket 478 cpus:

    Review at Silent PC Review [silentpcreview.com]
    Shuttle Product Page [shuttle.com]

    $215 at Newegg [newegg.com]
  • PC Power supplies are switching, and emit less heat with less load. Since youre not using much power in the first place, just open the power supply (DISCONNETED !!) and unplug the fan inside). Youll just need the additional budget of a screw driver... or the trouble of borrowing it.

    I've powered PC motherboards using batteries before (not the harddisks)... they dont use much power. If the CPU power is low too, and you can make do with bootable USB key instead of harddisk, you might be able to just use two po
  • Wouldn't an old notebook, sans fans, work perfectly for this?
  • SilenX (Score:4, Informative)

    by dFaust (546790) on Saturday December 31, 2005 @02:47AM (#14369366)
    You could check out SilenX [silenx.com]. While their PSUs can get pricey, a 300W model can be had for $59.95 and is rated at 14dba. That's under load... not under load the fan can run even quieter. That puts the SilenX's loudest at being nearly 3x quieter than the Zalman mentioned in another post when the Zalman is running at it's quitest. The Zalman can reach up to 30dba, which is something like 32x louder than 14dba.

    I've only owned SilenX's fans, but I'm EXTREMELY pleased with them. A 92mm 14dba fan and 120mm 14dba fan (~17dba combined) quieted my system considerably while actually lowering temps. I haven't tried their PSUs, but I'm expecting one any day now and have read plenty of great reviews of them.

    • Re:SilenX (Score:2, Informative)

      by eMadman (911276)
      SilenX doesn't perform as advertised for most people. Add in their high cost and extremely deceptive dB ratings, I'd avoid them like the plague. No 120mm fan hits 14dba unless it's been heavily undervolted. Nexus fans are considered the gold standard for silent cooling and they operate at 22 dB. Personally, I'd suggest buying any branded PSU (preferably Antec) that operates off a 120mm fan. Run it for a while and see how it goes for you. If it's too loud, replace the existing fan with a Nexus/Yate Loo
  • http://www.mini-box.com/s.nl/sc.8/category.13/it.A /id.300/.f [mini-box.com]

    Did a little looking around, since I know the Dell GX620 in it's ultra small form factor. I didn't read the manual, but it claims to be able to run most P4 boards up to 3Ghz.
  • Seasonic S12 series (Score:3, Informative)

    by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) on Saturday December 31, 2005 @03:44AM (#14369511)
    You really can't beat the Seasonic S12 series. Extremely low noise (silent for most purposes under normal conditions), clean power, high-efficency (less heat / wasted power), active PFC (easier on the power lines), auto 120/240 voltage.

    The S12 comes in a 330W version that should be fine for your PC. It runs around $55-$65 on the 'Egg or other online stores.

    Pair it with a nice case (Antec 3000SLK or perhaps P180), a decent CPU heatsink (Scythe Ninja, Zalman, or a number of others), and a decent mobo/GPU (no fan), and a nice drive (Samsung is the best, Maxtor/Seagate/WD FDB drives can be pretty quiet as well), and you have a nice quiet system.

    Check out http://silentpcreview.com/ [silentpcreview.com]
  • by Detritus (11846)
    In general, low-voltage power supplies and long wires do not mix. One of the reasons that the power supply is inside the case is to keep the wires reasonably short. Even if you use larger gauge wires, excessive wire length can cause problems with voltage regulation.
  • Morex (Score:4, Informative)

    by TeknoHog (164938) on Saturday December 31, 2005 @11:12AM (#14370531) Homepage Journal
    I have a Morex 80 W PSU, with a laptop-style 12 volt adapter outside the case. Inside the case there's a circuitboard that generates the other voltages. No fans in either part. Bought mine from www.hrt.de, and I've used it to power both an EPIA board and a Pentium III ATX system with equal success.

    The main limitation with these PSUs is the number of drives you can use. This Morex has only one connector for desktop optical and hard drives (and a couple of smaller connectors for floppy and mobile drives), but I've managed to use a HD and a DVDRW drive with a dual adapter. On the other hand, if you need more power, I think Morex makes these for up to 200 W.

  • Yup, that's right, full size cases with an external power supply. The "problem" was that the cable was relatively short - about 60-80 cm, if I recall correctly. A bit fuzzy about the details, but I think they were sold under the "Windy" name ... a Soldam company.

    I am not an EE, and all that, but I think the main problem with having long low voltage wires is loss ...
  • Dumpster Diving (Score:2, Informative)

    by j()nty (741565)

    I use an old desktop PC to do this job. I salvaged it from an office. Hardware is:

    • Compaq Deskpro EN Small-Form-Factor. The SFF matters because the regular EN can be noisy.
    • PIII 800MHz
    • 256MB RAM
    • Built in Intel graphics, 1024x768 16 bit colour
    • Built in Intel NIC, 100Mb/s
    • 3 PCI slots for whatever else you want to add
    • New 200GB Seagate drive
    • New DVD RW

    This runs my email, internal web server, internal DNS and DHCP, file server, print spooler, version control, and so on. It never even notices the load fr

    • You have two choices other than dumpster diving - one is to buy really quiet components and other is go with fanless watercooling. I can tell you from experience that the fans make a really big difference. I usually buy the best fans I can afford and they usually run under 10-15 dB. It's hard to tell that stuff is even one, especially once you get the case buttoned up.

      I have a case fan that I bought that runs at under 10dB - which less literally than a whisper. Keep the HDD and the CD/DVD drives quiet.
  • Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel, buy yourself a used Compaq Deskpro. They're already ultra-quiet, and you don't need to get an external power supply for them. As performance isn't an issue, you can pick up a PIII for under $100, and just add whatever size HD you want - no need to piecemeal your machine together or pay through the nose for quiet.

    Seriously, Deskpros are wonderful machines, especially if you like silence.
  • So basically you need a PC with a hard drive and a ethernet connection to be a silent web server, email server, repository, et al. You don't need a huge power supply, just something that can power those two items (maybe a CD or DVD drive).

    You might as well go Mini-ITX, with the Via EPIA platform. They make small motherboards that fit anywhere (with on-board video and Ethernet) and direct-to-mobo 60W and 70W power supplies that only need a 12V external power supply brick. I have a EPIA V10000 that's runni
  • My VIA Epia runs on an external power supply without any fans. IF you already got your computer (I did this and it worked): Buy a cheap power supply with enough wattage eg. if you have 1 or 2 drives and an underclocked system then I think an el-cheapo 500W power supply will do (30 of 40$). Open it up and disconnect the fan :-). I do recommend however testing that out (by blocking the fan with a pen) and if it breaks you can always return it as to see if it doesn't explode after running a few hours at maxim

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