View Full Version : Simplest PC to use?

2007-08-20, 10:35
Any advice on the cheapest and least heat-producing windows XP PC (or specs I should look for) that could be used as a Slimbox server? A fanless design would be ideal.. I've been using an old desktop and it really heats up the place! Barebones closeout with a laptop chipset? Also any suggestions to set up with minimum processes? Thanks so much!

Mark Lanctot
2007-08-20, 10:59
Look into VIA mini-ITX boards with integrated processors. Very low power consumption and low fans/fanless. Finding a case might be a problem, but apparently you can even get brick-type power supplies (fanless) so you could have a 100% fanless solution.

Expensive for what you get though.

However I get the impression you want something preassembled off-the-shelf. There's been talk about the HP e-Vectra, but it looks like it's been long ago discontinued - you'd have to go to eBay.

2007-08-20, 13:51
Gosh, Mark you are fast! No, I don't need something pre-assembled off-the-shelf. Anything that's under $500 and useable...

2007-08-21, 15:15
Hi ctodd,

FWIW, after some research at http://silentpcreview.com, I decided to wait for Penryn before doing a new build for home file/slimserver (and possibly DVR).

To deal with my new SB3's needs (and light home file serving) in the short term, I've recycled an old IBM Thinkpad T23. I had a non-functioning unit that turned out to have a reasonably quick fix.

Once I had it operating I:

Changed out the memory to 1GB total ($125, eBay shopping)
Added a Cardbus-to-ESATA adapter ($50)
Antec MX-1 external drive enclosure ($60)
Samsung HD501LJ 500GB drive ($120)

So I've got $355 invested (helps to start with the inoperable laptop of course), plus the time to do a clean OS & software install.

The T23 has the 1.2GHz P3-M Tualatin (out-benchmarks my 2GHz P4 desktop). So far I've had it concurrently loaded with:

playing music on the SB3
extracting (EAC to FLAC)
updating the web interface to my laptop, and
running Rosetta@Home protein folding at a 70% duty-cycle (lowest priority)

No playback problems so far. The CPU temp is cycling between 50C and 70C (fan comes on at 70C, very quiet out in the room, should be inaudible once I put it in the rack). The Antec MX-1 and Samsung are inaudible from about 0.5m away, I haven't seen the HD501LJ reporting more tha 2C above ambient ... The MX-1 does a nice job of cooling.

Across a 48-hour test run my power meter reported the average power consumption at 32w. My use pattern lets the Samsung (music and other data, Thinkpad's internal drive is the OS) spin down for a lot of hours during the day; the lid is closed (no display backlight), and SpeedStep is dropping the P3-M's clock during the 30% non-Rosetta time. Completely idle, external disk spun-down power was 21w.

I think you could beat those power numbers with the Via CPUs and careful component choices, but if you've got an old laptop that can keep itself cool without too much fan noise, you may be able to beat the cost of a new Via-based build by "recycling."


2007-08-22, 07:15
I have built a fanless VIA based server for well under 500$. Here is what I used:

•Cabinet: Morex Cubid 3688
•Motherboard: VIA ME6000
•2.5” Hard disk, fx 120GB
•Slim CD-rom (not absolutely necessary)

Everything bought in shops for approx. 350$. You might want to use a little more powerful CPU (still fanless) and perhaps a bigger hard disk, but of course it will cost a little more. I use just a external 500GB USB disk also fanless.


2007-08-22, 07:59
Lots of tips, buying lists and pictures here: http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=37133 and here: http://www.ulverston.myzen.co.uk/mini-itx/index.htm

Lots more threads on the same subject in the DIY forum