Quiet, Efficient Gaming
The last few weeks have been dominated by talk about the memory controller of the Maxwell based GTX 970. There are some very strong opinions about that particular issue, and certainly NVIDIA was remiss on actually informing consumers about how it handles the memory functionality of that particular product. While that debate rages, we have somewhat lost track of other products in the Maxwell range. The GTX 960 was released during this particular firestorm and, while it also shared the outstanding power/performance qualities of the Maxwell architecture, it is considered a little overpriced when compared to other cards in its price class in terms of performance.
It is easy to forget that the original Maxwell based product to hit shelves was the GTX 750 series of cards. They were released a year ago to some very interesting reviews. The board is one of the first mainstream cards in recent memory to have a power draw that is under 75 watts, but can still play games with good quality settings at 1080P resolutions. Ryan covered this very well and it turned out to be a perfect gaming card for many pre-built systems that do not have extra power connectors (or a power supply that can support 125+ watt graphics cards). These are relatively inexpensive cards and very easy to install, producing a big jump in performance as compared to the integrated graphics components of modern CPUs and APUs.
The GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti have proven to be popular cards due to their overall price, performance, and extremely low power consumption. They also tend to produce a relatively low amount of heat, due to solid cooling combined with that low power consumption. The Maxwell architecture has also introduced some new features, but the major changes are to the overall design of the architecture as compared to Kepler. Instead of 192 cores per SMK, there are now 128 cores per SMM. NVIDIA has done a lot of work to improve performance per core as well as lower power in a fairly dramatic way. An interesting side effect is that the CPU hit with Maxwell is a couple of percentage points higher than Kepler. NVIDIA does lean a bit more on the CPU to improve overall GPU power, but most of this performance hit is covered up by some really good realtime compiler work in the driver.
Asus has taken the GTX 750 Ti and applied their STRIX design and branding to it. While there are certainly faster GPUs on the market, there are none that exhibit the power characteristics of the GTX 750 Ti. The combination of this GPU and the STRIX design should result in an extremely efficient, cool, and silent card.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 17, 2014 - 03:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB, DirectCU II, silent, factory overclocked
The new ASUS STRIX series, which currently has only one member, is a custom built card designed for silent operation by not spinning up the fans until the GPU hits 65C. They've also doubled the RAM for the first model, the GTX 780 OC 6GB which should help with 4k gaming as well as putting a 52MHz overclock on the GPU out of the box. [H]ard|OCP had a chance to try out this new card and test it against the R9 290X and a standard GTX 780. Considering the price premium of $100 on this card it needs to do significantly better than the base GTX 780 and in line with the R9 290X which indeed it does do out of the box.
Of course the first thing you do with a silent card is attempt to overclock it until it screams which of course [H] did and managed to get GPU up to 1.215GHz on air which offered noticeable improvements. Stay tuned for 4k and SLI results in the near future.
"We take the new ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card and push it to its limits while overclocking. We will compare performance overclocked with a GeForce GTX 780 Ti, AMD Radeon R9 290X and find out what gameplay improvements overclocking allows. This card isn't just silent, its got overclocking prowess too."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- ASUS GTX 780 Ti Matrix Platinum Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Inno3D GeForce GTX 780 Ti iChill DHS 3072MB @ Kitguru
- 35-Way NVIDIA/AMD Proprietary Linux Graphics Driver Comparison @ Phoronix
- Let’s Do Some Math: AMD Radeon R9 295X2 2x4GB @ X-bit Labs
- HIS R9 290X iPower IceQ X² Turbo & R9 290 iPower IceQ X² OC @ Legion Hardware
- MSI R9 280 Gaming v PNY GTX760 XLR8 @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 14, 2013 - 11:51 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: utilite, ubuntu, silent, SFF, linux, fanless, cortex-a9, compulab, arm, Android
CompuLab has announced a new fanless, small form factor PC called the Utilite. This new PC comes from the same company that engineered the MintBox, MintBox 2, and Fit PC series. The Utilite is a low-power desktop PC powered by a quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor and runs either Ubuntu Linux or Google’s Android operating system.
The upcoming Utilite measures 5.3” x 3.9” x 0.8”(135 x 100 x 21mm) and consumes anywhere between 3W and 8W of power depending on the particular hardware configuration. It is designed to be a quiet desktop replacement with plenty of IO.
CompuLab will provide single core, dual core, and quad core CPU SKUs. Specifically, the Utilite is powered by a Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor that is clocked at up to 1.2 GHz. Users will be able to further configure the system with up to 4GB of DDR3 1066 MHz memory and a 512GB mSATA SSD. Storage can be further expanded using Micro SD-XC cards (maximum of 128GB per card). The GPU in the SoC is compatible with OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 as well as OpenVG 1.1 and OpenCL EP. It is capable of hardware decoding multi-stream 1080p video in a variety of common formats.
Wireless functionality includes an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi card and Bluetooth 3.0.
The Utilite has a dark gray case with silver front and rear bezels.
The front of the Utilite PC features the following IO options in addition to the power button and indicator LEDs.
- 1 x USB OTG (Micro USB)
- 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
- 1 x Micro SD card slot
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks (line in, line out)
The rear of the PC hosts:
- 1 x DC power input
- 1 x Wi-Fi antenna
- 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jacks
- 2 x HDMI video outputs
According to fanless PC guru FanlessTech, CompuLab will be releasing the ARM-powered Utilite mini PC next month with a starting price of $99 and a variety of SKUs with varying amounts of CPU cores, memory, and storage. The Utilite PC is a bit on the expensive side, but this is a system for industrial and enterprise use as well as consumers, and Olivier from FanlessTech notes that build quality should be on par with those goals/industry aims.
Most IT workers or computer enthusiasts tend to ‘accumulate’ computer and electronics gear over time. Over the years it is easy to end up with piles of old and outdated computer parts, components and electronics–whether it’s an old Pentium machine that your work was throwing out, RAM chips you no longer needed after your last upgrade, or an old CRT monitor that your cousin wasn’t sure what to do with. Tossing the accumulated hardware out with the next trash pickup doesn’t even enter the equation, because there’s that slight possibility you might need it someday.
I myself have one (or two, and maybe half an attic…) closet full of old stuff ranging from my old Commodore 64/1541 Floppy disk drive with Zork 5.25” floppies, to a set of four 30 pin 1 MB/70ns SIMM chips that cost $100 each as upgrades to my first 486 DX2/50 Mhz Compudyne PC back in 1989. (Yes, you read that right, $100 for 1 MB of memory.) No matter if you have it all crammed into one closet or spread all over your house, you likely have a collection of gear dating back to the days of punch cards, single button joysticks, and InvisiClues guides.
Occasionally I’ll look into my own closet and lament all the ‘wasted’ technology that resides there. I’m convinced much of the hardware still has some sparks of life left. As a result, I am always looking for a reason to revive some of it from the dead. Since they’ve already been bought and paid for, it feels almost blasphemous to the technology gods not to do something with the hardware. In some cases, it might not be worth the effort, (Windows Vista on an old Micron Transport Trek2 PII-300 laptop doesn’t end well for anyone). In others cases, you can build something fun or useful using parts that you have sitting around and are waiting for a new lease on life.
Subject: Systems | April 24, 2012 - 06:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: silent, SFF, Lenovo, ThinkCentre M91p
Most people who want a small form factor PC at home are those who will build it themselves, but not everyone has the time or inclination to do so. That is where systems like the Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p come in handy. Powered by a 2.7GHz Core 5-2500S, a single 4GB DIMM of DDR3-1333 and a 500GB HDD it is not overwhelming in its abilities but certainly qualifies as a low heat and low noise machine. Silent PC Review thought that this machine would be better for an office PC than an HTPC as the Intel HD3000 struggles with playback in some cases but are very glad to see the rare 2500S in a system as it is hard to purchase as a seperate item but is quite nice with a turbo speed of 3.7GHz.
"The USFF version of Lenovo's ThinkCentre M91p packs a significant punch in a small package. Utilizing an Intel "S" low power processor and a 150W external AC power adapter, it's also incredibly energy efficient."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Dell Alienware X51 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Dell Precision T3600 Review: Dell's New Enterprise @ AnandTech
- QuietPC Nofan Icepipe A40-Z68 Silent PC @ OC3D
- ZOTAC ZBOX Nano XS AD11 Plus Mini PC Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Ars Technica system guide: Bargain Box April 2012
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 5, 2011 - 12:49 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: silent, Passive, HD 6770, cooling, asus, amd
Something nice was dropped off at the house today, and I thought I would share.
Passive, eh? HD 6770? Sure enough...
How long has it been since I last saw a passive midrange video card? Well, I would guess it would be in 2007 with the Gigabyte 8600 GTS Silent Pipe.
Don't worry, I have permission from the owner of that site to use this picture.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | October 3, 2011 - 12:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: PSU, Kingwin, Kingwin Stryker 500W, silent, fanless
Not too long ago Lee gave the PC Perspective Gold Seal to the Kingwin Stryker 500W Fanless PSU thanks to the superior power quality and five year warranty. Just in case you weren't swayed by his testing, you can double check the results over at Think Computers. They tried the same PSU with a different test machine set up and came up with the same results, a 80PLUS Platinum rated silent PSU that delivers everything you would expect. Their only negative point was the same as Lee's, the price is more than double the cost of an equivalent PSU with active cooling. You have to pay a premium for this type of PSU but it is worth it if you need it.
"Almost everyone wants the quietest yet most powerful computer possible. Most components generate noise because of the fans cooling them, or because of moving parts. Obviously, solid state drives have eliminated the necessity for moving parts for storage and liquid cooling can replace fans for most components. However, there’s still one pesky component which still generates noise: the high wattage power supply unit. Fanless PSUs have been around for a while, but they’re generally lower wattage and meant for business machines or ultra-efficient HTPCs."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- HEC Cougar SX 550w @ Funky Kit
- In Win Glacier 900 W @ techPowerUp
- Antec High Current Pro 850W Power Supply Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Corsair Professional Series HX1050 Power Supply Unit Review @ eTeknix
- Thermaltake TR2 700w @ XSReviews
- Antec Basiq VP550P 550 W @ techPowerUp
- OCZ ZS750W @ Tweaktown
- OCZ ZS Series 750 W @ techPowerUp
- Corsair TX750M Power Supply Review @ HardwareHeaven
- NZXT HALE90 750W Power Supply Unit Review @ eTeknix
- Be Quiet! Pure Power CM L8 730 W @ techPowerUp
- Antec VP550P 550W PSU Review @ HardwareLOOK
- LEPA W500-SA 500W Power Supply Review @ Real World Labs
Subject: Cases and Cooling | May 24, 2011 - 04:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: HDPLEX, silent, mITX
Silent PC Review just met it's first so called 'silent' case that actually lives up to the name without needing user modification. The HDPLEX H3.SODD is an mITX case which looks like a home theatre component or a fancy rack-mount case. The inputs and outputs are hidden nicely as are the power button and slim DVD eject port. The design should be cool enough to handle a CPU of about 85W TDP, the i3-2120 SPCR used had no problems which lead them to make that estimate on the cooling power. It is a little more expensive than some cases, coming in over $200, in this case it does seem you get what you pay for.
"The new H3.SODD media case for mini-ITX from HDPLEX is a more compact version of the H10 we examined a couple of months ago. This slim-line case performances and exudes high end chic despite its modest price tag. Our sample also manages to be the very first completely silent commercial computer SPCR has encountered after nine years of continuous operation."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- NZXT H2 Classic Review @ OCC
- SilverStone Raven RV03 Full-Tower Chassis Review @ Techgage
- AZZA Toledo 301 Case Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Cooler Master Silencio 550 Chassis Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Silverstone Fortress FT03 @ Overclock3D
- BitFenix Shinobi Case Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Corsair Obsidian Series 650D Mid Tower Case Review @ Legit Reviews
- Cooler Master Silencio @ OC3D
- Cooler Master Centurion 5 II Review @ OCC
- LanCool First Knight PC-K63 @ TweakTown
- AZZA Toledo 301 Review @ OCC
- Fractal Design Arc Midi Tower @ techPowerUp
- SilverStone Raven SST-RV03B-W EATX @ TweakTown
- NZXT H2 Silent Mid-tower Case Review @Hi Tech Legion
- Cooler Master Silencio 550 Chassis Preview @ eTeknix
- Spire CoolGate 10 cpu cooler @ Hardwareoverclock
- Prolimatech Genesis CPU Cooler Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Noctura NH-C14 Heatsink Review @ Ninjalane