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  Topic Review (Newest First)
2014-06-18 01:39 PM
ExDilbert AMD's more recent CPU designs, especially the AM3+ line, have typically understated TDP (actual TDP is higher than stated) and have been supplied with undersized heat sinks. That results in excessive noise. Replacing the heat sink can result in a quieter PC. AMD made some good low power HTPC CPUs a few years ago but they no longer seem to be available.

In contrast, Intel has made impressive gains in reducing TDP and improving the quality of the supplied heat sinks.
2014-06-17 10:15 AM
adamadamant
Quote:
Originally Posted by j0dest3r View Post
I see this thread regarding the issue. Most unfortunate. I would be curious to see how well the Windows 8 modern app for Netflix would perform since it isn't Silverlight based. Why does there always seem to be some sort of issue when an AMD proc is involved? Although this issue is probably more MS than AMD.
Interesting thread. The technical side of it is way beyond my pay grade though!
2014-06-17 09:57 AM
adamadamant
Quote:
Originally Posted by audacity View Post

Have you checked out silentpcreview.com?
I wasn't aware of this site. It seems mainly aimed at the self-build enthusiast, but thanks for the tip as by a stroke of good fortune it tests and reviews a Haswell i5 Intel NUC whose innards were to be transplanted into a self build but that didn't happen so the NUC itself was reviewed.
The audio performance numbers (measured in an anechoic chamber at 0.6m) are very impressive when the system is run as an HTPC and indeed it gets an editors choice award as a "near-perfect" media pc. The only other review of this machine I've seen, focused on its gaming capability (which I'm not particularly interested in) and clearly didn't impress the reviewer.
I'm now having serious thoughts about getting the NUC. Will ponder more at the weekend.
2014-06-16 05:05 PM
audacity I think you'll find that with a HTPC workload, any Haswell based processor will be idle most of the time. With those conditions, I suspect that the fans probably won't ever spin up to the "noisy" or "very noisy" levels.

That said, I think there is much value to be had in an enclosure that is larger so that it can fit in a "big-ass HSF", which is usually quiet.

Have you checked out silentpcreview.com?
2014-06-16 05:04 PM
j0dest3r I see this thread regarding the issue. Most unfortunate. I would be curious to see how well the Windows 8 modern app for Netflix would perform since it isn't Silverlight based. Why does there always seem to be some sort of issue when an AMD proc is involved? Although this issue is probably more MS than AMD.
2014-06-16 04:29 PM
adamadamant
Quote:
Originally Posted by j0dest3r View Post
Are you sure the EeeBox isn't overheating or something? My wife uses an older Dell and it will heat up and start to stutter on certain sites at certain times. When she complains I take apart the CPU fan, blow it out with air and then its good again for a while. I keep saying I'm going to replace the CPU fan but haven't yet.
No, I clean out the Eeebox semi-regularly and the problem is clearly site specific. The AMD series of APUs is known to have issues with streaming Microsoft Silverlight based video from Netflix (but only in HD). I'm not an expert, but I'm guessing that something (although there is nothing out there on the web that I can find) that something similar is in play with the problem websites I encounter.
2014-06-16 04:16 PM
adamadamant "I'm not sure how you can draw that conclusion."

I probably wasn't being totally clear but by Intel, I meant specifically their NUC (along with the Gigabyte Brix, current Zotacs etc). In the absence of empirical data, I can only go by comments in a very small number of reviews about audible fan noise (in one YouTube review, one Brix model's fan noise was described as "howling", but then it was being stress tested). However the noise levels are never quantified (despite there being an industry standard), and it's left to individuals to speculate how relevant these comments are to their own circumstances. The fact that all of the latest mid to-high range small form factor PC reviews have drawn comments about the fan noise to varying degrees, suggests that (small) size matters most and preventing noise "pollution" through better fan/case design, is not a high priority for the manufacturers when considering the "Next Unit of Computin


"I'm not disputing your assertion that the E450-based PC is noisy, but I'm just not sure how you put that on Intel's doorstep.

I'd blame the E450's fan/case if I were you."


Again, aplogies if I haven't been clear: The Eeebox's AMD E450 is is gloriously quiet normally, but the APU will not play video smoothly from certain websites (I quoted the CBC as one). It runs the CPU consistently above 80%. It will however play other high quality streams without effort.
By upgrading to something with a beefier CPU, I want to keep the E450's quietness but have no issues with streaming video.
2014-06-16 04:08 PM
j0dest3r Are you sure the EeeBox isn't overheating or something? My wife uses an older Dell and it will heat up and start to stutter on certain sites at certain times. When she complains I take apart the CPU fan, blow it out with air and then its good again for a while. I keep saying I'm going to replace the CPU fan but haven't yet.
2014-06-16 02:31 PM
audacity
Quote:
Originally Posted by adamadamant
It seems a shame that Intel et al appear to be sacrificing cooling/ fan noise in the race to be small in the small form factor segment.
I'm not sure how you can draw that conclusion.

Intel is very focused on power usage and heat dissipation. In fact, their most recent generation of x86 chips is almost exclusively focused on power/heat.

Consider, from your example:
- What is/was the price of a i5-based MacBook?
- What is/was the price of a E450-based PC, which is also a ~3 year old (2011) design.

I'm not disputing your assertion that the E450-based PC is noisy, but I'm just not sure how you put that on Intel's doorstep.

I'd blame the E450's fan/case if I were you.
2014-06-16 01:04 PM
adamadamant As far as I know, Apple are the only computer manufacturer that publishes accoustic performance data based on the ISO standard and that data supports anecdotal observations that the Mac mini is very quiet. I used my daughter's 3 year old i5 based Macbook over the weekend, and it had no problems playing the websites that cause my AMD E450 problems. It appears that for whatever reason the AMD apu is loading the work entirely onto its puny cpu while pretty much ignoring the half decent gpu.
I shall wait to see what the autumn brings by way of a mac mini update (if any) at which time I'll look again at the other i5 based options out there. It seems a shame that Intel et al appear to be sacrificing cooling/ fan noise in the race to be small in the small form factor segment.
2014-06-11 07:56 AM
Danno10000 I use a mac Mini with Plex to view most of my video content through my Roku 3. On the Roku (through Plex), I watch CBC and use the native Hulu Plus and Netflix apps, plus view local files (movies mostly mkv format, music, photo) located on a 4 TB hard drive attached to the mac Mini. This gives me the benefit of a mac home computer, as well as a Plex server that can handle multiple Roku's. I bought a refurb from Apple for $510 and was going to build another HTPC but thought this was cheaper and more powerful for the price. The mac Mini is super quiet (can't hear it), uses about 30 watts of power, comes with loads of software, is very small and plays video very well with no hiccups. You can easily connect the mac Mini directly to your TV and bypass the Roku, or do that and have a Roku as a second or third device on other TV's.
2014-06-10 03:39 PM
adamadamant I would go to around $7-800 for the right solution. This weekend, I will borrow a friend's laptop for a couple of hours, hook it up to my TV and see whether the flash issues are resolved. It runs Windows 8.1/ i5 4210U.
A slightly left field solution I'm thinking of, is to stick with what I've got for music (quiet, no issues), and go with a combination of IPad mini, Apple TV (for airplay) and Chromecast for streaming video. That takes the whole processor / fan noise debate out of the equation, although I may lose some flexibility down the line and may not be able to cover all my bases as far as video sources are concerned.
I've looked at building my own, but case size cf. Mac mini, NUC etc., is the issue.
2014-06-10 12:03 PM
ExDilbert The 4210U CPU has a TDP of only 15w and a max temp of 100c. It should be very easy to build a fanless solution with that and a NUC style case. Many processors with a 15w TDP use fanless heat sinks so it should be possible to either use a third party low noise option or slow the stock fan down with a speed controller. (I've actually unplugged or removed the fan on low powered CPU/GPU heat sinks with no issues but temps must be monitored.)

Another option may be something like the GIGABYTE GB-BXi3-4010 or GIGABYTE GB-BXi5-4200. They have a fan but it shouldn't be difficult to fix if you don't mind replacing the heat sink. I've used third party low profile "silent" heat sinks in HTPCs with good results. The GIGABYTE BRIX line tends to be a little richer in features than Intel NUC line.

The HDPlex cases are very nice but keep in mind that they cost as much as some low end mini-PCs.
2014-06-10 10:44 AM
Wayne What is your budget? I have built a totally silent HTPC using a HD-Plex fanless case and an SSD. It makes no noise and these cases are a little more expensive, but they can handle the Haswell CPUs with TDPs of about 65W and less.

2014-06-08 12:49 PM
adamadamant Thanks again for taking the time to reply, you've been very helpful. I think I'll make some more effort to find out just how "noisy" the NUC / Brix options are given the use I would put them to. It's disappointing that Zotac are launching an exciting (fanless!) new product with what appears to be a fairly old processor.
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