Did you just buy a brand new PC and turn it on only to be greeted to the sound similar to that of a small jet aircraft. Well you're not alone. Most PCs nowadays are loud, especially if you care a lick about cooling and have two or more extra fans in there. Noise hasn't really been much of a consideration for most PC enthusiasts but it can quickly become a nuisance. My roommate has personally gone through a few sleepless nights because of my very loud system. Many people resort to turning their PCs off at night just to get some sleep. I know a lot of you are familiar with the difference when you turn your PC off. The noise can be very annoying and distract you if you're trying to do some work, such as writing this review for example. In a corporate environment where you have open cubicles, a noisy system can quickly make you very unpopular with your coworkers. Software developers especially don't like too many distractions when they're working on a project with tight deadlines. Sacrificing a little noise for better cooling is an acceptable trade-off for the overclocker or power user. However, your average Joe cares not about cooling the system a couple more degrees. He does cares about not having the neighbors complain every time he turns on the computer. Ok ok, maybe it's not that bad, but keeping the PC as quiet as possible has been getting more and more difficult with all the faster processors needing better (which mostly means faster/louder) cooling and the hard drives/CDROMs operating faster and making more noise. Although there are a few things you can do to modify your case to be quieter, why not just get a case that was built to be quiet? Well that's where this product comes in, the Silent-PC. In this review, I take a look at what this product has to offer and whether it delivers on its claims. Big PC manufacturers like Dell or Gateway haven't paid as much attention to this aspect of the PC as the folks over at SP North America have.
Before we get into the guts of the Silent-PC, let's take a look at the company that brings us this product. Although SP is new to North America, this German company has been around since 1979. They started off as a franchise selling C64s and Amigas to end-users, then eventually moved on to the PC market in the 80s. They started focusing their PC designs on ergonomical solutions in the early 90s. In the mid 90s, they started designing cases with EMI/CE/FCC Class B conformity. They joined forces with Siemens to provide motherboard solutions for their systems in the late 90s. Then in 1999, they extended their operations to North America in Ann Arbor, MI., and brought with them the Silent-PC concept. They are basically an engineering and wholesale operation committed to the OEM market. So, that means they aren't retailers anymore, but provide system integrators with a means to deliver quality computer solutions. That means that you don't actually buy from SP itself but from one of their resellers. Check out www.sp-usa.com for more information on their products.
What is the Silent-PC?
The Silent-PC is based on SP's Pro S mid-tower chassis that operate at, according to SP, noise levels of 21.5 dB(A) without and 24 dB(A) with harddrive access. These values have been confirmed by the ARD, one of Germany's public TV and radio stations. Just to give you an idea of how loud that is, 20 dB(A) is a whisper, 40 dB(A) is the average home, and 60 dB(A) is a conversation. Other modifications that have been made to the case are:
- Specially designed fan blade in the power supply to reduce air stream noise
- High quality bearing for the power supply fan to reduce operating noise
- Noise absorption pads in the side panels and bottom of the case
- Vibration absorption pads on the hard drive bay
The Silent-PC is not just a case but an entire system. All the components in the Silent-PC are designed to lower the over all noise levels. The components that make up the Silent-PC include:
- Fujitsu-Siemens motherboard with Thermal Management
- High-quality CPU fan (Papst or Panaflo)
- Harddrives. The list below are drives that give best results.
- Fujitsu MPG3xxxAT-T or -FF (not -A)
- Quantum LCT Fireball 4400 rpm
- IBM DTLA307030 series harddrive (7200 rpm)
In this review my system came with, the Pro S mid-tower (Black), Fujitsu-Siemens D1219, Mitsumi Floppy and CD-ROM. An optional quiet keyboard is also available although not included in my package here. Now lets take a look at the 2 main components of the Silent-PC package, the case and motherboard.
>> The Case