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Fan-less silent PC

rwortman

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I am going to build a completely silent PC to act as a music server. These folks will build you one for not much more than parts cost. https://www.quietpc.com/sys-sidewinder-i17
Decided to build my own because it will be fun and I am temporarily grounded by leg surgery. Yes, NUC’s are cheaper but they have fans and I want to retire the standard desktop I have in another room running Roon server for a cool looking one sitting in my audio rack. Gonna stick a couple of big SSD’s in it and use it as a file server too. I’ll take some pictures when I’m done.
 

amirm

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I built one a few years ago which I still use as my Roon server. The biggest hassle was the heat pipes to carry the heat from the CPU to the heatsink. This needs to be measured and perfectly match. After some investigation, I managed to find the right setup that worked the first time. After I built it, I wonder why I ever put up with a PC with a fan! It was uncanny to have a totally silent computer. Best luck on this and recovery from leg surgery!
 

McFly

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I did a similar thing a while back, built a completely fanless PC with big passive heatsinking and low TDP CPU, and planned to use in the hifi rack, but it was not meant to be. The coil whine from the VRMs on the motherboard made it unusable. It wasn't truly silent, and I could constantly hear blips of 5-7khz coming from 3m away from the case. So my advice, make sure you find a quiet motherboard or at least keep the box so you can return if its noisy.

Ah I see you are looking at a prebuilt by them, I bought just the case they have and made my own. The prebuilt they have there - they have probably singled out quiet power rail motherboards. Also dont be fooled by the chipset options, my advice (if its just for audio use) is the lowest chipset offering will likely suffice your needs.

Definitely go 12/13th gen cpu, those 11th gens ran hot and throttled often.
 
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Keith_W

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I built a fanless PC using a Streacom FC10 case. The heatpipes are pre-bent to the correct size and shape for standard ATX, Mini-ATX, and Micro-ATX motherboards.

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The second pic shows a PCI-E riser cable attached to an RME HDSP AES-32 card. It is able to generate 32 channels of digital input and ouput via a breakout cable. I don't use it any more.

No power supply inside the case. Instead I have a pico-PSU which takes 12V input from an external PSU. For the external PSU, I use a Streacom passively cooled SMPS. I did not want too many heat generating components inside the case since it is completely fanless.

Although the case is rated to be able to passively dissipate up to 95W TDP, in practice it is much lower. It struggled to dissipate my 65W Intel 6700 in summer, but it works perfectly fine in winter of if the room is air conditioned.
 

pablolie

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Do it! It's a lot of fun. Newegg and Amazon are your friends. And if you need pointer to some good overall guidelines, check out this specialized website (which I have absolutely no vested interest in, I swear) https://silentpc.com/ for inspiration.

I am absolutely allergic to noise. But between the Intel T series (which is tops 35W) and some very quiet fans like Nocta and fanless power supplies, you don't need to go completely fanless, although of course if that's your goal hey, easy to do too. My current main home multimedia server has a venerable i9-9900t in it, uses integrated graphics (I have never been a gamer) and *crunches* anything I throw at it. Music does require very little CPU power these days, it's stuff like video processing that remotely challenges the system unless you are a hardcore gamer. My system is completely silent. My cat hates noise too, yet he'll relax on top of the workstation because of residual warmth. :)

I *love* building my own computers. It is a fun ritual every 3 years or so (it used to be almost every year but Moore's law for desktop CPUs really has slowed down a lot), trust me. The next gen CPUs these days will give you zero noticeable advantage and you can safely skip 2 to 4 CPU generations, depending on your needs.
 
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McFly

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Although the case is rated to be able to passively dissipate up to 95W TDP, in practice it is much lower. It struggled to dissipate my 65W Intel 6700 in summer, but it works perfectly fine in winter of if the room is air conditioned.
This is an important point with passive or SFF cooling solutions - you processors TDP rating and the actual power used are not the same, the actual socket power is usually much higher to the tune of 30-50%. Often a 65W TDP CPU will be using about 90W for the socket.
 

pablolie

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This is an important point with passive or SFF cooling solutions - you processors TDP rating and the actual power used are not the same, the actual socket power is usually much higher to the tune of 30-50%. Often a 65W TDP CPU will be using about 90W for the socket.
Yes indeed but you'll be hard pressed to find an efficient power supply rated at less than 400W capability. I can guarantee an Intel T series CPU will run absolutely silent with a fanless power unit unless you try to do gaming stuff with it. Power management is also awesome and reduces power consumption to very little - I never bother to turn my workstation off. The fan remains silent even when I compile videos for work here and there. My work-issued last gen laptop with the most powerful current i7 in it will start blowing its fan doing that, unlike my home workstation/music server with a now venerable i9-9900t in it. Long live desktop workstations! :)
 
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Another Bob

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Akasa Turing sells fanless cases on Amazon that are designed to take the guts of a NUC. They have different case models for different NUC models. I did this for my AV PC and it has worked out well and never gets too warm, but then again, most of the time it is only running JRiver so it is not exactly stressed. Even though this approach wastes the NUC case and its fan, I found it to be less expensive than most of the other options at the time.
 
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rwortman

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Ah I see you are looking at a prebuilt by them, I bought just the case
I ordered a case and power supply from Streacom dealer and parts from Newegg to build my own in the FC5 case. I used their build list to choose parts so I would know they would work. I am using an i5 processor.
 

Elitzur–Vaidman

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I ordered a case and power supply from Streacom dealer and parts from Newegg to build my own in the FC5 case. I used their build list to choose parts so I would know they would work. I am using an i5 processor.
Modern processors are technically overkill for a music server, but you have the benefit of being able to significantly underclock them. You can probably drop to a 15W TDP without issue.
 

Doodski

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I ordered a case and power supply from Streacom dealer and parts from Newegg to build my own in the FC5 case. I used their build list to choose parts so I would know they would work. I am using an i5 processor.
I run a i5-12600K in a desktop shooter box. It's fast and has overclocking potential.
 

phoenixdogfan

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How about a Mele Quieter 3. Fanless. J5105 processsor, 8 gig ram, has Emmc memory, but can take up to 4 TB of NVME. I run one as my HTPC. Works just fine, streams Netflix in 4K, HDR 10, runs JRiver w Dirac with zero lip sync issues. Just does the job, completely quiet, works off the shelf, has Windows 11 built in. All for around $260, and there are ususally $20-40 discount coupons out there. Available on Amazon.

Not as powerful or fast as some of the other rigs mention in the thread, but it's powerful and fast enough. Plenty snappy enough as a browser as well. Just don't try to run Final Cut Pro with it.
 
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rwortman

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How about a Mele Quieter 3. Fanless. J5105 processsor, 8 gig ram, has Emmc memory, but can take up to 4 TB of NVME. I run one as my HTPC. Works just fine, streams Netflix in 4K, HDR 10, runs JRiver w Dirac with zero lip sync issues. Just does the job, completely quiet, works off the shelf, has Windows 11 built in. All for around $260, and there are ususally $20-40 discount coupons out there. Available on Amazon.
Well below minimum spec for running Roon.
 

pablolie

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I'd prolly build something around these lines today. only doubt here is the CPU cooler, I'd check if there is something better. A build like this has always been completely satisfying to utterly noise allergic me. I think with all the parts it comes in at less than 1.2k and it's enough CPU power for many years. Probably over 10 years if you eventually install Linux on it (and save yourself the Windows $). Music and even streaming 4k video poses zero challenge to a CPU like this, it'll prolly run at barely 10-20% utilization even with 4k video and 192/24 audio running simultaneously for several end devices.
  • Case: Silverstone SG11B Quiet Cube Case
  • Motherboard: Asus PRIME B560M-A
  • CPU: Intel i9-11900T 11th Gen Comet Lake (35W) <- updated
  • CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L12S Low Profile CPU Cooler
  • RAM: 32GB Kingston DDR4 2666MHz (2x16GB KVR26N19S8/16)
  • Video: Use Onboard Video (CPU Determines Video Series)
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Pro (Install Disk Provided)
  • System Storage: Samsung 970 Evo Plus 1TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 (3500/3200 MBps R/W)
  • Additional Storage 1: Seagate IronWolf 8TB NAS Hard Drive (210 MBps R/W)
  • Power Supply: Corsair Platinum HX850 850W Modular PSU (0-21dB)
  • Optical: LG DVD-RW
  • Wireless: No Wireless Installed
  • Sound: Use Onboard Sound
  • TPM: Use Onboard Firmware TPM
  • Keyboard: No Keyboard and Mouse
  • Warranty: One Year Parts & Labor Warranty
  • Processing: Standard Processing- Ships 6-10 Business Days
 
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rwortman

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Here is the the rest of of the BOM. Streacon FC5 case, Streacom 240w fanless power supply and this. https://newegg.io/5ac3ad9

Core i5 12400 65w
16gb RAM
500gb m.2 for OS
1tb m.2 for music files
2 4tb SSD for network file storage.
 
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