• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Fan-less silent PC

OP
R

rwortman

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
Messages
740
Likes
684
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 i9-11900 11th Gen Comet Lake (8-Core, 16-Thread, 2.5GHz, 20 lanes, 65W, UHD Graphics 750, CPU Benchmark 24608)
  • 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
I am putting this PC 10 feet from me. I know I can hear that cpu fan and the power supply fan. I built a pretty quiet desktop PC 5 years ago because I don’t like noisy PC’s. I still don’t like it on in the same room when I am listening to music. The silent cases bump the build price up a bit so it’s cheaper to put it in another room like I do now. You only live once and I am expecting a nice check from the insurance company of the person that caused the wreck I am recovering from so why not?
 

pablolie

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 8, 2021
Messages
2,085
Likes
3,503
Location
bay area, ca
I am putting this PC 10 feet from me. I know I can hear that cpu fan and the power supply fan. I built a pretty quiet desktop PC 5 years ago because I don’t like noisy PC’s. I still don’t like it on in the same room when I am listening to music. The silent cases bump the build price up a bit so it’s cheaper to put it in another room like I do now. You only live once and I am expecting a nice check from the insurance company of the person that caused the wreck I am recovering from so why not?
I have that PC right next to me (less than 2ft) when I work and it is silent. I am fan allergic. Anything with a fan in it undergoes brutal scrutiny. I can't sleep without earplugs if it mildly rains outside or the wind is blowing a bit. In reviewing my recommendation, I want to add the "T" for 35W at the end of the processor - will update.
 

Prana Ferox

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
931
Likes
1,923
Location
NoVA, USA
The best way to make a music server you don't hear is to put it in a different room. Fanless computers run hot, a necessity of physics. Heat kills hard drives.

I have a few AliExpress fanless units, cheap, similar internals to a low-end laptop. As long as you're not actively gaming, they're plenty enough computer to act as a thin client for a beefier machine around the corner.
 

pablolie

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jul 8, 2021
Messages
2,085
Likes
3,503
Location
bay area, ca
The best way to make a music server you don't hear is to put it in a different room. Fanless computers run hot, a necessity of physics. Heat kills hard drives.

I have a few AliExpress fanless units, cheap, similar internals to a low-end laptop. As long as you're not actively gaming, they're plenty enough computer to act as a thin client for a beefier machine around the corner.
Unless you are a gamer, a music computer/server doesn't have to be fanless to be silent. Today's CPUs don't get even minimally stressed in media server duties. Just make sure you get components designed for lower power consumption and silent operation. Noctua fans, something like the Intel T series (35W) and a fanless platinum power supply are your friends. My company issued laptop gets louder than my home server (which I have never ever heard even though I sit 2ft from it).

Another suggestion is to buy a 10 year old laptop like a Lenovo X220 and install Linux on it, and run your music server on it. My weekend cabin runs happily with an ancient Lenovo X61 running Ubuntu 22.04, supporting Spotify and Logitech Media Server without a single hitch even with 192/24 music files. No TV there though.
 
Last edited:
OP
R

rwortman

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 29, 2019
Messages
740
Likes
684
You can also check out these guys: https://www.cirrus7.com/en/

I'm running Roon Rock on a Nimbini (based on NUC 10). The build quality is excellent, completely silent and the unit is running cool.
I spec‘ed a PC with the same hardware as the one I am building. They want almost $1000 more more money than the folks at QuietPc do for the same hardware in a Streacom case. Is their case worth $900 more? I thought about Rock but decided I wanted control of the OS.
 

dualazmak

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 29, 2020
Messages
2,850
Likes
3,042
Location
Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Fan-less Spindle-less Completely Silent PCs; powerful enough and really stable for audio (audio-visual) dedicated use...

Several of my ASR friends also have inquired me about the completely silent audio dedicated PCs I use in my DSP-based multichannel multi-driver multi-amplifier stereo project. This is the updated info for my post #225; now both of the PCs run on Windows 11 Pro:
WS003799.JPG


As for the upgrade installation of Windows 11 avoiding TPM CPU RAM SecureBoot restrictions, please refer to my post here.

I highly recommend using Intel Core i7 2600S (LGA1155, 4-core 8-thread, 32 nm, 8 MB Intel Smart Cache, 2.80 GHz, Turbo Boost 3.80 Ghz, TDP 65 W, with Intel HD 2000 GPU) and the compatible M/B which now you can purchase very reasonably, I believe.

The M/B and CPU are rather outdated, but just more than powerful enough and very much stable for my audio dedicated use.

Just for your reference, please find my latest system setup here and here on my project thread.
 
Last edited:

Rosenbloom

Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2022
Messages
80
Likes
105
Location
London
How about a fanless notebook? I have a Asus E210, which is fanless and there is a M.2 slot space inside. I have added a 2TB M.2 SSD for storage of files.
This notebook is not powerful, but more than sufficient for my music playback.

13DEC5F1-BEBF-46F1-ABA7-C378C8A219DB.jpeg
 
Last edited:

Digby

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
1,632
Likes
1,558
I would say first ask yourself if there is a need for a completely fanless PC. One fan (usually for CPU) will drop temperatures dramatically and can, with software control, run inaudibly (500rpm-800rpm) from about 1ft away.

There is a lot of expense in building a fanless PC, because passive cooling is poor at removing heat. One fan running inaudibly will allow a relatively normal case without the expense. Inaudible and silent are experienced the same, given a normal distance from the PC.
 

Digby

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
1,632
Likes
1,558
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.
This is a very good point. Building a fanless computer, doesn't necessarily mean a wholly silent one. You might also start to notice other noises in the room, whines and drones of equipment previously obscured by fan noise.
 

Eric.D

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2022
Messages
15
Likes
18
Or just put your PC in the rack in the other room(storage room for me:p) like Linus from LTT did with all his home pcs/routers and servers. All you need to do is set up Wake-On-LAN and use thunderbolt/HDMI/DisplayPort over fibre cable through the walls. You get effective cooling while being completely silent in the other rooms.
 
Last edited:

MCH

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 10, 2021
Messages
2,640
Likes
2,251
How about a fanless notebook? I have a Asus E210, which is fanless and there is a M.2 slot space inside. I have added a 2TB M.2 SSD for storage of files.
This notebook is not powerful, but more than sufficient for my music playback.
My old Microsoft surface pro 5 is fanless too. zero noise. I don't think they are too expensive used. Mine still works fine.
 

Moderate Dionysianism

Active Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2020
Messages
287
Likes
472
Well below minimum spec for running Roon.

Oh wow, really? I'm running Roon on a 13-year old Samsung RF711, the only upgrades being a mid-range SSD and RAM expanded to 8GB DDR3. I know there's DSP, upsampling and whatever, but Foobar has had these since, like, forever, and doesn't require an €900 PC for stable playback

EDIT: I don't need a 24/7/365 music server, so maybe that's the limiting factor?
EDIT2: I had my eyes on the 3C (256/16 version), as it has a more adequate set of ports for me.
 

voodooless

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 16, 2020
Messages
10,362
Likes
18,255
Location
Netherlands
Coincidentally I’ve ordered a "fan-full" server this week. I didn't want a large enclosure but still need some decent performance. I looked at several mini-PC options from AliExpress, but they are all low-power CPUs, or the build is very questionable. Obviously, a special case like in the topic start gives more options in terms of motherboards, CPUs, and add-ons, but it's also much more expensive and bulky.

So I ended up on a NUC 12 Pro with i5-12460P. That gives 12 cores with quite a low TDP, and the price was quite good. Not really more expensive than comparable models from AliExpress. It also has more hardware features, and for the same amount of money, I got 64GB of RAM and a 2 TB SSD. It will run Proxmox, with a variety of VM to run networking stuff, file and media servers, Home Assistant, and a macOS VM for some random fun stuff. Power-wise, an AMD machine would have been a little better though. But on the macOS VM, I cannot pass the iGPU on an AMD machine (well I can, but it won't do anything with it). I have another 4 TB Thunderbolt drive for extra storage as well.

I'm not very concerned with noise. It's a server, it doesn't go in the living room. On the other hand, it shouldn't take up a lot of space. So for me, the NUC was the perfect compromise. I doubt the NUC will be very noisy though, especially when throttled a bit. It will do about 12W at idle, so not much work for a fan.
 
Last edited:

osscar

Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2022
Messages
16
Likes
17
Location
Riga, Latvia, EU
I am using a complete silent mini itx j5005 with a "brick" style stripped power supply. also officially supports win 11 despite the age.
 

Attachments

  • DSC00773.jpg
    DSC00773.jpg
    297.9 KB · Views: 92

dasdoing

Major Contributor
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
4,279
Likes
2,752
Location
Salvador-Bahia-Brasil
unless you run a gaming graphics card, a PC doesn't have to be fanless to be silent. if you run a big enough CPU cooler you can configure the system to run the fans only above 70-ish degrees or so. the fans will only run on CPU extensive tasks, which in practice is pretty rare
 

Digby

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
1,632
Likes
1,558
Other options

1. Install Fancontrol and you can set custom curves for your fans: https://github.com/Rem0o/FanControl.Releases, buy power efficient Corsair PSU and the fan won't spin until it starts drawing at least 250w. Never likely to happen in your use case.

2. Dispense with all the hard work and use a Raspberry Pi?
 

Ogremic

Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2022
Messages
24
Likes
24
I built my fanless PC in a Streacom FC8 case, the one without CD slot. Perfect, no moving parts inside, the worst part is the first days when you don't know if it's on or off, because you have no audio cues (haven't mounted even a PC buzzer inside.

Stuck a AMD 5600G, 32GB of ram, a mini ITX board with at least 2 NVME slots (one for System, one for data), you can build a completely silent 25cmx25cmx11cm PC.
 
Top Bottom