Silent build recommendations

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- I'm looking for a fanless/no moving parts build that is for computation bound tasks.
- It will run Chrome OS Flex (or maybe Ubuntu) incase there are features of new CPUs that might not be supported in those OS'.
- Presume single-thread CPU performance is probably the important thing here.

I'm expecting to pay a premium for this - any thoughts on the build?
 
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This may not be a popular idea - but I'd look at how much noise a Noctua fan spinning at 300rpm makes and revisit if you really want to go fanless.

If you do go fanless I'd suggest AMD 5600g undervolted with lots of DDR4 RAM with a giant passive heatsink.

Something like this, although I'm not happy with the case and added a fan as it's not 'open air'.

My basket at OcUK:

Total: £739.85 (includes delivery: £0.00)​

 
Soldato
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If the PC is only for google chrome, wouldn't it be easier to buy like... a chromebook? I don't have much experience with them, but I'd imagine they're built for the kind of lightweight task and don't have massive desktop/components CPUs to cool. Of course, I could be very wrong and they're incredibly noisy with tiny little fans.

There are a lot of PSUs that are fanless at low loads now, so you won't have to buy a really expensive one. Does the PC need to be small, like ITX small, or do you not care?

An alternative to the Ryzen G system above is to get something like the Alder Lake Celeron.

I agree with what Chris said about the fans though, you can get near silent fans and from my experience building silent systems, it's really freaking ANNOYING because you select all your silent equipment and then you find your SSD has annoying buzzing noises under load and the motherboard whines like a tiny mosquito.
 
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If you really want a premium experience, and I feel dirty saying this, maybe consider Apple's M2 silicon.

Silent, fast and the best possible browsing experience at a premium price.

I know, again, it's not what you asked for.
 
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This may not be a popular idea - but I'd look at how much noise a Noctua fan spinning at 300rpm makes and revisit if you really want to go fanless.

If you do go fanless I'd suggest AMD 5600g undervolted with lots of DDR4 RAM with a giant passive heatsink.

Something like this, although I'm not happy with the case and added a fan as it's not 'open air'.

My basket at OcUK:

Total: £739.85 (includes delivery: £0.00)​
I really like this build.

OP did say that they are going to pay a premium so I'm ok with the price and all. that CPU cooler is a beast and will work great.
 
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I know this might sound a bit stupid/OTT, but I am looking for the best performance I can get. Chromebooks do a decent job, but their CPUs are obviously limited. You can also get Chromeboxes which are desktop equivalents with faster CPUs, but they aren't silent and still aren't as fast as what I am hoping for. There are also no recent generation ones.

I don't care on the size.

I (think) I want something faster than a Celeron. I'm basing that on 10+ year old info on what a Celeron processor is.

Essentially I am aiming for no moving parts. I had this in the past - I think I recall what to expect :)
I would have guessed that Apple hardware won't be optimised for linux/Chrome OS Flex yet and I don't want to run OSX. If I was embedded in Apple services I would, but I am embedded in Google ones.

When I had a look at this myself, I had completely discarded AMD. Are they now a contender for single core CPU performance?

Using your AMD influence, this is what I've come up with to give an idea of the sort of thing I'm after - don't know how to get the format you had in your post. There are no fans/moving parts in this setup (I think):

Streacom ST-FC8S Alpha HTPC Aluminium Chasis - Silver - Passive 65W TDP cooling integrated into case
Streacom ST-NANO160 Passive HTPC Pico Power Supply - 160W - Passive CPU
AMD Ryzen 7 5700G Eight Core 3.8GHz (Socket AM4) APU with RX Vega Graphics - Retail - fastest 65W TDP CPU I could see - looks better than the 5600G?
Gigabyte B550I AORUS PRO AX (AMD AM4) B550 Mini-ITX Motherboard - chosen for BT5/Wifi 6
Team Group Vulcan Z T-Force 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4 PC4-25600C16 3200MHz Dual Channel Kit - Grey - 32GB, not really sure what the rest of the specs mean - is this somewhere to invest?
Samsung 980 Pro 250GB M.2 2280 PCI-e 4.0 x4 NVMe Solid State Drive - don't need disk space - need fastest reads
Total: £839.78

Are there any changes I can/should make? Is there a cheaper motherboard with BT5/Wifi6 - I won't be doing any overclocking.
 
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Soldato
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I don't really get the point of this? Just get something like a dell sff optiplex with a 10500t in, use chrome all day and it doesn't even do anything to the fan, so much that you could just probably unplug it.

Or an i5//i7 NUC and just put it in one of the passive cases.
 
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I've made edits to my posts to help with the understanding.
I'm looking for a silent build for computationally bound tasks. As fast as I can get with a silent build with a ~1k budget.
 
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When I had a look at this myself, I had completely discarded AMD. Are they now a contender for single core CPU performance? I say single core, because what I am trying to optimise for is JavaScript execution, Painting and AdBlock performance.

Using your AMD influence, this is what I've come up with to give an idea of the sort of thing I'm after - don't know how to get the format you had in your post. There are no fans/moving parts in this setup (I think):



Are there any changes I can/should make? Is there a cheaper motherboard with BT5/Wifi6 - I won't be doing any overclocking.
I've spent far too many hours and far more money that I will admit (even to myself) chasing a silent/quiet build, so I can understand somewhat where you're coming from.

AMD single thread is very close to Intel, but more importantly performance per watt is much better.

If money was really no object you could buy a 5950x, disable CCXs and Cores, overclock and undervolt it. You would then need a discrete graphics card and fitting the power budget of a PICO PSU may be problematic.

I don't know a lot about motherboards with Bluetooth and WiFi as I am always inclined to use add-in cards and dongles for those functions - perhaps someone else may come along and help with that part of the question.

I do recommend buying one slow expensive Noctua fan and just seeing if you can hear it. The difference between no airflow and 300RPM really is night and day.

I would also consider if a semi-passive overspeced PSU might offer you the same outcome at a cheaper price and in a far more convenient way. The fan will only start to spin if you put load on the system, which I doubt you would.

If you're single-core limited I think the difference between a 5600g and a 5700g will not be noticeable. I would go with the cheaper option.

RAM does make a difference with AMD in some workloads. I personally would not worry past 3000Mhz. 3600Mhz seems to be the price/performance sweet spot right now.

These are minor notes, overall I think your spec is good. I worry that coil whine will be the bane of your existence however.
 
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This is a build I had in the past.

Streacom ST-F8CB EVO HTPC Aluminium Case - Black
Streacom Nano 150w HTPC Power Supply/Adapter
Gigabyte Z77N-WIFI Intel Z77 (Socket 1155) DDR3 Mini ITX Motherboard
Intel Core i3-3225 3.30GHz (Ivybridge) Socket LGA1155 Processor (55W) - Retail **High Performance IGP**
Samsung Green (MV-3V4G3D/US) 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C11 1600MHz 30nm Dual Channel Kit
Samsung 128GB SSD 840 PRO SATA 6Gb/s Basic

I can't recall any "coil whine" (first time I've heard the term) but I could be wrong.

I have a fanless laptop at the moment - am I supposed to hear coil whine from that too out of interest?
 
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Soldato
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I (think) I want something faster than a Celeron. I'm basing that on 10+ year old info on what a Celeron processor is.

Well, it is always something to be careful about because at the low-end you don't always get the real thing, even when they name it "12th gen" or whatever, but in this case, you do get genuine 12th gen cores in the Celeron and Pentium models. This was not true with 11th gen (they were all 10th gen!).

So, if we take the G7400 for example, it has single core performance (according to PassMark) that is superior to a 10th gen i5. Web browser performance tends to be more inclined towards single core performance than multi-threaded, so if you look at TPU's benchmarks, for example, the i3-12100F outperforms, or nearly matches the i7-11700! That said, a low-end Celeron or Pentium will be slower because of other reasons (like how they have less cache), but because of their lower clocks and no turbo, you can passively cool them much more easily. I'd also point out that if you're doing a lot of other tasks with the PC, at the same time, then it would be unwise to drop so many cores, but for a pure web-browsing machine 2 cores is plenty. Many low-end or SFF machines use mobile, or embedded CPUs that are way weaker than desktop CPUs and they cope fine. There are alternatives to NUCs like Gigabyte Brix and ASRock DeskMini.

By the way, just for the record, while under moderate load there's practically no difference between an ATX PSU and a PicoPSU, at very low load PicoPSUs are way more efficient than ATX PSUs. Part of the reason is that ATX PSUs use at least 4-6 watts just doing nothing. You do of course have very limited connectors and have to be careful about peak power (e.g. when you boot, or if an i3 has a turbo).
 
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I can't recall any "coil whine" (first time I've heard the term) but I could be wrong.

I have a fanless laptop at the moment - am I supposed to hear coil whine from that too out of interest?

You are blessed indeed. Forget I mentioned it, life in ignorance of coil whine is indeed bliss.

Most electronics will have some whine in my experience, from printers to PSUs but most especially of all - graphics cards
 
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If you don’t want coil whine, don’t buy a 3080 FE.

I put mine on a test Bed last week to play around with an ITX motherboard my word, Thing sounds like a child who has trapped their finger in a door.

As soon as you go for passive cooling and so on, you will more likely hear coil whine but it might not be an issue in a good chassis.
 
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My missus has a Surface Pro 8 ( iirc) . It is the i5 version that was without a fan , is this not what the OP is looking for? Not sure whether the latest version has a fanless option but you may want to check out which ones were totally passively cooled.
 
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So I've done some more research.
  • I don't think I'll need BT/WIFI integrated to the motherboard after-all
  • May end up running Ubuntu instead
  • The Samsung 980 Pro is PCI-e 4.0 whereas everything I'm reading suggests that the CPU is only 3.0 - does that mean I can't get the max speeds and I should just pick something 3.0?
  • I need a motherboard that will allow me to limit in the TDP of burst mode (I think)...because in burst mode the TDP can go higher than the 65W quoted - how can I tell which motherboards support this?
  • Is the Mhz of the RAM the thing that I should be looking at for speed? Again I'm seeing that 3200Mhz is the max the CPU supports - should I therefore not go higher than that? Do any of the other settings matter?
  • On the AMD page it says "Unlocked for overclocking = yes"...what are the implications of this and does this affect which motherboard I can get. For clarity I'm aware of overclocking, but I don't get why AMD would purposefully advertise/do this?
  • Is it worth waiting for the new AMD processors that got announced earlier in the year? When will they be out?

Reference: https://www.amd.com/en/product/11171
 
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1-The Samsung 980 Pro is PCI-e 4.0 whereas everything I'm reading suggests that the CPU is only 3.0 - does that mean I can't get the max speeds and I should just pick something 3.0?

Yes stick with a pcie 3 M.2 drive. The pcie 4 drives can get a bit hot at times so not ideal to put them into a case with no airflow and the gen 3 are very fast anyway.

2-I need a motherboard that will allow me to limit in the TDP of burst mode (I think)...because in burst mode the TDP can go higher than the 65W quoted - how can I tell which motherboards support this?

All the main mobo manufacturers will have the features you need on their B450 B550 X470 X570 , or for Intel B660 Z690. You can limit TDP and limit how high the cores burst.

3-Is the Mhz of the RAM the thing that I should be looking at for speed? Again I'm seeing that 3200Mhz is the max the CPU supports - should I therefore not go higher than that? Do any of the other settings matter?

Mhz is not the only metric in speed and there are also timings that effect performance. You are not aiming for absolute performance so look for DDR4 that hits 3200 mhz at a low voltage.

4-On the AMD page it says "Unlocked for overclocking = yes"...what are the implications of this and does this affect which motherboard I can get. For clarity I'm aware of overclocking, but I don't get why AMD would purposefully advertise/do this?

Its just marketing a feature that is available. You do not need to overclock and the vast majority of people do not. You can still use any motherboard that is compatable with the chip in question and just not overclock. TBH most overclocking is automatic these days with the cores independently boosting to the required speed and is good to just leave it at stock and let the cpus internal logic do all the work for you.

5-Is it worth waiting for the new AMD processors that got announced earlier in the year? When will they be out?

Reference: https://www.amd.com/en/product/11171

We do not know. The new chips will be on the TSMC 5nm process and normally a smaller node does lead to better performance per watt but until they are in the hands of independent reviewers we cannotbe sure.
 
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