Fanless Home Office Build

Fanless Small Home Office System

My wife’s current windows XP PC it’s on it’s last legs, loading Windows is slow and it had a HDD failure on the data drive recently. I’ve restored the data drive and it is working, but I think there is some corruption in Windows system drive as I have had to reload some applications. It’s not really worth doing a full reload of the software and I am thinking of building a silent system.

The only things worth re-using forward is an 80GB HDD and a SATA optical drive.

System Usage: Planning for work, internet, streaming tv, music on itunes all equally important. Currently in the study, but retirement looms in 18 months so it may migrate to the living room so appearance maybe important later and with various upgrade become a "Media player".

O/S: Currently have a Windows XP SP3 so should be able to upgrade to Windows 8. Currently have McAfee installed on XP, but may just use defender for Windows 8.

Software: MS Office at work, I can get a copy of Office 2013 so that will go in, itunes and not a lot else
Currently thinking of this:

CPU: Intel Core i3-3225 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-M or P8H77-M down to price on the day or Gigabyte equivalent GA-Z77M-D3H

m-ATX H77 or Z77 to get 2 SATA 6GB ports and RAID 1 capability should I decide to go down that route.

CPU cooler: Nofan CS-95C

Memory: Corsair 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory (needs to be low profile)

Probably a bit more than needed, but easier to do now rather than later

Graphics: on board

Storage: Crucial M4 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk
She only has about 20GB of data (music & docs) so I think I can put all programs and data on this in a single partition.

I may have considered putting another in and running it with RAID 1 to make replacing a failed drive easier. A bit of additional expense, but maybe worth it in the long run for peace of mind when the next failure occurs.

Storage: 80GB SATA HDD (already have)
Use as a backup drive for the SSD, may be a bit small but I can always replace it later with another HDD if it gets too small.

Case: Nofan: CS-60 or CS-70
Not really sure what the choices are for fanless cases, just want something unobtrusive. The CS60 is not very stylish, the CS-70 looks better but is a rather on the expensive side. I think the CS60 is a rebadged IN-WIN BUC and the CS-70 a Silverstone FT-03 with the fan mountings removed, but there may be other differences. The CS-70 has a SATA hot slot so that could be used for the backup HDD.

Power Supply: Seasonic X-400 FL 400W
Seems the best offering as its modular

Optical Drive: Samsung SH-118AB/BEBE SATA 18x DVD-ROM
Not really aware of the choice here as I don’t think there are any silent options. Occasional loading of music and software so doesn’t have to be silent.
Or a slimline for the CS-70 case

Building fanless adds quite a lot for the case, power supply and cooler over a budget system, but may be re-usable in the future. Any thoughts on this as the basis for a future proof system.
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  1. I3 is overkill for the Home Office Build.

    Get the AMD A6-3650 Llano 2.6GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core + A75/A55 should be good enough. Also you will only need 4GB (2x2GB) RAM, if the PC is only use for Home Office.
  2. cin19 said:
    I3 is overkill for the Home Office Build.

    Get the AMD A6-3650 Llano 2.6GHz Socket FM1 100W Quad-Core + A75/A55 should be good enough. Also you will only need 4GB (2x2GB) RAM, if the PC is only use for Home Office.


    The CPU is 100W and the heat sink is rated at 95W. It looks like the AMD is 100W so maybe a non-starter unless there is a higher rated heatsink.
  3. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811345015
    case.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157335
    mb.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116777
    cpu.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148661
    ram.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139028
    new power supply with pfc rating the fan will only come on where there to much heat in the power supply.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151256
    cd-rom
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152305
    data drive.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835242008
    cpu heat sink..no fan.
    the rear 120mm fan be on the mb fan header..set the speed on most mb to slow and you wont hear it.
    norton ghost or other back up software..let the program do daily back ups to the data hard drive. once a year use a set of dvd to make a yearly copy of the pc. the old pc if you have xp install disk i would contact your senoir center in town see if they could use an old machine for web and word. take to your cpa or tax guy most time a donation like that can be written off on your taxes.
  4. Noob12 said:
    SSD is quit slow. Id take Samsung 830 or 840 pro SSD or Intel 330 / 520.
    Windows 7 is better for desktop use. I like pro better but Home Premium is lower priced.
    Remember to take the 64 bit version.
    Take a look at Lian Li cases too.
    Good build so far.


    Thanks, I'll have a look at the cases.

    Windows 8 is much cheaper as an upgrade, so I'll think about the additional cost.

    I'll have another look at the SSD, it's difficult to get an overall feel of which SSD performs the best as there's a lot of swings and roundabouts in the figures I have seen, but any SSD will be a last improvement on her current load time. I was considering the Intel 520 then swapped to the M4 for some reason, which I now can't remember. I have another look at the Samsung and Intel.
  5. To be honest, you could save a massive amount by building something so quiet it is almost inaudible. It wouldn't be fanless but good if you're willing to compromise.

    I wouldn't reuse that hard drive either, I'd avoid the optical drive if possible as well. Both add noise.

    Here's something that would be nice, the only parts making noise are 2 fans running via PWM meaning they only speed up if and when they need to and their minimum speed is 300RPM. In other words, you would have to be in a totally silent house, open up the case and put your ear right next to the fan to hear it @ 300RPM.* At least this way you have the peace of mind too, you know if that if it gets hot for any reason it will cool properly.

    i3-3225 - $144.99 (Newegg)
    2x4GB Crucial Ballistix Tactical 1600Mhz C8 1.35v - $47.99 (Newegg)
    ASRock H77M-ITX - $99.99 (Newegg)
    Crucial M4 128GB - $124.99 (Newegg)
    Streacom F7C EVO - $100.32 (quietpc.com)
    Streacom 150W nanoPSU (150W PicoPSU with 150W adapter) - $96.19 (quietpc.com)
    Noctua NH-L9i - $48.09 (quietpc.com)
    Noctua NF-R8 PWM - $17.86 (quietpc.com)
    PWM Y Cable - $4.19 (quietpc.com)

    Total is about $680 before shipping and rebates.

    Gives you a tiny little good looking build which is still basically inaudible for what I imagine to be quite a lot less cash.

    EDIT: * I'm not even joking, I have a similar fan setup but also have 3 case fans running at 700RPM and the only time I can hear my PC is in the middle of the night when there is basically no background noise and my speakers are off.
  6. You don't need fanless coolers and cases. You can get good silent case and some quiet fans with it. If the noise is why you don't want fans. :)
  7. jmsellars1 said:
    To be honest, you could save a massive amount by building something so quiet it is almost inaudible. It wouldn't be fanless but good if you're willing to compromise.

    I wouldn't reuse that hard drive either, I'd avoid the optical drive if possible as well. Both add noise.

    Here's something that would be nice, the only parts making noise are 2 fans running via PWM meaning they only speed up if and when they need to and their minimum speed is 300RPM. In other words, you would have to be in a totally silent house, open up the case and put your ear right next to the fan to hear it @ 300RPM.* At least this way you have the peace of mind too, you know if that if it gets hot for any reason it will cool properly.

    i3-3225 - $144.99 (Newegg)
    2x4GB Crucial Ballistix Tactical 1600Mhz C8 1.35v - $47.99 (Newegg)
    ASRock H77M-ITX - $99.99 (Newegg)
    Crucial M4 128GB - $124.99 (Newegg)
    Streacom F7C EVO - $100.32 (quietpc.com)
    Streacom 150W nanoPSU (150W PicoPSU with 150W adapter) - $96.19 (quietpc.com)
    Noctua NH-L9i - $48.09 (quietpc.com)
    Noctua NF-R8 PWM - $17.86 (quietpc.com)
    PWM Y Cable - $4.19 (quietpc.com)

    Total is about $680 before shipping and rebates.

    Gives you a tiny little good looking build which is still basically inaudible for what I imagine to be quite a lot less cash.

    EDIT: * I'm not even joking, I have a similar fan setup but also have 3 case fans running at 700RPM and the only time I can hear my PC is in the middle of the night when there is basically no background noise and my speakers are off.


    An intesting alternative, I'll look into it a bit more. I have thought about a media case, but at the moment the pc sits under a desk. Maybe a possibility if we shuffle stuff ariound.
  8. Yeah, thought it would be good for when it is moved into the living room.

    EDIT: Just a note as well, if there is even the slightest chance of any gaming on this system I would jump straight for the A10-5700 over the i3-3225. The integrated graphics are way better. If not gaming, I'd go for the i3. Having a 55W TDP over 65W is nice. You didn't mention gaming which is why I suggested the i3.
  9. That Noctua is PWM and can go down to 300RPM and would only be like $10 more or something. It would be my choice.
  10. It's unlikely to be used for gaming, but will to keep for a fair so reliability and functionality are more important than budget. In the event of wanting games I would probably install a graphics card.

    I'm trying not to install fans unless I have to, but thanks for the suggestions.
  11. Having the second fan means the first one doesn't have to work as hard. It should make the system quieter, especially under load. 2 x 1000RPM fans is much quieter than 1 x 2000RPM for example.

    Going fanless is fine so long as you realise that it is largely a 'project' done for the fun of it rather than something that gives good price/performance. You will not hear 2 x 80/92mm fans @ 300RPM if sat at a desk but having them makes the build far cheaper and probably more reliable since the parts will stay cooler.

    EDIT: If you really must go fanless, I would suggest that you ditch the hard drive, get a 90W+ PicoPSU and go for a 35W CPU.
  12. i would use a large power supply that had fan controller on it. with a light load the fan in the power supply wont come on.
    then use a brick type heat sink like this.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835220055

    then pick up a case like antec one or other case that has grills on the top and side vents. you dont have to connect the fans if you dont want to but with a case with good air flow the heat should flow out the top by itself.
  13. jmsellars1 said:
    Having the second fan means the first one doesn't have to work as hard. It should make the system quieter, especially under load. 2 x 1000RPM fans is much quieter than 1 x 2000RPM for example.

    Going fanless is fine so long as you realise that it is largely a 'project' done for the fun of it rather than something that gives good price/performance. You will not hear 2 x 80/92mm fans @ 300RPM if sat at a desk but having them makes the build far cheaper and probably more reliable since the parts will stay cooler.

    EDIT: If you really must go fanless, I would suggest that you ditch the hard drive, get a 90W+ PicoPSU and go for a 35W CPU.


    I suppose I could build a quietpc first, but then if I am not happy I then have to start tuning, so building silent has its attractions. As the PC shouldn't be highly stressed most of the time I'm hoping heat build up shouldn't be a big problem.

    The case and PSU tend to be the most re-usable part of the system, so I don't mind paying a bit extra for something that works and can be used in the longer term. I did consider the pico, but with a power brick doesn't work out that cheap an option compared to a PSU. I doubt it will be as efficient either.

    I will initially try a cheaper tower heatsink and see if that can be run fanless or see how quiet that is when used to assist the chimney effect of the case.
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