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Re: audio / video system - & energy efficiency

On Tue, Dec 05, 2006 at 01:12:00AM +0000, Adam Hardy wrote:
> Johannes Wiedersich on 04/12/06 16:37, wrote:
> >Adam Hardy wrote:
> >>I'm aiming to put together a PC with Etch as the OS, to use in my living
> >>room as a hifi, TV and DVD player.
> One question: all this has got to be relatively quiet which is difficult 
> with the chips all humming away trying to stay cool, and another factor is 
> the power consumption - my plan is to leave the server on most of the time 
> so that the others in the house can use it without powering on the PC.
> Energy consumption and efficiency are probably the other end of the 
> spectrum from video performance - but I would like to get my power 
> consumption under 100W - my current hardware (including all network hubs, 
> modem, monitor etc) is 220W at rest. Which represents a fair portion of the 
> house electricity bill if it's on 24/7.

I just built a box that later on (when I can afford a good video capture
card and when Etch is stable and has good nv support) I hope to be able
to do some minor video editing (transfering VHS tape to DVD, enhancing
to DVD quality and removing commercials), and do the
entertainment-center stuff.  It will also be my main box (main

I want it to stay cool but I also want it quite.  I don't need tiny.

I took a CM stacker case, put in a cross-flow fan connected to the MB,
three CM drive modules each with a 120mm fan.  Put a CM 800 W PSU in the
bottom bay.  Put 2 80mm fans in the upper PSU bay connected to the MB.
It already has an 80mm blowhole fan.

The MB is an Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe.  I chose the fastest processor the
store had in stock, the Athlon 3800+.  I put one 1GB-800 DDR2 stick in
for now; I'll add a second when I do video editing.

I have dual 80 GB Seagate barracuda drives (apparently they are the
quietest on the market) in a raid1/lvm configuration.  

Power it on, have the MB control the fans based on temp (not max fan
[noisy] or min fan [risk of overheat]).  With it on, the only sound is
from the CPU cooler which is the stock AMD (to keep the AMD warrranty).
Its the quitest computer I've ever sat beside.  The CPU cooler fan is a
high pitch directional sound that comes out of the side (the CM stacker
has a 30cm mesh grill on the left side).  If I rotate the box, the sound
goes away.  Internal case temperature remains at ambient room temp.

I haven't put an ampmeter on the box but I doubt its much in its current
config.  If I were leaving it on for long periods (as opposed to having
it sleep), I would look into the package that changes the CPU speed
based on demand.  Slower CPU means less cooling, less power used.  Spin
down the disks and you stop the noise they make but the only way I can
hear them is to put a sounding bar between them and my teeth.

There should be a difference between power usage during video processing
and regular use.  It also depends on your monitor.  You could have two:
a big power hog for watching movies, and a small one for getting work

You could also find or make a specifically low-power box for basic stuff
(everything but watching movies and a full blown web browser) which
could also serve /home to the other box in some form.  In our previous
house we also lived in the country and had an inverter for power.  My
Pentium 75 with a 1.2 GB drive (left on to take faxes and fetch email)
ran at 20 Watts according to the inverter.  It was connected to a 9"
monchrome monitor that was just fine for email and minimal X (for
running lprngtool).

Watch the power consumption of things that use AC adapters.  They are
notoriously inefficient and often waste more power than the things they
are powering.  If there's only one computer powered on for basic use
then you shouldn't need network hubs on.

In short, there's lots you can do to reduce power consumption and noise,
it just takes a bit of detective work.

Good luck,


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