Fanless HTPC

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Fanless HTPC

Postposted on Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:32 am

I wish the system builders guide had an HTPC specific guide.
I'd like to build a new HTPC steaming box, taking advantage of new technologies. The idea is to strive for a completely fanless system.

I am thinking on a thin-miniITX board, such as the DQ77KB
a i3-3220 using the built-in HD4000 for video,
a mSata drive such as the Crucial m4 64GB mSATA Internal Solid State Drive

and an enclusure that has a built-in heat sync that connects the cpu to the enclosure body - and here I'm struggling.

I'm looking for enclosure advise, and a general discussion on getting a fanless HTPC.
This box is not for gaming. The mSata is for OS and HTPC software only - not for media. More storage can be connected via eSata or USB3, or even USB2, but personally I use a 1Gb networked media server.
There are similar things like Intel's NUC or Zotac's Zbox ID42 which I also consider, but I hope for the same of even cheaper price I can get something that's completely fanless.

Dan
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Re: Fanless HTPC

Postposted on Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:11 am

First a few points:

The i3-3220 does not have built-in HD400, rather it has HD2500 instead:
http://ark.intel.com/products/65693/Int ... _30-GHz%29
I know you said the box is not for gaming, but that GPU won't even give you that option!

Also, I'm not sure why you're striving for tiny components, using mSata instead of a standard 2.5in Sata drive, and thin miniITX instead of regular miniITX. Currently there's a premium to be paid for these smaller components, and if you go for fanless, you'll need a slightly bigger box with a large passive heatsink anyway, so paying extra for smaller components that you don't really need seems pointless.

I think the main reason you're struggling is that you want something cheaper than the NUC or the ID42, but that pretty much rules out all the decent passive cases like A-Tech (http://atechfabrication.com/HTPC_cases.htm) or Streacom (http://www.streacom.com/products/fc8-fanless-chassis/) when you consider the other components as well.

I did see this new case from Akasa (google "Akasa Euler") recently:
http://www.akasa.com.tw/update.php?tpl= ... K-ITX05-BK
It is a bit small and limited, but it's cheaper (approx $99 apparently) than most passive cases and might be good enough for your needs. However, it is only recommended for 35W CPUs, and the i3-3220 is rated at 55W. (Although there is a different variant, the i3-3220T which has a 35W TDP)

Generally with fanless systems it's all about the case, pick the case first and build the rest of the system around that.
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Re: Fanless HTPC

Postposted on Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:32 am

Why bother with fanless? Unless you intend watching your movies with the sound muted? Our htpc includes dual case fans, a cpu fan and gpu fan. I can't hear it unless there is no other noise in the room. The heat pump makes more noise...
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Re: Fanless HTPC

Postposted on Thu Feb 21, 2013 6:39 am

The Streacom FC8 Evo is about the best thing I have seen for a completely passive HTPC these days.

Personally, I'm not comfortable with fanless, having been there and done that. There's a lot to be said for a system that has a single, inaudible fan in it. I used to run my HTPC's two 120mm fans at around 400RPM.
The sound of a gentle breeze outside (coming through aluminium-framed double-glazed windows) was much easier to hear than that HTPC, I'd have to put my ear within a couple of inches of the HTPC to hear anything at all.

It's a bit of a moot point these days though, I've added 4TB of mechanical disk and an HD7850 to replace the role of my old XBox360.
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Re: Fanless HTPC

Postposted on Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:25 am

raddude9 wrote:The i3-3220 does not have built-in HD400, rather it has HD2500 instead:


I wrote the processor name from memory, I probably got it wrong, thanks for pointing that out. I'd like an ivy bridge with much lower TDP, and HD4000. I need to find out which one is that.

The cases you point to look good. I'm not trying to beat the price of the zotac/nuc, but the price/performance.

The cost of mSata is the same as standard SSD, at least in the 64GB sizes, and I see no reason in having the SSD case if I can simply stick the mSata in its slot.
The thin-miniITX lets me put the power supply outside the box, reducing generated heat, so the box is only cooling the CPU.

I appreciate you comments and suggestions, they are really helpful.
Dan
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Re: Fanless HTPC

Postposted on Thu Feb 21, 2013 8:49 am

i3-3225 has HD4000. You should be fine with that in an Akasa Euler- SilentPCReview tested with a 55w G2120 and it was fine with the heat load.
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Re: Fanless HTPC

Postposted on Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:10 am

[quote]i3-3225 has HD4000. You should be fine with that in an Akasa Euler- SilentPCReview tested with a 55w G2120 and it was fine with the heat load.[/quote]

The G2120 was far from fine in the Akasa Euler case (http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1321-page4.html), the CPU reached 79 degrees C, and the platform controller hub reached 91 degrees, with the case itself hitting 62 degrees. With all of the extra features on the i3-3225, the chances are that it runs a lot closer to the 55W mark than the G2120 does. So I wouldn't risk it in that case at stock speeds, perhaps with some underclocking it might be ok though.
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Re: Fanless HTPC

Postposted on Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:16 am

I agree that the i3-3225 would run hotter than the G2120. However, those huge temps were from Prime 95 + Furmark. For general computer use, the Euler should be fine.
i7-2600k @ 4.3ghz | Asus Z-77-V LX | Corsair Vengeance 2 x 8GB | Asus Xonar DG | Saphire Radeon 6950 2 GB | XSPC Raystorm | Swiftech MCP-35X | Swiftech MCW-82 | HW Labs SR1 240 | XSPC RX120 | Western Digital 640GB
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