Ultra-low budget silent PC for multimedia

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Hi folks,

I need some help with my "ultra-low budget silent pc" project. When I
built my current PC, which I'm using for work and gaming in my "work
room", I was aiming for performance and that resulted in a pretty noisy
beast. Now I'd very much like to be able to watch DVD/DivX/Xvid movies in
my bedroom, as well as listen to the tons of music I've amassed on my hard
drive without that annoying whirring.

Pretty much all of the few dozen "Build your Silent PC" articles I've read
off the net where either targeted at the enthusiast with enough money to
spare, or simply detailed the usage of yet larger fans and bigger
heatsinks, which wasn't the information I was looking for either. So here
I am, asking you guys for suggestions :-)

Since I'm starting out with a very low budget (some 200 Euros ~ 220 US$)
and the requirements are pretty undemanding (playback of DVDs, Xvid/Divx
AVI-files, mp3/mpc audio files, basic internet usage) I thought I'd use
some older-generation components that generate little heat so I'd be able
to rely on passive cooling only (maybe excepting the PSU since passively
cooled PSUs are rather pricey)

For a CPU, I believe the 1.2 GHz Duron will work fine with only a
(bigger?) heatsink mounted on it. Am I right there? Which Durons can do
that (and still provide the performance necessary for, say, Xvid
decoding)? I also read somewhere that the "Tualatin" Celerons can run with
only passive cooling, but there wasn't any exact data. Anyone know
something more about that?

The choice of the motherboard will be based on the CPU. In any case, I
thought an older board supporting DDR RAM @133 MHz, parallel ATA (that way
I'll be able to use a 40 GB ATA100 hdd I already have), USB 1.1 and AGP 4x
will do just fine.

However I haven't decided on the form factor yet. I'll have to buy a new
case anyway, so I might as well go for a smaller form factor, to better be
able to unobtrusively integrate the PC in my otherwise hi-fi dominated
bedroom. Would there be smaller form factor boards meeting my

For a graphics card (remember, it only needs to play video files) I could
get a passively cooled older one like a GF MX440. On-board IGPs like those
on newer boards would probably do the job quite well too, but on older
boards you mostly get something like a GF2 or an nForce 2 or a Trident
Blade3D GPU. Anyone know if those are OK for fullscreen video/DVD

As for the hdd & DVD drives, I won't go for anything special there since I
probably couldn't afford it. My "old" Seagate 40GB is really very quiet
already. What about a low-end but not too loud DVD-ROM drive? Anyone know
of some that don't sound like a helicopter taking off and still don't cost

Which leaves us only with the case and PSU to decide upon. I spent some
time looking for passively cooled PSUs on eBay and they seem to be out of
my price range. So are "fancy" cases like Shuttle and other mini-pc type
barebones. I'd go for a no-name case (be it ATX or mini-ATX) and put the
cheapest "silent" PSU I can get on eBay. Can anyone recommend some
specific PSUs which run quietly yet don't cost much?

Well then, thanks for reading so far :-) I'd be very grateful for _any_




"Keep cool but do not freeze." - Hellmann's Mayonnaise

Re: Ultra-low budget silent PC for multimedia

Get an athlon 2500XP-M and underclock it  If you need speed there are
programs that will allow you to increase both CPU speed and fan speed either
manually or automatically.  Better to have too much power available rather
than not enough and processors designed for notebooks do this best

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