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Technology Science

CompuLab Rolls out Fanless, High-End PCs With Unique Design (phoronix.com) 101

An anonymous reader writes: Israeli PC maker CompuLab has begun shipping the Airtop PC that allows assembling high-end PC components into a completely fanless design. Phoronix's initial testing of the Airtop PC showed that it has a Core i7 5775C Broadwell processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and GeForce GTX 950 all while being fan-less thanks to the innovative design. The early results are quite positive for this uniquely designed PC but it comes at a cost premium of a fully-loaded system costing more than $2,200 USD.
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CompuLab Rolls out Fanless, High-End PCs With Unique Design

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  • lol (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gcnaddict ( 841664 )
    ever since BIZX acquired slashdot, we've been seeing these slashvertisements at least once per day (worse than Dice's twice-weekly rate). What's the going price for buying an article on slashdot these days?
    • I don't see this as an advertisement as it is a review and pull down by a review site. Sure it's commodity hardware and its been possible to build your own fan less system for ages.

      Personally if it had linked to Compulab or a press release puff piece then yes. This isn't going to interest everyone, personally I think the concept of a fanless PC of this spec is pointless, but it is a nice solution to the problem.

    • Belongs here (Score:4, Insightful)

      by duke_cheetah2003 ( 862933 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @08:25PM (#51611817) Homepage

      Advertisement or not, this is a pretty neat piece of engineering and definitely belongs on /.

      • It's fine, I guess. But I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed when I clicked on an article touting an "innovative" PC, only to find out that it was a rectangular box. I'd say "well-engineered", but not "innovative".

        • Re:Belongs here (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @08:59PM (#51611971)

          I'd argue a rectangular box is still the most practical form factor for a PC and most other hardware (consoles, appliances, etc). The Mac Pro had a bizarre cylindrical shape which was pretty cool from a design standpoint, but ultimately didn't have much success in the marketplace. The PC ecosystem is designed around standardized, commodity parts that generally fit into a rectangular chassis. That's partly why PCs have such an amazing price-performance ratio.

          The only thing a non-rectangular box would do for me is to prevent me from fitting it under the desk in the slot designed for a rectangular box-shaped PC.

          • Yes, it's quite practical. Like every other rectangular PC, save the Apple that you mentioned (why the past tense?). Other than some solid engineering, which other commenters pointed out has been done before, I don't really see much "innovation". You mentioned Apple - remember their fanless "cube"?

            • Yeah, I probably should have used "has", not "had" - don't read anything into it. Personally, I tend to want my PC to sit under the desk and out of sight. I don't really care what it looks like. And I don't want it some bizarre shape that won't fit where a PC is normally supposed to fit.

              There are definitely some people who are looking more for aesthetic appeal or more radically engineering solutions. Quite a few notable examples tend to come from Apple - I can think of several other examples as well. F

              • Re:Belongs here (Score:4, Insightful)

                by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @01:29AM (#51612945)

                My PCs I still go old-school and build myself. I usually buy a nice, quiet case. I don't really care what they look like too much, but one is in the spare bedroom and so I like that it's quiet. I do have a Mac in the living room. It's old, but it looks nice. I wouldn't want to spend all this money on nice living room furniture and then have a cheap, loud plastic box sitting in the middle of it. I saw a cool project online where a guy made a wooden PC case to match his furniture.

                I'm not sure I agree that there's much innovation going on in the PC space. It's very mature and there's not a lot that hasn't been done before. Sure, things get smaller and the detachable screen thing makes an appearance every few years - but at the end of the day notebooks generally all look like a mid-90s PowerBook and desktops look like variations on the original PC. All in ones got so small that they essentially just look like monitors. But I guess it is almost a philosophical question... where is the line between innovation and just solid engineering? The iPod was, I think, pretty innovative - but it didn't really do anything special or new. It was just smaller and had better engineering than the competition. So, shows what I know :)

          • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
            It looks like the design rely's on airflow pulled in at the bottom and released at the top, probably generated by the movement of the hot air rising. Putting this in a "slot" under a desk would probably restrict that airflow and make it overheat. Putting it on the floor, would probably result in dust eventually clogging the lower intake ports and overheating the system.
        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          'Innovative' and even 'unique design' don't immediately scream aesthetics to me - not on this site. On other sites? Yeah, I'd expect 'unique design' to mean that it was some form factor other than rectangular. On this site? Not so much. We, as a group, seem more inclined to look at the engineering than the appearance.

          On top of that, I'm not sure it's an ad? If it were an ad, why filter it through a third party site? That's a pretty popular and reasonably well trusted site here. It seems a rather roundabout

          • If this were the first mid-range PC with a high-end price that's claim to fame was that it didn't have a fan, I'd be more charitable. But I remember the "cube" from Apple... :)

            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              This is hardly the same. For starters, it's actually useful! ;-)

              But, seriously... The Cube wasn't anything like this - though it did have some passive cooling. This is actually quite a bit of heat being contained in a different way. I dare say it is innovative. An AC listed (I went and searched) a different case that is sort of similar but, again, not like this. That makes it innovative in function.

              I kind of like the idea but I don't really care much about the quiet. As I use solar and already have DC avail

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What's so neat about the engineering?
        As far as I can see, they're simply using the ribbed cast aluminium sides of the case as big passive heatsinks.
        Audio amps have been doing that for half a century.
        Hell, you can get off the shelf HTPC cases that do just that, except those use heatpipes to couple the CPU/GPU to the case, so they take a variety of standard components instead of requiring a $700 custom mainboard with a previous-gen chipset.

        • Hell, you can get off the shelf HTPC cases that do just that, except those use heatpipes to couple the CPU/GPU to the case, so they take a variety of standard components instead of requiring a $700 custom mainboard with a previous-gen chipset.

          You got any links to these off the shelf cases?

    • Re:lol (Score:5, Informative)

      by whipslash ( 4433507 ) Works for Slashdot on Monday February 29, 2016 @09:01PM (#51611987) Homepage Journal
      $0
      • Re:lol (Score:4, Insightful)

        by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <apoc.famineNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @11:50AM (#51615231) Journal

        Have you considered upping your price and reducing the number of sidebar advertisements?

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        Hey, Whipslash.

        After having a talk with a couple of people, I've come to a decision.

        If you want more help on turning /. around, I'll help you for free. I know this site very well, and I'm one of the more vocal no-nonsense proponents. In the past, I've regularly contributed to /. in both story submission, commenting, and in giving you all the survey information you asked for.

        If you want the help from a long-time user and fan of /., I am a phone call away. To hell with the text feedback, things get done faste

    • Given that it links to a Phoronix article, it's hard to argue that it's an ad.. unless Michael Larabel owns shares in CompuLab and paid for it.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't see any ads? Something must be wrong with your browser.

  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @08:22PM (#51611797)

    How odd. I would have thought that a silent machine with reasonable power would garner LOTS of fans.

  • by zenlessyank ( 748553 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @08:25PM (#51611813)
    After replacing the fans in my rig with ultra-low quiet ones, I found that the coil whine from the power supply and video card are more annoying than the whoosh of noisy fans. I'm too cheap to subscribe to phoronix's site, so maybe someone can suggest it to him.
    • by slaker ( 53818 )

      I also found that to be true when I put together a system for my bedroom. And then I got a PicoPSU + transformer, only to find that the transformer had its own disagreeable little hum.

      I went back to a traditional desktop and some fancy Noctua fans. They make noise I can hear but almost anything else I do is quiet enough for it to not be an issue.

      • I also found that to be true when I put together a system for my bedroom. And then I got a PicoPSU + transformer, only to find that the transformer had its own disagreeable little hum.

        I went back to a traditional desktop and some fancy Noctua fans. They make noise I can hear but almost anything else I do is quiet enough for it to not be an issue.

        There are full-size fanless PSUs that are much more robust than the PicoPSU+brick type combos. I've been very happy with my 460 W and 520 W models from Seasonic, no coil whine issues there.

        • Sonsonic PSU's are awesome. I have a 2u server where I needed a power supply that didn't have a bottom fan intake (would be blocked by the case). The only one I could find that fit was a Seasonic but it's been rock-solid for years without an issues. Quiet and reliable. A bit pricey but you're paying for a quality product.

    • From http://airtop-pc.com/airtop/qu... [airtop-pc.com] :

      Is Airtop totally silent?

      [...]

      High power electronics system usually has some acoustic side effect commonly known as "coil whine" caused by mechanical vibrations in coils and capacitors amplified by the PCB.
      In the design of Airtop motherboard special attention was given to make it inaudible.
      The power supply is also silent.

  • I always had very high sensitivity to fans noise and dreamed of absolutely slient pc. I've finaly made it using streacom case. It's running great. Newer intel cpus also have good integrated GPU, so everything except gaming is simply exceptional (and I have a separate pc for gaming). But adding powerful GPU to the system was a pipe dream. If they have managed that in such a small case, that's beyond cool.
  • Not sure I'd call that spec high end but whatever.

  • No one buys $2,200 PCs anymore, unless they are Apple. Come to think of it, no one buys desktop PC's for home anymore.
  • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Monday February 29, 2016 @09:17PM (#51612069) Homepage Journal

    I've been building silent, often fanless systems since 2003, so I'm always interested at these rare occasions when a commercial offering actually cares about noise. However, I'm somewhat worried about the peak temperatures of 80 C, and frankly it doesn't surprise me. Passive cooling is hard, and it's almost always better to aim for the low hum of large, slow fans. I'm running high end GPUs fully loaded all the time, and they stay around 50...60 C with aftermarket coolers (not water) in open cases, with 140 mm fans running at 7..10 V. The same goes for CPUs, though I'm not sure if they count as high end. Anyway, quiet and cool is easily done with aftermarket coolers that cost around 50 euros apiece. I live in a single-room apartment, so the lack of noise is pretty important.

    I always wonder why proper cooling seems like an afterthought in components such as motherboards and cases, and why you always need aftermarket solutions if you don't want your machine to sound like a jet engine. For example, if the CPU were at the backside of the mobo, there would be no limit to the size of the heatsink. Yet the default is always a very crowded place in the middle of everything, where the "solution" is a small and whiny fan.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "However, I'm somewhat worried about the peak temperatures of 80 C, and frankly it doesn't surprise me"

      The thermal limit of the i7 Broadwell CPU was/is 103 C. I have had it running around 70 C at 100% load, totally passive Akasa case. Normally it runs from 34 - 40 C under light load.

      It doesn't surprise me that some of the Skylake Xeons will run at similarly high temps. Compared to stock, however, it seems that my passive build is more efficient at cooling, without the noise.

  • If you strip everything out except the mainboard and the case (no cpu, no gpu, no ram, etc), you're still looking at $700. This is what they mean by "starts at".

  • like the Gigabyte brick with the "Desktop" GPU that just clocks itself down when it gets hot.? Or is this just a laptop without a screen again?
  • Not only do I have concerns about how this will work under very high ambient temperatures, I don't see it's usefulness for 99.99999% of users. If you are spending that kind of money, you could have a machine that is virtually soundless and has at least one and probably 2 high end GPUs. This really limits your options because of the unique form factor and I don't really see tradeoff.

    For comparison, my PC with an overclocked i5 2500k and 7970 is 3 decibles above ambient (34 db in my apartment) as measured by

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been thinking about just such a machine quite a lot lately. Rather than some sort of desktop gaming system, I'm more interested in a server solution. I'd really like to buy/build a server with Xeon CPU(s), 30-60GB of RAM, hardware RAID 5 6 10, SSDs, dual power supplies(ideal) and NO FANS.

    I want a passively cooled and (near)completely silent server. A real server.

    Does anyone know if/how I can achieve such a beast?

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