A recipe to follow would be nice.
August 26, 2009 9:35 AM   Subscribe

Help me make a silent mini-ITX or micro-ATX Intel Atom system with s-video or composite out.

I've never dealt with any case smaller than full ATX, and I'm worried I'll muck it up and order components that don't actually fit together the way I think they will.

It must be silent from anything more than a foot away. That's important to me. The rest is flexible. If you've done this and it worked out, please tell me what to get.
posted by Number Used Once to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Well, it's not exactly what you're after, but the home theater PC thread at AV Science Forum has extensive lists of parts for building mini-ITX and micro ATX HTPCs that have been shown to work reliably. You can read it here.

The systems listed there should be very quiet, but probably not entirely silent, since they are designed for HD video playback and the Atom is a bit underpowered for that. That said, a few people have discussed the idea further along in the thread I linked, so it might be possible to simply swap in an Atom CPU and motherboard along with the other parts. Just ask over there and I'm sure they can help.

Another good resource if want to be sure your computer is a quiet as possible is the Silent PC Review build forum.
posted by TBAcceptor at 10:18 AM on August 26, 2009

Have a look on this page:


and search for "S-Video" to match motherboards with an S-video output.

I think they link to compatible cases there which in turn link to all the necessary bits you'll need to put it together.

Many of the Atom / C7 mini-ITX systems are fanless so with a suitable case (and whatever else you want to put in it) you're likely to get something quiet.

Depending on what you want it for - another option may be to get a netbook - the Acer Aspire One is small, cheap, has an s-video out and you can attach external storage to it.

posted by tkbarbarian at 10:24 AM on August 26, 2009

I've built a couple computers that run at under 40db and are silent from a foot or two away. Silentpcreview.com is your friend.

It's all about the fans, power supply, video card, processor and northbridge. Buy a motherboard without a northbridge fan as they're a pain to replace with a silent model. Seasonic and nexus make the best silent power supplies, nexus makes my favorite silent case fans, I usually run the thermalright ultra or scythe ninja with a 120mm nexus fan on my processor.

Silencing your video card will be the biggest problem, in the past I've purchased fanless video cards (newegg has a power search feature in the videocard section for fanless) but they often lack the power for home theater applications.

Fan regulators that mount in a 3.5 bay and allow you to undervolt all the system fans are also very useful.
posted by zentrification at 10:49 AM on August 26, 2009

First off, buy THIS CASE, the fans are almost silent, the case is beautiful, and this price is awesome. SALE ENDS TODAY!!!

Second, are you totally set on s-video? It's going to make your build exponentially more difficult. Right now, on board video is incredibly good. You can easily find mobos that can push 1080p h.264 content without batting an eye. However, THIS was the only reputable microATX s-video board I could find, and I'm unsure of the video chops of this thing. Though, if you're using s-video, you're not going to be doing any kind of HD content.

The, get a 65w AMD X2 CPU like THIS ONE.

All you need then is some RAM, a quiet PSU, and a quiet hard drive. I'll leave the RAM and PSU for you to decide on, but I can tell you this Hitachi drive is quiet.
posted by lattiboy at 11:38 AM on August 26, 2009

There's lots of cheap ($30-40) video cards that you could add in instead of getting a motherboard with built-in s-video or composite.

Here's a Newegg power search for any PCIe video cards that are fanless and have either component or s-video out

I'd recommend the XFX 4350 @ $40 or the Sparkle 9400GT @ $43 They'll be able to play fairly recent games at lower settings and decode HD no problem. The 4350 is also low-profile if you end up going for a low-profile case.

Don't worry too much about how everything will fit together, but it is a concern. Don't buy a huge passive CPU cooler if you get a tiny case. There are some that are less tall that would work.
posted by JauntyFedora at 12:26 PM on August 26, 2009

On the off chance that your flexibility extends to the video interface and you could use VGA or HDMI / DVI-D, have a look at the ASRock ION 330:-


I've got one of these sitting underneath my TV and use it to play movies / music. With the correct ION drivers installed the GPU handles most of the video decoding activities and hence it will playback HD MPEG encoded content with relatively little CPU usage. It's also pretty good for general PC activities.

The case isn't fanless; it has one case fan with and a second small fan on one of the heatsinks. I can't hear it when I'm playing a movie (which is my primary use), but YMMV.
posted by meyek at 3:28 PM on August 26, 2009

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