[mythtv-users] The elusive silent myth BE/FE box [in search of]

Matt Garman matthew.garman at gmail.com
Sun Aug 21 18:24:17 UTC 2011

On Sat, Aug 20, 2011 at 12:10:48AM -0700, Epinephrine Junky wrote:
> For a variety of reasons my backend sits behind my TV and bugs the
> crap out of me because I can't get it to be silent. It seems that
> no matter how many times I change the fan configuration in hopes
> of a cheap/easy fix there's just too much heat with my Core E6600
> CPU and GeForce GT220. I measure 85W for the whole system with my
> kill-a-watt. That's better than the 130W I started with 2yrs ago
> (got better 80+ PSU and traded 3.5" drives for 2.5") but it's not
> enough to get a silent BE/FE. 
> ...

What case are you using now?  And how much room do you have behind
your TV?

If you can use a big, full-tower or even mid-tower case, then you
should be able to use big, slow fans (120mm or 140mm).  You
shouldn't need to run them over 1200 rpm.  You can also spring for a
good CPU heatsink.  Finally, you could get something like the Arctic
Cooling Accelero to quietly cool your video card (if it's not
already passive).

The components you've listed should be easy to cool quietly.

Have you narrowed down the source of the noise?  It's possible that
only one component is making it noisy.  I suggest unplugging *all*
fans, and turning on your system (should be safe to do this for the
length of time this exercise will require).  Plug in fans one at a
time, and see which one is making the most noise.  Does your GT220
have a fan?  That would be my first suspect.  Second suspect would
be your CPU fan, assuming you are using the stock cooler.

Case fans can be loud or quiet.  But even modestly-sized modern
cases usually accept a 120mm fan or two.  And you don't need them
running much over 1200 RPM, unless you've got your CPU and GPU
cranked all the time.  (In my experience, for fans 120mm and bigger,
1200 RPM is quiet, 1000 RPM is very quiet, and 800 RPM or less is

You can use a tool like Munin to log and generate graphs of
temperatures in your system (CPU, GPU, hard drives).  Keep turning
down the fans until the temps are too high for your comfort.

I've been a long-time silent computing hobbyist and regular reader
of Silent PC Review (SPCR, silentpcreview.com).  I would spend some
time purusing their forums to get some ideas.  In fact, I just
posted details on my latest MythTV build:


As I mentioned in the writeup, it's not silent, but, like yours, it
lives behind our entertainment center, and it's quiet enough that I
can't hear it unless I crawl back behind the TV.  So in practical
terms, it is silent.  Just an idea if you're set on building a new

My long-term goal is to ditch the GT430, which would make the system
use even less power and I could run the fans more slowly.  I'm just
waiting for Sandy Bridge graphics on Linux to "just work" (they
don't appear to be there yet).  They might be good enough on a
bleeding-edge distro like Fedora or Arch or Gentoo.  There are
people all over the web who have built Sandy Bridge systems that use
20 Watts or less at idle.  And these are standard desktop parts, not
more expensive laptop parts.  Again, unless you run your system at
high CPU/GPU load more often than not, you don't need to get the
fancier parts.

I noticed later in this thread you were suggesting those completely
passive (zero fan) systems.  I don't think that's the way to go.
You can have a VERY quiet or literally silent computer that has
fans.  You just have to make sure you buy fans that don't spin too
quickly.  There is TONS of information on SPCR, both the site itself
and in the forums where the minutia of fan noise is discussed in
more detail than you'll likely be able to stomach.  :)

Just some ideas, hope they help!

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