Re: [dwm] Low Power Fanless Computer

From: voltaic <>
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 2009 11:50:04 -0400

I have been looking into this kind of thing myself. What I found is
that getting an Atom nettop computer would be a significant downgrade
in performance (from my Pentium M). Both in performance and
power/Watt. Also, GMA900 on the EEEs is slow enough that rendering
webpages is not very smooth. Imagine what that would be like in 3

I looked at two things. First is the Neuros Link, which has a low
power Athlon LE-1660. The form factor is not that small, and it does
have a fan (supposedly quiet), but it does accommodate a full hard
drive, has eSATA, DVI and HDMI. The problem with it is the ATI
graphics chip... Linux support for these is still terrible, despite
the recent releases of documentation. The open source driver is moving
very slowly for the AMD/ATI hardware.

Though, Neuros Link is very cheap ($250):

Another item is the Dell Studio Hybrid. That thing gets good reviews.
It is a real computer, unlike the Atom stuff. There is a Core 2 Duo
laptop processor in there, which is the best performance/Watt you can
get. Apparently it is very quiet (does have a fan), draws 25W at idle,
and 40W max, and has a GMA X3100 graphics chip. DVI and HDMI (though
only one can be active at a time, so no dual screen). It can be had
for $500. Sadly, it is not small enough to be VESA mountable. Also, no
eSATA, so you are stuck with a single internal drive.

Anyway, I think both of these options are imperfect, but maybe someone
will find them useful. I am waiting for the NVIDIA Ion stuff to come
out. NVIDIA has a acceptable Linux drivers I hear.


On Sat, Apr 25, 2009 at 8:48 AM, Martin Oppegaard <> wrote:
> There's a thread on openbsd-misc[1] with a few alternatives.  If one only
> could get tiny fanless computers with awesome graphics capabilities, for
> the Morrowind experience ...
> [1]
> On Sat, Apr 25, 2009 at 02:59:12AM +0200, Matthias-Christian Ott wrote:
>> Hi,
>> after a few months of latop-only computing (my good old P4 1.8Ghz is now =
>> -
>> after 7 years - a Windows machine in our household), I plan to switch to =
>> a
>> normal computer again.
>> My requirements are the following:
>>   o Low power consumption (< 10W; 25W upper limit)
>>   o Support for major Free Software operating systems (no strange, custom
>>     GNU/Linux distributions), especially GNU/Linux or NetBSD
>>   o Fanless and no moving parts
>>   o No proprietary drivers, etc. (BIOS and bootloader acceptable)
>>   o Standard form-factor or custom case/enclosure (if so, hole for rp-sma
>>     connector)
>>   o Smallest form-factor that is possible (I don't understand why compute=
>> rs
>>     are still the size of a bottle crate)
>>   o Standard connectors (USB, VGA/DVI, Ethernet)
>>   o VESA mount (if possible)
>>   o low budget (< 500=E2=82=AC)
>> After I found no RISC processors or SOCs, I looked at x86 CPUs. There thr=
>> ee
>> low power architectures: VIA C7 and Nano, AMD Geode and Intel Atom.
>> VIA's technology (especially the C7) seems to be out-dated. VIA offers a
>> mini-itx board with its Nano CPU (VIA VB8001), but it has small fan and i=
>> ts
>> power consumption is slightly above the limit.
>> AMD's Geode is obsolete as well. The Geode LX family has the advantage of
>> low power consumption and small form factor. However, the performance per
>> watt ration is low.
>> Intel's Atom processors are modern and have probably the highest performa=
>> nce
>> per watt ration. However, the smallest affordable form-factor is mini-itx
>> (I talked to several companies that manufacture smaller industrial boards=
>> ,
>> but the price performance ratio was terrible and buying one of those woul=
>> d
>> be my last option). Similar to the Nano most of the Atom Boards have a po=
>> wer
>> consumption that's a bit above 25W (there are the Z510 and Z530 embedded
>> Atom CPUs, but the come with the GMA 500 graphics chip which has no free
>> drivers). Nvidia's Ion, especially the Acer AspireRevo, seems to be quite
>> promising, but has proprietary drivers.
>> I wanted to ask you (because you very likely use your computers the same =
>> way
>> I do) whether you think the Geode is sufficient for the next three years =
>> or
>> so, otherwise would buy a cheap Atom mini-itx computer.
>> Usually I use my computer just for programming, typesetting (mainly
>> with groff and heirloom-doctools, but also occasionally with LaTeX),
>> reading and research. I don't need any computing power for simulations,
>> calculations, etc.; I can get access to bigger machines if I really have
>> such special tasks.
>> What bothers me a bit are these multimedia applications (video codecs,
>> etc.) and particularly web applications. I'm really not sure if the
>> Geode would be able to render on of these new JavaScript + HTML =3D
>> graphics-and-user-interface-API web apps in one and a half years or
>> so. Moreover, I can't imagine the CPU to decode a medium-sized h.264 vide=
>> os
>> which seem to have become today's quasi-standard.
>> Maybe you know a better alternative.
>> Regards,
>> Matthias-Christian
Received on Sat Apr 25 2009 - 15:50:04 UTC

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