Build Your Own Silent HTPC – Blu-ray, HD DVD and HDTV Combined

CPU – AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350

Silent HTPC Blu-ray HD-DVD DVB-S2

Due to their high power consumption and resulting high thermal power dissipation fast CPUs require elaborate cooling solutions and demand a great deal from the power supply. On the other hand, no CPU gets by without some form of cooling. Energy consumption should definitely be one of the main criteria for our silent multimedia PC. “More is better” would be a completely wrong approach in this case. Instead, the motto should be “only as much CPU power as is really needed”.

We chose to use a processor based on the 65 nm production process, which draw much less power than their 90 nm siblings. Our processor of choice, the AMD Athlon X2 BE-2350, gets by with a theoretical maximum power consumption of only 45 Watts – a level we will never see in our application scenario. The CPU contains 1 MB of L2 cache and runs at a stock frequency of 2100 MHz. Additionally, we wanted to utilize the processor’s Cool’n’Quiet feature, which lowers the processors clock speed and core voltage. After all, if we can’t get around using an air-based cooler altogether, we at least want its fan to spin as slowly as possible.

CPU Cooling

Silent HTPC Blu-ray HD-DVD DVB-S2

A gurgling water cooling setup is just as out of place in the living room as a cryo-cooler’s chugging compressor. Besides, their size requirements would ruin the overall aesthetics of our platform. That only leaves conventional air cooling. We chose a cooler with large cooling fins, allowing the fan to spin at a lower speed, making it almost inaudible. Here, we picked the Zalman CNPS9500 LED. It supports temperature-dependent fan speed regulation through the motherboard. In practice, that means the Zalman cooler doesn’t churn at full speed but only whispers in the background, since the AMD BE-2350 gives it little reason to spin up. Once the case’s lid is in place, the components inside are barely audible.