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This wildly ambitious PC uses copper foam and custom engineering to pack big power in a small, silent package

Brad Chacos | Aug. 1, 2014
Your next ultra-powerful, ultra-tiny PC could look like a Brillo pad or copper-hued Chia pet, if a crowdfunding-slash-preorder campaign by Silent Power meets its goals--and then delivers on some ambitious engineering promises.

Your next ultra-powerful, ultra-tiny PC could look like a Brillo pad or copper-hued Chia pet, if a crowdfunding-slash-preorder campaign by Silent Power meets its goals — and then delivers on some ambitious engineering promises.

That copper mesh may look ridiculous (or ridiculously awesome, depending on your perspective), but Silent Power says the "metal foam" provides much better heat dissipation than traditional finned heatsinks, and is the key to making its PC completely passively cooled (read: No fans) — and therefore whisper quiet.

Here's the description via Google Translate, so ignore the rough grammar. (Silent Power is based in Germany.)

"The Silent Power uses as a heat sink copper metal foam. Copper conducts heat better than any other industrial metal. The structure of a foam, the heat can spread over an enormous area. To the very hot regions inside the metal foam, the air is heated more than in the outer regions. The air expands due to the heat in the inner stronger and is pressed automatically to the outside. This creates its own micro-circulation, which dissipates the heat more efficiently. A fan as cooling is no longer necessary. Moreover, the heat is distributed on an up to 500-fold greater surface area. Composition of microcirculation and an extraordinarily large heatsink surface make the use of more powerful hardware [possible]."

Staring at the pictures, I couldn't help but wonder: What about dust? Fear not: The team says the metal foam can be vacuumed, as nerve-wracking as that sounds.

Silent Power PC configurations include a quad-core, power-optimized Intel Core i7-4785T processor, 8GB to 16GB of RAM, and either a 500GB hard drive or a 1TB SSD, depending on the configuration you choose. The machine also includes four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, Gigabit ethernet, audio-in and -out ports, and a sensor on the front that can recognize if large objects move nearby.

"The idea of the SilentPower is to use every module of a desktop PC (mainboard, graphic card, soundcard etc.) and bring it to one single mainboard," Holger Ficht — who is developing Silent Power with Stefan Klaussner and Michaela Leimberger — told me via email.

"We split the 'big mainboard with all components' in three mainboard levels. The hottest components (CPU, GPU) are on the top with the head sink. In a middle mainboard level, there are some controllers etc. And at the buttom mainboard level, we have SSD-Chips etc. All components are fix bonded on the mainboard. So we need no space for connectors, cables, air-volume etc... We need only some single parts from the OEMs (e.g. Intel-CPU, Nvidia-GPU etc.) All of the rest is our own design. "

 

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