The Silent Power PC is claimed to be the first high-end PC able to ditch noisy electric fans in favor of fully passive cooling. In place of a conventional fan, the unit uses an open-air metal foam heatsink that boasts an enormous surface area thanks to the open-weave filaments of copper of which it is composed. The Silent Power creators claim that the circulation of air through the foam is so efficient in dissipating heat that the exterior surface temperature never rises above 50° C (122° F) in normal use.
Whilst a little unusual in appearance with what looks like a large metallic fiber kitchen sponge sitting on top of it, the hardware the Silent Power PC claims to contain is conventional enough. With an Intel quad-core i7-4785T 2.2 GHz processor, 8 or 16 GB of RAM, an NVIDIA GTX 760 graphics card, and the usual array of USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, HDMI, DVI, and audio ports, along with Windows 8.1 as standard, the Silent Power PC certainly has the specifications of a "normal" machine.
The real innovation is in the cooling system. A copper base, which is in direct contact with the CPU and GPU via thermal paste, forms the top of the chassis and absorbs heat and releases it evenly to the copper foam on top. In this way, the Silent Power PC’s heat dissipation is claimed to be 500 times greater than that offered by conventional fin-type heatsink systems and is more than sufficient to maintain adequately low operating temperatures. The design also features a reverse-layout compared to normal PCs – the CPU and GPU are on the top of the stack, rather than in the bottom of the case – to aid in heat dissipation.
And it is small. At just 160 mm (6.2 in) wide, 100 mm (4 in) deep, and 70 mm (2.75 in) tall, the case is very compact – without its bouffant coppery locks, of course. To achieve these compact dimensions, the designers had to ditch the machine’s internal power supply in favor of an external one, but it also means that the unit is claimed to weigh a mere 1.5 kg (3.3 lb).
One more feature to differentiate the Silent Power PC is an inbuilt sensor that the team says can detect movement to wake the unit up from standby as the user approaches. Conversely, if the user leaves the proximity of the device, the sensor detects the lack of movement and automatically locks the system after a predetermined amount of time.
Currently still only a prototype, German startup Silent Power is running its own crowdfunding campaign with a goal of €45,000 (US$60,000) to get the unit into production. Funding is sought via donations or by pre-ordering of one of three versions of the PC: €699 (US$930) gets you the base 8 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD version, €769 (US$1,030) gets the 26 GB RAM, 500 GB HDD model, whilst €1,159 (US$1,550) will land you the top-of-the-range 16 GB RAM, 1,000 GB SSD PC.
Provided everything goes to plan, the Silent Power PC team says that production should begin sometime in the European spring of 2015.
Want a cleaner, faster loading and ad free reading experience?
Try New Atlas Plus. Learn more