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The Passive Cooling Paradigm: Atlast Solutions Ultimate Fanless Core i7 7700T

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  • #21
    If you want to lower your system noise profile and/or keep that noise profile consistent so you don't have to keep making new NR profiles:

    1: use the i7z utility to underclock your system, which will reduce your thermal needs which will make your system quieter.
    2: get an SSD, use your HDD for low-priority storage (ie media you don't plan on using daily) so you can use laptop-mode-tools to spin it down when you aren't actively using it.
    3: if you have a nice quality USB microphone and you have a wireless keyboard/mouse and a TV, get yourself a nice long USB cable, possibly an intermediate hub, hook your TV to the computer's display, and enjoy creating content from a nice leather recliner 10' or more from the TV. That'll reduce your effective system noise and make your content creation environment super comfy too. :-)

    Re: #1, using i7z it is possible to increase your CPU's performance per watt by over 100%. I'm not going to get into the nitty-gritty of it other than to say that reducing HZ reduces vCore which reduces curent. Active CPU power usage is a function of HZ cubed, so if you lower peak HZ you can lower power consumption a lot for the same workload. I started with just disabling Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 and that increased performance per watt by 14% on my system. Lowering the clock 33% from the all-cores maximum increased performance per watt by 41%, and at the same time let my fan run in its second speed tier at a constant speed instead of varying up and down every 24 seconds, while transcoding with ghb, browsing, writing documents. Starting up Kodi still jumps the fan around because this script doesn't manage the IGP. AFAIK Intel's configurable TDP is still vapourware in Linux or I'd use that.

    I wrote a script (ght - gnu handbrake throttle) to give me quick/easy access to the efficiency/latency tradeoff. ght takes <int 0..95> as argument, it uses a combination of underclocking and idle poll with SIGSTOP/SIGCONT to keep the system responsive while keeping it busy enough that the fan should operate at a stable frequency, while running ghb.

    Here it is. Edit BASE and TURBO apropriately, you can get them by running i7z from the command line and observing the "Max Frequency without considering Turbo" in my case 25, and "Max TURBO..." - in my case 29.

    $ sudo i7z
    [snip]
    Max Frequency without considering Turbo 2494.00 MHz (99.76 x [25])
    Max TURBO Multiplier (if Enabled) with 1/2/3/4 Cores is 31x/29x/29x/29x
    Code:
    [email protected]:~$ cat bin/ght
    
    #!/bin/bash
    
    # CPU idle target, default is 50%:
    IDLE_PCT=${1:-50};
    
    # CPU normal run speed as a factor of 100MHZ:
    BASE=25
    
    # CPU all-cores Turbo Boost speed as a factor of 100MHZ:
    TURBO=29
    
    ### don't edit below this line: ###
    
    i7z(){
      echo "[email protected]" | sudo i7z_rw_registers 2>&1 |tail -3 |grep " is ";
    }
    
    # shut down running instance:
    for i in `pgrep -f /bin/bash.*bin/ght`; do (( $$ != i)) && kill "$i"; done
    
    # if 0 was passed disable ght entirely:
    [[ $1 = 0 ]] && {
      i7z turbo enable;
      i7z clock disable;
      echo "ght disabled";
      exit 0;
    }
    
    echo "target idle $IDLE_PCT%";
    
    # disable CPU turbo and adjust idle target accordingly:
    i7z turbo disable;
    (( IDLE_PCT-= 100-(BASE*100/TURBO),IDLE_PCT<0 )) && IDLE_PCT=1;
    echo "Turbo disabled, IDLE_PCT adjusted to $IDLE_PCT";
    
    (( IDLE_PCT == 0 )) && { echo "Exiting"; exit; }
    
    # throttle the CPU in 12.5% increments and adjust idle target accordingly:
    (( THROTTLE=IDLE_PCT*2*TURBO/BASE/25, THROTTLE<1 ));
    (( THROTTLE>0)) && {
      IDLE_PCT=5;
      i7z clock set $(( 8 - THROTTLE));
      echo "cpu throttled 12.5*$THROTTLE%, IDLE_PCT set to 5";
    }
    
    avg=50;
    run=50;
    interval=500;
    
    # starting state:
    read x _user _nice _sys _idle _io _irq _soft x </proc/stat
    (( _total=_user+_nice+_sys+_idle+_io+_irq+_soft ));
    
    while read x user nice sys idle io irq soft x </proc/stat; do
      (( total=user+nice+sys+idle+io+irq+soft, diff=total-_total,zzz=idle-_idle ));
      (( _total=total,_idle=idle ));
      (( interval+= (zzz/4-IDLE_PCT) ));
      (( interval < 50 )) && interval=50;
      (( interval > 950 )) && interval=950;
      killall -CONT ghb || sleep 30;
      printf -v run "%03d" $interval;
      printf -v sleep "%03d" $(( 1000-$interval ));
      sleep "0.$run";
      killall -STOP ghb || sleep 30;
      sleep "0.$sleep";
    done&

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    • #22
      I hope that Intel will one day give us 35W TDP CPU with Iris GPU for normal market, because Intel HD GPU sucks and in such case you cant install better GPU and have strong box with criples GPU is for me waste of money..

      Comment


      • #23
        Originally posted by niner View Post
        I've discovered that I still can't hear the computer anyway. (…) So for the same money one can build a for all intents and purposes equally quiet system with more than twice the performance and much better upgradability.
        Same here. I've learnt 2 things:
        * A low power (65W) CPU + an oversized air cooler = Problem solved. No need to be passive-aggressive here. With stock settings, my CPU fan barely moves at idle, and I still can't hear it running boinc 24/7.
        * What I do hear (even from my sitting position 2m away) is my so called "Ultra-quiet" PSU (Corsair VX450W). So, marketing material can't be trusted. Neither can reviews that are too subjective. You've got to be paranoid about PSU noise levels!

        Buy fanless if you don't trust the "Ultra-quiet" sticker, but as others have said, beware of coil whine.
        Last edited by andreano; 08-23-2017, 04:06 PM.

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        • #24
          @linuxgeex Very interesting.
          I see i7z has not seen updates for long. For instance it does not know what processor I have.

          Need to digest this and try your script - see what I can learn from it.
          I am not so surprised that the performance per watt can be greatly improved by not letting the CPU 'overreach'.

          Comment


          • #25
            Oh look a paradigm! It protects you from digms. Digms can be deadly you know. For instance when you go touring in an airplane or hot air balloon, it's good to take a paradigm with you. You'll never know if you'll end up in a digm.

            Thanks for your due diligence.

            Comment


            • #26
              For those of you who are looking to purchase a new Desktop PC or HTPC, I wanted to provide a review of the 'Ultimate' fanless PC by Atlast Solutions. I am in no way sponsored by Atlast Solutions or anyone else - this is purely a personal a personal opinion piece.

              My system configuration is as follows:
              Case: Impactics C3LH-B Fanless Enclosure + Impactics CPU/Chipset Heat Pipe System
              Motherboard: ASRock Z270 ITX/ac
              CPU: Intel Core i7-7700T 35W Processor
              Memory: 32GB (16GB X2) 3000MHz Corsair Vengeance LPX
              HDD: Samsung 512GB 960 Pro NVME SSD
              OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro OEM + 16GB Flash Drive Backup

              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

              The Company:
              First and foremost, I want to talk about my dealings with Atlast Solutions, a UK based online company that sells an assortment of fanless computer systems. I have to say, that in all my life, I have never dealt with a more professional and courteous person, Jonathan Earle, whom I assume is the sole operator of this company.
              I specifically wanted a computer with the ASRock motherboard, as it is the only Mini ITX board which supports Thunderbolt 3, needed if I wish to add an external GPU later on. The only listings on Atlast's website for systems with this motherboard were using the Streacom FC8 Alpha case -- a sleak looking, but poor performing enclosure, which still requires air cooling via ventilation holes, which allows dust ingress. I had asked Jonathan if it was possibly to order a PC equipped w/ this motherboard but in the Impactics case ('Ultimate' product SKU) which uses heat pipes on the motherboard chipset as well as the CPU, negating the need for air cooling. As it turns out, the answer was supposed to be no... but it wasn't! Before even knowing for sure that I would order it, Jonathan had replied to me, telling me that he had spent god knows how long removing the heat sinks on both the chipset and voltage regulators, and applying a salvaged heat sink from an Asus Z270I motherboard, making this motherboard compatible with the ‘Ultimate’ case and cooling system.
              When I had placed the order, I left a note asking for this computer to be shipped to me (in Canada) via DHL instead of UPS/Fedex, as I have had bad experience in dealing with UPS/Fedex with regards to being charged needless customs/brokerage/duties. He replied telling me that shipping via DHL would cost twice as much as UPS and that he would need to create an account with them. However, he did this without hesitation, and didn’t even pass on the extra charges to me!

              The Product:
              On to reviewing the actual computer. The ‘Ultimate’ computer is completely passively cooled (no fans). As such, operation, even under 100% load, is silent! Furthermore, there are no ventilation holes in this product, effectively making it dust-proof. Lastly, there are no moving parts in this build, which maximizes durability. This feat of engineering is accomplished by the use of heat pipes, which transfer heat from the CPU and motherboard chipset out to the outer perimeter of the case, which consists of metal fins (essentially a large heat sink) and from there out into the surrounding room. The SSD is mounted to the underside of the case with a thermal pad, preventing throttling even at heavy use, but making the SSD less than easy to replace.
              Cooling works effectively with this build to prevent overheating. However, CPU temperatures while running Prime95 quickly reached the TJunction point of 80 degrees Celsius (max temperature before the CPU automatically starts throttling down its clock speeds to prevent overheating). In all honesty, this is nothing to worry about, as even the most strenuous real-world workloads aren’t going to push the CPU this much (Prime95 is designed to use the CPU in such a way as to maximize temperature). Even doing video editing and other tasks which use all cores at 100% capacity don’t use those cores in such a way that it reaches the Tjunction point in less than an hour. Really, I was more surprised that the Intel i7-7700T maxes out at 80 degrees instead of the usual 100.
              Passmark v9.0 benchmarks gave CPU scores of nearly 11,000, above what is typically reported of the intel i7-7700T. RAM benchmarks were also in line with what I was expecting. However, for some reason, it performed worse while the XMP profile (full 3000MHz DRAM frequency) was enabled than it does using standard JEDEC profiles.
              The other thing that bothered me (but I now believe is of no concern) was that initially I was getting several different types of BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) errors in Windows 10 Pro. However, after installing all the newest drivers for the ASRock motherboard, these BSOD’s stopped occurring. A quick look at the error type on Google (DPC Watchdog Violation) revealed that this error is indeed mostly caused by firmware issues, rather than actual hardware malfunction. I am sure as this motherboard gets older, the drivers will all get incorporated into Windows Update anyhow.
              As far as the Impactics C3LH-B case goes, it seems very well built – something built to last. Functionally, I wish it had USB 3.0 ports and IR on the front panel for easy access, but this is a small omission to criticize. You have the option of purchasing this computer with a disc drive installed or not. If you choose to have a disc drive installed, a front-loading tray is present in the front panel. Otherwise, you receive a plain metal front panel, with only the power button present.
              This product comes equipped with a 130W power supply, but only an 84W DC power adapter. The DC power “brick” is high quality but may not be favored by all. I honestly don’t care about having a large transformer external to the PC, but to each their own. Under full load I managed to get the PC to consume 79W of power without any USB accessories added on. Granted, most people will never run this system at 100% load of CPU, HDD, and RAM, all at the same time. However, it may still be wise to upgrade the 12V/7A AC/DC transformer to a 12V/10A one. Despite being on the edge of acceptability, this PSU is quite nicely built, coming with thick cables and even a screw-on connector to prevent the power cable from accidentally coming unplugged. I’m happy with it!

              Summary:
              At the end of the day, I think the ‘Ultimate’ Fanless PC by Atlast Solutions Inc. is the finest pre-built fanless computer system available today. There isn’t a lot of competition in this domain, and alternatives from A-Tech Fabricated, QuietPC, etc. offer arguably better cases for their systems, including the tank-like HDPLEX H5. However, these other systems tend to be either outdated, offering only previous generation CPU’s and lesser SSD’s, RAM, etc. as well as still requiring ventilation holes. Atlast Solutions not only offers the newest and best components, but also typically at cheaper prices. And the service is unbeatable! If you are looking for a totally silent computer, I highly recommend the Ultimate Fanless PC!

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