Subject: Re: Looking for ev6 or later workstation..
To: Darren Reed <>
From: Erik E. Fair <>
List: port-alpha
Date: 02/16/2007 21:57:19
My rule for buying used Alphas was no CPU older than 21164, and no clock rate
less than 500 MHz. They are pretty zippy systems. I'm using a PC164 (500 MHz)
as my house router.

I understand the desire for quiet and performance; I've been trying hard to
eliminate noisy computers from a lot of my house. I have two Apple PowerMac
G4 Cubes (which had their drives replaced by newer Seagate FDB disks) in places
where noise was simply not acceptable. I love 'em, but they are getting a
little long in the tooth, even though I've tricked them out with better GPUs,
max RAM, etc.

Unfortunately, Alpha CPUs were optimized for speed, not for power consumption
or heat production - they all have fans and moderate-sized heat sinks, and
unless you're willing to retrofit an overclocker's mondo heat sink (e.g.
something like

) and pray that convection does the job, you're going to have fans of some
kind. The PC164 not only has a CPU fan on top of its heat sink, it has a sensor
circuit to make sure that the fan is spinning; if it's not, the system will

Two of the DEC systems I have, the Personal Work Station (PWS), and the
DigitalServer 3305 (which is a rebadged AlphaServer 800) have large CPU heat
sinks, and ducting to make sure that air flows over those heat sinks as moved
by the large case fans, rather than CPU fans.

Now, you can always play different games, e.g. put the system in another room,
and use extenders to get PS/2 and/or USB, and DVI to your quiet office over
copper or fiber; a bunch of these are made by Gefen:

The other approach is to use the overclocker's cooling technology; you might
be able to find a combination of a fanless power supply, and a large (but slow
speed) case fan do the trick to exhaust the heat without excessive noise.

Lastly, there's always the bafflebox:

Since I'm cc'ing port-alpha on this: has anyone else here tried to make their
Alpha system quieter (or silent) and what techniques did you use (other than
removing the power)?

	Erik <>