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Several approaches would work. The fans are present to
remove heat. Thus, they could be replaced with a massive
heat-sink (perhaps the size of the machine itself), that is
connected to each chip with a cable crafted of a thermally-
conductive material. The sound of the hard-disk would be
by replacing the HDD entirely with non-volatile
memory (at mind-numbing expense.)
Power Mac G4 Cube
Look - no fan! And it looks cool. [hippo, Dec 28 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]
A plethora of sound-reducing devices. [egnor, Dec 28 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]
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||Too bad that Power Mac G4 Cube is, you know, a Mac. :?) (Back in RollsRoyce's auto heyday, it was rumored their engines were so good, they were permanently sealed.)
||The retail desktop pcs that I see today compare favorably with their predecessors. The performance comparison for these same periods is, well, forgetaboutit. I think that what has evolved in personal photography is a similar improvement in noise and lessened mechanical vibration. Who can say if or when smart chip technology will make the gold plated plug anachronism?
||QuietPC.com (see link) offers a number of silencing products, including sound-muffling disk drive enclosures, quiet fans, and so on.
||In my experience, by far the best way to eliminate computer noise is to relocate the computer. Put the CPU box (with its noisy fans, hard drives, and whatnot) in a closet somewhere, and use a KVM extender to connect your keyboard, video and mouse at your desk.
||Commercially available KVM extenders can carry keyboard, high resolution video, mouse, audio, and USB signals over ordinary cat-5 cabling for hundreds of feet. (You'd be running network cables to your computer anyway!) They cost a few hundred bucks, but that's less than it would cost to replace your hard disk with NVRAM!
||An advantage is that your CPU can now be administered centrally, which is a boon for workplace IT departments. A disadvantage is that you have to walk into a different (and very noisy) room to switch CD's. It's possible that using a USB extender and a USB CD-ROM would avoid this problem, but then you still have the noise from your CD-ROM drive.
||Just have all the PCs nicely rack-mounted with a robotic
arm system for loading CDs/floppies/tapes. Or, you could
have a large CD tower with the most used CDs that
everyone can access. Getting CPUs out of the cubes
sure would save on space. At one job I had 4 CPUs (linux,
win95, nt4 and win98beta) connected to a KVM switch.
Those boxen took up a lot of desk real-estate.
||Noise-cancelling technology, maybe?