Laundry Room PC : computer as appliance

I bought a desktop computer last week. I’ve been a laptop-only guy for a few years now. But my dev team needed a test server to beat on, and I needed a backup solution / file server for my home network, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone.

Since the computer was to be used as a file server, I needed RAID 1 (basically mirroring the data on the two drives so that the data can survive a drive failure, something that’s been an issue for me in the past). You can’t get a RAID1 box from dell that has anything less than 3 GHz P4 chip, so that’s what I bought (a little overpowered for my needs, but that’s Moore’s law for you). When I set it up in my home office, the noise coming off the thing blew me away! I mean right from the first minute, the fan was blowing, and loud. Several calls to the friendly folks at dell tech support confirmed that this was indeed a normal amount of noise to be coming from my computer, but that didn’t make the situation any more tolerable. This machine will be left on 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week: living with it in the same room would be like living next to a freeway. So I banished it to the room in my house dedicated to noisy ugly appliances: the laundry room.
It looks right at home with the washing machine and hot water heater, and makes less of a racket than my refrigerator does. I can connect (using my laptop) by windows remote desktop when I need to use it. The only tricky part was running an Ethernet cable from my router out to my laundry room, but even that wasn’t too difficult a project once I got started. I jerry-rigged a cardboard partition in front of the computer to absorb some of the fan noise [ed. call it a baffle, sounds more impressive], and now it’s pretty much invisible to anyone but me.
If I ever need to use the computer directly (without a laptop as an intermediary) I’ll string monitor cable and USB from the laundry room to the office, and hook it up to the LCD / mouse / keyboard that came with the computer. For now controlling it by remote desktop works fine, so I haven’t bothered.
When they said that in the future computers were going to be appliances, I didn’t realize they meant it!

2 thoughts on “Laundry Room PC : computer as appliance

  1. brent ashley May 2, 2005 / 9:13 am

    My company and our neighbours just got a few Dell p4 boxes (model DHM) and we have the same issue – sounds like a jet plane on two of the boxes but not on the others. The neighbours have been on the blower (heh!) with Dell and they’ve had a service guy out a couple of times, leading to a motherboard replacement due to the power management piece keeping the fan running too fast – probably a bad thermistor or something. We’re waiting for their outcome before we take the same route.

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