Best fanless mini-pc for DSD+ASMD up-sampling

I currently up-sample to DSD128 with ext2 and ASMD7EC on my desktop computer, but would like to use a fanless/silent computer for that (and if possible raise to DSD256). But what is the best way to go for such a computer?

  • Option 1: buy separate parts and a silent chassi for a regular motherboard, for example Streacom FC8 ALPHA which supports Mini-ITX motherboards and CPUs up to 95W (65W recommended).
  • Option 2: buy a ready-to-use fanless mini-pc like this one from Kingdel
  • Option 3: buy a regular Intel NUC and combine it with a passive-cooled chassi, for example Akassa Turing

The purpose of this mini-pc will be for up-sampling with HQPlayer, and maybe also as Roon Core, no special requirements except the normal outputs (USB, HDMI etc) and place for at least one SSD drive. If possible, up-sampling ext2 to DSD256 with ASMD7EC

I am sure there are people out there that has messed around with this a lot, so I will be thankful for any suggestions and recommendations.

Since you posted an Amazon UK link, I assume you are in the UK. I am in the US, and I own two different fanless mini-PCs for different systems: 1) a pre-assembled unit from QuietPC UK https://www.quietpc.com/sys-ultranuc-pro-7-fanless; 2) a Zotac CI662 nano https://www.zotac.com/us/product/mini_pcs/zbox-ci662-nano-barebone. I have 4TB SATA SSDs on both. They work well for basic Roon service (running Ubuntu Server 20.04.1 but I assume they’d be OK with Windows as well). However, I don’t use HQPlayer or other compute intensive tasks, and I suspect from experience with these units that they might be a bit undercooled for that.

For another more compute-intensive purpose I’ve been looking at https://www.cirrus7.com/en/ but unfortunately they don’t have a US distributor yet. They may sell to the UK, though. Those units look the most well-built from the cooling point of view of any fanless mini-PCs I’ve looked at.

QuietPC UK has also more generously cooled mini-PCs, such as https://www.quietpc.com/silent-media-pcs that are designed for media. I don’t have any experience with them, but I’ve been happy with my fanless NUC from QuietPC.

The Cirrus7 cases looks nice, and I’m from Sweden (UK link was just because it showed up first in search :slight_smile: ), so Germany is both fast and fairly cheap delivery to us in Sweden. And for some reason when you buy stuff made in Germany you are almost never disappointed.

There have been some positive comments on the Cirrus7 units elsewhere on this bulletin board, which is why I was looking at them. Unfortunately they don’t sell them in the US yet. I was about to try to get one during my last trip to Europe last March, except that was cancelled by covid. Will wait.

Well to run ASMD7EC to DSD 256 smoothly, even with my desktop i7-9770k CPU. I have offload processing to my NVIDIA 1070ti.

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I live in the US and I have a Cirrus7. I don’t know if it changed since I got mine last year, but all I had to do is e-mail their customer service and tell them what I wanted. It came straight from Germany in less than 2 weeks. Has been flawless ever since

Something changed, because when I emailed them recently they replied that they could not sell to the US currently, although they hoped to get a US distributor 1Q 2021.

oh no! That is really too bad! Thanks for the update

Hmm, I am testing that now on my 2 generation older i7, seems to work but it takes 60% CPU though (no CUBA offload). I have multicore greyed (if I have it checked or unchecked it wont work).

Checked some prices and its very hard to beat the price/performance of the Kingdel mini-pc: 10 gen Intel i7 (only 4 cores though), completely fanless, 16Gb ram, 512Gb SSD, Windows 10 Pro and the usual HDMI 4k, USB3, gigabit ethernet, etc. Even 2 years of warranty. And all for $699 on US amazon

Now the question is, will this run DSD256 with ASMD7EC? My old desktop i7 can (7 gen 4ghz) without CUBA offload, but I have a feeling the Kingdel despite its specs will not be quite as fast as one could think. And it also becomes a question of how a cheap mini-pc like this will behave after hours of very heavy load.

No.

It’s a pretty short list of CPU’s that can do ASDM7EC at DSD256 rates.

Mainly the “K” variants of Intels, like 9700K, 9900K etc, that run at over 4 GHz for at least 2 cores.

And Apple M1 in Mac Mini apparently !

I think you misread, my 7th gen i7 (desktop computer) can do DSD256 ASMD7EC, but only if I have multicore greyed (half-clicked or whatever its called). It is a “K” though, and it barely manages it:

image

Looking at some benchmarks, the Intel i7-10510U should be much faster than my old i7 if run at full turbo, but of course its more than CPU speed that affects the overall performance. And how will a cheap passive cooled mini-pc behave if run for hours at max-turbo?

Found the optimal (?) CPU for a fanless mini-pc for HQPlayer up-sampling, over 3k thread rating and very low TDP (max 28W, typical 15W), unfortunately it can’t be bought yet

For comparison, my desktop i7 has 2700 thread rating and can run DSD256 + ADM7EC

Apologies.

But you can see your 7700K runs at over 4 GHz as I mentioned.

That’s what you need to look for, for EC modulators at DSD256 rates, as mentioned earlier.

On paper 10510U ticks the boxes (at max turbo frequency).

But I haven’t seen a report in the wild of someone successfully using it.

Hopefully someone chimes in, if they’ve tried.

Not as important as CPU max running speed (for EC modulators at DSD256 rates).

But looks to be interesting !

The i7-1185G7 (11th gen) can run all cores at 4.3Ghz at the same time, and at 3Ghz they have thread rating of over 3000. But best of all is the low TDP which means making a fanless mini-pc on them will be quite simple.

Here is the search I made on CPU Benchmark site. The result made it fairly easy to select a CPU, but only the first CPU exists today, the others will be released in March I think:

Interesting to see that no CPU from gen9 or gen10 fullfills my search criteria, but one from gen8 does.

Btw, the best mobile AMD is Ryzen 7 4800U and its quite a lot worse on thread rating (2600) but it has 8 cores to compensate. TDP is 15-25W.

@jussi_laako do you have any idea how the AMD Ryzen 7 4800U will work with HQPlayer? Will it be better or worse than the Intel listed above? The goal here is to find a mobile CPU that can do DSD256 with ASMD7EC and ext2 as filter, and with low TDP so it can run fanless at high load without problem.

As I mentioned in my earlier comment, from experience I’m a bit skeptical that standard configuration fanless mini-PCs are up to constant heavy processor load. For example, I’ve had my Zotac CI662 nano go into aggressive CPU throttling recently because because a buggy Linux package (miniDLNA) had gone into a heavy processor loop. Both QuietPC UK and Cirrus7 offer (more expensive) models specifically designed for media processing and for rendering, with a lot more (passive) cooling.

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I think this one is also fairly good (based on reviews), but its for NUCs only. Cool looking and not very expensive: http://www.akasa.com.tw/update.php?tpl=product/product.detail.tpl&no=181&type=Fanless%20Chassis&type_sub=Fanless%20NUC&model=A-NUC52-M1B

I just saw its only for up to TDP 25W so not that good I guess

As far as I can see, the lower-cost fanless options, including those based on Akasa cases, are not intended for heavy workloads. Something like this seems more likely to fit the purpose.

What do you think @jussi_laako?