Fanless or silent Laptop or Netbook to use exclusively with

I have a stupid loud gaming laptop as my only PC. It’s just too loud and runs too hot to be in the same building when I am recording. Are there any recommendations on a passive cooled, fanless type system I could buy for this purpose? I see lots of fanless netbooks, but I worry an ATOM processor may not cut it, or even a Celeron. But maybe I am wrong?

I’m running a AKG C 214 condenser microphone through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Interface into my current laptop if that helps. I am exclusively recording single track audio files.

And I’d like to stick to Windows, but will consider Linux.

Thanks for any suggestions, and I appologize if this is the wrong forum to ask this!

Kia ora!

Whatever you do don’t use a quiet, powerful Mac like this one in the ACX demo video.

Since the price point is the primary requirement in Windows machines, not that many people worry about noise. So the makers don’t, either. If you end up with a machine that cycles on and off, ACX recommends waiting it out rather than trying to get rid of the fan in post production.

People trying to do audio recording have been known to move a noisy machine outside of the “studio” or recording environment and remote the monitor and microphone connections. You need the monitor because it’s best if you monitor the sound levels while you’re recording, and that means you need to see the screen, if only this part of it:

You can extend the USB audio connection by adding a wall-powered hub in the middle of the run. That gives you two USB runs before the system runs out of steam. What’s that, 12 feet/4M?

So you don’t need to find a quiet machine.


Another note. Audio (and video) demands constant real-time processing of a computer. There’s no “wait a second while I process that spreadsheet.” Any interruptions or delays at all will give you holes or stuttering in the production. So something moderately powerful is good.

Audacity is only certified on Windows, Mac, and certain Linux distributions, and it doesn’t play well with others. It doesn’t get along well with other applications running at the same time particular if they need audio services. This generally kills gaming commentary and Skype interviews.

We may have posted machine requirements. Looking.


Download with brief notes:

Release Notes:

Nope. No hardware requirement notes (that I can find).


Thanks for all that, Koz!

I love the solution to just wait for the fan to go off! I suppose it works every time…but stopping to wait every 15 minutes really kills momentum! I suppose I could wait for my fridge’s compressor to finish its cycles too, but I figure its best to actually stop it running instead :slight_smile:

I will look into running an extension cord to a spare monitor - looking at amazon, it seems I may need a signal booster to use a longer cable? Certainly this would be cheaper than buying a whole new computer, so I will try this route first.

However, in some of my diggign around for a netbook, I came across this…I wonder if this might work nicely? Asus Eeebook E202 - If it is just a few hundred bucks, it may still be worth a look. It certainly is what I was hoping to find…whether is has the horsepower to run without hitching, as you pointed out, is still the crux of it.

Thanks again, and if anyone has a little computer they use that is super quiet I’d love to hear about it.

There’s no rule to say that you have to record on a computer. Sometimes I record on my Zoom H2, then transfer the WAV files to my computer for editing.(The H2 is totally silent of mechanical noise).

I have some stuff on my Zoom H4 and I’m checking out a higher-end Olympus recorder.

No computer problems. Think of that!


I love the solution to just wait for the fan to go off!

ACX has postings at all sorts of skill levels. That’s one of the reasons they let the gatekeeper robot do the first level quality control.

I have no doubt that they get submissions with the fan going on and off in the background. One posting here featured somebody trying to hand-hold the microphone during a reading.

Bad idea.


gently puts the microphone down

I love the idea of a computer-less recorder! I didn’t know they made such devices with high enough quality! I will look into them.

Since I am indeed trying to do audiobook narration, would you say the H2 or H4 can give acceptable results (let’s assume the room is good and dead). Or is this higher end Olympus needed? It looks like Olympus has made an assload of digital recorders! Their current lineup has the LS-100 for $400 - is that what’s needed would you say, or are the more meager LS-12 and 14 suitable in your opinion?

The original H2 was a terrific recorder and is still going used for new equipment prices.

The new H2n is obviously being managed by the marketing people.

Handheld SD Recorder with Five Internal Mic Capsules, and the Ability to Record In 360-degree Surround and Mid-Side Formats The versatile Zoom H2n handheld recorder seriously raises the bar for portable recorders - and not just other handhelds! With five onboard microphones and a ton of recording options, the H2n is more than just a handheld recorder, it’s a pocket-sized recording studio.

Did we mention it had five onboard microphones !!!

No mention of how it sounds compared to the original.

The H4 supports plugging in external XLR microphones. My H4 works OK, but the H4n has much improved external microphone preamps. Mine are noisy (ffffff).

I didn’t go right to the top end Olympus recorders. My recorder has to do two jobs. It has to do a passable job recording live/physical conferences and possibly do a reasonable job recording performance voice. We’ll see. I got a Reeeely reeeely good deal on a low end Olympus personal recorder and after digging in the instructions, it turns out the only sound file export option is MP3 with quality setting just above garbage. No other options.

I think the current one is the first one that will export full WAV 44100/16/Stereo.

We are replacing an Olympus tape machine and so far, the tape is winning.

Transom has some good ideas for recording sound. These people work with NPR and This American Life and describe how they record and with what. NPR used to send everybody out with the same Marantz PDM600 recorder and instructions how to use it. They turned out hour after hour of quality shows with relatively modest equipment. They’re using new equipment now and they have some very good ideas on which direction to go.

Koz was a great resource! Really well rounded reviews on recording equipment - and I love that they give multiple raw sound recordings of the devices to compare. I even signed up for one of Transom’s workshops.

Based on their reviews, I went ahead and ordered the Zoom H5. It looks to do everything I want and came highly recommended.

All of which is good - because I tried to run a 25’ vga cable to a spare monitor to try to isolate my laptop from the recording space, and even using a splitter/amplifier the signal was still out of range for the monitor.

Under separate topic, I’m testing an Olympus WS-823. $120usd.