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'Fan inside': Gauntlet Thrown Down to Create Convective-cooled PCs

Rodney O. Lain - 1999.10.06

This article was originally published on The iMac.com, a site which no longer exists. It is copyright 1999 by RAC Enterprises, which also seems to no longer exist. It is thus reprinted here without permission (which we would gladly obtain if possible). Links have been retained when possible, but many go to the Internet Wayback Machine.

Congratulations, Jonathan Ive and the other guys/gals at Apple Industrial Design Group! FWIW, job well done (again and again)!

"Intel inside."
 - Sticker affixed to any PC that sports an Intel processor

They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can't do is ignore them - because they change things.
 - Do I really have to tell you where I got this quote?

"Your least favorite color should be beige."
 - Title of a chapter in the book, Dare to Succeed: A Treasury of Inspiration and Wisdom for Life & Career

"You know the difference between you and me? I make this look gooooood."
 - Will Smith to Tommy Lee Jones, Men in Black

I think it's times like this when I really savor being a Mac user.

I keep thinking about my favorite line from Men in Black. It's the one where Will Smith is first issued his standard "MIB" gear. Black suit, watch, gun . . . and the black shades.

"You know the difference between you and me?" he rhetorically asks Tommy Lee Jones, before sliding on his dark shades. "I make this look gooooood."

I imagine many Mac aficionados will tell their PC-using friends a derivative of that Will Smith line from this point forward.

Even though we now know that the Kihei photos that washed across the 'Net are/were bona fide, it was still a Christmas-morning kinda feeling to read the specs and see the pictures of the new iMacs today. As I write, I'd just gotten back from my weekly Toastmasters meeting and hadn't been in the house for five minutes before I'd seen two of the Jeff Goldbloom-voice-overed iMac commercials ("Turbocharged" and "Bon Voyage," FYI). When the first chords of the music began to play, my wife - who'd already seen the commercials - looked immediately at me, already knowing that she'd see me with a big ole grin.

I'd planned to write about something else tonight (for those who received this week's newsletter, I could still use your feedback before I write my originally planned column), but just knew I couldn't resist the inspiration to write what I am about to write. Oh, there is my Muse calling me again:

Trash the PeeCeeeeeeee.... Trash the PeeCeeeeeeeee....

Oh, a Muse is a terrible thing to waste.

This Is Big - Really Big

I think we need to get William Shatner to give up Priceline.com and come and apply his ubiquitous line to the Mac, now that every item (except the PowerBook) in Apple's quartet product line has been "refreshed."

I imagine that PC users try to affect a yawn whenever they hear us Mac users bragging about this or that feature on the Mac. Then they resume extolling the virtues of the two-button mouse - which isn't nearly the big deal that some Mac columnists have been making about it on the 'Net.

But here's a big feature that PeeCee users will take notice to: the iMac, sans cooling fan.

I honestly won't believe it until I see it, but I do know one thing about Steve Jobs: he doesn't half-ass anything, so this fan-less iMac will work as advertised. My hat's off to him, since we all know it was his idea to try (again!) to have a Mac without a fan. Having some French in the Lain genome, I think I can get away with saying that the French themselves would give a thumbs up to the style of the current iMac - and the French don't give up the style points that easily.

When I say style, I'm not talking about the (truly) translucent enclosure of the new iMac, though that's tres cool. I'm not talking about the FireWire, the iMovie software, the AirPort connectivity, nor the front-loading CD - which are all tres chic. I'm, instead, talking about the lack of a fan for the processor.

Now, on my PowerBook G3, whenever I'm on it for extended periods of time, that fan starts a' whirring, and sometimes I think that it does nothing but fan its hot air around me. The fact that the iBook and the iMac are fan-less says a lot to me. I don't even have to get technical and explain the significance of a fan-less computer. Just imagine having a car without a fan. Hell, imagine a home without some time of cooling apparatus (you people in Antarctica don't count).

I still can't believe that the computer doesn't have a fan.

But that's not the important thing about this feature.

Think about this: If Apple hadn't tried it, do you think there would even be a computer without a fan? I mean in this century? This is one of the many proofs that the computer industry needs Apple Computer...

I mean, what are the biggest problems with next-generation Pentium chips? If you said "heat," you get today's No Prize, to borrow a phrase from Stan Lee. In the race to get processors to run faster and faster (than the competition's), I think "no fan" is last on the list of CISC-makers' priority features, if it's even on the list at all. Instead, Intel and AMD are trying to squeeze ever more megahertz out of their products. "Speed, speed, and more speed" is their battle cry.

Meanwhile, Apple Computer (the little anti-company that it is) engineers sit down with Steve Jobs and listened to him (or somebody) say, "dammit, fans are too noisy . . . and tacky. Get rid of it."

Can you imagine being told that you must create a super fast, super cool computer, "and, by the way, it must be virtually noiseless. 86 the fan."

I don't know if you realize what this means in the scheme of things.

Apple has thrown down yet another gauntlet. They just stumped the Wintel world with the G4 supercomputer (with or without the hype). Then they did the iBook, first computer with built-in wireless networking. Then the PowerBook G3 came long, claiming the still-undefeated title of Fastest Laptop in the World.

Now, we have the iMac II without a fan. Even though the iBook has no fan, it's noticeable that the iMac is a veritable desktop computer that will be used to do video editing, number crunching and other typical computing chores.

(Part of me still prays that this Mac doesn't repeat the oft-told incident in which another Mac was shipped without a fan and made funny noise; no way would Steve Jobs - nor Apple's Quality Assurance - let the iMac ship without knowing the fan-less iMac works, period.)

Can you really imagine Intel running a Pentium III 600 MHz machine without the fan? Don't laugh, because they will have to try it. Egg is on their face. Again, the gauntlet is thrown down. Will they pick it up?

And if Apple's PR/marketing arm is worth their salt, they will tout this and every PC-slamming advantage - albeit in their newfound non-PC-bashing style.

The PC pundits would like you to think style isn't nor should be a consideration when buying a computer (and I haven't begun to mention the $599 price point that trashes the final argument against buying a Mac), but I think that Apple is changing the way the market thinks on this issue. Actually, I think many already consider style's importance, but are not willing (yet) to buck the crowd and buy a Mac.

Either that, or PC-people really are as beige (read "bland") as they appear to be to us Mac people.

I think there are many Mac users who sometimes feel a twinge of fear at being different just because they use a Mac.

But you know the difference between PC users and Mac users. They only think about bucking the crowd. We go out and do it.

And, (putting on my black shades), we make this look gooooood - thanks to Apple.

Editor's Special Announcement: Did you like this editorial? I always LOVE Rodney's view of our world, as I'm sure you do, too. Well, if you want a double dose of Rodney every week, then you must subscribe to The iMac.com Newsletter. There will be a bonus column from Rodney every week in the newsletter, so sign up now. Hope you join us - over 10,000 subscribers can't be wrong! [Editor's note: If you have these bonus columns, please email them to Dan Knight - thanks!]

Rodney O. Lain, a former university English and journalism instructor, works full-time as a software developer and works part-time at a local CompUSA Apple Store Within A Store. A card-carrying member of the local Macintosh User Group Mini'app'les, Rodney writes this column exclusively for theimac.com. His greatest desire is to become an African-American Guy Kawasaki. A self-professed "workaholic writer," he waxes prolifically about race, religion, and the "right OS" at "Free Your Mind & Your Behind Will Follow", his unabashedly pro-Mac website. When he's not cranking out his column, he collects John Byrne comic books, jogs, and attempts to complete his first novel. He lives in Eagan, Minnesota, a southern suburb of St. Paul.

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