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5 Simple Steps to a Quieter PC 430

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the do-you-hear-what-i-hear dept.
~*77*~ writes "Silencing a computer can be a costly endeavor, but taking a few relatively inexpensive steps can have a drastic impact on the noise produced by the common computer system. Before starting on any sound reduction upgrades, analyzing a system to pinpoint the areas in need of the most attention will help determine the best course of action and the best way to spend any money."
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5 Simple Steps to a Quieter PC

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  • step 1. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:27AM (#11728329)
    step 1: turn computer off.. aww c'mon, I'm not trolling.. if it were warm outside you'd all be on the same page.
    • Re:step 2 (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:28AM (#11728337)
      Dress up as a librarian and say "Shhhhhh" everytime it makes a noise.
    • Re:step 1. (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I set up a quad xeon p3 server in the same room. You can't even hear my workstation anymore!
  • #6 (Score:3, Funny)

    by djplurvert (737910) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:28AM (#11728334)
    ..turn it off and go outside...
  • Cool, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nicc777 (614519) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:29AM (#11728338) Homepage Journal
    how do I silence a noisy UPS. There is this humming sound, and it's especially bad when the PC is turned off. Any ideas?
  • Three more methods (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:29AM (#11728342)
    • Turn it off and go for a walk.
    • Bury it under your dirty laundry. (Always plentiful for a gek, right?)
    • Turn up the stereo.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:31AM (#11728350)
    1 component needed to make your PC quiet.

    1) Sledgehammer

    This information brought to you by Giggling Marlin.
  • My Roommate was looking into making his computer quieter...
    After reading up the latest in water cooling, and quiet fans he decided to buy a 14" box fan...

    Sadly, that was quieter. Now I can show him the correct way to quiet his PC.
  • by CactusInvasion (838662) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:32AM (#11728353) Journal
    You'd think he'd reference the guys who are diehard fanatics instead of the some guy who has 5 ideas. This [silentpcreview.com] is the place to find all the info, comparisons, and information for people who want more than just "you should think about changing out some parts in your system".
  • Silent PC Sites (Score:5, Informative)

    by mparaz (31980) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:33AM (#11728356) Homepage
    The article is just a simple summary... check out Silent PC Review [silentpcreview.com] for really in-depth coverage.

    Some hardware review sites are dedicated to cooling equipment. One of them is Pimp My Rig [pimp-my-rig.com].

    Personally, I replaced my Intel stock fan with the Thermalright XP-90 + Panaflo 92mm L1A. [paraz.com]
  • by zeth (452280) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:34AM (#11728363) Homepage Journal
    I am fed up with the noise from my comuter, so I did the following.

    1. Installed the BeQuiet sound elimination kit for Chieftec [www.gtek.se]
    2. Got a better CPU fan [www.gtek.se]
    3. Installed four Zalman 12dB(A) fans [www.gtek.se] in the chassi.
    4. Enjoy the sound of nothing.
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:34AM (#11728364)
    The Seagate Barracuda line of hard drives is definitely the quietest mainstream hard drive out there. It's specifically engineered to be quiet. I find that the street prices are about $20-$30 more than for the cheapest hard drive of the same size, but to me, it's worth it!
  • Step 1 (Score:5, Funny)

    by PhotoBoy (684898) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:35AM (#11728367)
    Get the dust out of any fans in your case. In case of hairs/pubes twisted around the fan motor consider replacement.
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:36AM (#11728375) Homepage Journal
    That's usually been the single source of the most noise in my systems. HD manufacturers need to make quieter drives. I used to be a hardcore Maxtor fanatic, but with three out of four drive failures (250 gig drives) in only two months, I am hunting for a new manufacturer. I bought Hitachis to replace the dead Maxtors but I am leeary of them since their technology used to be IBM and it only took one "DeathStar" drive from IBM to convince me that they made shitty drives. I can't stand Western Digital since I had three drives in a row fail from them over the course of a year and two fo those were replacements for WD drives that died before. One of them even smoked in my case when I installed it! Nearly caused a fire. Thanks WD but no thanks. So that leaves Seagate which I haven't had any experience with so far. I miss Micropolis who used to make super quiet SCSI A/V drives back in the 90s.
    • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:44AM (#11728411)
      If you're having multiple drive failures in one or two cases, I'd really recommend looking at the power supplies.

      I have a case that killed a drive every few months until I twigged and replaced the PSU with an antec 350W. If the power rails are 'dirty' with fluctuating voltage, they can slowly kill a drive. This is a known problem with cheap PSU's, and it can be cheaper to spend a bit more on a quality supply than keep swapping drives.
    • The problem heres is likely NOT the HDs.

      Your string of "bad luck" indicates a problem with either woefully inadequate cooling (like choking the drive), or very dirty power. Check where you're mounting these drives, get some HD coolers, and invest in a good PSU. Are you using any molex splitters to get to the HDs? Splitters half the impedance, and some PSUs just can't handle that reliably.

      I'm personally running an Enermax 465W and the voltages have been very stable.. running a 250GB Maxtor drive.
      • guess you haven't pulled apart a PS lately? all 12v lines connect to the same spot, they are soldered into the exact same glob of solder...

        so it doesn't really matter if you use a splitter or put them all on seperate lines. hard drives don't draw enough amps for the wiresize to be a concern either.

        • Hmm... you're right.

          Dual 12V rail PSUs are available however ;) and for the exact reason I've described.
        • I think he was refering to additional resist added due to bad contact with some molex connectors. A looser connection means less surface contact which translates to more resistance.

          Maybe it's not a problem.

          An easy danger sign to read occurrs when there is an active load on the system. (HD spinning up, cdrom spinning up, more processor usage) Whatever the activity, if you start using more amperage from the power supply and you can hear your static rate fans drop in speed... your PSU is probably over drawn.
    • You saved the best for last :)

      Seagate has the lowest failure rate of any drive mfg I've come across. Maxtor has the highest. This is empirical evidence gathered from the repair of hundreds, possibly thousands of PCs.

      I just replaced my IBM DeathStar with a Seagate Barracuda.
  • by Krankheit (830769)
    I don't understand why people care about how loud a computer is. At the moment I have four Open/NetBSD machines running with humming HDDs and fans, and to be quite honest, it doesn't bother me. I can't really hear the fans and HDDs unless I put my ear on the case. Of course, Metallica is blasting.
    • by gr3g (119302) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:43AM (#11728408) Homepage
      If you can still hear the Metallica your computer isn't loud enough.
    • > I don't understand why people care about how loud a computer is.

      Because you listen to loud music. I never listen to any music at all and consider any noise a distraction. With my homemade liquid cooling system and an LCD monitor I can hear nothing at all from the computer, which reduces the ambient noise to nearly zero. Living in a quiet neighbourhood (no idiots with loud stereos next door!), having a good heat pump (though wishing for a radiant floor heater instead), and a silent computer, can create
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:36AM (#11728377)
    This "article" is just one big advert. All the links point to geeks.com, and no doubt BigBruin.com picks up a commission on all clicks/sales.
  • noisy PSUs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by iamplupp (728943) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:37AM (#11728380) Homepage
    In my experience the big noisemaker often is the cheap powersupply. I usually dismantle it and jack the fan to either 5V or 7V depending on the severity of the noisemaking. It pretty sure it voids the warranty though... :)
    • For me, a noisy HD makes me sick. I have this seagate HD which must make some thuds as it gets activity. Heck it does not even want to die. It's now 6 years old with no bad sectors!
    • You really want to be careful when you suddenly cut down the cooling to such a key part of your system without regard for the possibility of overheating.

      There are quieter PSUs out there.
    • I just bought a Coolmax Taurus [newegg.com] PSU, which is designed to be silent. And it actually is near-silent. It uses a bigger fan that has a lower RPM. It's not extremely expensive, either. I recommend it.
  • Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr. Max E. Ville (821578) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:44AM (#11728410)
    "It's the fans! The fans are doing it!"
    No shit, I tought my mousepad was making the noise. How is this article nerd? Show me the nerd stuff! Show me how I can use new discoverys in quantum physics to cool my processor with just a few atoms of plutonium and a few household items.
    • Get me a toaster, a microwave oven, a couple of 20 megawatt YAG lasers, and i'll whip up a stargate in nothing flat!
  • I am thinking of moving my computer into the closet and have only USB input devices connected to a USB router and a long VGA cable. Since I seldomly have to access the computer (I insert a CD say, 1 every 4 months on average), that might be a good solution.

    And I live in Montreal, so heat generated in a closed closet would not be that much of a problem since my appartement is always cool, except for the hottest days of summers (I would then let the door open). But in winter, my computer is on 24/7 and it
    • Worked for me (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @11:04AM (#11728487) Journal
      I got 3 pc's (1 linux desktop 1 linux "server" and 1 windows 2003 game machine) The noise from them is pretty bad especially the desktop wich is an old kayah or whater hp called them.

      Anyway invested in two 5 meter kvm cables and a switch and voila. INSTANT dead silence.

      Only problem is CD's but I only need them for games and nocd patches are the best.

      As for heat. It is a large closet with bare concrete walls and a high ceiling. During the peak of summer it gets uncomfortable at head lvl but the PC's are on the ground and kept cool by just having some big fans blowing directly across the motherboard.

      Frankly it is the easiest method of silencing and the most effective. Just don't do it with earlier windows versions as you will get insane from the constant hard resets. Oh and to be fair from the hard resets when you are working on a new kernel config.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:48AM (#11728431)
    1. Write up a guide for easily silencing your PC
    2. Get posted on /.
    3. Get slashdotted
    4. Comp is effectively silenced and reduced to a smoking pile of scrap metal

    Man, *that* was easy!
  • summary (Score:3, Funny)

    by justforaday (560408) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:58AM (#11728460)
    use low noise/silent parts in your computer
  • by Gruneun (261463) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:59AM (#11728467)
    Buy bigger fans and run them at lower speeds to quiet your PC. What an exciting tidbit of technology insight!

    The next article will discuss how to increase visibility in your office environment... by adding a lamp! Who knew?
  • by afaiktoit (831835)
    If you're lucky enough to have a motherboard that can do it this program controls the fan speed based on temperature. http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php [almico.com]
  • by Freggy (825249) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @11:08AM (#11728509)
    For very complete and more practical information, reviews and good advise for silencing your computer I can really recommend SilentPCReview [silentpcreview.com].
  • (from article) Fanless power supplies are now available that generate zero noise, but none have found their way to the shelves at Geeks.com. These fanless power supplies don't follow the guidelines of typical design...

    A point to which I can personally attest -- I bought the Antec fanless power supply, and it failed within 30 days.

  • Though mentioned in the article, the power supply actually has a larger impact on noise than the article suggests. I upgraded my stock 350W power supply to a TruePower 430 and it literally halved the amount of noise that my system was generating.
  • Put it in a box:

    http://www.pctable.com/?siah_product_group=2&sia h_ product_page=1&siah_product_slot_id=48

  • by UserChrisCanter4 (464072) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @11:16AM (#11728546)
    Let's hope that quieting my computer doesn't make it like these guys' server.

    Seriously, though, system noise can be reduced pretty easily.

    1) Get a heavy case. I was always surprised at the fact that my ex-girlfriend's Aluminum case was much noisier than my steel case, given that I have many more things in my case. Thicker materials (obviously) cut down on noise levels.

    2) Get a good PSU. Besides the stability and reliability increase, it pretty much stands to reason that Random-Taiwan-Tech isn't going to be terribly concerned with the sound levels on a $35 PSU if it adds to the cost at all. Antec produces some cool thermal-sensing PSUs that will throttle PSU fan speed based on thermal levles. They also have special fan-only molexes that allow them to do the same thing to any other fans in the case.

    3) Switch to the biggest fans you can. It takes fewer RPMs on an 80mm or 120mm fan for it to move the same amount of air as a 60mm fan. This goes for case fans AND CPU fans. Zalman makes some intriguing CPU cooling solutions that separate the fan from the heatsink, and thus use huge, slow, quiet fans. If you want to get fancy, rewire the fans so they operate on 7V or 5V input.

    4) Never ever buy a mainboard with a fan on the northbridge. I absolutely hate this design concept. For one, the fans are very small and thus usually noisy. But most importantly, these things are the cheapest designs available, as the mobo manufacturers aren't looking to add major costs to their product. Consequently, they fail much more quickly than many other things. If you're lucky, they'll just up and stop spinning. If you're unlucky, they'll continue spinning, but with a strange squeek or hum as they march toward death. The counterpart to this is your videocard. If you're not planning on gaming, look at one of the lower-end videocards that use a heatsink only.

    5) Cut down on vibration. Hard drives are kind of noisy, yes. In my experience, though, it's really the vibrations that contribute to the noise levels. Try to wedge some thin rubber washers between the HDD and the case when you're screwing it in. Some newer case designs actually use a system like this by default, and the noise level reduction is quite impressive.

    Outside of these five is when you start getting into specialty areas: Putting noise-absorbing material in the case, using large heat-pipe coolers in place of fans on your video card, moving the computer to a closet and running long cables, etc. Honestly, though, if you follow the above recommendations, you should get something quiet enough that you don't need to worry.
    • It was a simple article so I'll throw my two cents in here after your response and second going with Zalman. I'm really happy with the fan tail heat sinks and large fans. Work well, are inherently quieter and slower fans just make a less annoying whine. Not rocket science for some significant improvement. Standard CPU fans are just nasty.

    • Aluminum case was much noisier than my steel case, given that I have many more things in my case. Thicker materials (obviously) cut down on noise levels.
      Indeed, as said on silentpcreview, there is no reason to by aluminium, except for weight reasons:
      http://www.silentpcreview.com/article75-page2.html [silentpcreview.com]
      Quote:
      The Aluminum Myth - Some favor aluminum cases, citing an ability to better cool components mounted within. This is a myth. No heat producing component benefit in any significant way from being inside
  • My laptop has a huge combination two CPU fan heatsink that generates a lot of noise. I fear that it's non-standard. Does anyone know good ways of silencing laptops?
    • Buy a Powerbook or iBook.

      You'll be hard pressed to find quieter laptops with similar performance.

      If you don't like OS X, you can stick Linux on there.

      While it's true the first gen Tibooks had hair-dryer-loud fans, the newer Albooks have near silent fans that only come on when the temp is high.

      The iBooks have a fan, but in 2 years I've never heard it come on. The G3 only puts out 6 watts at 900Mhz - ideal for cool running. I've only worked with a few G4 iBooks, but these have also been very quiet in my e
  • Damn intellitxt! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SteWhite (212909)
    The article is on a site using IntelliTxt advertising - I hate that stuff, and block it whenever I can. If you want to block the ads on that site too, block the following with your hosts file:

    text.burstnet.com

    Might as well add the list of ones I already block to stop IntelliTxt -

    compnet.us.intellitxt.com
    devshed.us.intellitx t .com
    examnotes.us.intellitxt.com
    experts.us.inte llitxt.com
    forbes.us.intellitxt.com
    g2.us.intell itxt.com
    icentric.us.intellitxt.com
    itxt.vibrant media.com
    itxt2.us.intellitxt.com
    lmcd.us.i
  • Use a PocketPC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @11:28AM (#11728602) Homepage Journal
    I just installed Familiar 0.8 on an old iPaq 3670. I wanted to use the iPaq to stream music in my bedroom, from a shoutcast server in my office, because it's tiny and has no fan. But WinCE couldn't decode the ethernet packets and send them to the soundcard in realtime, even at 24Kbps. It took about an hour to sort out the various install docs (hint: copy *everything* to a CF over USB while the iPaq still runs WinCE), then about half an hour to actually install it ("bootstrap": CLI/sshd only). Now that little bugger is running real Linux 2.4.19, and streaming 320Kbps MP3 via packages both in the stripped Familiar distro, and Debian/ARM packages. And used iPaqs cost $100 (+ $50 CF sleeve / ethernet).
  • Having just built four AOpen Cubes [aopen.com.tw] with Seagate Barracuda 120GB ATA drives, I am amazed at how quiet the systems are without any special effort.
  • Lian-Li make a sound-proof case [tomshardware.com]. It's got sound padding round the inside and rubber seals round the door on the front.

    It's not completely silent but it is a fair bit quieter, and it comes with a built in dust filter so it keeps the inside nice and clean too.
  • I wonder how long it will be before solid state hard drives will be common in home Personal Computers. Are Compact Flash cards (or any card with an adapter) the start?

    I recently bought a Compact Flash to IDE adapter and just having your PC on without two whirring hard drives certainly reduces the noise level.

    Yes I know the life of a CF is limited and the capacity is still very small too, isn't the biggest one 4GB? You can get dual CF to IDE devices, so a max of 8GB is possible.

    A Nano ITX system w
    • having your PC on without two whirring hard drives certainly reduces the noise level.

      Not very much actually. I'm using a mini-ITX fanless board (including fanless DC power spply) with a regular IDE in some places. Unless the disk is very old, you won't notice much difference anyway. You could use a 2.5" laptop disk that is even quieter, though some of them generate nasty clicks from time to time.

  • by v1 (525388) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @11:45AM (#11728668) Homepage Journal
    The wind tunnel machines that a few of my friends own seem to make most of their noise from the CPU fan. It's long past time for PC CPUs to get some power management in them so they don't have to be kicking out 100w of heat while you look at your desktop. I can understand needing more cooling when busy ripping MP3s or encoding video or something like that, but running the same heat when browsing a web page is silly. That would also reduce load on the PS, which should allow for the PS fan to spin down a bit. (do any PC power supplies have variable speed fans?)
  • I'm using VIA EPIA 5000 boards with Eden (Via C3) processors. Completely fanless. Add to this a fanless 12 V DC-DC ATX Converter and a AC-DC 12 V 60W fanless or 100W (with a small fan that's nearly 100% silent) brick transformer and you're set.

    Such fanless systems are the most silent (and cost effective) solution, if you don't need raw horsepower. It is even more silent if you run it diskless off a NFS server; but attaching a 2.5" or regular HDD won't add much to the noise, unless the disk were *very* old

  • I think the majority of "the sounds of silence" articles (and comments) are from people who:

    a) can't tell the difference;
    b) are in an environment with a fair amount of ambient noise;
    c) own a single, typically underpowered system that's used only occasionally; or
    d) don't care.

    Personally, I'm sensitive to distraction and live in an area where birds chirping is usually the loudest sound to be heard. That said, I don't believe there is anything one can do to a silence a computer. Mitigate excessive noise, b
    • The solution, if there is one, is either a server room (work remotely)

      Yes, indeed. But you'll still need a silent X-term or a diskless fanless workstation on your desk. Or a set of two KVM switches with fiber, Ethernet or RF link inbetween to connect your monitor, keyboard and mouse to the server in the basement or server room :)

  • 1. Use a motherboard with BIOS controlled fan speed controller that controls the speed of fans based on built in temperature sensors. Example - Intel's PERL line of motherboards. Bonus is that this board controls the fans both in Linux and XP. Nice to see the fan speeds going up and down using gkrellm.

    2. Install a quiet running hard drive... such as those from Seagate or Samsung.

    3. (Optional) Use a quiet CPU heat sink fan such as the Zalman 7000 series.

  • Jeff Goldblum voice:

    1. Buy a Mac Mini
    2. Plug it in
    3. There is no step three. There's no step three.
  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @12:56PM (#11728981) Homepage
    common misconception about more == better: an open air platform has worse thermal characteristics than a properly designed chassis with the fewer # of fans. In other words, just because your chassis has big vents in it doesn't mean it will cool well. You need a well designed chassis that channels the fan's efforts to move air over the parts. UNfortunately, custom OEM chassis will always outperform generic chassis b/c they can taylor the internal plastic fittings to most efficiently move air with fewer fans.

    Case and point: (no pun intended): I have a Dell inspiron from a year or two ago that has one fan and a molded plastic insert. It is essentially silent at 2.6GHz when playing WarCraft. Just before buying the dell I spent a fortune on a silent supply, funky fans, zallman heatsink and an aluminim chasssis, and with the exact same component configuration as the dell, it is easily 5x louder (subjectively) playing the same game.

    based on this, and experience in a chipset validation lab, i think it is smarter to buy an intelligently designed OEM system if you truly want a quiet PC.

  • by mtec (572168) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @01:33PM (#11729180)
    (apologies in advance)

    Hello iMac, my old friend
    I've come to talk with you again
    Because a vision softly creeping
    Left its seeds while I was sleeping
    My PC, noisy fans ring in my brain
    And still remain
    Outside the sound of silence

    In restless dreams I walked alone
    And tried to hear who's on the phone
    Despite the frequencies of heat exhaust
    I closed my door to try to mute and damp
    When my ears were stabbed by the sound of a bearing fail
    there lies the tale...
    the fan was seized, and silent.

    --- shut-up! I'll stop! I'll stop!
  • by sjbe (173966) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @02:54PM (#11729651)
    My machine was driving me nuts. So I've steadily been quieting it down. Here's what I did.

    • A Zalman Silent 400W Power Supply [thinkgeek.com] helped a lot and only emits about 20db of noise. Still not silent enough for me so I'm going to get something like a SilentMaxx Semi-Fanless 450W [quietpcusa.com] soon.
    • I replaced my case fans with Papst 8412 NGL [plycon.com] fans which only emit 12db; basically silent. I tried one of the PC Power and Cooling Silencer units and it's a fine power supply but still pretty noisy.
    • I put some new rubber feet I picked up from Home Dept (about $3 each) which are normally used for door stops to help dampen case vibrations.
    • I switched over the 7200 RPM Seagate hard drives from the 10000RPM Maxtor/IBMs I was using. The old drives were fine but rather noisy.
    • I replaced my graphics card fan with a Zalman Heat Pipe [zalmanusa.com] system which emits no noise at all.
    • I picked up these hard drive coolers with rubber shock absorbers [compusa.com] from CompUSA which further helps dampen case vibration, and helps keepd the drive quieter. My case uses drive rails and I had to drill an extra hole in the drive rails to make them compatible.
    • I also installed this Anti Noise Kit [compusa.com] from CompUSA. One caution is keep at least one screw from the case touching both the power supply and the case with no padding. Helps keep a ground between the power supply and the case.
    • I also bought some rounded cables (yes I'm aware of the crosstalk issues but they haven't been a problem) which helps cooling. I got some cable wraps and zip ties to keep the cables bundled and out of the air flow as much as possible.
    • Installed a HUGE Thermalright SLK800 [thermalright.com] heat sink with a Pabst fan (above) to keep the processor cool and silent. This actually dropped by processor temp by several degrees in addition to being quiter.
    • I installed Melamine foam from Home Depot throughout the case to dampen noise.


    End result? Nearly silent. Quieter than my thinkpad laptop which doesn't make much noise. I still want a quieter power supply fan though I'm reasonably satisfied with the one I have. Basically anything rated at over 20db is too loud by my standards. Yes, many people will tell you you can hear it and that's true if you are 10+ feet away or have damaged hearing from too much loud music. :-) Right near the unit however you can hear it just fine and case vibrations will often amplify sounds.

    Obviously if you want a machine with super high performance, you may need better cooling that I do and better cooling usually equals more noise. My machine is a linux file/print server so I'm not looking for maximal performance, though I do have a SCSI drive system in it. Make sure you keep the air pathways clear if you use the fans I recommend because they don't blow a lot of air. Don't block any ventilation though you can use air filters if you feel the need. Every so often get a can of compressed air and blow out any dust in the system which will help with the cooling.
  • by raresilk (100418) <raresilk@ma[ ]om ['c.c' in gap]> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @03:45PM (#11729927)
    extensively over the past few years. I'm taking the trouble to rant a bit about what others have said, as well as post a summary of my own research and experimentation, because every time I read a thread anywhere about this subject, I see the same ol' same ol', most of it misinformed or plain wrong. (For background, my household has a G4 silver MAC, a parts-built PC running Windows, a parts-built PC running Linux, and a G4 Titanium powerbook.)

    RANTS:

    1. "Silent PC" Is Not a Fetish.
    There are practical reasons why some of us demand silence from a computer. The one that drives me is the fact that I use my computer(s) to record audio. Short of building a separate room to house the computer (which causes insane problems with ventilation, video/kb/mouse cables, etc.), you simply have to get it silent for a professional-quality recording. Another reason is home theater, which I believe was mentioned in the article. I really don't understand why people who couldn't care less how much noise their computer emits (like people who run server rooms) continually post in these threads. We silent freaks are aware there are lots of people who have no reason to care about dBs. That's why it's so hard to find parts to build a truly silent PC. I don't give a flip about overclocking - do I go around posting "you overclockers are kooky" in every thread on overclocking on Ars or Tom's or Anand's? Jeez.

    2. Fans Equal Noise. Period.
    There is no way around this. If you have fans anywhere in your computer, your computer will not be silent. It may be marginally quieter with some fans than others, but fans move air around and turn on a shaft, and both of those things are impossible to silence. Quieten, yes. Silence, no. And I have tried a number of supposedly "quiet PC" fans, including CPU fans. Rheostats are commonly put forward as a solution to the noise problem. They're not, at least for me, because turning fans down with a rheostat is only feasible when the computer is not working hard. But even single-channel audio recording is processor-intensive, and when you add effects processing or additional channels, booyah! Turn down the fans to the point where they are quiet enough for audio recording and you will lock up due to heat, and I am speaking from experience here. Moreover, turned-down fans are still not silent, and quiet enough is still not professional-quality. The same would be true for a home theater installation - encoding/decoding makes heat. The same is true for mobo-automated fan turndown. It turns straight up right when the computer needs to be quiet, for the same reason. (One post mentioned that the Mac iServe has three virtually-silent fans. If this is true, I would love to get ahold of such fans without paying $4K for an iServe. But every other product I've heard described as "virtually silent" -- e.g., power supplies -- always made noise. Fan noise. Because fans equal noise. So I'm skeptical. The Mac Mini was mentioned also, but is insufficient in processing power/ram to run my studio.) Also, contrary to the article, more fans at a slower speed are not quieter. Theoretically, perhaps, but not to the real human ear.

    3. "Quiet Cases" Are Useless.
    This applies both to cases made of heavy material specifically designed to be quiet, and insulation foam that you paste inside the case. Tried em, dumped em. I should have recognized in advance that heavier and/or insulated cases substantially decrease heat dissipation through the case, which means -- that's right -- more and faster FANS, and fans equal noise. Anything you gain by putting your computer guts in an insulated fortress, you will lose by the whining RPMs tacked onto your CPU and vidcard fans, and incidentally, your kewl mobo-controlled or power-supply controlled fans will crank up to high RPMs as well. It's worse than a wash - it's actually noisier. Learned it the hard way.

    4. Most Water-cooling Is Probably Useless.
    I say "probably" because I h

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