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I would like to set up a new work room for me. And I want it to be as quiet as possible. What should I do about my PC? I don't need physical access to the PC.

I would favour putting it into another room and just have the three monitors, keyboard and mouse at my desk, so I don't even hear the disks. Is that possible? What is the farthest distance the other room could be away?

Other options?

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Is replacing or upgrading your existing hardware an option, or do you have to work with what you've got? –  arathorn Aug 20 '09 at 18:30
    
I'd rather invest in DVI repeater and the likes. Hardware is pretty good already though standard (quite silent) casing. The disk is sometimes bugging me... –  Tobias Hertkorn Aug 20 '09 at 20:06
    
What aboud CD/DVD drives, USB ports and the like? Do you need access to that? If yes, I'd recommend not putting the PC into another room. –  foraidt Aug 20 '09 at 22:33
    
Hmm, I am a developer and usually all my software is downloadable (e.g. MSDN Subscription). I really don't need CDs any more. And fast internet makes USB really unnecessary IMHO. –  Tobias Hertkorn Aug 21 '09 at 7:54
    
A USB extension cable to a hub works well if you need to use USB sticks. Should serve keyboard/mouse as well. (Get a USB DVD-drive and you're set. :) –  Macke Aug 21 '09 at 12:00

15 Answers 15

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can get 25ft. DVI cables. You can also get DVI repeater boxes for ~$100.

You could also build a little insulated box with exhaust fans going out your window.

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Add 25 ft. USB and audio cables and you'd be surprised how seldom you need to physically access your computer (it's always on or suspended anyway, and how often do you really install software from DVDs?). –  Kevin L. Aug 20 '09 at 19:22
    
Didn't even know they have DVI repeater. That might just be what I was looking for. Do you have any experience using them? –  Tobias Hertkorn Aug 20 '09 at 20:08
    
I have none at all. I assume they work though. I'd go with the shortest possible cable. –  Sam Sep 1 '09 at 6:20

SSD, a quiet power supply and a huge passive cpu cooler works really well for me.

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Might be worth it to invest in a really nice pair of noise-canceling headphones. That will help with other ambient sound that might still be present, even with your PC silenced or in a different room.

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That's the "gloves" answer - instead of silencing the room around you, just silence the area around your ears (thedailywtf.com/Comments/The_Complicator_0x27_s_Gloves.aspx). +5 if I could. –  Andrew Scagnelli Aug 20 '09 at 18:47
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Hmm, I must look into how well I like wearing headphones for 10 hours straight. But an option to keep in mind. Thanks. –  Tobias Hertkorn Aug 20 '09 at 20:07
    
Mine aren't noise cancelling, but I generally wear headphones most of the work day with music on. I work from home and have children. Noisy computers are the least of my concerns. –  jtimberman Aug 21 '09 at 2:04

It's a bit of a hassle to have your actual machine too far away from you. Assuming you're willing to go with silencing:

  • Put your machine under your desk, towards the back of the wall.
  • Prop up foam blocks or carpet padding behind the computer to absorb sound reflecting off the wall. This is more effective if your PSU fan is the noisemaker.
  • Don't leave a CD in the CDROM drive. They spin up noisily every once in a while.
  • Recent SATA's are fairly quiet. If your hard drive is old, it might be worth it to upgrade for space, speed, and noise.
  • Remove all fan grills, if you can keep pets and children away. The fan grills rattle, contribute to resistance, and cause white noise.
  • Tape up all holes not necessary for airflow including empty slots in the back. They don't contribute to cooling and sound escapes from them.
  • I find those side CPU fan holes to be mostly useless, so I usually tape that too and remove the fan if the CPU already has one. Use Speedfan to make sure your CPU doesn't go over its maximum temperature (usually around 70C).
  • Eliminate redundant fans: if you have both an intake and an outflow fan, remove the intake: it's at the front and will make more noise.{1}
  • PSU and graphics card fans are usually the loudest. Buy a quieter PSU, 80-plus if you can. Find a quieter fan for that graphics card or opt for a less powerful, fanless one.

Refer to Silent PC Review for more quieting tips.

{1} Some people also find negative case air pressure to be more efficient for heat removal as well, but that's arguable.

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Silent PC is a great comprehensive place to get great information for the question. –  Troggy Aug 20 '09 at 17:04
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You can remove the fan if its a cool CPU. Don't EVER remove the heatsink. I wouldn't even recommend removing the fan -- Zalman makes some unique heatsink-only products that do almost as well as a fan and would be a better replacement. –  Andrew Scagnelli Aug 20 '09 at 18:46
    
@A.Scagnelli, good point, edited to reflect. –  hyperslug Aug 20 '09 at 19:12
    
Thanks for the detailed answer. I rarely need physical access to the machine. I think I haven't put in a CD in months (all file based, central ISO storage for my software, ...). I will try to get the PC even more quiet, with some of your tips. But I strongly believe there is only so much I can do... –  Tobias Hertkorn Aug 20 '09 at 20:22
    
Thanks for your great answer. I was tempted to accept it, but since I went with the DVI extenders I had to give it to Sam. –  Tobias Hertkorn Aug 28 '09 at 13:28

Blackbox has a range of products to be able to place the computer far away using their kvm extenders. I'm not sure if they're priced for you but it can be an option worth looking into.

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Water cool your system.
Use solid state hard drives.

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Is it feasable to put the hot side of the water cooling systems in another room? –  Tobias Hertkorn Aug 21 '09 at 7:56

you can get a hardware solution that makes no noise at all. You could build out an enclosure for your PC that would insulate the sounds coming from it's fans, you could also go liquid cooling, which may or may not be louder depending on your pump. Another alternative is that you could make a passthrough in the wall adjacent to where your desk is going to be set up, and run the cables from the PC through the this passthrough, that would separate your desk from your PC.

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There's silent, and then there's silent. If you get yourself a quiet PC case (eg an Antec Sonata - brilliant) and a quiet hard drive, then I find the ringing noise in my ears (from too much fun when I was young) is the loudest thing in the room.

Once you have that, you'll find that you start to go a little crazy in a perfect silence and turn the radio on anyway. :)

Oh, and get yourself a quiet keyboard too.

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If you want to spend some time creating a completely silent PC that is unquestionably awesome and will amaze everyone, you might consider a mineral oil PC.

I know that's what I'll be doing for my next system. In my opinion, it doesn't get any more awesome (or quieter) than that.

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But you can't submerge the hard drive though, unless it's SSD –  Vincent Buck Aug 20 '09 at 19:02
    
@Vincent Buck - Using a SSD for a silent system is a given anyway... –  DWilliams Aug 20 '09 at 20:39

The USB standard only allows relatively short cables, 5 m), and with decent DVI cables you should be able to go 5 m (1900x1200) to 15 (1280x1024) m according to the DVI specs.

Of course, there are repeaters for both (for USB, just connect up to six hubs in a row) that extend this. KVM Switches might help, but I don't think they normally support 3 monitors.

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Laptop is usually more quiet than desktop PC.

I recommend you to buy a decently powerful laptop, with SSD and quite fans. Also get a wireless keyboard+mouse combo, hook up with a nice monitor, then hide the laptop is a good ventilation place.

You should make your work room quite quiet without some crazy modification to your PC and long monitor cable.

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Physical separation is the best solution. If the 25ft KVM cables aren't long enough, there's always thin-client. Depending on the sort of apps you're running, good old RDP or X11 might be good enough (it works for me; I do much of my home web-browsing/email type things on one of these used as a diskless X11 terminal). But if you're running more graphically demanding things, this video might be of interest as a look at where thin-client "PC-over-IP" technology could be going.

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you may extend the length of USB cables to up to 25 meter with a booster.

also, consider a silent mouse and keyboard.

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Ha, didn't know there where silent mice. –  Tobias Hertkorn Aug 21 '09 at 7:52

To build a quiet PC you need:

  • a slowly rotating CPU fan
  • a fanless video card
  • a silently running power supply
  • quiet harddisks (easy to find nowadays)
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