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I have a little old computer that is noisy and hot. Albeit old, it was a top machine when bought and is enough for my needs. The specifications are:

  • CPU Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 920 (45 nm? I don't know, but very hot)
  • GPU ATI Radeon HD 4870
  • Motherboard Gigabyte EX58-UD3R
  • 3 x 2 GB of some fancy memory that has cool metal heat-sink attached
  • 650 W Chinese power source (2x 18 A 12 V, 30 A 5 V, 28 A 3.3 V, 0.8 A -12 V, 2 A 5 Vsb)

The fans' noise is really annoying me, and the computer has three: one for the processor, one for the power source and one for the GPU, being the power source one the most noisy. What are some suggestions for silent cooling solutions that could cope with all this electrical power? Preferably with no fans at all.

What do you suggest? I am not very afraid of experimenting with this hardware...

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3 Answers 3

Most likely you will still have fans. Even if you went with Intel's water cooler, you would still have a fan on the radiator. Your best bet is to invest in better fans. My system has four fans; case fan, PSU fan, GPU fan and CPU fan. The case fan and CPU fan were upgraded from stock and made a huge difference.

It rarely spins up fast which makes for little to no noise. The problem is not so much that you have a fan or two in the system, the problem is that they must spin faster and harder to maintain an acceptable temperature level. With that being said, do you smoke? Smoking will not only kill you, but also your computer. The smoke will cake in between the heatsink fins and reduce dissipation of heat.

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For GPU cooling, you could switch to a liquid system, remove and clean the GPU with denatured alcohol and Q-tips, or replace/upgrade the GPU fan.

If you like french fries, you could go with a submerged oil cool way. However, I greatly recommend against it.

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Link to the heatsink above. It is compatible with your cpu. newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103057 –  kobaltz Mar 13 '12 at 22:53
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I have a gpu cooler that is passive, it is massive and still needed some sort of airflow. I have done some peltier experiments here with 2foot long extruded heatsync, and a mere slight breeze from a fan changes the ammount of watts that can be moved by 2-3times. There are huge passive, Search "passive GPU cooler" and Same words for CPU on google. Check this beast pcpro.co.uk/features/371896/… . In all situations massive surface area, plus minor airflow, seem better than attempting all passive. –  Psycogeek Mar 13 '12 at 23:12
    
@Psycogeek LOL. that is just ridiculous! –  kobaltz Mar 13 '12 at 23:16
    
Just submerged the whole thing in mineral oil. It is still not done, because the oil gets too hot, but I have an old Volks oil cooler ready to be installed. The cooler, the oil and the case all cost me so far about 200 dollars, but I'll probably have to spend more on an glass case (the platic one I've got is about to collapse. –  lvella Jan 10 at 20:29

The only possibilities I see are to either change the parts, which would poke a deep hole in your budget, or to change the fans and coolers.

I experimented a bit with passive cooling myself, passively cooling a CPU that draws ~100W (I had an AMD X2 4400+) is possible in idle mode, but for longer active times I wouldn't reccommend it. Even in idle I had around 60°C, got up to 90°C very quick.

I am using the same Zalman cooler (ripped the fan off) on a 35W CPU (Intel i3 2120T) now and even with permanent 100% load it never passes 60°C.

There are completely passive PSU's available, I am using a 400W Seasonic Fanless, but it cost me 100€. Most china PSUs are using 80mm Fans, and it should be possible to change the fan very easily (at least in most cases). Caution of high voltages of course, PSUs are bad boys, I had the pleasure with one, once ;) (Another passive PSU: Silverstone Nightjar)

Rule of Thumb: Fit the largest fan you can. The larger the fan, the fewer RPM are needed for the same amount of airflow, thus its quieter, and the frequency goes down, too. Never rip the fans of some parts that are not made for passive cooling, especially not if you are not sure how hot the parts are allowed to get and if you can't cope with their loss.

Good cooling costs money, if you want a quiet PC you will have to pay for some solution are you will regret it. Either because nothing changed, or because you wrecked your parts.

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If your PSU fan is noisy you should replace it with a quality one. I have a 650 watt Corsair model and the fan hardly spins and is virtually silent. I also have a high airflow case with 200mm case fans so even when they are spinning at full speed, they are rather quiet ( larger fans spin slower to move the same air, thus make less noise ). The Intel stock CPU fans refuse to spin slower than about 30% of their maximum even when not needed, but at that speed, is also very quiet. Using lm-sensors ( on Linux ) I can get the case fans to stop when the system is idle and cool. ATI Radeons tend to run quite hot even when idle so you might be out of luck there. Your best bet is to get an after market GPU cooling system.

If you are sure the most noise is coming from the PSU, then that may be your only problem. As long as the system is under light load and stays cool, and the rest of the fans slow down as they should, you shouldn't really be able to hear it.

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