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I like to build my own computers, but because I go for high spec parts they always end up being quite noisy.

I am always jealous of computers I use at work as they always seem very very quiet. However, I look on the suppliers website and they usually have a major caveat, such as no room for extra memory or no extra PCI slots.

Is it possible to build high spec PC's which run very quietly?

2
  • Problem solved! I replaced my CPU heat sink, 80mm case fan and power supply. I also added a Zalman fan mate to the case fan and all is quiet again!
    – Jon
    Oct 7, 2009 at 8:07
  • 1
    Buy a Mac, they are very quiet
    – Wavy Crab
    Sep 28, 2012 at 23:10

11 Answers 11

19

Read this excellent post

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000665.html

  1. The easiest way to build a quiet PC is to start with components that run cool.

  2. Minimize the number of fans in your system.

  3. Control the speed of your fans.

  4. Consider aftermarket cooling solutions.

  5. Dampen your hard drive.

  6. Use noise-reduction materials.

  7. Passive cooling isn't worth it.

CONCLUSION

The best way to quiet your PC is to begin with the right parts. So use:

  1. CPUs and video cards that run cool
  2. a quiet, efficient power supply
  3. hard drives that run relatively quiet as shipped

You most likely have to PAY to make your machine quiet by paying for better engineering and higher quality components.

3
  • 2
    High performance CPUs and graphics cards simply don't run cool though. Jul 24, 2009 at 10:23
  • Relatively cool :p
    – Ian G
    Jul 24, 2009 at 10:53
  • 2
    Passive cooling is worth it - if it keeps your components cool! I use an Accelero S1 to cool my graphics card passively, and it works a charm.
    – GaryJL
    Jul 28, 2009 at 8:54
19

Silent PC Review (SPCR) is the place to go for for this.

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  • 1
    +1. Jeff was active at the SPCR forums as "wumpus" silentpcreview.com/forums which was probably the source of the info from that post. Mike Chin & Co are fanatics about quiet.
    – hyperslug
    Jul 24, 2009 at 15:47
7

Larger fans

Look closer into using larger fans that run slower. I can't seem to find any useful link right now, but the fluid dynamics of the thing makes moving the the volume of air quieter that way. (higher Reynolds number = more noise?) With care, you can make fan-based solutions very quiet. (Or you could just get watercooling..)

Dampen the mechanichal bits

Screwing a harddrive into the case lets it carry the vibrations. You need something to absorb the vibrations. There are a lot of things that do that poorly, if at all. I'm thinking of getting some of that asphalt stuff. I find this bit to be quite creepy since I know I'll need to experiment to find a solution. (I don't have one now, my hd:s make noise.)

1
  • 1
    Moving the same amount of air, a large fan at a lower RPM makes a LOT less noise than a small fan at a high RPM. Jul 24, 2009 at 19:25
6

Maybe QuietPC.com can help you.

5

When I first came to the UK I built two small footprint, quiet machines, working on the assumption that I would be living in a small shoebox sized flat. These machines had P3 chips in them, so cooling was somewat easier than a modern system, but many of the issues still apply - the machines had to be small and quiet.

Most of the parts were recycled from my existing desktop machines at the time. Essentially I was downsizing my computers. Some things I used:

  • Quiet CPU fans (in this case from Molex, but many outfits make quiet PC fans now).

  • CPUs that didn't draw much power, in this case the existing P3 chips from my other machines. Most modern CPU lines come in low power versions. They are often a bit more expensive and not as fast as the top-of-the-line model, but the speed is usually not much slower. You could also look into something based on an Intel Atom, which should run cool enough for a passive cooling system.

  • I picked a specific motherboard (in this case an Asus CUV4X-M). This was mainly to get a micro-ATX form factor as the machines were going into small footprint cases.

  • The existing hard drives I already had. Modern hard disks don't make all that much noise - much less than high speed fans.

  • The existing memory, floppy drives, CD/DVD drives and other components I already had.

  • Low RPM fans where I had to. In this case I didn't actually have to change the case or PSU fans as they were quiet enough. The only fans I had to change were the CPU fans.

  • Video cards with passive cooling, in particular a Matrox G550. You can get passively cooled cards with reasonable performance for anything short of a top-line gaming rig.

  • Rounded cables to minimise the interference with airflow in the case (remember these were small cases with relatively slow fans). I also got some adhesive backed anchors and used ties to keep the cabling tidy and out of the airflow.

Cooling and soundproofing technology has gotten a bit more mainstream these days. You can get quite a variety of kit from QuietPC and various other outfits now (I got my CPU fans from there). Quiet and passive (fanless) cooling solutions, liquid cooling and soundproofing materials are all readily available now.

I got quite acceptable noise levels from the fairly basic setups I built there. You can build more elaborate solutions with the application of more money but there's no point in paying for stuff you don't need.

These were the last machines I built and were essentially small footprint rebuilds of machines I already had. They were fairly cheap to make - I bought CPU fans, cables, two motherboards and one secondhand graphics card. I could also re-sell the old motherboards and cases.

3

Build your PC with a passive-cooled or very quiet air-cooled power supply. Buy a Zalman Reserator v2 and appropriate waterblocks for your graphics card and CPU and fit these. This will give extremely good performance and overclocking potential, an almost completely silent PC and a water temperature of around 30C (on the lowest radiator fan setting) when running at full capacity even with a high performance graphics card and CPU. The problem here is that the computer will be a lot less mobile since you'd need to disconnect the Reserator and transport it separately every time you'd move your computer.

It is, however, very easy to install, even if you haven't tried water cooling before. This is the system I run at home and the only problem I've found is that when you upgrade you also need to buy new waterblocks and a little more hose. Totally worth it for the silence it provides though.

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  • I'm just curious; how much more expensive is this sort of watercooling over your average fan?
    – RCIX
    Jul 24, 2009 at 11:33
  • The initial cost is around 400$ higher than with an air-cooled system and requires a bit more time to install. Jul 24, 2009 at 12:03
  • Most all liquid-cooling systems have some sort of radiator to dissipate the heat and many of them actually have fan(s) connected to the radiator (internal or external). So you're still going to have to have a fan somewhere.
    – Travis
    Jul 24, 2009 at 14:49
  • Quite correct and this one does have one as well. It runs very quiet on the lowest setting, but I'm thinking it should run fine even without the fan, considering that the water temperature is typically only a couple of degrees above the room temperature. I have not tried this though, as I think it's quiet enough on the lowest setting. Jul 24, 2009 at 15:06
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If your looking to buy a watercooled solution i would use the zalman cabinet that has it all built in. Be aware that you will need to buy water cooling system for you video card your self, i myself bought a video card and then a water cooling block for it. But i dont recommend that, i would rather buy one that has water cooling block already installed.

Be aware that the zalman does not come with a water cooler block for a the I7 but the Core intel series so you will need to buy a I7 block. For a powersupply you need to find out how much power you need and search for your quite one. Be aware that building a water cooled computer is more work then one that uses fans, and requires a bit of planning. If your not willing to go all the way with water cooling, i would build a computer that fits my specs and buy a new fane for the CPU and replace the oem one.

0

This is a good book for new system builders

0

You want an oil submerged computer! Linky

0

You know, surprisingly enough Dells are very quiet.

So if you find all this overwhelming, then check it out. I barely can hear the Optiplex I have at work. I am not sure if their cheapest line is any good however.

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  • I agree, I use a vostro 220s at work and it is very quiet.
    – Jon
    Oct 7, 2009 at 8:01
  • I have an Optiplex something or other at work that sounds like an airplane taking off.
    – stone
    Jan 16, 2010 at 9:16
0

This might help you in your search for quiet performance:

http://techcaddie.com/green-computer-high-performance-computer/

Essentially it is a "greenprint" or discussion of the components used to build a high-performance, yet quiet and green workstation. Only catch I see in the article is that you might want a different video card, a newer generation one, and finding one of those that is fanless is tough.

Best of luck and keep us updated!

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