I own a three year-old HP Pavilion Elite housed beneath my desk. Last week, for the first time I opened the case of my computer and thoroughly cleaned the insides.

Since then the computer runs slightly cooler but the fans are just as loud as they used to be. What can I do to minimise the heat and sound energy?

  • 3
    It was probably the dust keeping the sound deafened. LOL.
    – surfasb
    Sep 18, 2011 at 15:54
  • 2
    @surfasb The dust was not keeping the fans from not making noise as OP says but the fans are just as loud as they used to be
    – Alpine
    Sep 18, 2011 at 15:59
  • 2
    Your options are limited on an off-the-shelf PC like that. HP, Dell, etc. make most of the innards proprietary, so it's difficult to swap power supplies, fans, etc. for quieter or more efficient options. This is why some people build their own PC's; you can put in whatever parts you want, and if you want quiet and cool, it's fairly easy to accomplish.
    – bwall
    Sep 18, 2011 at 16:04

5 Answers 5


This is an excellent although slightly outdated guide.

First thing you should do – check what your warranty allows you to do. Then check if the components in your pc are compatible with retail ones (power connectors, MB mounting sockets, etc)

Second, Locate the source of noise.

Case fans: Easy to replace and mount. Just take any silent 3 pin or 4 pin on the market with the desired size and replace. Keep the airflow direction the same. Slow 120 mm fans have amazing airflow while very quiet. Vibration absorbing pads are welcome.

CPU fan: Again the market is saturated with high quality and performance coolers. If your MB is standard and has the proper mounting holes just buy the one that best fits in your budget and noise requirements. Vibration absorbing pads are welcome.

PSU fan: Don't know here. It could be replaceable but there will be some (dis)assembly required. Otherwise - replace the PSU – again a lot of excellent choices on the market.

VGA cooler: There are aftermarket solutions, but I cannot comment – usually when my vga shrieks a lot, I cannot hear it because of the sounds the zombies make when chainsawed.

Hard drives: Using SSD for a system drive and some normal hard drives for slow media data is very quiet solution, although expensive. There are also noise dampening solutions for hard drives.

Case: it could emit sounds if the case is of very poor build quality or has some loose screws, dust or cables chaffing fans.

Edit: One of the best sources for everything quiet.

  • 2
    Mentioning warranty is an important one. Although in the OP's case his 3 year old PC will probably be out of warranty by now.
    – Joe Taylor
    Sep 18, 2011 at 21:25
  • I read the whole blog post from Coding Horror and found it interesting and helpful since it's relevant to both heat and noise (which are essentially wasted energy).
    – Ambo100
    Sep 20, 2011 at 19:36

I own a 2-3 year old HP Pavillion p6180t. It has a "Pegatron" motherboard with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300. About six months ago, it went from purr to 747 and applications like SpeedFan and Speccy revealed not only high fan speeds, but very high CPU temperatures.

I went to Fry's to pick up an aftermarket fan to find that most of today's common aftermarket fans, even when correctly picked to match the right cpu and socket, do not match HP's "screw in" fan type motherboards.

I called CoolerMaster who makes many of these fans and they directed me to a specific, relatively inexpensive fan that would work.

So that came a few days later, and it had cpu heatsync paste already applied to it.

But here's the real kicker, when I removed the old fan from the CPU, what I discovered was dried, cracked, seemingly useless cpu paste. After I cleaned that off, and put on the new cpu fan, the computer immediately quieted back down to a purr.

So, you might need a new cpu fan. But you might only need fresh cpu heatsync paste. And replacing the stock cpu fan with the appropriate coolermaster fan is not very difficult and quite effective.

That's my data point from owning an HP desktop.


A re-paste of the cpu-heatsink with high quality heatsink compound may help reduce fan speed, which will reduce noise.

  • 1
    I agree with this, but the process, if you are unfamiliar with it, can be quite error prone. Too much paste, too little paste, incorrectly applying the right amount, and re-installing the heatsink improperly can really cause problems. I strongly recommend you note the temps of your CPU before you do anything, so you know if the "after" picture is better or worse.
    – e40
    Sep 18, 2011 at 17:22
  • @ e40, Its about the only solution for an OEM PC and this particular issue, they are well known to use cheap thermal compound. My first link has more links to instructions.
    – Moab
    Sep 18, 2011 at 17:35

In no particular order;

  • Replace small fast fans with larger slower-spinning fans
  • Replace fans with heatsinks
  • Make sure airflow is in a consistent direction within the case

Fans may make noise because they're cheap fans, they may make noise because the bearings are worn out (especially true if they make a screeching sound that varies quite a bit in pitch and intensity), or they may make noise because they are running faster than ideal (due to overheating or simply an improper BIOS setting).

On my Sony laptop the main case fan was making a loud buzzing sound that sounded initially like a bad bearing, but I eventually found out with a Google search that the problem was a loose wire that was banging against a paper-thin fan shroud. (Sony fixed it under an extended warranty.)

In some cases (where space permits in a desktop system) you can obtain a larger heatsink that takes a larger, quieter fan. (Fan noise varies roughly inversely with blade diameter.) And several vendors specialize in selling quiet fans.

Of course the ultimate fix is to go with a liquid cooled system. Hardcore makes one of the best. They still have fans, like a car radiator, but they are much quieter.

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