I have an old Athlon XP computer that I've been using as a Smoothie Router for about 3 years now, after my first Smoothie router (a Pentium 2 266Mhz) died. One of the most aggravating things about this computer is the fact that its noisy. I have built recent computers that have been quiet, but my secret for those is to get high CFU fans and then use the motherboard's fan controllers to make those fans quiet. This computer doesn't have that ability.

Can anyone recommend some super quiet fans in the 80mm and 120mm sizes, as well as a quiet CPU cooler for Socket 754?

  • I'd like to reiterate that I'm looking for specific recommendations, mostly for the CPU cooler. Does anybody have any recommendations for a passive CPU cooler that works with Socket 754? – Weegee Jul 17 '09 at 14:21

SilentPCReview, which Strop mentioned above, maintains an occasionally-updated list of their recommended case fans. Obviously you can only do so much with 80 mm fans.

They also have a list of recommended heatsinks, but I've found that you need to do more of your own research in this area, simply because there are so many brands and models to choose from for any given socket. I generally look through all the cheap, well-rated tower heatsinks with copper heatpipes and aluminum plates. This Newegg SERP may be relevant.

Normally one of the smaller Xigmatek models is an practical if unassuming choice, but being on socket 754 is somewhat limiting. A more traditional model, with the fan blowing down, may be fine since your cooling needs aren't incredibly high. The Thermaltake A4017-01 looks particularly cheap, quiet, and well-rated, and it's AMD-only, which may ease installation.

  • Nice, the thermaltake looks great! – Weegee Jul 17 '09 at 17:02

Coding Horror has an awsome post on how to make a PC quieter

Which includes

  • Minimize the number of fans in your system
  • Control the speed of your fans
  • Dampen your hard drive
  • Use noise-reduction materials.

Starting with the right parts helps a lot.

For specific items, http://www.silentpcreview.com is a good place to find information.

  • These are all good suggestions, but again I'm looking for specifics that people have used before. Also, if you read my post you would have noted that I said I don't have fan controllers on the motherboard. This computer isn't important enough for me to buy a fan controller for it either. – Weegee Jul 17 '09 at 17:00

Get some insulating (looks like sponge with hills and valleys) material and put it inside the case. Works better than any cpu replacement. Cheaper too.

  • I would be concerned about how much heat that insulation would trap in the case. – TheTXI Jul 17 '09 at 14:19
  • Well, one machine has been running for something more of a year in my room, and it's still running. Most heat is conducted through ventilated air, and you're still ventilating it (don't cover the air holes in the back - just the sides and the front). – Rook Jul 17 '09 at 14:41
  • I sleep with my head about half a meter from it, so either I'm deaf, or it's pretty quiet :-) – Rook Jul 17 '09 at 14:42

Not to go to far off, but what is your budget? You can get some impressive fans (or better yet, huge passive heat sinks with heatpipes to lead to a 120mm case fan) but they'll cost you - I'd guess the project would run about $150. And after that the other fans might need replacing, or the addition of some sound absorbing material. Before you start anything you might want to get a can of compressed air and clean the whole thing out, then run it for a few hours to get the fans broken back in (without all the dust on them).

An alternative would be to buy a whole new PC, like an EEE Box ($290, or $300 with wireless and gigabyte ethernet). These use very little power, are tiny, and reasonably quiet. Other Atom based solutions would fit into the same ballpark, costing $250-$400 dollars.

  • This smoothie router has 4 NICs in it, so getting something like an EEE Box wouldn't work. Thanks though. – Weegee Jul 17 '09 at 14:27
  • +1, it sounds like you might be better off building a MicroITX or PicoITX system that's small, low power, silent, and still powerful enough to run the router software. – spoulson Jul 17 '09 at 14:28
  • Check mini-itx.com – spoulson Jul 17 '09 at 14:29
  • Completely quiet (fanless) systems are available from a number of manufacturers. For small systems with multiple LAN ports, you might look at some of these logicsupply.com/categories/firewall_systems (some are Atom, some are VIA) – David Jul 17 '09 at 16:39

Liquid cooling is pretty quiet. ;)

If you can underclock that CPU enough, you might be able to get by on passive cooling.

  • I don't really want to deal with liquid cooling for a linux router. Too much maintenance. Liquid cooling for my gaming PC however. :D – Weegee Jul 17 '09 at 14:19

take the stickers off and squirt some WD-40 in your case fans. Also, take off the fan on your Video Card if it's too loud, it probably doesn't do anything anyway.

  • I did this at the university where I worked and probably saved 'em a zillion bucks. – Peter Turner Jul 17 '09 at 14:22
  • I regularly oil my fans with gun oil (best machine oil you can buy). The Video Card is passively cooled already. The biggest noise maker is the CPU cooler. – Weegee Jul 17 '09 at 14:28

Thermalright used to have a whole line of passive coolers for processors but you'd have to have a case large enough for them and with the right positioning.

You can modify their passive cooling properties to a quiet active cooling mode, the best i've seen is a kind of "air duct" which branches and connects ABOVE the passive cooler with a slow running fan on top to move the hot air a little faster (I think Thermalright also sells the product).

Examples here: http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=286 (there is an example of the duct in a picture on the second page I believe)

Look into getting a different PSU as well. A lot of PSUs have different noise ratings when active. Some were designed to run two fans instead of just one at a lower speed (thereby lowering the noise output).


Along with everything that has been said. Look at slient or near silent power supplies. It is the one area that many forget about. They do make silent power supplies. Small cpu fans also produce a lot of the noise too. Look at the air movement (cfm's) and the noise rating (db) of cpu fans before purchase.

If your really into it, you can get hard driver coolers that insulate noise and disperse heat better. And you can use rubber insulated screws on the hard drive and optical drive mounts to reduce vibration transfer.

  • Do you have any good suggestions? – Weegee Jul 17 '09 at 17:03

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