Via Newsome, an article about a new case that specializes in keeping PCs quiet:

I ran into no problems or glitches moving the guts of the computer into the new case. The whole process took me less than an hour. When I was done, I reconnected all the cables to the rebuilt machine, plugged in the power cord and hit the On button.

And I could barely hear a thing.

At first, I thought something was wrong, because there almost was no sound to be heard from the PC. I could see the blue power indicator on the front, and my monitors showed the bootup process proceeding, but there was almost no fan sound at all.

I’ve been doing some computer building lately, and I know what Silverman means about thinking something was wrong. Other than monitor-output, which seems to take a few seconds, the only ways I know the computer are on are the LEDs and that the fan is running. But I can’t hear the fan, only see it. And this is in an open case!

Loud computers have been a bane on me for a while now. Mostly because Clancy is not as hard-of-hearing as I am and she notices these things far more than I do and I want to keep things quiet for her. Even so, she has pointed out the noise and it’s oddly started bothering me more since. I actually replaced the computer hooked up to the television with a laptop primarily (though not solely) for noise. I replaced the fan first and the new fan was quiet for all of two days before it started making the same racket. Not long afterwards, though, the laptop started getting loud. Now I am using a different laptop.

It seems that on the whole, fans have gotten a lot better than they used to be. I couldn’t find a quiet fan for my (2001) PCs, but all of the (CPU) fans on my new computers seem quiet. This came as quite a surprise as they sort of make a racket. I have since discovered that the offender is the little tiny fan on my video cards. Both of them! They make 100x more sound than any of my PC or case fans do. You can unplug the fan on these video cards, but they respond with reduced functionality (most inconveniently, at the moment, no multi-monitor). The entire notion that video cards should have their own fan is surprising to me, but it does seem that’s where a lot of the heat is generated these days. I know on some of my louder laptops, it’s the GPU’s (graphic processor unit) temperature and not the CPU’s that is causing the fan to go into overdrive.

I made sure that my new video card was fan-free. I would rather be able to buy my own case fans and whatnot to try to keep it cool. And I don’t really game, so I don’t need a particularly good video card (not sure what I’m going to do when-if I next want to capture video, though). This is complicated a bit by the fact that our computer room is hot, hot, hot. The previously mentioned laptop (a 2003 model) that was too loud in the living room in Cascadia apparently kicks into a racket-making overdrive in this room even when the computer isn’t doing much.

The case that Silverman got cost somewhere near $100, which as far as a specialty case goes isn’t all that bad. My large cases for housing lots of hard drives cost $80, though it did include a decent power supply. But it seems to me that with the necessity of increased speed and dexterity mattering less and less, quality-of-life issues like sound ought to be getting more attention and they should be making fans quieter (rather than having to have better insulation). The good news is that if my new PCs are any indication, they are.


Category: Server Room

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

5 Responses to PC Cooling

  1. web says:

    Damn.

    This is really tempting me to buy a new case for my computer now.

  2. Mike Hunt says:

    If you placed a pea under the mattress, would Clancy be able to feel it?

  3. Kirk says:

    What do you think about water-cooling? I remember reading about it somewhere.

  4. web says:

    Water-cooling is generally overkill for home user applications, and overly expensive. Plus, the maintenance and installation is a bitch – you have to unstrap every single heatsink in your unit (which can be a real bitch when it comes to trying to figure out how to attach the piping to the video board) and you have to put “sleeves” around the hard drives, since the removal of fans means not enough airflow cooling on them.

    Even when you’re done, unless you paid $1000+ for your water cooling unit, you aren’t really getting a whisper silent PC; those water pumps can be pretty loud on their own.

    Water cooling = not worth it unless you’re trying to get an extra 1GHz out of your processor in some insane overclocking scheme that’s probably going to fry something else on the motherboard anyways these days.

  5. Linus says:

    Everyone interested in DIY quiet PCs should check out SilentPCReview.com. Great site.

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