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Topic: Building a Quieter PC?

  1. #1

    Building a Quieter PC?

    I have a Dell Dimension and am looking for suggestions to make it run quieter (quiet fans, quiet power supplies, hard drive silencers, enclosures, etc.)

    I have a few recording sessions coming up and would like a noise-free performance center... my Dell being the loudest aspect of it so far, I'd like to cut down on that.

    Thanks in advance for any tips...
    Alan Lastufka | www.BelaDMedia.com
    Producer/Artistic Design | Content Producer

    20 Things

  2. #2

    Re: Building a Quieter PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Lastufka
    I have a Dell Dimension and am looking for suggestions to make it run quieter (quiet fans, quiet power supplies, hard drive silencers, enclosures, etc.)

    I have a few recording sessions coming up and would like a noise-free performance center... my Dell being the loudest aspect of it so far, I'd like to cut down on that.

    Thanks in advance for any tips...
    I have a Zalman CNPS7000A-ALCU processor fan from Zalman. It has my highest recommendations. I bought it to provide quiet, and it delivered. It is large, not expensive, but it wil not fit certain motherboards. There is a list at their home page. http://www.zalmanusa.com/usa/usa_index.asp

    Dennis Burton

  3. #3

    Re: Building a Quieter PC?

    Where is the noise coming from Alan? Dimension PC's only have three fans and have a track record of being whisper quiet. Dell's are also prone to overheat (but that isn't the issue.) Has it always been this loud or is this a recent happening? If my memory serves correctly, the Dimension PC's have a pipe that directs outside airflow via a fan to the heatsink mounted on the motherboard. You could try to replace the stock heatsink with something a little better and get a low noise fan to replace the one on the back of the case (a zalman for quietness.) Also, there should be fan/s in the power supply. These could also be replaced with a quieter fan. The graphics card could also have a fan on it, depending on what type it is. I would recommend changing the processors heat sink and changing the fan on the back of the case (and remounting the pipe delivering this air to the heatsink.) I wouldn't do one without the other. The cooling in these cases, are the minimum already. The Dimension cases weren't designed with a lot of airflow/cooling in mind and I'd hesitate to mess with it too much. Another option is to go with another case and disassemble what you've got and put it back together in a low noise high airflow all aluminum case (lian li or similar.) I've never understood this whole noise thing. I've got mine running right next to me and its got like 5 fans in it. I haven't gone deaf yet.

  4. #4

    Re: Building a Quieter PC?


    It looks like the 8300 has a fan inside the case blowing hot-@ss internal air across the heatsink and out of the case via a duct (from the diagram) which then is brought back in via the fan on the power supply, pretty cool huh. Install a new heatsink (swiftech or similar) and then put a quiet fan on the case itself (where the duct used to connect) and use ducting (sold from various modding websites) to direct this cool air onto the heatsink. Also, you could invest in a new "quality" power supply (antec or similar) and this would get you more juice out of a quieter power supply. If you have a quality graphics card in there, more than likely they have a fan on them. You could replace this with a zalman heatsink designed for graphics cards. There is also water cooling for the whole freaking thing. There's so many ways to do this. I'm a modding freak. Pack up the thing and ship it to me, we'll get her running quiet as a mouse.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Re: Building a Quieter PC?

    Quiet PCs

    Although its not possible to build a PC that produces absolutely no sound since computers have moving parts (such as fans and spinning hard drives which emit noise), there are ways to substantially reduce noise.

    One way is to put your computer in another room and run a long mouse/keyboard/monitor cable. But this may not be possible for some. Some people make or buy an enclosure to put their computer into in order to absorb/block noise.

    It is possible to make your computer extremely quiet. There are silent fans and power supplies that can be purchased. There are also sound insulators to put insider your computer case, internal hard drive enclosures, sound-absorbing computer cases, etc. Some hard drives are known to be quieter than others.

    A good resource for components for making ultra low noise computers is:
    Gary Garritan

  6. #6

    Re: Building a Quieter PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Lastufka
    I have a Dell Dimension and am looking for suggestions to make it run quieter (quiet fans, quiet power supplies, hard drive silencers, enclosures, etc.)
    Ah, yes... there's nothing quite like the lovely roar of a PC in a nice, quiet studio with an open microphone...

    I support a complex that includes 15 working radio studios (10 on-air and 5 production/VT rooms) with PC-based systems at their hearts. The most critical of these use high-reliability industrial computers with passive backplane topology, and they are VERY reliable. Unfortunately, they're also quite noisy -- we tried one in an above-counter rack space in one of our VT rooms and it sounded like a live remote from an airport taxiway. As we're updating markets around the country, we're no longer using these beefy machines, and one reason is the nopise level. What we've been using instead are Dell Optiplex mini-towers. I have one in my office and it's the most incredibly quiet machine I've ever had -- including machines I specifically built for quiet operation, handpicking components.

    Now, as to your Dimension... how old is it, and does it run 24/7? Has it always been this noisy, or has it gotten worse? It's possible that you've just got fans with noisy bearings. Anything restricting airflow -- including accumulated dirt -- will make it noisier still. There are two basic philosophies of cooling; you can move less air quickly, or a larger volume of air more slowly. The latter is always quieter. You can experiment with now-noise fans and such, but if your machine is overa year or two old, you might be farther ahead to just retire it and get a new Optiplex.

    You can also put a noisy machine in an enclosure that dampens noise. Just make sure you don't restrict the airflow in the process, or you may kill the machine in the process.

    Another good technique for studio computers is to locate the noisy hardware in a different room, and use a KVM extender. With today's breed of cat5 KVM extenders, it's actually fairly inexpensive to do.

    Or, only do loud, rowdy music.

    "He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds"
    --Psalm 147:3

  7. #7

    Re: Building a Quieter PC?

    I simply put the computer in an adjoining room, and ran cables. It cost a bunch for all the cables, but now my studio is dead quiet. It's wonderful.


  8. #8

    Re: Building a Quieter PC?

    All you have to do is get some kind of software to eliminate the noise in the recording itself. Try something like Soundsoap or something. Just record the noise, and it will keep a noise sample for you - that way you can get rid of the noise in the recording with the same kind of noise.

    If done right, the difference in sound between what's being recorded and the one with the noise will be pretty much impossible to tell.

    There's not really any use in blowing a whole bunch of money for something that nobody is going to really be able to hear even with reference speakers.

  9. #9

    Re: Building a Quieter PC?

    Ah...Alan....heh heh.. I have been there.... The crusade... I spent a bunch of money trying to make some AMD machines run quieter and in the end I scraped them both for a newer Intel based pc that ran cooler. SO many options and so many people doing different things to try to make their PC quieter.....and sell you things, etc.....including water cooling setups, etc..

    In my experience..that absolutely loudest thing in your PC is the harddrive(s). Everything else should be very silent compared to the drives. If they aren't, then you can fix them to be quieter UNLESS your pc runs hot. if it runs hot than it gets a lot more difficult to get it quiet without burning up your PC. Personally, I think if you have a hot PC, you should sell it and get one that runs cooler. For doing music, keeping it cool, means keeping it quiet.

    That being said, if the CPU runs hot there are a number of heat sinks that you can get that dissipate heat better than factory heat sinks. They are designed for gaming machines that overclock, etc.. Zalman makes some great ones, but research around. Look on the overclocking websites for information.

    Just about any fan you have, if you get a BIGGER fan...then you can slow it down and it will be quieter while still moving the same amount of air. Case fans in particular are good candidates for this. Some fans are quieter than others. Again, check the overclocking sites. There is a quiet pc group on yahoogroups too, ask there or search their archives for specific fan models that run quieter. But the key is, if you can make them BIGGER and slow them down, they will be quieter.

    The power supply has a fan in it, and can sometimes be noisy. You can try to replace that fan with something quieter and sometimes you can put a fan in that you can slow down with a potentiometer..but make sure to read up how slow to go and how to measure the heat to make sure you're not too slow.

    Its better to have MORE fans...all running slowly, then to have one single fan that has to run full tilt to keep your PC cool. So a fan on the front of the case and a fan on the back of the case...all good...and a fan dedicated for the CPU and a fan on the power supply. Wow..that is 4 fans already..but for a modern PC...you need them.

    All that being said... I tried to replace my power supply with one that is advertised as being quieter than average. Perhaps it is, but it made no appreciable difference because the HD's were the loud things in my system. I have since upgraded to different PC's that are so much quieter I basically just use them stock and they are fine. However, if I were to try to make them any quieter, I would use HD enclosures designed to keep the HD noise contained. www.quietpcusa.com has some.
    At the end of the day, I have spent hundreds of dollars trying to make my PC quieter. I know without any doubt in my mind that I will eventually just buy one or two of those enclosures. They are about $1000 each unfortunately...but once I have a couple of those..they will serve for years going forward and I won't have to worry about PC noise again. Barring that, what gary said about putting them in a closet or another room is about the only solution.

    good luck!
    "Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets" -- Zoltan Kodaly

  10. #10
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Building a Quieter PC?

    Seriously, your best bet is to move it out of the recording field and isolate it. I just put in a "mechanical room" off the control room of our new studio. You could do the same if you have a spare closet outside the recording field.
    Other solutions is to through the darn thing in the lake! You may need a longer than normal mouse cord.

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