Making A High Performance Silent PC
If you're reading this, you're sitting at, or near a PC. Do me a favor
and pause your mp3's or CD for a second, to sit and listen. Can you
hear the buzz from your PC? If you can, it's too loud.
That's just my opinion though, as I'm a noise freak. When I start
to play a playlist on my PC, I like to actually hear it clearly, and
not have it tainted by the shrill noise of case fans emitting from
the PC below me. Unfortunately, with today's multi-gigahertz PC's,
it's getting harder and harder to find the right components to make
up a quiet PC system. Many manufacturers now are throwing noise level
concern out the door in return for good cooling performance. This
may be OK for some people, but not for me.
And hey, It's not just me that's sick and tired of blaringly loud
CPU coolers and case fans, there are lots of you out there who can't
handle your computer's high pitched screams anymore. More often we're
seeing people looking for alternatives to their noisy PC's, whether
it be as simple as unplugging some fans to buying entirely new low-noise
Alas, there is hope for us noise-conscious PC users out there. It's
still very possible with a little effort to pick out the correct components
needed for a silent PC.
As I've always said, if Apple can make a decent-performing PC with
zero noise, us PC users can do one better. Using some of the techniques
in the next few pages, I was able to convert my home box from an annoyingly
loud PC to a 2.2 GHz / GeForce3 powered monster, absolutely silent
in all areas.
The basics of having a quiet, yet high performing system are quite
simple actually. It just takes some common sense. Find all the noise
sources and isolate them, but either replacing the noisy component
or finding ways of surrounding and muffling it.
Obviously, the number one noisemaker in a modern PC is the whir of
fans, whether they are in the power supply, on the CPU, or strapped
onto the video card. These components are usually loud due to low
quality fans being used by the manufacturers to save money. Instead
of going with a high-quality heatsink and low-speed fan, most manufacturers
will opt to go with a cheap heatsink and high-speed fan, which will
deliver the same performance, and save them a few bucks on each card.
In order to make a quiet, but yet high performance PC, you have to
be methodical. You have to go through each noise-making component,
remove it, and replace it with a lower-noise product that will give
you similar performance. Here's a run-down of the most common noisy
system components in a modern PC.
The Joy Of Heatsinks
Many of these noise making components can be replaced rather easily
with oversized heatsinks. As long as you have a decent heatsink with
a solid connection to the hot surface, plain old passive heatsinks
can be very effective in a modern PC environment. The best part is,
of course, no noise!
If the individual component runs too hot to run off a heatsink alone,
with a good oversized heatsink most of these components can be run
with slower, low noise fans in turn. CPU's, graphics cards, power
supplies, it all applies.