Noisy PC

  doug 21:32 01 Mar 2003

I know this has been raised before but I thought I would post the question anyway.

Following up a link I just had quick look at the quietpc site and now have paused for thought. I think I should specify my system in detail and some questions that come to mind.

mobo Elite K7S5A
CPU Duron 800 MHz with 60mm cooling fan
Video card PNY Verto GF4 Ti4200 AGP4
HD1 Western Digital 40 GB
HD2 Seagate 60 GB
PSU Q-TEC 400w dual fan rated at 33db(A)
CDRW I don't think is relevant to noise
Modem V92 PCI ditto
floppy ditto
RAM 2 x 128 MB DIMMs
other external peripherals

All in a Midi tower which sits under my desk.

When I had my blow up last year, which was progressive, I had been posting my problems on the PCAdv website. With the last of my erratic problems I was advised to replace the PSU so I installed the above unit. Going for something with reasonable capacity for the future, I am hoping to get an Athlon with DDR RAM and I would also like to install a separate sound card. However I have finished up with a fairly noisy system so sound card is totally out of the question for the present.

I have opened the case and swung out the psu to see if I can determine where the worst of the noise is coming from. As far as I can tell, including using a rolled up tube, both the psu and cpu units are producing the same volume of noise

Overall what would be the recommendations regarding noise reduction.

Is the 33 db(A) rating for the psu over “optimistic”?

Would I be better off with a 300w psu from quietpc rated at 26 db(A) or should I go for the twin fan 400w unit rated at 28 db(A). Is 300w more than sufficient?

Any suggestions regarding the CPU cooler?

  woodchip 21:51 01 Mar 2003

Stick some felt padding inside case but do not cover any vents

  cheapskate2k 22:23 01 Mar 2003

A lot of the better PSUs have adjustable fans anyway so you might get away with something cheaper because those quiet pc ones arent cheap. U could try and antec true power or an enermax, both I think are pretty decent. As for a cpu cooler you cant go wrong with the Zalman's, ive got a copper flower cooler on my Athlon and I basically cant hear it. Ive just ordered some acoustic padding for my case, hope to get that soon so will keep you posted on the effect that has. 33db is pretty loud you should be aiming for mid 20s I think, I mistakenly bought a new cooler for my graphics card rated at 29 db and it was really loud.

  doug 22:39 01 Mar 2003

thanks. that puts the noise level in pespective.

  tran1 23:24 01 Mar 2003

won't acoustic padding act like an insulator and raise the temperature inside the case higher and therefore reduce performance due to high temp?

  y_not 06:08 02 Mar 2003

as I understand it the noise is caused by the mechanical movement i.e. metal against metal bearings AND the movement of the air.

Whilst replacing the noisiest parts with quieter better quality items is a solution I found that replacing all the IDE ribbons with the round versions made a significant difference; I also looked at the positions of the wires and cables, locations of HDD's in an attempt to ease the volume of sound.

Just thought that a look at the layout inside the box might be an added option......look how much car manufactures spend getting the aerodynamics right! (and all because noise requires energy)

  doug 08:41 02 Mar 2003

very useful thoughts folks. Keep em coming. I'm soakig them up.

  Psiman 09:51 02 Mar 2003

To answer your questions..

1) 33 dB(A) is definately not over optimistic. However, to get down to say 30 dB(A) from 33 takes a lot of effort as this is half the sound power compared to 33. (sound power is measured on an exponential scale)

AMD users (me included) have always had an uphill struggle with noise because of the processor heat dissipation and the ATX layout. If you wish a truly quiet system you need exotic cooling for your AMD or go to Pentium.

2) You would be better off with a twin fan PSU of the Enermax design (approved by AMD). They aid ventilation flow over the processor and you can control the speed manually. click here
BTW, Higher the Wattage of your PSU you can afford the better.

3) The Zalman flower is about the quietest air cooler you can buy at the moment. I run my XP1900 processor quite hot (52°C), but the trade off I get is the Zalman fan on its lowest, quietest setting


Disagree I’m afraid. Mechanical noise is negligible compared with air borne noise which is generated by the speed of the fan blades shearing the air. If you think you have any sort of mechanical noise whatsoever from a fan, change it as soon as possible as it's about to fail.

  cheapskate2k 10:20 02 Mar 2003

The padding will act as an insulator to some extent but im willing to take the risk, ive got two case fans (one in one out) and the zalman sat at minimum rpm and my cpu wont break 50 under load. I cant imagine the padding will have too much of an effect. Also from what I gather the actual design of the case will have a big effect on the noise because they will act like the box for a speaker. A lot of the noise comes straight out the back of the pc through fans you will never kill that. Its bin a shock to me how noisey pc's have got!

  Rose 10:37 02 Mar 2003

I recently bought Quiet PCs Hush Kit in the hope that it would reduce the noise level generated by my PC and it had one very surprising result. The kit contains a padded noise box for the HDD which fits into a spare 5" drive bay. I was somewhat concerned about temperature so left this item to fit until last. The new silent PSU and the quiet fan for the CPU actually made no noticable difference but the silent drive box is terrific. I had no idea that the HDD was generating so much noise, 7200 rpm, 60GB. This single item has reduced my PC noise level to a bearable rating which having tried everything I can think of, is I figure as good as I'm going to achieve. Am also using the Zalman flower cooler with fan set to lowest setting resulting in a rather warm AMD 1800+ running at 52C but choices have to be made, lower temperature = noise or higher temperatures and bearable racket. Have seen various threads on this subject on this site but do not recall seeing anyone mention the noise generated by a hard drive. Have you had a listen to yours?

  Psiman 11:14 02 Mar 2003

Noisy HDD's propogate noise at higher frequencies than other components within a PC and can be quite intrusive.

BTW, what make is your HDD?

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