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Building the Quiet PC

CmdrTaco posted more than 12 years ago | from the tommy-can-you-hear-me dept.

Hardware 171

An anonymous reader sent us a great little article on building a silent PC. Utilizing low noise power supplies, cases with good ventilation, and noise enclosures for hard drives, you can actually here you stereo over your PC again. I've been looking at undertaking such a project myself real soon, so I'm glad this one came along.

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171 comments

Xterminals... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#115350)

...are silent

"Here" is not a verb (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#115351)

But "Hear" is. Come on, proofread this shit, it only takes a second.

What's next, wearing panties? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#115352)

You bunch of sissy geeks and their quiet PC.

My computer is powered by a big and noisy Harley Davidson motor engine. When I power on my computer, the entire neighbourhood can hear the iron spinning and screaming. You can't help but feel the ethernet to the bone.

combining power supplies and air ducting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#115353)

Combine two AT power supplies:

http://www.burningissues.net/how_to/power/psu.htm

Make an air plenum (duct) to reduce noise:

http://www.burningissues.net/hardware/Plenum_bi/pl enum_ordeal.htm

My absolue favorite tip from an OC site about cooling:

use duct tape to seal all the little openings which let air leak out. Duh, that's why fans have to run so hard. A fan in the front of the case can't exhaust air from the back if it's actually pulling air from all over. Hmm...sounds similar to why people round cables.

Quiet Macs (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#115357)

Macintosh systems are notoriously quite. The Cube had an external supply like a notebook (which also are very quiet). Even with the HD seeking big time, the Cube only makes a whisper of the noise. Other Mac systems like my Dual 500 G4, have a little fan noise but not that much, you don't have to cool them as much as a x86 box.

Carefull... (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#115358)

A monoton sound (same range of frequency) during a long time can damage your hearing even if it's not a loud sound. It's better to listen to music, birds or anything else. I don't want to get into details but it has to do with the fact that there are receptors in your ear that capture different frequencies. If you push them to hard they get damaged.

Re:If you want a quiet computer... (2)

sheldon (2322) | more than 12 years ago | (#115360)

Not sure about the C-64, but I used to have heating problems with my VIC-20. Had to place a fan on top of it if I was going to use it for a long period of hard core 6502 programming.

Re:Xterminals... (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 12 years ago | (#115361)

Or better yet a KVM swith with long cables.

Either way the PC can be as powerfull (and consequently noisy) as you would like without affecting you.

I.e. If 5 fans and 4 hard drives spin in another soundproff room where you can't here it do they make a sound?

Where does all this noise come from? (3)

dattaway (3088) | more than 12 years ago | (#115363)

Fans. How about low power pc's? That would get rid of the noise problem.

Air Filters (2)

Lord of Caustic Soda (3117) | more than 12 years ago | (#115364)

If you put air filters over the computer case fans (on the outside) it helps to reduce the fan noise. The main problem of noise is mostly to do with the gaps and holes on a computer case. Covering all the expansion slot backpane helps. Having a case with plastic cover instead of sheetmetal helps. Vibrations noises can usually be eliminated with blu-tack. Putting the case under the desk instead of on it definitely helps :)

My noisyest machine (2)

MouseR (3264) | more than 12 years ago | (#115365)

... is my NeXT Cube.

It's got this old, clunky, 5" 400Meg drive that makes you feel it's based on some V8 engine.

Meanwhile, it's fan is big and blows a lor of hair through the machine's thin air intake and exit vents.

When I shut this machine down, it feels like the house's thermopump shuts down.

It's been said before, but I'll reiterate, because you'll never realize how much this is true until it's the only machine running in your house. Those iMacs are REALLY silent.

Karma karma karma karma karmeleon: it comes and goes, it comes and goes.

Aaaahhhh.... Java Hell ! (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 12 years ago | (#115366)



Have you guys gone to that site - http://www.ocshoot.com/quietpc.htm - ?

I used my old laptop trying to get to the site, it crashed my opera browser, then my old netscape browser came up with bunch of java script.

So... I had to go back to the office and use the office Windoze machine, power up the M$-IE, and the page load successfully.

Sometimes, I hope that Slashdot will STOP advertise sites that comes with TONS AND TONS of JAVA shits.

What's the use of Java when it crashes browsers?

Re:Silent and Quiet? (2)

unitron (5733) | more than 12 years ago | (#115367)

"There are room for two 60mm fans..."

If I were you I wouldn't expect much from these guys in the way of well-coded English.

Re:he cant here you comment either (3)

unitron (5733) | more than 12 years ago | (#115369)

Does the Cube have a little trap door in the bottom so that you can clean out the bread crumbs?

Silent and Quiet? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 12 years ago | (#115371)

we built a very silent ( not quiet -but ultra silent) How do you build a 'very silent' machine? Silence is the absence of noise. How do you have nothing and then a lot of nothing?

Second, how can something not be quiet (little or no noise) but be ultra silent (again, not just the absence of noise, but an ultra absence of noise)?.
---
seumas.com

Re:what a waste (1)

PD (9577) | more than 12 years ago | (#115374)

It's the default. The only time that you would NOT want to hit the button to score +1 would be when you are making a particularly useless comment. This is NOT the norm, because if it was, the button would ADD the +1 score.

Obviously, because the +1 score is the default, the vast majority of articles should be posted at +1 unless there's a REALLY GOOD REASON.

This is so obvious I am amazed that I actually have to explain the wisdom of this approach to someone.

(can you tell this is some sarchasm? I'd like to see Taco change the default to post at 1 all the time, and only at 2 if you check the button.)

P.S. I'm posting this one at 2, as a protest against something or other.

Re:60 deg C. for the HD... (2)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 12 years ago | (#115375)

It was silly too, because they could have used some thermal gel to reduce the vibration of the drive against the plates and some rubber washers between the plates and the bays to reduce the vibration being passed through to the case.

I also can't believe they bought a case you could see through only to insulate it at the end.

--

My Solution (2)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 12 years ago | (#115376)

I have a Sharp Actius 150 ultralight portable. It has no fan. The only noise you get from it is a tiny little sound when the hard drive's spinning (about equal to the sound of my VCR recording, maybe quieter). When that powers down it goes silent.

It does have a bit of a heat problem. In warm weather, if the air isn't moving, a few hours of 100% CPU usage will overheat it, but when the days get warm I shut down D.Net and turn on CPUidle.

--

Re:Two other approaches (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 12 years ago | (#115377)

Unfortunately, most of the noise isn't from pulsed explosions that can be reflected around to cancel themselves out or dampened through a matting. If most of the noise in your machine is from fans, a muffler might help some, but you'd have to use something like a Flowmaster [flowmastermufflers.com] to actually allow you to get decent airflow with quiet...

I like the idea of a double-insulated case with liquid cooling, though. :)

Re:12dB-16db that's low noise (3)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 12 years ago | (#115379)

You can build some very silent PC's with Cyrix processors

Nothing like a slower, hotter processor to quiet your machine down... I heat my house with Cyrix processors, 'cause they don't waste a lot of power doing actual computing and they put out gobs of heat. At least, that's true of the ones that I've used.

Silent and efficent servers/pc's (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 12 years ago | (#115380)

This is cool reaching for the silent pc, My I-opener is noisy as heck because of that fan I installed having to suck through RF cage and the plastic case. The great part of the iopener is that it uses 15 watts of power running. I leave it on all the time and never turn it off. (My main workstation draws 500watts+the 19 inch monitor and sever other power hungry prephrials... you can see the meter spin significantly faster with it on.) here's a delimma... I have a super cool audiotron, along with my iopener and other barely enough power to do the job computing devices.. How can I make a server that doesn't use gobs of power? I know laptop harddrives are probably a start, but what would be the absolute minimum in Processor power to serve SMB,DHCP,HTTPD,FTP,NFS, and a few other protocols for only about 5-9 machines? and in power I mean electricity used, I would love to have a 8 processor Xeon 1.2Ghz server sitting there using only 30 watts but that is impossible.... What is the highest processing power platform that uses the lowest electrical power out there? Note: there's a requirement that it exists in a motherboard+processor form (PC104 is acceptable!)

I strongly believe there is a real need for a home server, one that costs as little as possible to keep plugged in and running.... and silent. Unless you banish it to the utility room, then it can be as loud as a truck)

www.noisecontrol.de (2)

esnible (36716) | more than 12 years ago | (#115389)

Another source for quiet PC equipment is http://www.noisecontrol.de/. (Mostly in German).

In addition to the stuff you can get on quietpc.com they sell hard drive "enclosures" which hold the drives in rubber bands rather than actually enclosing them. (Probably doesn't help as much for noise, no cooling problem, some drives don't like being in a non-stiff environment.)

I have one of the tower cases as well. The case kit includes cork board cut to dampen the noise. The best part is the sliding door which lets you keep the CD-ROM behind cork but provides quick access when you need it.

If I had to do it again I would buy a heavier case and cut the cork board myself though.

you don't have it so bad... (2)

aaron.rowe (40518) | more than 12 years ago | (#115391)

AS others have reported before on this site I have found the Dell Optiplex systems to be the Quietest PC systems I've ever come across.

Unfortunately the quietness of the 15 machines we have in our office often goes unnappreciated.

I am a British ExPat working in Lagos, Nigeria. (largest population in Africa if you didn't know) and because of where we are we have to have powerful (2hp+) ACs on all day and because of the huge power supply problem here (almost as bad as California) we need to be running huge Backup Generators most of the time, and they sit just outside my window.

And don't forget the 6kVA UPS unit that sits proud and unmovable (damn things heavier than me) next to my desk whirring its fans to keep the batteries cool while keeping our server running almost 24/7.

What I need is real soundproof generator housing, a more regular mains power supply and then maybe get God to turn down the temperature a bit here so we can shut down some AC's. Then I will be happy.

That's my two naira over with.

try a spirit level (3)

aaron.rowe (40518) | more than 12 years ago | (#115392)

I found that my old CD-ROM drive made a dreadful noise as it spun up to speed.

What cured it was when I places a small spirit level on it and set the screws so that the drive was as level as possible and it became silent.

It seemed to perform better too.

he cant here you comment either (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 12 years ago | (#115395)

I'm the last person to nazi on spelling and grammar but for Taco I'll make an exception. Even in the "good old days" he would actually bother to read his own post before he put it on the front page. Oh and btw, the "silent PC" debate went out in the 80's. Get over it.

airconditioning? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 12 years ago | (#115396)

The aircon in my office is louder than the two pcs I have under my desk (and the other 2 pcs in the room, although the dorky one of my officemates turns his computer off at night). When the aircon turns off at night and the weekends it is really significant. You can turn it back on for two hours buy turning a timer switch but when the aircon actually turns off the pressure change is enough to wake you up (and is therefore pointless). More Office Livin' [biodome.org] tips.

Macs (1)

sometwo (53041) | more than 12 years ago | (#115398)

The imacs and soon-to-be-discontinued G4 cube are all fanless and nearly silent except for the hard drive. <sarcasm> And if you hug one (don't you just want to?) they are so warm and cuddly! </sarcasm> Hot enough to burn

Re:Nothing too interesting there (2)

Bilestoad (60385) | more than 12 years ago | (#115400)

Actually the Apple Cube is an example of how not to build a computer without a fan. If you dismantle one (as I did) you'll find a mount for an 80mm fan! It seems like it was designed with a fan in mind and then someone worked out that it would run without one - or else they hoped it would work without a fan but were prepared to be disappointed. I don't think they tested it well enough before release.

Now for the article - basically it sucked. The CPU cooler should have been a Noise Control "Silverado" - check out Tom's Hardware for a comparison showing absolutely silent operation using blower-type fans as well as excellent performance. You have to mail-order it from Germany but it is worth it. The Zalman coolers are cheaper, but very expensive for the performance they give!

Using a SilentDrive enclosure with a 7200RPM drive is a little risky, heat-wise. You can get equivalent results by mounting the hard drives using rubber grommets. Remove the metal-to-metal contact between the drive and the case and you'll be amazed at how much noise you don't hear. I had to make a custom drive cage to fit the grommets in. The drive chassis should still be earthed to the case however, using a wire.

Insulation does not give great improvement over a plain metal case. I went through using DynaMat Extreme for very little gain. Still, now I know.

My experience with the unmodified G4 450MHz Cube was that on warm days (it's only San Francisco!) the Cube would sometimes mysteriously freeze. Dismantling and adding a very quiet 80mm fan solved that problem. Apple almost got it right.

The biggest gains are to use larger diameter fans that run slower (Panaflo L1A series), unobstructed air paths (stamped fan grilles should be cut out!) and rubber-mounted drives (in that order).

Re:DIY quiet fans (1)

epine (68316) | more than 12 years ago | (#115406)


Don't do that unless you have a good sense of smell. PC fans aren't guaranteed to start up below 7 to 9 volts. One day it just won't start.


If you're really desperate, get a fan rated to start at 7 volts and regulate the 12V supply down to 7.5 volts with a $2 regulator or a bunch of small diodes.

G450 versus Radeon DDR (2)

epine (68316) | more than 12 years ago | (#115407)

I built three relatively silent systems. One was a dual PIII/750, one was a Celeron, one was a 1GHz Athlon. The two big systems are under my desk. One has been running with the side off for the past week. Together they make about as much noise as someone blowing out the candles on a birthday cake. I can't hear either hard drive operating.

I used Papst fans, Enermax FC power supplies, Fujitsu FDB hard drives, rubber gromets to mount the hard drives, and a few bits of sound absorbing foam. Actually, the Celeron had the noisiet parts so we glued half a dozen expired mouse pads to the inside of the case, black foamy side up. Very effective.

It's really worth the trouble. My patience for technical writing has more than doubled since I eliminated the droning noises. I used to play Quake just to drown out the background noise.

What bugged me about the review was the comments on the the G450. I use a G450 in the dual PIII/750 system. I had a Radeon 32MB DDR in the 1G Athlon (KT7A-RAID).

We used to play network Quake at home. I played on the G450, my brother on the Radeon DDR. I set my system to 16 bit color, lowered the texture detail slightly (which I didn't give a damn about), and stuck to a lower screen resolution (either 800x600 or 640x480 depending on how I was feeling).

My brother set the Radeon DDR to 32 bit color. 16 bit color on that card is very ugly and not much faster. He was probably one screen resolution up from me. His frame rate averaged about 30% faster. Did it make any difference?

Well, we finally decided that the G450 was more playable. (I didn't have SMP enabled, so it wasn't due to CPU power.) The 16 color on the Matrox was at least as saturated as the Radeon in 32 bit color. It was hard to get a gamma curve on the Radeon which didn't cause the image to have a slightly washed color tone. You could almost get it perfect, but the dark parts would be just a bit too dark.

On the G450 it was trivial to get excellent color and gamma.

With tons of bots on the map, the Radeon was definitely a bit more brisk. However, the Radeon was *much* more sensitive to the complexity of the map. You'd be cruising along at 60fps or better then hit a bad part of the map and plunge down to 20 fps momentarily. The Matrox hummed along at 45 fps all day long, unless you had ten bots in the same room, then it would taper off maybe down to 30 fps.

The G450 is far more playable than the numbers suggest. I could see the map just as well at my curtailed settings as my brother could with more colors and more pixels.

My playing style is somewhat Gretzky-like. I can run into a crowded room and just know where everyone else is almost all of the time. You can tell where the guy behind you is going by how the guy in front of you moves. I'm a lousy player against people who never miss. For everyone else, I'm mayhem in motion. If I want to shoot someone 90 degrees to my left I usually do a dead spin 270 degrees to my right (so I can see enough of the room to pick up my next three targets). I don't shoot at people, I shoot at places I don't want people to go. I had no trouble at all playing this style with a G450 and I even preferred it in many ways to a Radeon DDR on a faster processor, with faster memory.

It takes a lot of gall to call the G450 a crappy card. It's kind of like an amateur golfer who decides his scores are bad because his equipment sucks.

One way to make your system quiet... (2)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 12 years ago | (#115409)

My system used to drive me crazy, making tons of noise, and basically just annoying me.

I was losing sleep, and I was losing my mind.

Then, I discovered the secret to a quieter, less annoying system.

Not only did I manage to silence my system, I also managed to get rid of all of the annoyance generally associated with being in front of it. My whole quality of living has changed because of one thing.

I turned it off.

"Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"

DIY quiet fans (3)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 12 years ago | (#115410)

I modified one of my PCs so that all the fans run 100% silent by setting them to 5V instead of 12V. On fans that plug into the 4-prong power connectors, swap the red and yellow wires. Red=+5V, Yellow=+12V. This makes them run slower and push less air, but they are totall silent. If more cooling is needed, add an additional case fan or slot fan (be sure to set it to 5V too)

Re:Quiet Macs (3)

Eil (82413) | more than 12 years ago | (#115412)


While I like the idea of the Cube very much (except the fact that it's actually shaped like a cube), it had numerous flaws resulting from that design. If I were ever to have one given to me (or bought at an insanely low price), the most important modification for me would be to hack a fan into the top hole.

Why? Well I was checking one out at CompUSA and remembered several tales about people waving their hand across the hole and watching the machine crash instantly. So I swiped my hand across the hole, watched nothing happen, and started to walk away. When I looked over my shoulder, sure enough, the thing was rebooting...

Re:What about the DIYers? (1)

gbell (84505) | more than 12 years ago | (#115413)

Here's a DIY project that helps immensely with HD noise.

Build a cradle for your HD out of semi-stiff foam. Make sure to allow PLENTY of airflow - mine consists of two square U-shaped pieces. The HD sits in the dip of the U's.

What this does is hold your HD without your HD being screwed to the drive bay. The drive's vibration are decoupled from the case. You can't toss your box around anymore, but build it right and it'll hold the drive fairly securely.

Of course, this only works for the modern drives that are smaller than the 5.25" bays.

Three more tips (3)

gbell (84505) | more than 12 years ago | (#115414)

I haven't seen my three favorite solutions mentioned:

1) Many Maxtor drives have "SilentStor". My DiamondMax 2160 (30G/5400 RPM) is amazing... I can't even tell the thing's on, even when its accessing.

2) The ThermalTake Volcano II (DU0462-7) from the CoolerGuys.com is really quiet. Not gimmicky like the "Orb".

3) (Experimental) Why doesn't someone use a larger, slower spinning fan air ducted to the CPU? The main reason CPU fans are so noisy is that they have to spin faster to get the same airflow for their size.

Box in the other room... (3)

BierGuzzl (92635) | more than 12 years ago | (#115416)

Just put a keyboard, mouse, and LCD screen in front of you, with the case and whatnot in another room. Granted, it becomes prohibitively expensive and functionally impracticle if you're going to have to run it for a longer distance, but if you're just going through the wall to the next room, this solution works really well.

Other Great Articles and Sites. (1)

meekjt (94667) | more than 12 years ago | (#115418)

Here is a great place to buy quiet components: www.quietpc.com [quietpc.com]

A very long and informative site on quiet PC's: home.swipnet.se/tr/silence.html [swipnet.se]

I have been trying to make my computer silent for about two years now. It is still not quiet enought to keep on at night in my bedroom. I'll keep trying though.

Re:Nothing too interesting there (1)

tve (95573) | more than 12 years ago | (#115419)

I did some reading on the Koolance system last time it came along on slashdot and it looks really great... except for one thing:

IIRC they mentioned somewhere on their site that the reservoir needs refilling after five years. Since I want my new system to be serving webpages or acting as a firewall after it's been replaced by a newer desktopbox this is really an issue for me: Five years is a long time and I don't want to be reliant on Koolance for spare parts in five years.

Can't seem to find this on their site anymore though. In fact:

10) Q: Will the liquid ever leak, or need replacement? A: As you can see from our product page, every care has been made to seal the component connections permanently. We have tested multiple configurations and methods, and are quite confident in the present design. If you suspect a leak, please contact your local Koolance distributor for service.

So they might have made it more relyable or perhaps they've done more testing and are more confident in their design now.

Re:Nothing too interesting there (5)

VAXman (96870) | more than 12 years ago | (#115420)

Underclocking. If you don't need a tip-top performance PC, reducing the CPU clock speed cuts down on heat. If you underclock far enough you don't even need separate CPU cooling at all. Same goes for graphics cards and, to a lesser extent, motherboard chipsets.

Don't do this! All modern microprocessors are designed with dynamic circuits which are very timing dependent. In general, processors cannot be underclocked reliably. The Pentium 4, for example, will not run reliably under about 1.2 GHz or will have problems with the L2 cache. It is safe if you run a particular processor at a lower speed bin, but definitely don't run it at a speed where it's not sold at. Additionally, typically not all bus ratios are validated. There might be bugs a different clock ratios, even lower ones than what is sold (changing the bus ratio radically changes timing conditions possible in the processor, and some bugs are only visible at certain ratios). Also, underclocking the bus is problematic also. High speed RAM is also timing sensitive and could cause corruption if underclocked.

For music.... (1)

Sarin (112173) | more than 12 years ago | (#115424)

I'm from Europe.. Finally i got my case today! i got the latest liquid cooled koolance case to store my new studio computer in, I drove about 2 hours to get it. My first impression was I was wondering why they didn't cool the power supply andwhy I found myself stranded without a video cooling system on my dual "slot 370" cooling system. I connected everything and I must say this is the case you should go for, eventhough the powersupply had a normal cooling system it still sounded like, like nothing only the air going past your ear. So the koolance case would be #1.
I'm going to use my computer as a studiosystem that means I am going to wait for the maxor drives (5 weeks left) they are not going to produce a irritating noize, if you cannot wait go for the deskstars (from ibm).
Maybe it's going to be difficult to understand; my next machine is an ultraquied 160 gb 2x 1 gighz pIII with 1 Gigabyte of ram for less than $2500 (endprice in europe, even cheaper in us I guess).

Re:CD players are bad (2)

autechre (121980) | more than 12 years ago | (#115427)


/sbin/hdparm -E will set the read speed of an ATAPI (IDE interface) CD-ROM.

Sotto la panca, la capra crepa

Re:More Tips (1)

havardi (122062) | more than 12 years ago | (#115428)

The 5Watt pots are about $3 each at radioshack.com.... not expensive at all really. Not sure what zener diodes are, but the pots are nice because you can mount them in a moment to the back of the case so you can adjust the fan speed whenever you want.

More Tips (5)

havardi (122062) | more than 12 years ago | (#115429)

Get a sheet of "Sound Board" from any Home Depot for about 6 bucks. This material is very easily cut.. use a hot glue gun to mount the board to every wall in your case. the sheet metal is not the best sound absorber by itself.
Next, go to your local Radioshack.com (Fry's electronics sucked) and pick up some potentiometers. Get 5W, 50ohm. Splice these into your case fan/cput fan, only using the positive wire only. (use the middle and left OR right connection only on the pots).
This will deaden any PC quite well.. without special equipment. I have an MC462 W/ Delta cpu fan. 80mm, and 120mm case fans. the pots let me quiet it down even more... while sacrificing a little cooling ability. (at least I can sleep at night now. . .)

CD players are bad (4)

jeroenb (125404) | more than 12 years ago | (#115430)

Sleeping approximately 3 feet from my main workstation I've been building silent systems for a while now (about every two years for the past eight) and I've recently built a new one. What surprised me is that the IBM Deskstar 7200RPM disk is actually quite silent and getting quiet fans and power supplies is a lot easier these days too. Combined with a decent case it's pretty simple to build a silent system without modifying things.

The only thing that irritates me is CD/DVD players. I have this 40x speed AOpen DVD player and when it's reading a disc it's really noisy. I've tried a couple of others and they're practically all the same. Anyone know of an internal DVD player that's silent?

Silent cabinets (4)

odie_q (130040) | more than 12 years ago | (#115432)

A friend of mine was able to get hold of five silencing cabinets that had been used at a library. These cabinets cost us 50 swedish crowns (~5 USD) each, and are very effective. I have one of these in my bedroom holding my open-case, twin PSU, six disk monster of a server, and the only sound that can be heard is the very soft hum of the cabinet exhaust fan, to which I have fitted a switch for lowering the speed (and thus noise level) at night.

Now even if your not as lucky as we were, you needn't dispair. The construction is fairly simple, and should be easy enough to replicate on your own, to a much lower price than a low-noise PC. Next time you get a chance, give one of these cabinets a closer look and take a few notes.

12dB-16db that's low noise (1)

esbjerg (130970) | more than 12 years ago | (#115433)

I can only recommend www.noise-control.de [noise-control.de] together with Fujitsu silentdrives.
Don't go for Athlon but something less powerconsuming and more heat tolerant.
- You can build some very silent PC's with Cyrix processors.

my housemate made one... (1)

goss (136281) | more than 12 years ago | (#115435)

He just ripped out all the fans and used a cardbox box around the HD :) Sure, it gets a bit warm, but with an older PC (it's an intel pentium from a few years back) it kicks along just fine - no burnouts yet.

remember the macs? (3)

Bad_CRC (137146) | more than 12 years ago | (#115437)

I remember starting out on the old slimline macs which had no fans, they were of course completely silent, when I used my first PC, I couldn't imagine why it was so loud.

Of course, like many people, now I run my PC with 6 fans, 3 loud hard drives, and with the case cover off, so I'm more than used to a little noise.

________

Re:remember the Amiga? (1)

Janon (137970) | more than 12 years ago | (#115438)

I've never owned an Amiga, but I still have an Atari TT. That's one noisy machine. It sounds sort of like a small vacuum cleaner. Not very pleasant to work with. Seems like atari thought that the more high-end the machine was, the more noise it had to make. I mean, there cannot be a more quiet machine than my ST.

Re:DIY quiet fans (3)

zsazsa (141679) | more than 12 years ago | (#115440)

I've had a lot of 12V fans that won't work at 5V. Something to do instead is use the difference between the +12V and +5V lines to get 7V. Instead of swapping the red and yellow wires, swap the black ground wire that the fan uses with the red +5V line. 7V should be enough to run the fan and still bring down the RPMs enough to quiet things down a bit.

Ian

But, but... (4)

starseeker (141897) | more than 12 years ago | (#115441)

But they told me the chicks go crazy for the big roar of the high powered fans cooling a majorly overclocked CPU!

Oh, wait, that's cars, isn't it. No wonder I can't get any dates.

Re:CD players are bad (2)

AntiNorm (155641) | more than 12 years ago | (#115448)

I assume you mean you want a drive that's quiet when playing DVD movies, as all drives will be noisy reading data CD/DVDs at full speed

Reminds me of the 40x drive I used to have (I don't remember which brand it was). At low speeds, it was okay, but at full speed, it sounded like a jet taking off.

---
DOOR!!

Re:Silent and Quiet? (2)

b0r1s (170449) | more than 12 years ago | (#115451)

If you're going to complain, look to taco first:

Utilizing low noise power supplies, cases with good ventilation, and noise enclosures for hard drives, you can actually here you stereo over your PC again.

HEAR. Rob, it's spelled h e a r.

That is all.

Yes, silent PC's are cool (2)

danheskett (178529) | more than 12 years ago | (#115452)

I built my own handy dandy Silent PC a while back - its just a AMD k6/2-550 with a heatsink (no fan), a 100W power-supply, a 64 MB Solid-State Disk, and 128 MB of RAM. After throwing it in a slimline case, hacking in a decent NIC, and rigging up a nice little on screen display/volume control it was handy. Runs MP3's and my moive.. umm..trailer.. collection *great* from my fileserver (located of course, in the depths of the closet).

The days of nasty-ass loud disgusting PCs are numbered. I can't wait to see the last 30 dB monster drowned in the bath tub like an obnoxious eight-year old.

Re:remember the Amiga? (2)

Mogrol (180675) | more than 12 years ago | (#115454)

Everytime somebody mentions silent PC:s ppl write about how silent the Macs were but nobody seem to remember that the Amiga computers were very silent too. Sure, with the Amiga 1200, 2000, 3000 and 4000 1200 you had harddrives but thease never made much of a noice.

Re:No PC is a quiet PC.... (2)

boaworm (180781) | more than 12 years ago | (#115455)

Or just buy yourself a Sunray-1 configuration from Sun Microsystems. Put the server in the closet and run all your programs completely silent.

Too bad Sun isnt famous for their low prices :-/

What about the DIYers? (5)

doorbot.com (184378) | more than 12 years ago | (#115457)

I ran through this article (basically looked at the pictures) and everything, except the insulation installed at the end, was a commercial product. Not that I have a problem with that, but often buying a lot of commerical "silent PC" solutions can add up to a very expensive PC, money which might have otherwise been invested in a more powerful computer.

Why this article is linked to via Slashdot, I'll never know, as I get the impression that the majority of the Slashdot crowd would rather have an extensive DIY article with links afterwords to the commercial products (for those who want to pay for the convenience of not DIY).

---

I do have the Antec 1080 and it is very quiet. The case is large, though, so sound will echo if you don't add some insulation or what not. I did find the included Antec power supply was very quiet, so quiet I was surprised when I first turned the machine on. With some 80mm (the article erroneously says they fan mounts are 60mm) Panaflos you can get very good airflow with low noise. My current acoustical problems come from my old Seagate Barracuda SCSI drives, which are unavoidably loud.

---

I got my case from Directron [directron.com] and the Panaflos from Teamawe [teamawe.com].

Re:the way i have it in my house (1)

Ando[evilmedic] (199537) | more than 12 years ago | (#115460)

I envy you.

I'm in a semi, which means (just in case they don't exist outside of Canada) that it's a very large house split in half, each half mirror opposites. Therefore, I can not have loud music blasting all day, or have my speakers up while playing CS, etc, etc because this tends to incite violence from the neighbors next door.

I feel deprived. Sigh.

- Ando
You are the weakest link, goodbye.

The QuietPC stuff is wonderful (1)

groomed (202061) | more than 12 years ago | (#115462)

I've been using the QuietPC stuff for about a year now (CPU cooler, 300W power supply, and SilentDrive enclosures) in a dual PIII Linux system, and I've got to say that it works miracles.

What's especially great about this stuff is not just how it reduces the loudness, but how it also changes the kind of noise that your machine makes into a much smoother and rounder sound. It's a bit as if you're listening through a low-pass filter.

Some of this nice "dampening" disappears as the hardware ages though.

No PC is a quiet PC.... (2)

jjsjeff (210138) | more than 12 years ago | (#115467)

Just run a terminal with X over the network. No hard drive necessary. You can have a smaller (less noisy) power supply also.

Just a thought...

-Jeff

Re:If you want a quiet computer... (3)

agentZ (210674) | more than 12 years ago | (#115468)

Are you kidding? With three voices each capable of four waveforms across several octaves, sound was one of the major features of the Commodore 64! (And I should know, I still have one. No reasonable offer refused!)

60 deg C. for the HD... (5)

willy_me (212994) | more than 12 years ago | (#115470)

The hard drive might run quietly but it won't last. I've worked on several "servers" made from cheap PC cases but upgraded to SCSI drives and they just don't last. The cases aren't built for it and they get too hot. I remember one server, after 8 months I did a hardware upgrade (added a wireless card) and the hard drive wouldn't spin up again. And that wasn't the only time I've had a hard drive refuse to spin up after under a year of use.

The moral of the story - the cooler you keep your hard drive the longer it will last. That's why server cases put fans over the hard drives. The Apple G3/G4 pro cases also circulate air around the hard drives. Putting your hard drive in a "quiet" case and then removing it's one source of cooling is just plain stupid. They'll learn in time..

Willy

Re:If you want a quiet computer... (1)

while (213516) | more than 12 years ago | (#115471)

See underclocking.

I occasionally have to unit test with 400MHz G4 "tower". Now Apple and Adobe can benchmarket Photoshop as much as they want to, but the MHz gap is a huge problem. There are no 1.4 GHz G4's, and from what I've seen, I'm beginning to wonder if the G4 reaches performance parity per MHz, let alone the superiority they claim.

This was on a Mac with OS 9 -- I don't even want to imagine how bad things get with X.

(end comment) */ }

Powersupply (3)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 12 years ago | (#115473)

It's always a good thing to take a look at the powersupply. I have a couple of different midi sized towers. The ones that I have found to the least noisy, are the ones where the fan are placed inside the powersupply close to the CPU rather than just inside the back where you can see them from the outside of the cabinet.

--------

the way i have it in my house (4)

unformed (225214) | more than 12 years ago | (#115476)

i have a stero hooked up to my soundcard, and i've got a set of mp3s constantly playing.

with the volume set to maximum, i can't hear the computer at all.

granted, i can't hear the phone or the doorbell either, but, hey i've gotta make sacrifices...

on the other hand, i quietpc would be really useful to make an all-in-one audio/video component.

for between 500-1000 you can easily make a machine that can replace a 100-disc changer (using high quality mp3s, ogg, or whatever), a video player (not only DVDs, but any movie format, as long as you have the codec), a tv recorder (using a tv-in card), a DSS satellite system (*nix hack released a few weeks ago), all without any development at all. With software development, you can make nearly anything, especially since the hardware interfaces to various other mediums have already been developed (optical audio, tv-out, infrared remotes, etc...)

Re:Watercooling really works.... (1)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 12 years ago | (#115478)

Sorry for not being clear.... the Jaz, zip, and CD-RW were SCSI-II - and he wanted to swap things within the studio. He wanted the box itself in the room, just as quiet as possible. Go figure.

Watercooling really works.... (5)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 12 years ago | (#115480)

I was lucky enough to build an audio workstation for a friend of mine. The box needed to be very quiet - but due to SCSI length limits, I could not just run a KVM switch through the wall. I'd done a little watercooling of my own for the CPU, but koolance [koolance.com] gave me some great ideas for cooling off things like HDDs & power supplies. Last I checked, koolance won't sell you a PS or HHD cooler alone, but they are not too hard to build if you have access to some simple milling equipment.

Anyhow, I got waterblocks for anything running hot and ran waterlines to another room for cooling. As long as the water is near room temp, you really don't have cond. issues...

Water cooling is just like building a PC for the first time. Use care... once you've done it once or twice, you wonder why everyone does not do it. Happy hacking.

Re:CD players are bad (1)

scottnews (237707) | more than 12 years ago | (#115482)

Most of the new CDR drives are quiet, since they have lower spin speeds.

I've been using a Teac 4x4x32 for 9 months now for writing and reading. Its quiet.

Maximum PC (1)

Beowulf_Boy (239340) | more than 12 years ago | (#115483)

I saw an article in a Maximum PC a few months ago on how to build a silent PC.
They got a computer down from 47db to 34.6db
They used a Fujitsu HD, powerman PS, and a PC power and cooling silencer fan.
You might be able to find something on there website.

Re:Maximum PC (1)

Beowulf_Boy (239340) | more than 12 years ago | (#115484)

Oops, I forgot to add, put your PC under your desk. I have a p2 400 with a IBM deskstar (actually, a pretty quite HD) and the loudest CPU fan in the world.
Do everything in the world to make it so you don't need fans. I mounted my HD in a 5-1/4" Bay so it would have airspace, instead of mounting them in a smaller bay with a fan.

Re:More Tips (1)

morpheus800e (245254) | more than 12 years ago | (#115487)

Would it be possible/feasible to make something attached to the fan leads to adjust their speed or make them turn off and on depending on the temperature? I have seen window fans and the like equipped with thermostats, so why not computer fans?

This is an interesting trend. (2)

megaduck (250895) | more than 12 years ago | (#115490)

It used to be that speed was everything in a computer. If that meant stuffing your case full of noisy fans, so be it. Now that computers are way faster than we really need them to be, people's priorities for their boxen are changing.

I was able to buy a G4 Cube recently because I don't really NEED more than 450 mhz right now. It was more important to me that my box was small, sleek, and silent (no fans! w00t!). I think in the future we can expect a lot more computers being easier to live with rather than being performance beasts.

Re:CD players are bad (1)

Whatever Fits (262060) | more than 12 years ago | (#115492)

My Kenwood drive doesn't actually speed up to the 52x, it uses a laser split into 7 beams so it spins at 1/7th the speed it would otherwise need to in order to get the same speed. This really cuts down on the noise. It has some head noise, but the spin noise is REALLY quiet. I really enjoy that. I also have some generic DVD drive that seems fairly quiet. I just really love my Kenwood.

off the self computers (1)

blkros (304521) | more than 12 years ago | (#115496)

My 2 gateway's run so quietly that I can here the stepkids gameboys in the next room. One has a 733 Celeron with 3 fans, the other is a 233 Celeron, and has 2 fans. The noisiest part is the hard drive on the slower one. How do other off the shelf consumer products stack up here? Mine is silent,but it doesn't make enough noise to bother me. So what gives?

Also, this could be a plus: (1)

maalox (305549) | more than 12 years ago | (#115497)

Not sure if this was already mentioned on /., but: http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/14719 A silent hard drive would certainly be useful for such a project =)

I've never even heard my PC (2)

freeweed (309734) | more than 12 years ago | (#115498)

I mean, really. What the hell else do people do with their multi-gig mp3 collections but LISTEN to them? :)

Also, I'm not a geek enough yet to keep my computer in my bedroom. Sheesh.

Antec Case? (1)

phantumstranger (310589) | more than 12 years ago | (#115499)

I'm just wondering but the article says,

"Microplex sent us a Chieftec DX01W fulltower for the project - this cabinet is a high quality very solid fulltower with several smart solutions." Now, I know I may be a little off but isn't that the Antec SX10 Series [antec-inc.com] that I own?

This is not news (4)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 12 years ago | (#115501)

My Timex/Sinclair ZX81 has made zero noise since 1982. Moreover, the flat membrane keyboard makes less noise than any keyboard on the market today. It still works, too.

Does anyone have a URL for the NetBSD port?

Nothing too interesting there (5)

koreth (409849) | more than 12 years ago | (#115502)

That article had nothing new to say, and what's more, some of their approaches aren't state-of-the-art in silent computing. Some of the technologies and approaches they didn't touch on:
  • Liquid cooling. The Koolance [koolance.com] and CALM System [cnssystem.com] cases are the obvious examples, but for higher cooling capacity other folks have built liquid-cooling solutions that require few or no fans. (Pump noise is easier to deal with since you can enclose a pump in an airtight space.)
  • External fans. Essentially, this approach is "don't eliminate fan noise, just put it somewhere else." An air duct or tube runs to the PC, and at the other end, possibly off in some entirely different room, is the fan.
  • Fanless power supply. There are (generally fairly low-wattage) power supplies that dissipate their heat by convection. Typically you'd use one in a case where it's practical to cut or drill holes above the PS. I've seen talk, though not examples, of people putting two of these into one PC to get around the limited wattage; no idea if that'd be practical.
  • High-wattage power supply. Get a 550W power supply with a temperature-regulated fan to power your low-wattage PC. The fan will tend to run at low speed since you won't be running anywhere close to capacity.
  • Voltage reduction on fans. This works equally well for case fans, CPU fans, power supply fans, etc. The typical quick-and-dirty technique, though it's not ideal, is to splice in the 5V lead in place of the ground, effectively reducing fan voltage to 7V (assuming it was a 12V fan). The fan will spin more slowly, generating less noise.
  • Underclocking. If you don't need a tip-top performance PC, reducing the CPU clock speed cuts down on heat. If you underclock far enough you don't even need separate CPU cooling at all. Same goes for graphics cards and, to a lesser extent, motherboard chipsets.

Just to name a few. And of course you typically want a low-RPM hard disk (though the new quiet Seagate drive sounds promising), low-rotation CD-ROM drive (use a drive with Zen's TrueX multibeam technology and you'll still have fast reads), etc.

Apple's iMac Cube is proof that it's possible to build a computer with no fans whatsoever. Hopefully it's a harbinger of things to come.

Re:he cant here you comment either (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 12 years ago | (#115503)

Oh and btw, the "silent PC" debate went out in the 80's. Get over it.

Yeah, it was over in 1984 when a silent PC was released and the problem was solved. They called it:

Macintosh.

If you want a silent PC, go get yourself a nice iMac or Cube.

Re:Where does all this noise come from? (3)

foonf (447461) | more than 12 years ago | (#115504)

Actually it isn't always fans. I built a PC recently in a smallish NLX enclosure. I use a large passive heatsink, so there isn't any CPU fan, and there aren't any case fans, so the only fan is in the power supply. Testing out the motherboard with out any drives attached, I noticed the power supply was very quiet. The source of most of the noise? The hard drive. That hard-drive noise reducer detailed on that site could be a very good solution. Too bad I don't have any free 5 1/4" drive bays.

Re:Watercooling really works.... (1)

Ratbert42 (452340) | more than 12 years ago | (#115507)

... but due to SCSI length limits, I could not just run a KVM switch through the wall.

Ok, I give up. Where'd you find a SCSI keyboard, monitor or mouse?

Re:Watercooling really works.... (1)

moncyb (456490) | more than 12 years ago | (#115512)

Could you give us some ideas of where to buy the parts for the cooling system? Also what you normally use? What are waterblocks? Some sort of plumbing equipment? My computer seems to run hot even with three fans...maybe a water colling system is what I need. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Two other approaches (2)

4thAce (456825) | more than 12 years ago | (#115513)

Interesting, but nothing terrribly unexpected in the article.

If one wanted to be a little more adventurous, I think it should be possible to drop the noise level with mufflers, the same way they do it with vehicles?.First cut the vibration down by double-casing the unit with shocks in between the inner and outer enclosure, then deaden the sound from the fans by putting baffles in there.

Alternatively, you could drop the temperature of the ambient intake air so that less would be needed to cool the CPU and drives. Perhaps a chilled-water heat exchanger construction would suit.

Silent PC? How am I supposed to sleep? (4)

flewp (458359) | more than 12 years ago | (#115514)

I find the noise of my pc helps me to sleep when I'm laying in bed. Maybe because it might just be weird without it after all these years with it on. The noises my pc makes too sometimes help me realise it's actually doing something.

If you want a quiet computer... (5)

Tuxinatorium (463682) | more than 12 years ago | (#115517)

Get an iMac. They are very quiet, because they don't have fans. iMacs use convective cooling.

Re:More Tips (2)

sbalneav (464064) | more than 12 years ago | (#115518)

Rather than a 5 Watt pot (which is going to be a bit expensive) use a zener diode. I've had very good results with zeners in the range of 7-8 volts. You can pick up 10 of them for about 3 bucks. I've modified several of the LTSP [ltsp.org] terminals we use where I work, and they do the job nicely. Scott

Noise Cancellation (1)

mathdemigod (464074) | more than 12 years ago | (#115519)

I would like to see someone incorporate active (interference based) noise cancelation technologies in their box. You could mount that as a hard drive and then transfer it to whatever box you were currently using. For a few hundred dollars one time I think that would be worthwhile.
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