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Quiet pc's, are they a good idea?

  1. Apr 7, 2008 #1
    A problem with pc's is noise. One solution is slower CPU's made with today's chip technology so they need no cooling fans. Coupled with power supply fans designed for minimum noise.

    But someone suggested converting any high-spec contemporary PC into a very quiet one by replacing the power supply and the CPU and GPU cooling fans with liquid-cooled versions, for 300 euros.

    Is that a good idea? Is it safe? Does it last?

    Also heard about huge copper coolers that remove heat without any moving parts, by conduction alone.

    Are these a good idea? Can they cope with high-spec PC's today? Are they more expensive than liquid cooling?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2008 #2
    A sufficiently cooled PC doesn't necessarily have to be a loud one. A fine balance between quietness and cooling can be achieved. If you're not into hardcore 3D graphics and gaming then you can purchase an efficient heat sink and fan for your CPU that won't output a lot of noise. ThermalTake makes some good sets

    Couple that with at least one rear case fan and you will have a nice quit PC with good cooling. Information about your hardware might be good to provide, so that i have an idea of how much heat your CPU dissipates as well as your video card. Liquid cooling is efficient but risky and can be expensive. If your CPU is getting a lot of work sent to it, i would stay away from stand alone copper conduction.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2008
  4. Apr 7, 2008 #3
    Water cooling can be much better than air cooling, however it is expensive and has it's risks...you know water and electronics together.

    The idea of using less powerful CPU's is all good but at the end of the day the processor you need is dictated by the performance you want your computer to have.

    Your saying PC's are noisy, I have a Mac book pro with a 2.4GHz dual core Intel CPU... it is silent unless you push it i.e. playing a game on it for example. There is alot to be said for good case/heat sink design....and good quiet fans.
  5. Apr 7, 2008 #4
    There's a few bases to touch on, so i'll try to cover them as best I can. (Please excuse my ADD:biggrin:)

    For the most part with liquid cooling, it comes down to practicality. The primary purpose of liquid cooling is to cool processors that would typically run outside of their recommended operating temp; ie, overclocked processors. There are quite a few typical fin and fan coolers on the market now that can cope with a decent amount of heat from overclocking (Thermalright, Noctua, Scythe, ect), but even they have their limits and can only transfer so much heat. That's where liquid cooling steps in.

    Liquid cooling becomes a viable option when typical cooling methods become impractical due to the excessive noise produced by fans that have to spin at high RPMs, just to be effective. If your components are not producing an excessive amount of heat, there's really no need to move to liquid cooling as there is most likely a typical cooler on the market that can handle your heat output without being noisy.

    Liquid cooling systems can be pretty cumbersome; You have to monitor the coolant level to make sure you don't run low, depending on you reservoir size it may have to be mounted outside the case. If mounted inside the case you immediately limit your reservoir size and therefore the heat load that the system can handle... the system will become heat saturated sooner. That's why with the water cooling systems i've built I always run an external reservoir (3-5 liters). It makes for easier filling when low as opposed to if mounted inside where you will have to remove the case cover every time you need to check the level and fill. You also have to make sure that the case you are using has room inside for the coolant tubing to route. Most high-end PC cases ($) now have provisions on the back of the case for the tubing to route through. If your's doesn't have these, you will have to cut holes for these tubes (if the reservoir is mounted outside).

    Airflow. When it comes to airflow, liquid cooling can sometimes be a double edged sword. When you eliminate all the fans (assuming you go with low RPM, ultra quiet case fans) you severely limit the overall airflow within the case. That's when you notice that your system/case temperatures start to exceed that of the CPU which isn't good for the northbridge, southbridge, RAM, CPU, capacitors, ect, and since the northbridge is THE main player with overclocking, eliminating the CPU fan and heatsoaking it could actually make you hit yet another wall when trying to push the system bus speed. Your CPU fan typically provides enough airflow to cool the northbridge. You can solve that problem by purchasing a northbridge liquid block and just add it to the loop.

    I personally haven't used any of the passive coolers out there, but they do look like viable options for systems running at factory spec speeds, if not in hot environments. The last thing I would do is try to push a 'passive system'. Temperatures can rise VERY quickly without proper airflow. So far THE best fans I have found are Noctua fans. They provide the most amount of airflow at low RPMs than any other fan currently on the market. Near silent operation... at a cost of around $20-22 US dollars per 120cm fan. I've experimented with almost every fan out there and when I plugged my first Noctua in, I fell in love... though they are quite ugly.

    All in all, it's a balance between performance and practicalty. If your not pushing the system for maximum overclocked performance, save yourself some time, hassle and money and just stick with a quiet CPU cooler and thrown in a couple of large diameter/low RPM case fans. Large fans produce greater airflow per RPM vs smaller fans allowing them to run at lower RPMs and still provide sufficient airflow.

    If you have any other questions, just ask. I'm not sure if I covered everything since I just woke up.

  6. Apr 7, 2008 #5
    Thanks. I get the impression most of the noise in my old pc comes from the power supply. Has anyone found a super-quiet power supply?

    Can an external heat sink as tall as the pc box take out all the heat of a modern power supply without any fans?
  7. Apr 7, 2008 #6
    When it comes to PSU's i'd recommend Enermax or PC power and cooling, Antec is another trusted brand. Most PSU's that bundled with custom cases are usually not so great and only have one 12v rail, so when it goes, it goes.
  8. Apr 7, 2008 #7
    Is it an ATX board? I installed a 550w Corsair VX power supply in a customers computer a week ago and it was VERY quiet. It has a 120mm double ball-bearing fan on the underside, larger capacitors, plenty of free pace inside for good airflow and a VERY sturdy construction. The hard drives were noticeably louder, if that says anything. The P/S unit its self regulates the fan RPM depending upon the power load. If you don't need something that powerful, they also make a 450w model that goes for about $70 US. You could snatch up just a regular run-of-the-mill, unit but unless you have ten or so reviews saying that's OK, you'd be rolling dice.
  9. Apr 7, 2008 #8
    X2 for Antec. My performance rig is an Antec case and P/S.
  10. Apr 11, 2008 #9
    Check out the HP Blackbird (I think thats the name), its really cool (physically and literally).
  11. Apr 11, 2008 #10
    Certainly impressive. I have noticed it still has fans. On a 1.2 kW consumption, this must be inevitable. Can't zero the noise. Maybe I should keep a high-performance PC in a separate room from the peripherals.
  12. Apr 11, 2008 #11


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    Staff: Mentor

    Because of the variable load (up until a few years ago, cpus ran at 100% all the time) and high peak power, most good cpu fans and power supply fans are regulated, so unless a computer is doing something that requires a lot of cpu/gpu, it should be quiet....unless it has a crappy psu or motherboard.
  13. Apr 12, 2008 #12


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    Liquid cooling is not really that necessary.

    I can barely hear my PC - the HARD DRIVE vibrations are far more audible (Seagate HDDs are crap, they develop the weirdest sort of vibration after a year, even when idle). It is loaded with fans but I just have everything managed well to not make noise.
  14. Apr 14, 2008 #13

    When it comes to Seagates, i've experienced nothing but quiet performance with my 120gb and i've had it for over two years now.
  15. Apr 14, 2008 #14
    Seagates aren't that bad. I've used and worked on a few of them and they seem to perform as well as the competitors. I've seen early failures from almost every brand out there... Maxtor, WD, Seagate, Samsung, Fujitsu, ect. Any out of range operating condition can kill a drive fairly quickly.

    Example, I still have the original 404MB Caviar hard drive that came in my second home PC back in '94 and it still functions fine with no excessive noise. At the same time though, a 500GB WD I purchased for a friends build lasted only eight or nine months before the bearings started howling. It turned out that he later sandwiched the same drive between two others, so I assume it was an overheating issue.

    A while back I remember reading a study that a group (MIT?) did where they were investigating the main cause concerning early hard drive failures. Their results showed that powering the drives on and off over time signifigantly reduced their lifetime... more so than excessive heat/cold.

    Seagate does offer a five year warranty on their drives so you may want to explore that option. I'm not sure if they accept 'excessive noise' as a good reason though. Never had to question.
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