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High Performance PC Silencing

Author : Shawn Sparks Date : June 2003


Quiet PC "hear yourself think"

I would like to thank Dave at Quiet PC for generously providing the hardware and alot of technical support for this article


Ever since I got my Volcano7+ from Thermaltake, a high pitched whine has been added to the symphony of fans and drive whirrs. The ensemble has gotten way too loud for my tastes these days. As I was being consumed with sound, I started reflecting on the noise levels of my old PIII system. At 650 MHz and a 66MHz FSB, the CPU had a simple cooler that was almost silent. The PSU that I had then was 300W, and again the cooling mechanism was a 92MM Pabst fan which was just about inaudible (not to mention my "high end" VooDoo3 was still passively cooled). This was back in a time before overclocking even crossed my mind so I had no case fans whatsoever. I could leave my computer on all night, and fall asleep in the same room; it was that quiet.

Well, now that I have an Athlon XP2700+ based system and the system bus is pushed to 182 MHz, things are a little different. There are fans on the northbridge, the graphics card, the CPU, heck there's two in one of my PSU's. At one point I had a HDD cooler that sported dual 60mm fans on a slick blue anodized heat sink. I have only two case fans, which is minimalistic according to many people I know. One thing I have noticed is that fans are like college students drinking beer. One or two together is fine; they get along and keep to themselves. If they live next door to you, you hardly notice their little party. But get a bunch together, and things change. The sum total of the noise starts to become very noticeable, even uncomfortable. Soon, not only is there noise from the drunkards, but the vibration from the house amplifies the noise to levels that shake the foundation on your own house and you are forced to call the cops.

My noisy XP2700+ neighbor has recently gotten to the point of unbearable. I finally decided to do a little investigative reporting myself, so I could "call the cops" and register a noise complaint get the little fan party next to my desk dispersed in a peaceful manor. After looking into the situation, I came across the closest thing I could find to "noise police"; a site called QuietPC. The guys at QuietPC are all about silencing the belligerent roommate that resides in all hardcore PC enthusiasts lives. I spoke to Dave about what can be done to shut the drunkard up, and we came up with a game plan.

First, we had to single out the offending parties; basically this meant having a listen and seeing just where the noise was coming from. Once we had an idea as to where the specific noises were coming from, we targeted those areas. Then, as an extra measure, Dave suggested two rather innovative sound dampening solutions to squash any residual noise that might still be hanging around, like those guys on the couch the next morning after a party. They are part of "Case Preparation," which we will get into in a couple of pages.

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