I'm running through the noisier parts of my recent build aiming to make it as quiet as I can. I've swapped out the stock vga cooler for the AC Accellero, picked up some noctua quiet fans to replace and otherwise augment the original case fans. I'm working with an Antec 300 mini tower. Looking at the wood case thread and Eldonko post about Doug's Quiet Wood Case PC | silentpcreview.com I'm out to get information on where I can get various things.
HDD: This article suggests elastic cord to suspend the drive and is something I'll be trying.
CD/DVD: Don't think suspension is physically so some sort washers? (or the quietest drive out there atm)
VGA: Passively cooled already (4850 w/ AC Accelero S1 R2)
CPU HS: Currently a Scythe Shuriken is in place. I'm thinking about spacing the fan off the cooler with some sort of foam. I'd prefer to go passive but I've had conflicting information as to whether a thermalright 120 is too tall for the case and haven't looked too hard for passive solutions. (water cooling is also a little extreme and possibly hard to fit into the case)
PSU: Again some sort of washers/foam solution to isolate vibrations. Suggestions?
Foam: Both for overall noise dampening and to isolate case fans, Suggestions? Brands and or physical qualities to look for. Retailers to find things like AcoustiPack, Dynamat, Akasa's Paxmate or something that works just as well from a hardware/sewing store?
I'd appreciate feed back on as many individual areas as possible. I'm mostly looking for first hand confirmation and experience stories on any of them.
It would be useful to know what CPU you are using so we can better know what would work. Fan wise, I would personally go with Zalman ZM-F3's with a fan controller (or just the low noise adapter). Vapor of XS's review put it at the top at nearly every voltage. If you made a fan duct from the rear exaust fan (with the grill completely cut off) to the back of the heatsink, you can likely run without a fan on the heatsink, assuming the heatsink is efficient enough. I did something similar in an office PC for my dad. The processor was only a 4050e (45W) so it wasn't powerful, but it never broke 45C under load (fan running very slowly).
The system is dead silent between the Antec Earthwatts 500W PSU and the single fan kept running extremely slow with AMD's Cool and Quiet. The only time the system is audible is when there is an optical disc being accessed. The HDDs are mounted in a way that they are barely audible even under heavy load.
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If you can arrange it, HDD suspension is the way to go. But be warned, there have been instances of the elastics wearing through over time, resulting in a dropped HDD. Also important is to get a hard drive that's as quiet as possible to begin with. It's almost impossible to deaden seek noise completely, but sometimes there are options to minimize it, such as Western Digital's AAM in their newer drives. That comes at a smlal performance cost, though.
Foam padding has it's place, but that place is several big steps below where a lot of people place it. I've used it, it helps a little, but mostly as an anti-vibe device on large panels. I'm sure other people would understand the specifics better, but as best I udnerstand, real foam sound-proofing is a whole different animal than what's sold for PC-silencing.
For the PSU, get a quiet one to begin with. If you've got a solid case, the only vibration you'll get from the PSU is from an excessively fast fan. The latest PSU's run their fans very slowly at lower loads, and don't ramp up until things start to heat up. Never been impressed with the silicone spacers sold for PSU silencing, seem to be a placebo more than anything. And when they do work, they're curing a symptom, not the disease.
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System spec, with an AC Accelero instead of the thermalright. The current HS may not lend itself to and air duck quiet as easily as the one you posted. I haven't thought about adding a fan controller or ever looked at one, definately something to look into tomorrow.
The points about HDD suspension are appreciated, I probably wouldn't have thought about it first time out. I think the point where the elastic touches a "sharp" metal screw whole is the one that's the problem. Do you figure throwing some electrical/hockey tape in would be a good preventative step?
At the moment I'm only really using one older 500gb sata, might be a maxtor, and you wouldn't be the first to suggest getting a new drive instead of trying to silence the old one. I have the room to place two suspended drives in the remaining 5.25 slots. Which immediately leads to a concern about heat. Hypothetical figures aside if I wanted the three top 5.25 slots "filled" with a CD/DVD and two HDD would arranging them hdd/cd/hdd with the most active drive on the top or the bottom be a definite problem? Not really a huge problem more of a thought exercise.
The psu was the place most have pointed for a future upgrade so specific picks would be useful. Where any spacers are concerned I didn't have any in mind for the first post. The idea was more part of taking a thorough look at anything and everything that can vibrate.
To list the things I'm pretty sure are making the most noise in order of loud/annoy-ness:
CD/DVD eating a disk (almost forgot this one I don't do much with disks)
Stock VGA cooler (which I've already replaced)
Hard drive when it's churning through several oddly spaced read/write cycles
Case fans (antec tricool 120/140 both on low)
CPU cooler (probably, doubt it's louder then case fans but haven't taken the time to isolate them)
HDD just spinning
Motherboards beeps and whines are all over the place and not exactly the easiest things to quiet. Some sound damping foam is pretty low on the list of steps to I'm running through to quiet things. It's just difficult to find the brands/types I've seen mentioned from anywhere other then broken sites or the states.
Probably missing things to talk about but it's late; be nice while I sleep.
Antec fans aren't known for their silence among purists. Look to Noctua, Scythe and anything that can be undervolted to 5v and still spins. Suspending your hard drive does do a lot, for the simple parts and effort needed, it's very much worth it. My Seagate 750 made some crazy seek noises which are now minimized by the suspension. Get some Stretch Magic from Micheal's craft store, it cost under 5 dollars for a thicker 1.1mm @ some overkill length. It's used for making bead necklaces, so now I have a backup hobby in case blowing up computers ever gets old ;) Keep reading that site you were on, it's a great place to start.
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