• Guest, The rules for the P & N subforum have been updated to prohibit "ad hominem" or personal attacks against other posters. See the full details in the post "Politics and News Rules & Guidelines."

Silent or Near Silent Computer

littlebitstrouds

Senior member
Feb 17, 2003
410
0
71
I'm building a new computer in the next couple weeks based on the new i7 860 processor. With plans of a mild overclock I'm looking for two pieces of hardware that always create the most noise in my cases, the video card and power supply, that are near silent. However I still want something that will drive my 1080p TV (which I use for gaming.) Any recommendations for these two? Price isn't a huge issue, but I'd like to think I could spend around 100-150 for power supply, and 200-300 for the video card and run games like Counterstrike source, WoW (25 man raids with spell detail up), and some new games as I expand in the future. Thanks in advance.
 

alyarb

Platinum Member
Jan 25, 2009
2,444
0
76
if you're running a single GPU, just get a corsair 650TX. very quiet, can't hear it at all, and only $99. Make sure you get a big heatsink for your i7. I would get the noctua nh-u12p. it comes with two fans that can still move a lot of air silently. you will want to wait a couple weeks for the radeon 5850 for the video card. it has very low idle power and is likely to be silent at idle as well... in addition to being faster than any card available now.
 

Qbah

Diamond Member
Oct 18, 2005
3,754
10
81
For the most silent PSUs, have a look at SPCR. Best site imo - they test stuff for noise mostly. I bought my Corsair HX520 based on their recommendation and I am very happy about the (lack of) noise :) There are other PSUs recommended there too.

As for your graphics card, I'd say wait for the new Radeons. The HD5850 should retail at 299 so it's still within your budget - just wait and see how quiet the stock cooler will be or perhaps there will be some non-stock models from other companies launching at the same time? Not to mention it should be faster than a GTX285 and cost less.
 

yh125d

Diamond Member
Dec 23, 2006
6,907
0
76
Just get a properly rated PSU with a 120mm+ fan from Antec, Corsair, or Seasonic. They're pretty much all great quality and quiet. For the GPU you'll want something that doesn't need crazy cooling on the VRAM/VRM's, like a upper-midrange card like a GTS250/4850 or their next gen equivalents. Then you can slap on an AC Accelero S1 with a low RPM 100-120mm fan and hear nothing
 

littlebitstrouds

Senior member
Feb 17, 2003
410
0
71
Yeah, I think I'll be waiting for the new video cards, and hoping they're quiet. As per the Corsair, it looks promising, but I may go for something rated even more quiet. I've built a number of machines through the years and each has gotten quieter. This one I'm aiming even lower. I cringe as I remember my 1700xp system and how loud that thing was. I'd shut it down and realize I had a headache from it being on.
 

BushLin

Member
Oct 28, 2008
94
0
66
I had such an issue, after trying a few out from Tagan and FSP, Corsair made the least noise (even at a high load) but I'm sure they're not the only available which are this quiet.

Video cards are tricky, a lot of cards are sold as silent but the reality is that under load you'll still hear the fan ramp up. Other video cards don't exhaust heat out a PCI slot and dump the heat inside your case which might mean you need to run more or higher RPM fans. I have underclock profiles for my EVGA card depending on the game as most that I use don't need the full clocks and mean that I don't hear it's fan, as it's the loudest component in my system when stressed.

What helped keep the noise down for me was an external radiator mounted on a radbox so I could use 120mm fans at 800rpm everywhere in my case, then undervolted the pump for some peace while overclocking.
 

alyarb

Platinum Member
Jan 25, 2009
2,444
0
76
the accelero s2 is just a GPU heatsink, so you'll have to buy separate heatsinks for your memory and voltage regulators as well as a big silent fan for the accelero. i would definitely wait for a radeon 5850 before you decide on a retrofit.
 

yh125d

Diamond Member
Dec 23, 2006
6,907
0
76
Originally posted by: alyarb
the accelero s2 is just a GPU heatsink, so you'll have to buy separate heatsinks for your memory and voltage regulators as well as a big silent fan for the accelero. i would definitely wait for a radeon 5850 before you decide on a retrofit.
The S1 comes with heatsinks for ram which are adequate. They have sinks for the VRMs also, but they aren't very large, which is why I recommended at most an upper-midrange card unless you can get a better VRM sink through other sources
 

Zap

Elite Member
Oct 13, 1999
22,377
2
81
If you're serious about it being quiet while still being higher performance, you'd want to go liquid cooling (maybe something like what BushLin does with externally mounted radbox).

If just air cooling, then you can make the CPU cooler relatively quiet by using a giant heatpipe cooler (like the Cooler Master Hyper Z600) with undervolted or PWM controlled 120mm fans.

Graphics cards are a bit trickier. One thing you might consider doing is to get an older card like a GTX 280 which is a great performer, and then slightly underclock and undervolt it. The 65nm G200 cards (earlier GTX 260, GTX 280) can be voltmodded using software.
 

Binky

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
4,046
4
81
Ati 4890 + Accelerto S1 + Zalman VRM heatsink = near perfect silence and very good temps!

You'll need a dremel tool (or similar) to make the Accelero mesh with the Zalman, but it can be made to fit. Yes, I've done this.
 

firewolfsm

Golden Member
Oct 16, 2005
1,847
27
91
Get a seasonic PSU and a fanless video card, either a 4850 or the GTS 250/9800. Fanless versions are available. Edit the BIOS to undervolt your graphics and don't bother overclocking it at all, the heat production is not worth it. Also, make sure you undervolt your CPU and everything on your motherboard, you may still be able to overclock to 50% of the stock voltage overclock.
 

alcoholbob

Diamond Member
May 24, 2005
6,204
287
126
One of the biggest problems with noise in a computer is case resonance. Once you factor out all the fans, you have the mini-fridge vibration to deal with. This is a problem I've never managed to solve, even with extremely heavy duty (50lb) cases and pounds and pounds of dynamat.

My recommendation is to make the smallest/lightest PC with all of the HSF suggestions here and buy the heaviest case you can find.
 

MagickMan

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2008
7,537
3
76
Sorry to resurrect the dead, but I found out something really outstanding.

On a hunch, I bought some heavy self-adhesive vinyl floor tiles, a whole box of black marble at Big Lots, for $10. Then, when I got home I stripped all the panels off my Lancool PC-K7B and double-lined them with the tiles, trimming to fit properly and cover as much area as I could. Then I lined the bottom of the case and the back side of my mobo tray. Pretty much, if there was a blank spot that I could put a strip of tile, I put it on. Also, I made sure to tighten every screw and fastener along the way.

The difference is incredible! The machine still makes some noise, but it's just the very low and pleasant sound of air from the exhaust. The higher frequencies are just dead now. I know it's not Dynamat, and it's mostly just the added weight, but how's that for a cheap solution!
 

blanketyblank

Golden Member
Jan 23, 2007
1,149
0
0
I actually think the best thing for a silent PC oddly enough is a very open case with good airflow. I used to use an Antec P180B since it was one of the best recommended cases for quiet computers. However I found the fans needed to be on medium settings for decent cooling, and 120 mm fans are fairly audible then.
The cooling was also insufficient to run my CPU passive even with a massive highly rate heatsink.

Now I have an Antec 900 which oddly enough is much more quiet. I can barely hear it and temperatures are low even at load. I'm able to run my CPU passive and OC to 3.6 without running into heat problems. Maybe to take it to 4.0 or higher I'd probably need to increase the voltage and use active cooling, but that's not worth the tradeoff to me. All the small fans are set to low and I can't tell the difference between low or medium for the large fan. I think any audible noise comes from the PSU(Antec NeoPower 550) and 120mm fans, but it's not really bothersome enough to justify replacing since I'd probably need passive components and the fans probably aren't needed anyways.
 

Attic

Diamond Member
Jan 9, 2010
4,282
2
76
I actually think the best thing for a silent PC oddly enough is a very open case with good airflow...
Ya, I was going to post this same thing. I recently moved my HTPC case from an open TV stand to a TV stand that was more closed off and the fan noise went way up because my ambient temps did.

Open case and good airflow are essential to a quiet PC, keeps fans from ramping up. Good airflow doesn't mean lots of fan noise, just means good case fans (Read: Expensive), usually Noctua's are great, and good placement of those fans.

For the PSU, the Corsair's are great and not as expensive as the top quality Seasonic's. The 650TX is great for ~100, the HX models have modular cabling which is very nice.
 

EarthwormJim

Diamond Member
Oct 15, 2003
3,239
0
76
Location really plays a key roll in having a silent computer. You should not place the computer on your desk right next to you if you care about noise.

USB cables can be extended pretty far. 30 feet long DVI cables can be had for pretty cheap. There's really nothing that prevents you from locating your PC relatively far away from you. Say on the other side of your room or something.

Ya, I was going to post this same thing. I recently moved my HTPC case from an open TV stand to a TV stand that was more closed off and the fan noise went way up because my ambient temps did.

Open case and good airflow are essential to a quiet PC, keeps fans from ramping up. Good airflow doesn't mean lots of fan noise, just means good case fans (Read: Expensive), usually Noctua's are great, and good placement of those fans.

For the PSU, the Corsair's are great and not as expensive as the top quality Seasonic's. The 650TX is great for ~100, the HX models have modular cabling which is very nice.
I dissagree about having an open computer case. Having panels does reduce noise by a large amount, provided you have proper airflow.

Having an open space around the case is essential however.
 
Last edited:

HumblePie

Lifer
Oct 30, 2000
14,621
388
126
I found the quietest computer is the one with the power switch off. This mod works on every computer I've tried thus far :) Cheapest thing to do too!
 

bunnyfubbles

Lifer
Sep 3, 2001
12,248
3
0
perceived noise levels of these components will vary from person to person, particularly for people that live in naturally noisier environments.

For some people a Corsair power supply might be "silent". For me its just acceptably quiet.

If you're someone who is really picky about noise I'd look into the Seasonic X650 or X750. They're 80+ Gold and the fan won't even turn on until you hit 20% load (so a properly designed rig could be mechanically silent, at least at idle states. They're not cheap, but they'll deliver the power they promise, are 100% modular, and are easily some of the quietest PSUs, at least up until 450-500W load (so not ideal for multi GPU systems, although not many people are going to be going multi GPU for quiet/silent rigs :p)

If you're serious about it being quiet while still being higher performance, you'd want to go liquid cooling (maybe something like what BushLin does with externally mounted radbox).

If just air cooling, then you can make the CPU cooler relatively quiet by using a giant heatpipe cooler (like the Cooler Master Hyper Z600) with undervolted or PWM controlled 120mm fans.

Graphics cards are a bit trickier. One thing you might consider doing is to get an older card like a GTX 280 which is a great performer, and then slightly underclock and undervolt it. The 65nm G200 cards (earlier GTX 260, GTX 280) can be voltmodded using software.
Also this. Water cooling makes it so much easier to regulate noise.

Although I'd disagree on the video card being hard to quiet down on air. It took some work but I got an Accelero S1 on my 5850. Some quiet fans strapped to that heatsink has provided me great results even when heavily overclocked.

Ati 4890 + Accelerto S1 + Zalman VRM heatsink = near perfect silence and very good temps!

You'll need a dremel tool (or similar) to make the Accelero mesh with the Zalman, but it can be made to fit. Yes, I've done this.
my 5850 fit my 4850 without any modification, and it fit my 5850 without needing any tools to modify the heatsink (I just bent back the fins that got in the way)
 

ronnn

Diamond Member
May 22, 2003
3,918
0
71
if you're running a single GPU, just get a corsair 650TX. very quiet, can't hear it at all, and only $99. Make sure you get a big heatsink for your i7. I would get the noctua nh-u12p. it comes with two fans that can still move a lot of air silently. you will want to wait a couple weeks for the radeon 5850 for the video card. it has very low idle power and is likely to be silent at idle as well... in addition to being faster than any card available now.
I have a corsair 650 and can't hear it. Modular too.
 

konakona

Diamond Member
May 6, 2004
6,285
1
0
I actually think the best thing for a silent PC oddly enough is a very open case with good airflow. I used to use an Antec P180B since it was one of the best recommended cases for quiet computers. However I found the fans needed to be on medium settings for decent cooling, and 120 mm fans are fairly audible then.
The cooling was also insufficient to run my CPU passive even with a massive highly rate heatsink.

Now I have an Antec 900 which oddly enough is much more quiet. I can barely hear it and temperatures are low even at load. I'm able to run my CPU passive and OC to 3.6 without running into heat problems. Maybe to take it to 4.0 or higher I'd probably need to increase the voltage and use active cooling, but that's not worth the tradeoff to me. All the small fans are set to low and I can't tell the difference between low or medium for the large fan. I think any audible noise comes from the PSU(Antec NeoPower 550) and 120mm fans, but it's not really bothersome enough to justify replacing since I'd probably need passive components and the fans probably aren't needed anyways.
I have an opposite experience from yours. The P180B is noticeably quieter with its front door closed (gets noticeably louder with the door open, go figure), and the fans at the lowest seems to work fine. With the 300, I was a bit disappointed; the thing got quite loud with 2 yate loon intakes at 5v, had to cut them off. Now I am using a pair of gentletyphoones on it, one on the cpu heatsnink and one at the exhaust. The 140mm on the top won't turn under 12V and at 12V it has a slightly annoying high tone noise.

Both cases have been sitting on each end of a L-shaped desk, roughly equally as far away from me.

All that was with IGP / passively cooled VGAs on both systems. Now that I got some real GPUs, the 300 gets much louder due to its openness (has a 4850 with a stock cooler in it to be fair, but the same card would have been quieter in the P180B). The P180B has no qualms with cooling and is much quieter (5850 + acelerro twin turbo).
 

blanketyblank

Golden Member
Jan 23, 2007
1,149
0
0
I have an opposite experience from yours. The P180B is noticeably quieter with its front door closed (gets noticeably louder with the door open, go figure), and the fans at the lowest seems to work fine. With the 300, I was a bit disappointed; the thing got quite loud with 2 yate loon intakes at 5v, had to cut them off. Now I am using a pair of gentletyphoones on it, one on the cpu heatsnink and one at the exhaust. The 140mm on the top won't turn under 12V and at 12V it has a slightly annoying high tone noise.

Both cases have been sitting on each end of a L-shaped desk, roughly equally as far away from me.

All that was with IGP / passively cooled VGAs on both systems. Now that I got some real GPUs, the 300 gets much louder due to its openness (has a 4850 with a stock cooler in it to be fair, but the same card would have been quieter in the P180B). The P180B has no qualms with cooling and is much quieter (5850 + acelerro twin turbo).
I think the 140mm fan is a bit different from a 200 mm in terms of acoustics. The 300 is a good budget case, but I don't think the cooling is as good. With the P180b yes it does get a little quieter with the door closed, but I found I needed at least some of the fans at medium to get decent cooling and they were loud then. For building a silentpc your system is as loud as the loudest part so a noisy fan or video card will screw up everything.
I've had a 4850 and it's really loud on load. Not bad on idle, but the small fan has a more annoying noise than the larger fan on my 5770 now. I sleep in the same room as my computer which I often leave on so noise is a big concern for me.
 

alcoholbob

Diamond Member
May 24, 2005
6,204
287
126
A "DIY" setup with parts hanging from the ceiling with elastic bands and giant heatsinks will be almost completely silent (you'll still have the typical PWM buzz and ringing from video card capacitors).

Heh.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY