So I'm not the only one who doesn't like noise

I've been looking at replacing an old desktop computer, and one of the primary concerns that I'm looking out for is a minimum number of moving parts and a corresponding lack of noise. There's some support for this out there, but still it's pretty hard to build a silent machine.

"Everyday noise is under the radar, yet it affects everyone's life," said Louis Hagler, a retired physician in Oakland, Calif., and an advocate for quiet, who recently published in the Southern Medical Journal a review of studies linking noise exposures to health problems. "We don't say to people, 'You just have to learn to live with sewage in your water,' " Hagler said in an interview. "Why should we tolerate sewage coming into our ears?" (From a a Washington Times article)

(HT: Justin Taylor)


Reduced noise was my chief concern when I built my present computer. I found the various articles at Silent PC Review to be extremely helpful. It's possible to build a significantly quieter computer without resorting to water or more bizarre cooling methods.

Reduced noise usually goes hand-in-hand with reduced heat via reduced power consumption, so it's win-win.

Except that often also goes hand-in-hand with a slower computer...

You can still get fairly decent components - here's a passively cooled Nvidia Geforce 8600GT for instance.

Not so. As Dave illustrated, you can get passively-cooled video cards that are every bit as good as the actively-cooled ones. Same goes for motherboards. After-market passive CPU coolers are available too.

Did you work with quieter fans, or by looking for more passive cooling setups? What components did you find made the biggest impact?

Some stuff that I'm looking at:

(I'm still deciding on a local computer shop to deal with - NCIX has a nice selection mixed with reviews - I'll probably order through BCOM or Memory Express)

BTW, I'm debating the fanless versus very quiet PSU just for the airflow issues (from SilentPCReview's list of reccomended PSUs).

Any idea how large a power draw a system with a core 2 duo and a moderate graphics card has?

To reply to myself (again), the forums at NCIX seem to think that a Seasonic S12 430W is capable of powering such a system. (It's also roughly $90 there).

I'm going to reply to all your posts at once.

I didn't bother messing with different case fans. The fans on the case I ended up buying (Antec P180) were already very quiet on the lowest speed setting and pushed more CFM than some of the case fans I had read reviews for.

The noisiest components are the video card fan and CPU fan. I went with a passively-cooled 7600GT; stayed with the stock CPU cooler because nobody had tried after-market coolers with the Core 2 Duos yet when I bought mine. The P180 earned top marks for quiet and airflow, so the stock cooler really isn't all that loud when the case is closed.

I bought a Seasonic 600W power supply, partly in case I ever want dual video cards, and partly because the cables are sheathed. The only drawback was that the cables weren't modular; newer revisions have probably added modular cables. My brother got a 600W power supply with sheathed, modular cables; sold under the Corsair brand name, but looks identical to the Seasonics so I suspect Seasonic manufacturers them. People have had success with fanless power supplies, but I decided not to go that route without having the specialized equipment to make sure there is sufficient cooling and airflow.

Another cause of noise is case vibration due to movement in the hard drive and DVD burner. I went Samsung for my HDD, but since then Seagate has moved into the lead for quiet and reliable hard drives. Went with LG for the DVD burner.

I don't know how the Antec Solo compares to their other cases. Both the P180 and P150 top the list for quiet and cooling. The P150 is an easier build; however, Antec recently announced the P182 to replace the P180. The P182 has better wire management, making it an easier build, though I suspect the P150 is still easier than the P182. There is also a P190 coming, but you probably don't need anything that big.

You should be aware that while hard drive suspension is the best way to minimize vibration transfer, you have to be uber careful moving your case around. On the P150, I stuck with the silicone grommets instead of suspending the hard drive. Silicone grommets are very effective at reducing vibration transfer.

I don't know how the Antec Solo compares to their other cases.

The Solo is basically like their P150, but available in different colours and ships without a power supply.

I don't think that I'm going for a 600W power supply. I don't think that I'll be running dual video cards, and the more powerful power supplies have somewhat louder cooling fans. Efficiency should also be better when a power supply is running at a higher load.