The Quest For A Silent PC

pc_caseI normally work out of a home office where I’m on my Desktop PC answering emails and taking calls on my cell phone (welcome to the digital world). I began to notice one day that my aging Desktop PC was emitting a high-pitch whine which was giving me a big headache by the end of the day. Whenever I visited a customer on-site, I would listen to their Desktop PCs and I noticed that they were virtually silent. So why was my PC so damn noisy?

One day I just couldn’t take it any longer, so I opened up my Desktop PC case and began hunting around for the source of the whining noise. I discovered that the high-pitch whine was coming from the small fan that sat on top of the main CPU, but I also noticed that noise was emanating from other components such as the power supply fan, case fan, and the small fan on the graphics adapter card. The hard drive was also making noise as it was vibrating inside the drive bay. So at that point I was on a mission: To build the quietest PC as possible!

Of course, I knew that I wasn’t the first person to attempt to build a quiet PC so I did a quick Google search and found this wonderful site: Silent PC Review. This site was completely devoted to those who wanted to create the most quiet PC as possible. It had several reviews of cases, hard drives, fans, etc. specifically examined for quietness. After reviewing the different posting on this site, I decided to buy the following components for my new Desktop PC:

  • Antec Sonata Silent PC Case
  • Gigabyte  GeForce 7300GT 256MB 128-bit PCI Express x16 SLI Supported Video Card
  • ASUS P5N-E Motherboard
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86 MHz Processor
  • 2 GB RAM Memory
  • 250 GB Western Digital Hard Drive, SATA II
  • Zalman Ultra Quiet CPU Fan (with speed controller)
  • Sony DVD Burner

Here’s why I picked those components: First, the Antec Sonata case was rated at being the most quiet as it used very quite fans in the power supply and rear case panel. It also had special rubber isolators for mounting the hard drive and DVD drive in the internal bays (to minimize vibration). The ASUS P5N-E motherboard was chosen because it could support the E6300 Intel CPU and it didn’t have any spinning fans to cool onboard chips. The Gigabyte 7300GT Video card was chosen because it didn’t have any internal fans for cooling (chips were cooled passively with large radiator fins) but had enough video memory to drive my high-resolution monitor.

I also selected a particular brand of Western Digital hard drive since it was rated as one of the quietest available (the Samsung Spinpoint drive was my second choice). And finally, I chose to buy and install the Zalman Ultra Quiet CPU fan instead of using the stock Intel CPU fan to better cool the CPU while keeping the fan noise to a minimum. In fact, I was able to use the speed controller that came with the CPU fan to reduce the fan speed to a very low level while still keeping the CPU cool.

So by carefully selecting all of these quiet components, I was able to create a very, very quiet system for my home office. This Desktop PC now sits inside a small, closed cabinet just to the left of my desk, and all I hear is a quiet flow of air coming out the back of the PC. It’s so quiet, I can hear the disk drive churning whenever I access a file on my PC. FYI, I built this silent Desktop system two years ago, so I’m sure they have even quieter systems available now.

Of course, my fine-tuned dog ears are now being bothered by my noisy laptop that sits on my desk! 🙂


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