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Computers And The Noise They Make 379

Weeden writes: "Here is a Salon article that wants to know why computers have to make so much noise. They think if the iMac can be quiet, why can't everyone else? Just do what I do and turn on some music, that makes the noise go away!" Quiet is certainly a concern for all-day computer users; I know I'd pay quite a bit more for a nice ATX case with a massive heat sink, if that were practical. If you need quiet now (and like the Salon writer, aren't willing to switch to an iMac) you might also want to check out this Ask Slashdot on the same topic.
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Computers And The Noise They Make

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  • When in a store, who can evaluate systems for noise with everything else going on around them?

    When building a computer from components, how do you know whether or not the noise will be excessive when it is all together?

    I would love to see the manufacturers of systems and components start publishing noise levels so that consumers can make better purchase decisions. Of course, since everybody looks at the price, the silent systems will probably never get sold.

  • by pivo ( 11957 )
    That scares me. Does electricity actually work that way?
  • This post really has me interested, as I'm building a new computer and I'd like to make it run fairly quietly as I run it 24/7 in my small dorm room. What are some good noise reduction methods for a typical case? (the one I have is full-tower ATX) I know foam can minimize sound waves. What about padding the outside of the case with foam padding to reduce noise? Is it possible to introduce a very small layer of foam into the PC case without having too much dust added? I like the idea of creating a foam sheath-like cover for the sides of the case that may reduce noise. . . I dunno . . . Any ideas? I'm gonna be runnin' a bunch of fans (three case fans, 2 CPU Fans on the Athlon, probably one of graphics card, perhaps one or two more also).
  • The new iMacDV is awesome in it's silence.

    Funny thing though - the original iMac is probably the loudest, most annoying desktop I've ever heard. You can't hide the box anywhere since it's in one piece. And it has a terrible cheap fan. My wife has one, and you'd never leave it sleeping because the ungodly fan doesn't shut off (well, maybe it would eventually).

    I did some contract work on her iMac while waiting for my new G4 tower. The G4 is much louder than my Compaq Prosignia, but not unreasonable. But the iMac really drove me nuts.

  • My audiologist friend commented to me that fan noise is a serious issue for her because digital hearing aids require the use of a personal (READ: Windows) computer to fit correctly, and as soon as the hearing aid is in, the user hears the "previously non-existant" fan noise, and believes it is generated by the hearing aid.

    Needless to say, this is a serious problem.
  • Noises mean it's working!
  • The whine that you hear is equivalent to the horizontal frequency in the cathode ray tube. Regular interlaced TVs draw approximately 240 horizontal lines every 1/60th of a second, which works out to a frequency of 14.4 kHz, which is within the hearing range of some people (myself included). A computer monitor at 640x480 with a 60Hz progressive-scan refresh rate will draw approximately 480 horizontal lines every 1/60th of a second which works out to 28.8 kHz, which is above the hearing range of humans.
  • Rev. A-D iMacs don't apply in this sense because they were the older non-slot loading design. The new slot loading iMacs have no fan.
  • Yeah, I miss my external modem (it died in a lightning strike :( ). I like the lights too, but if someone doesn't like them and doesn't want to go chopping wires in their case, just cover the lights with tape.
  • I think heat would be another factor. I know my bedroom is a few degrees warmer than the rest of the house, attributable to the PCs...
  • I had a similiar experience after Christmas this year. I work in a large office (200 desks, each with a computer), and we were all instructed to shut them off before leaving for the last time before New Year Y2k activities. As the room grew strangely quiet, you began to be able to pinpoint each individual computer that was still running. By the end, a computer that was on sounded like it was roaring.

    I think that we get the noisy cases and components because we don't ask for specs, or complain about bad performance. I used a quiet iMac recently in a store, and was impressed. I plan to check as carefully as I can before my next purchase.
  • Nice to see the media pick up on the noise issue. I've always felt it a betrayal to the promise of the microprocessor with all these boxes growing ever larger and hotter.

    Besides, a PC wheezing and whining in the background like a terminally ill patient reminds me of the hospital and takes all the fun out of sex (for those of you who revel in the noise emanating from your hot rod steam engines, I'll just assume you're too young to have legally had sexual intercourse and listening to a panting PC is your way of compensating for that).

    Just a word of advice for those who feel uncomfortable without the soothing drones of a 6" fan: there is a cure for loneliness and it's called television.

  • Well, I have a 266MHz AMD in an open case with the CPU and power supply fans disabled. I've been running it like this for a year and it's not dead yet. I've heard that every 10 degrees (not sure if that was supposed to be Celsius of Fahrenheit) cut the lifetime of the chip in half so this probably isn't exactly healthy for the poor processor but hey, it's not like it's going to cost a lot to replace it if it ever melts down.

    For a while, I ran it with the fans off and the case on and underclocked it to 166MHz. Then I let the power supply fan run for a while and felt the temperature of the airflow. It was so hot it was scary. Smelled bad too.

  • A good portion of the newer computers that I have run into aren't noisy at all. In a room that has even a little bit of noise, you can't hear the computer at all. If it's totally silent, you may be able to hear the fan, or the hard drive working, but really, is it that much of a deal?

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @02:09PM (#993806)
    When (if) we get the voice-activated computers that The Company Formerly Known As Microsoft keeps threatening us with, we'll see articles asking why PC users can't be as quiet as iMac users.

  • by Antipop ( 180137 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @02:09PM (#993809) Homepage
    As computers become more and more commonplace, a lot of them are put into bedrooms. Do you know how much frickin' noise my P200 makes at night? I'd love to hit high uptimes to brag to my friends, but I can't cuz I have to shut the thing off at night! Anyone know of a cheap, easy way to reduce noise? I've heard of people placing carpet padding on the sides of their case, I'm going to try this and see if it helps.
  • by DragonHawk ( 21256 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @03:44PM (#993810) Homepage Journal
    one main reason, so far as i can tell, that the imac can live without a fan is that its chip has far lower power consuption, and therefore generates much less heat that the x86 counterparts

    Certainly the PowerPC helps. But I have to wonder: In my system, at least, the CPU isn't the biggest heat source. The hard drive spindle motors are. After that comes the NVidia TNT chip. (Not even a GeForce!) The CPU comes in third. Now, granted, I don't have the latest space heaters from Intel or AMD, but still, I have to wonder about these new fanless iMacs. I've seen the demo machines in stores, and I have to tell you, those suckers are hot to the touch. Can any computer running that warm really be in good health?
  • If someone were to design a cost effective version of a iMac heatsink/case that actually had room for expandability, i'm sure it would catch on. Thing is though, we could get away with having just a CPU heatsink, but it is all the other peripherals that are also generating a lot of heat. Not saying that everyone has one, but those 10,000 RPM drives generate a _LOT_ of heat. Hell, even my 7200 rpm drive gets hot. My graphics card, PS, even my chipset controller gets hot! There is simply no way to cheaply build a case that could effectively take heat away fast enough that wouldn't weigh 100 lbs, or be about 4 feet by 4 feet, by 4 feet. My $.02
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 18, 2000 @03:46PM (#993813)
    use hdparm -S to put drives to sleep after a certain amount of time.

    if you use windows you can set them to go to sleep too after a certain amount of time, however, I have found in about 85% of the computers running win9x that once they go to sleep, they lock up real hard, requiring a reboot, kind of making the whole sleep thing a stupid 'feature'
    Linux doesn't have the sleep->solid lockup feature yet, but its planned for 2.6
  • fans in PCs are cheap componants with crap bearings. therefore cheap fan = better profits. also the blades and housing collect dust so the air flow is less smooth.

    and it always makes your new PC seem so nice for a while. if PCs didn't rattle and wheeze as they got older poeple would have a reason less to upgrade.

    on a similar vein, why do old PCs always look discoloured. perhaps the dyes on the beige are designed to turn to that special nictine-stain colour...
  • I'd like to know what these people are using that is so loud. Maybe they just don't remember what stuff USED to sound like.

    I remember my Apple ][ didn't have any fans at all, so except for the floppy drives was completely silent. That's what stuff used to sound like. Total silence except when reading a disk. That goes for all those 8-bit computers, they just didn't need fans unless you added a whole bunch of extra stuff inside the case.

    I have one P200 that's several years old and is pretty darn quiet. Good case, good fan (yeah, only one fan, imagine that!). Everything else I use is loud. Mostly only loud enough to be annoying when I stop to think about, like when someone posts a story about it to slashdot. But nevertheless, loud.

  • Of course, the Mac is built to be difficult to open, so the little bits and pieces that need to exist for easy manual extraction of hardware are less frequent than in a standard PC. I think that lends itself a lot to decreasing the sound.

    I'm planning on taking a lot more care in building my next PC. I usually get eager about all the cool new stuff I'm going to throw into a box and can't wait to get it up or running. The next box I build is going to have a customized case -- specifically designed for both noise reduction and cooling. I think a lot of planning for this next machine will be spent on those two items of interest, over and above the other components.

    Of course, I really don't have much use for anything beyond the AMD K6-2/400mhz that I have right now (well, I haven't had it for about six months -- it's still up in Portland with my parents). I probably won't put another machine together until the 1ghz chips have become old news. I don't play many video games on my boxes and putting a massive box together just for coding, MP3s and surfing is total over-kill.

  • If I could find one, I'd get one of those big foam-lined enclosures they used to make 15-20 years ago for putting printers in, back when laser printing hadn't been heard of and printers were these horribly noisy contraptions generally coming in two kinds: dot-matrix or daisy-wheel, both of which involved mechanical bits striking a carbon ribbon to deposit the ink onto the printed page. Enclosures were virtually manditory for any printer that got even moderate use that was in an area that people were expected to stay in. They'd hack off a good 30-40 decibels off the sound level, taking even the noisiest of printers down in volume to something you wouldn't mind standing next to for a couple of minutes while waiting for your printout to come out.

    I would expect that probably 3 or even 4 systems could fit into an old printer enclosure; the biggest problem would probably be airflow. The slots for paper coming in and going out would probably work as long as they were positioned properly. Some experimentation definitely would be in order.
  • just write dsp app that analyzes the ambient noise in the room and pumps anti-noise out the speakers.
  • Music played on decent hifi gear sounds Good. And it really sounds a lot better if you can get rid of the fscking computer noise... Everybody here is like, "I just turn up the music if the noise bothers me." This isn't too bad for a lot of pop music that has practically no dynamic range. But for anything with quiet passages or subtle details, the noise obscures it.

    I've been battling this issue for a while. I tried making a computer with no moving parts... It booted linux nfs-root, no power supply fan, open case for ventilation. I couldn't get the cpu (a k6-2-380) to run at full load with the largest passive heatsink I could find w/o getting too hot. Underclocking didn't help much. Running it at like 5% CPU load, it was cool, and silent. If you put your ear real close to the mobo you could just hear the cpu voltage regulator switching. That ruled for noise, but it was a scrude up setup, not really suitable for day to day use. I got sick of plugging and unplugging the fan a lot.

    I settled on a normal box with normal fans, and put it in the closet and got some extension cords. This worked just as well. If you're going to try this, make SURE you get a "high resolution" video extension cable, with the RGB signals carried on 75-ohm coax conductors within the cable. This results in practically no signal degradation, as opposed to cheap video cables that turn the image into sh!t. Saving those few dollars is not worth it.

    The university just relocated me for the summer, goodbye closet. A friend of mine gave me some carpet mat... guess I'll try that soon. (thanks laura)

    Good luck to everybody who wants a quiet/silent machine.
  • That's not a bad idea at all.

    Actually, adding more fans, but running them at a slower speed using resistors, would cut the noise and not cost too much more per machine.

    It sure beats going to a high-priced ultra quiet power supply and expensive ($25+) fans.

  • Tinnitus [] sufferrers can find their computer use is limited by their ability to stand the hum. Tinnitus is "ringing in the ears", usually caused by trauma or as a side-effect of an ear infection. Lack of variation in the soundscape (like silence or white noise) frequently causes the ringing to increase in volume, often becoming intrusive or painful.

    So for many, this becomes a serious ergonomic issue, and a handicapping situation. Not "whining".

    Thanks to the person posting about I notice they have a PIII passive cooler. Anyone know of one for Socket7?

  • LMAO!!

    Very nicely done.

  • by mosch ( 204 )
    Listen on my stereo, and there is no way you can't tell the difference... unless you're listening to nothing but early White Zombie, and rotating in the occasional Lawnmower Death album.

    I made a CD to demonstrate this, which consisted of sound clips that were from cd, sound clips that were mp3'd then decoded to cd, vinyl that went straight to cd, and vinyl that went from the ADC to an mp3 encoder then to cd. If you spent any money on your audio equipment at all, you can hear.
  • Thanks for the advice, I just took a wild stab at the mod; it's my box, so although I won't be thrilled if it starts to bug out, I won't be especially heartbroken either. ;-)

    It seems to be working fine so far; $ uptime 12:10AM up 2 days, 13:06, 1 user, load averages: 0.08, 0.08, 0.08 $ and it would be longer except I upgraded to OpenBSD 2.7 when it came out last Thursday. If the fan/PS are still running, can I assume that the resistor/fan mod is working OK? Or is it dangerous to run for extended periods of time?

    What kind of resistor would work best for a resistor in series here, for a 12V fan? I know you probably can't tell me exactly, but a ballpark range (watts/ohms) would probably help me (and others) out. Are there any good practical sites you know of that have very simple electronics lessons? I'd love to learn more about this stuff, it always interested me.

    In terms of air flow, it seems to be getting enough flow out the back of the case; the temperature of the air is cool, so if it was overheating I'd probably be able to tell by now.

  • This all reminds me of a William Gibson interview I read once, where he talked about his illusions about computers being shattered by noise:

    ...Then I went out and bought an Apple II on sale, took it home, set it up, and it started making this horrible sound like a farting toaster every time the drive would go on. When I called the store up and asked what was making this noise, they said, "Oh, that's just the drive mechanism--there's this little thing that's spinning around in there." Here I'd been expecting some exotic crystaline thing, a cyberspace deck or something, and what I'd gotten was something with this tiny piece of a Victorian engine in it, like an old record player (and a scratchy record player at that!). That noise took away some of the mystique for me, made it less sexy for me. My ignorance had allowed me to romanticize it.

    (the full interview is here []).

    It's funny to think back to this... computers as exotic, crystalline machines. I think everyone's jaded about them these days.

    I was thinking, though, that aside from the drive, the Apple ]['s were also silent, since they didn't need cooling fans (in fact, most of small personal computers of the early 80's, such as the C64, didn't need them either).

    I do remember that the first computer I used that did have a fan (an Osborne Executive CP/M machine) really impressed me by sounding... well... Powerful. It made this sort of turbine-whining noise as it started. It made a breathy white noise hiss while it ran, which reminded me of huge computer rooms packed with Serious Equipment. Last time I stuck my head into the server room at work... wow... that was really noisy.

    Ah well. I'd love to have a silent PC again. I'm planning on using my old Pentium Pro 200 as a server PC, but I'll have to suff it someplace in my apartment where it's out of the way. The fan isn't bad, but the drives whine like a bitch.

    Ah, for the good old (fanless) days of computing...

  • by wik ( 10258 )
    Similarly, DECstation 5000's have three fans in the case, but they run extremely quietly. They are positioned to blow air across the entire motherboard. Granted, these are diskless boxes and the 10-year-old full-height SCSI drives make quite a racket, but the machine itself is pretty quiet.

    Storing things in the other room, particularly with a keyboard/mouse/video extender is an expensive (for decent components) solution, but it works well.

  • Now, granted, I don't have the latest space heaters from Intel or AMD, but still, I have to wonder about these new fanless iMacs. I've seen the demo machines in stores, and I have to tell you, those suckers are hot to the touch. Can any computer running that warm really be in good health?

    One important point to remember is the fact that these are demo machines, which means that people are jostling their mice and tapping their keyboards j-u-s-t enough so that the power management software doesn't get to do its thing. And then you get an iToaster.

    My iMac at home is in the kitchen, and gets intense but sporadic use, so that it's asleep well over half the day. That really does help a lot.

  • I, for one, had trouble sleeping in my room the night before I went off to college. Then it hit me -- my box was shut down, leaving only the eerie quiet of creaking rafters and settling house. When I go to a new place, I can't sleep unless I put on a fan, which itself is a poor substitute for the distinctive case-muffled hum of my baby.

    If it were silent, I'd be in serious trouble. Serious -- I become nervous and scared in complete silence. (I'm not a freak!)

    -Grendel Drago
  • Link should be []
  • Actually, from what I've read (ieee specturm, can't remember issue), the FAA has nothing (or little) to do with the cell phone ban on airplanes. The FCC beat them too it:). Basicly, as cell phones are designed to be operated from the ground, they're a problem in the sky. They wind up `flooding' several cells and thus cause grief for the cellular network. However, if the FCC hadn't banned cell phones at altitude (they're even banned in a hot air baloon:), the FAA would have for the reasons you've stated.
  • I second that. I used to surf the site Sunday nights to get my weekly dose of news, but the threads today have just been pathetic.
  • I have to wonder about these new fanless iMacs. I've seen the demo machines in stores, and I have to tell you, those suckers are hot to the touch.

    Much of that heat is coming off of the CRT, which is a major heat source in any machine. The heat that does come from the other componentry rises pretty quickly to the top of the case. Feel the bottom of the next demo unit you see and you'll find that it's quite cool.

    I do worry a bit about my iMac 350 when it's running Linux for too long, since the new power management unit isn't supported by the kernel yet, and the builtin monitor in the slot-loading models doesn't respond to standard vesa blanking. I can spin down the harddrive to reduce heat generation, however.

    (I run Debian [] on my iMac/350.)

  • Actually, some people think better with music, news, or some other alternate form of audio input.

    When there is little noise, my hearing becomes more sensitive to noises further away.

  • You mean everybody doesn't hear that? I figured i must be at least a little over-sensative, since i can hear a medium size TV through a closed window from outside, but i'd always just assumed everyone heard that annoying buzz and just ignored it..
  • I use a Rebel.Com NetWinder. They're sooooooooo quiet. Half the time, the fan's turned off! No heat!

    But when I have to use a PC, I stick to my old P233 with a fairly quiet power supply fan, one fan at the front that I may as well take out, and one on the CPU. None of this PIII monstrosity with like 5 fans on it!

    Well, I guess I'll have to upgrade soon... =(
  • I've never tried putting dynamat inside a computer, but i don't know that it will help much. I've used it extensively inside my car, mostly it deadens cheap door panels that vibrate and create noise. I don't think putting this stuff in your computer case is going to silence noisy fans and hard drives. The noise such devices create is pretty high pitched, and well outside of dynamat's optimal dampening range. Dynamat works best with in between frequencies, its fairly ineffective against low base and high treble.
    In order to really cut down those high pitched sounds, you'd have to enclose the entire PC in a sealed box, but that sort of eliminates the point of fans now doesn't it :-)

  • by TheReverand ( 95620 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @02:15PM (#993897) Homepage
    I'd like to know what these people are using that is so loud. Maybe they just don't remember what stuff USED to sound like.

    Case in point, I have an old x86 box running SCO. It has 3 Full Height SCSI-2 5.25 drives. These mothers are DAMN loud. I'm talking a high pitch whine that attracts animals from miles around (and drives my cat up the wall).

    Next to it I have another more *ahem* recent machine. It's a 550 with CD/RW, CD, 2 IDE and 1 SCSI-3 drive. Full Tower extra wide Server case I ganked from a client, with 5(!!!) fans. I can't hear the fans over the TV. Why? The case.

    The case is made out of steel. I am not going to pretend to understand why, but this is the quietest case I have ever owned, (the heaviest too).

    My point? I think with these super cheap, tiny cases you are going to have more of a noise factor. The cases are all plastic and have 0 insulation. Let's face it, most of these companies are using sub-par parts in order to keep their costs down. CHeap fans are loud, Cheap HD's are loud, and cheap cases let all the sound out.


    Of course let's not forget the sound of MS users screaming at BSOD's. They probably make the most noise of all. `;^)

  • The prob I have with noise is that I do quite a bit of accoustic recording. I swear to gawd that every damn recording I have naturally has computer fan noise in the background. Noise reduction software does little to fix these as thay all have artifacting associated with them (not that those that think MP3s are CD quality would ever notice though). My Powerbook makes no noise, but I can't hook up my Darla to it. iMacs are great, but they can't accept PCI card.

    A fanless computer would do a lot to solve my probs. Right now, I just hook up long wires (actually a KVM remote) and run the CPU outside of the pianer room where it don't make no noise.

  • Here's the deal: The G3 uses very little power, as has been stated, however that only accounts for the removal of the cpu fan. You'll notice that the Yosemite towers have case fans.

    The reason the iMac has no case fan is its "chimney" design. The fanless-computer has been an Apple design mainstay since '84 and was one of the reasons why the original Mac was vertical in design instead of horizontal like all other computers of the time. By building a very vertical box with a horizontal component layout, heat can "chimney" up and out. It's the same theory with the iMac.

    On a related note, another reason why I find my Mac far quieter than my x86 beast is the CD drive. Anything above 24x sounds like an F-18 in heat. Apple made the decision that the marginal useful gain a 40x (or faster) CD offers is not worth the the atrocious noise. I bought Caesar III for the Winders machine, and mothballed it after an hour. It accesses the CD so much I found it worthwhile to pay for it again when the Mac version came out.

  • by T.Hobbes ( 101603 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @02:16PM (#993907)
    one main reason, so far as i can tell, that the imac can live without a fan is that its chip has far lower power consuption, and therefore generates much less heat that the x86 counterparts, and therefore require less cooling
  • This page has a good description of how heat pipes work and a section on using them on "hot CPU's I apologize for not putting it in the first post but Ow well. It looks promising n.html
  • How effective is the case? Try pulling open the cover that hides the CDROM, and notice the difference. The machine goes from just about inaudible to definitly there, but still quiet.

    Not to mention that the case opens like a door to access the innards of the box. A lot of folks like me tend to run computers with the cover off because it is usually made of flimsy, flexable sheet metal that has to be bent to just the right degree to fit in a tiny groove in the chassis. The Apple case gives regular computer users the kind of convenience that you usually see in server class machines.

  • I build all my boxes with PC Power & Cooling components.

    Not only are they better cases, power supplies and fans, but they are VERY quiet. Keep in mind that I only use the "Silencer" series and have not tried the "Economy" or "Performance" components. Their stuff is a little pricey, but well worth it. I have a P133, Dual P-Pro 200 and a 600 P3 in a 10' X 10' room with no carpeting. Think I care about noise?

    "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."
  • This says nothing about how warm the computer itself...

    Well, I felt the bottom of the sides of the iMac box, too, and that was pretty darn warm. Not as hot as the top, but still much warmer then I like. Now, I didn't pull the thing apart and stick a temperature probe on the CPU -- I think the salesmen might have had something to say about that -- but if the exposed sides were that warm, what were the components inside like?

    Remember, folks, a computer running hot isn't necessarily going to burn up. High temperatures may cause erratic behavior, or simply shorten the life of your components.

    Remember, also, that your average home user is going to have papers, dust, and other junk piled around the unit. I'd say the number one cause of failed components in home computers these days was heat stress, due to clogged or covered vents, or a failed fan in a single-fan system.

    IMO, home computers need all the cooling help they can get. With a temperature monitor, the fan will only run when it needs to, so I really think Apple made a bad move here.
  • by gargle ( 97883 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @06:10PM (#993936) Homepage
    If you don't need the computer at night, why not just turn it off? What does uptime do for you?
  • . .Transmeta on a desktop.
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @02:22PM (#993939)
    It's an important thing for geeks - how much fanage your system has. You know - it's like "normal" guys make huge garages and are measured by their piston count. Computer geeks, OTOH, are measured by how many fans and computers you have. If the lights don't dim when you power your baby up, you ain't worthy!

    I got 2 120VAC exhaust fans, 3 HDD cooler fans, 3 more for the CPU, another for the GeForce, two intake fans at the base, a blower in one of the free expansion slots (two extra USB ports? who needs 'em!).. and that's just my workstation! Hell, my parents put me in the basement because it actually caused the walls to VIBRATE when I turned this beast on! Plus, I got two more fans on the switch.. another 5 inside the server box, 3 for the dev box, well.. 5 if you count the "minifans" I hung on the side, and I have CENTRAL AIR to my bedroom - yeah, that's right - when we were building this thing, I asked for 3 ducts into my room.. and shit, it still ain't enough! I'm wanting to get one of those RAID towers and some rackmount gear in here too.. I live up in minnesota and these dual-pentiums keep me nice and toasty down here...

    Mmmm... more power... must cause brownout...

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @02:24PM (#993940)
    Run the RC5 client on your machine, pipe the updates to the printer (it must be an old clunky dot-matrix) and then you've got yourself a nice little white-noise generator -- equivalent to using electronic devices that play sounds of the forest or rain to sooth you to sleep in noisey apartment complexes.

    Trust me, with a dot-matrix continually printing through the day, the last thing you'll be concerned with is the noice of your computer fans and drives!

  • Well, "noise" when the disk is accessed is OK. But, after reading that article, I checked WTF was making all that NOISE coming from my computer. It was not the powersupply, it was not the CPU fan. Hmm.. COULD it be the disks? Ohyes. THey produce a high-pitched 'whine' all the time - by just beeing powered up. One thing is certain, I'm going to throw out that disk next week :)

    "Rune Kristian Viken" - - arcade@efnet
  • I am sitting at home by my king size ATX without the left panel on it (I keep my case open at all times) there are 3 fans on the SCSI IBM 9ZX drive (it needs extra cooling at 10020RPM). The 3dfx Voodoo Banchee has a fan on it. There is a fan on the 400PII, it's overclocked to 450 so there are 2 extra fans around it. There are also 2 other fans just for the heck of it blowing one at U2W SCSI card and one at 3Com NIC. I do not have to mention the fan in the ATX power supply. Well, basically when this thing boots up, at the point when the SCSI boot sequence kicks in, it sounds like a helicopter, but that is how I know everything is OK. You know when your car does some strange noises, you can feel something is wrong, same idea here. Otherwise this would be a v3ry silent machine.

    On the other hand in my office, we have air conditioner that sounds like a turbine and over 60 computers all in the open space adding up to a good working bee hive, plus all the people who talk, laugh, use phones, move things around and even play music (not loud, mostly on their head sets).
    The only way to attack noise there is to use headphones and some techno stuff. However I tried looking for an Active Noise Reduction (n0t to be mixed with Active Nose Reduction) and I found out quite a lot about these things. Unfortunately they only implement real ANS in helicopters and airplane pilot cabins. In order to get ANS at the work place you could not just put a couple of units around to make everything go silent, you'd have to use these: [] Anyway, does anyone know about implementing real ANS at a work place (open concept), I would greately appreciate help. THX
  • I deliberately selected an obsolete model of a name brand PC (Siemens), to get quality rather than raw computing power this time, at a price I could afford.

    So now I have a Celeron 300A based PC that turns out to be 100% reliable, and makes no noise. There is no processor fan; the only thing I hear is the HDD. Rather than be tempted by sexy clock cycles like with my last PC, I concluded that when a PC frustrates me by making me wait, it is nearly always loading something from disk, and rarely because the CPU is 100% busy, so I replaced the HDD with a 7200 rpm one.

    Now if only I could find a silent PC keyboard. My neighbours complain they can hear the keys clicking if I leave my window open.
  • Nice and opaque. put it over the lights. No more blinding LEDs. Doesn't match the case color? Black spraypaint :) or get some of the colored electricians tape. Just as opaque.
  • by drix ( 4602 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @06:29PM (#993973) Homepage
    I just took out all the fans in my case/power supply and replaced them with their equivalent "queit" version from here []. They have standard 80mm fans which are way quieter. They also offer a silent power supply, but it's expensive and I have a feeling it's just a normal PS with a quiet fan stuck in it. You can do that yourself - easily. Also worth mentioning is their Silent Drive enclosure - I don't have one, but it's the mechanical whine of the hard drive that really bothers most people. The white noise of the fan is actually quite relaxing. I can't sleep in a room that doesn't have a fan going... besides, the smartest and cheapest thing to do is to just spin down your hard drive at night. It's easier on the drive.

    Carpet, BTW, is a no-no. To make a long story short, save yourself a lot of trouble and do not do that. Ever notice how carpet becomes electrostatically charged easily? Ever notice how dust is attracted to carpet?

    Riiight... now you get it :)

  • You can put on an MP3 to avoid silence, but a 42 dBa whine means you have to play the MP3 TOO LOUD to drown it out.
  • My 10krpm drive uses 20W max... A iPMMX 233 uses ~19W... Some of the P-II line use ~40W. Most drives don't have a fan on them, but even a small fan keeps my drive cooler than the CPU...
  • by adolf ( 21054 ) <> on Sunday June 18, 2000 @09:17PM (#993984) Journal
    (Score:-1, Redundant)

    iMacs run hot, just as TVs run hot, monitors run hot, and most other vacuum tubes run hot. This says nothing about how warm the computer itself (which is placed below the CRT inside the box) runs. Gravity being what it is, heat rises and creates convection currents, and (in the case of an iMac) the chimney effect. Cool air comes in the bottom, warm/hot air exits the top. Just like it might if there were a fan in place, without a fan.

    Incidentally, this is also a main reason why the primary cooling fan in a vertically-inclined computer exhausts air from near the top of the case, while cool air enters at the bottom (certain ATX 1.0-compliant power supplies excepted, due to stupidity on intel's part).

    That all said, I'll attempt to identify some potential trouble-spots and some possible solutions for them:

    The computer, as a whole. Heat reduction, damping and isolation are key (in that order).

    Reduce heat by taking out everything that makes heat that you can get by without, and reduce cooling capacity accordingly.

    To isolate it, move the box far away, and/or put obstacles between it and you. The Other Side of the Desk is a good option, or in a closet if permissable. The only reason you might need to fiddle with it with any frequency these days is to access the CD-ROM drive, and probably only then if you're a gamer, or you listen to audio CDs with the computer. If the latter, simply plonk out $50 (or less) on a cheap portable player and a patch cord from Radio Shack, and you'll probably enjoy superior sound at the same time. If you're a gamer, learn to deal with it, or crack your software to not require CDs to play, or invest in a multi-disc changer (which is handy, anyhow).

    For damping, use Dynamat, which is an asphalt-based adhesive-backed compound which seeks to add non-resonant mass in quantities suitable for sound deadening purposes on light-guage sheet metal. Typically, it comes in a roll, sold by the square foot, and appplication is just peel-and-stick. It's a little pricey for what it is, and there are knock-off brands which probably work just as well for less money. It's important to note, however, that the adhesives used in Dynamat don't degrade with heat, and will probably stay attached until well after you're dead and buried, which is good. Buy it at your local car audio shop (don't worry, they all know what it is) or online at Crutchfield or Parts Express.

    The purpose of this is to keep sound inside the computer, inside the computer, and/or kill it as it tries to leave, by making the large, expansive steel panels that comprise the cover of a computer much less prone to resonance. (Note to the more hardcore hardware hacks: This will require that you find, and replace, the top cover for your case.) Carpet pad, or wool carpet, or open-cell foam, or accoustic tiles, or anything else of that variety will not have an appeciable effect. These products all have their place, which is typically to provide a cushy surface to walk on, or a good accoustic enviroment - not sound isolation (the two are mutually exclusive). If your computer has its back to the wall, you might try placing some Sonex or Studiofoam on said wall to absorb some of the sonic reflection, but don't count on it being any tremendous benefit unless you've already done something about the sound travelling through the sides of the case.

    Enclosing the case is probably not an option, though some here have suggested it. In enclosing it, you'll be eliminating your access to it. And also eliminating any external airflow. Add airflow, and you either a) create a path for internal noise to get out, or b) adding additional noise by throwing even more fans at it.

    CD-ROM drives. The cheaper, the noisier (or so it seems). A LiteOn 32x ATAPI I have sounds like a jet turbine; in contrast, a 32x Plextor is more-or-less silent (but the newer 40x models seem to be louder). Solution: Buy a CD-ROM drive based on noise output, instead of data output and price. (Note that this will involve leaving the house, and possibly being social.)

    Hard drives. Sure, you can put them in a Quietdrive box, which is just sorbothane (or neoprene) rubber, wrapped in open-cell foam and shoved into a plastic box with zero airflow, and they'll be quiet (and hot, dispite the marketing department's claims otherwise). In this case, however, more traditional methods may be best: Move the drives further away from your ears, and you'll hear them less. Use LVD SCSI, if needed for distance (and enjoy a performance boost, to boot). Else, you can try applying Dynamat to the surfaces that the drives mount to, trimming around all the holes. Do *not* put Dynamat or any other poor thermal conductor directly on a hard drive (even substances with "good" thermal transmission characteristics may block breather holes on the top of the drive, which is a no-no). Or, try to find a quiet hard drive. Not that this is any easy task. I used to think that IBM's 9ES series of 7200RPM drives were quiet, until I recently bought and installed a more recent revision and noticed that it was no longer the case (that installation, sadly, was in a recording studio). On the other hand, they're particularly cool-running drives, which alleviates some cooling needs. One other possibility is that Quantum (IIRC) claims to have a line of quiet IDE drives.

    But, take all noise ratings with a grain or salt (or 20). They're usually expressed in terms of dBA, which is fine. However, they disclose zero details as to the measurement enviroment, distance from the measuring device, mounting to resonant surfaces (such as a computer's case), or any other factors which will have tremendous impact on such figures. If you want to get particularly anal about it, go to Radio Shack and get an SPL meter. The analog version goes on sale twice a year for something like $30. It will tell you exactly how loud something is at a given point. So, establish your a test procedure, and begin measurement. (If this seems like a silly thing to do, you're right.)

    CPU fan. Personally, I don't see the big deal here, as long as you use your ears when selecting one (or trust the marketing folks). PC Power and Cooling is well known for their quiet, long-lasting, and effective fans. Alternatively, I've got a Cooler Master on a K6-2 which does the trick, making negligable noise. In contrast, a Global Win fan that lives on another K6-2 here out-whines the cheap Japanese hard drive, the LiteOn CD-ROM, Mitsumi CD-R, and ball-bearing power supply fan combined. Luckily, the DFI motherboard offers some sort of fan-control that speeds up the fan (in Windows) when there's significant CPU activity and slows down when there's not, but it still screeches like a banshee even when kicked down to low idle.

    Rule of thumb seems to be that the bigger the heatsink, the higher the output of the fan which is attached to it. It doesn't need to be that way, but it is (*sigh*). In truth, the larger, or more dissipative the heatsink, the less air you need to have flowing over it. And, after you hit a certain point on size, you need no fan at all. CPUs these days can run *hot*, all day, every day, and continue to run at peak (rated) performance. You probably will need a fan if you're overclocking, but that's the price you pay.

    In a normal system, the only things left are the one or two fans left on the case. If you have two of them, try disabling one. It costs nothing and doesn't hurt to try. Feel the top of the case periodically, both before and after the change, to get a rough idea of how it affects the internal temperature and plug it back in if you deem it too hot. If you need something even quieter, or require more than one fan for proper cooling, you can buy lower-output fans from Mouser Electronics, or a silent (but fan-cooled) power supply from PC Power and Cooling.

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @02:31PM (#993986)
    Yup. put a resistor inline with the fan. You'll need to do alittle soldering, but if you reduce the speed of the fan, you'll do miracles for noise. DO NOT use carpeting inside your case - those things attract dust and will quickly choke the life out of your fans, as well as be a fire hazard. If you must, consider using something like Dynamat, which you can pick up at any car audio place. It is what car audio enthusiasts use to dampen noise in their trunks, along the floors, etc. It's basically a thuck chunk of rubber. It'll cost you alittle bit, but it's guaranteed to dampen noise.

    If you wanna get creative, make a small box outside the fan and use tissue paper or something to form a "sound barrier" around it. You'll need alot of surface area for it to suck air into, but that might help. Keep in mind that fans don't take well to decreased air pressure.. so check it before you seal it up.. or better yet - use a blower. Blowers are better at building pressure, at the expense of a slightly lower CFM rating.


  • So how does making the computer silent help, if it causes the ringing to increase in volume? The computer's either going to produce silence or white noise, if both of those are a problem, what difference does it make?

    Why don't they just put on an MP3 or something?

  • Just how helpless are you? Lean a piece of cardboard, or any other opaque material known to man, in front of the box and quit complaining. Jesus! Were you trying to curry some irate modpoints or what?

  • I couldn't get the cpu (a k6-2-380) to run at full load with the largest passive heatsink I could find w/o getting too hot. Underclocking didn't help much.

    Try underclocking and undervolting.

    Undervolting makes the biggest difference- according to some article I read somewhere heat production is linear to the clock frequency, but exponential to the voltage.

    You usually need to underclock in order to undervolt. As I understand it, at lower voltages the transistors take longer to change state, so they may not be able to keep up with the normal MHz.

  • Silent computers? Are you kidding? That's a pretty horrible idea. Seriously, I like a little bit of noise from my computer, just enough so that I know it's on and working. Especially the hard drive. You type in a command and enter. The computer goes to a blank screen and sits there. Is it thinking? Blocking? Stalling? Dead?

    Maybe I'm just nostalgic for my old Apple IIe. Man, when it wanted to read a disk, and it didn't like what was in its drive, it *told* you about it.


  • I was in a server room with loud computer fans. Geez, I can't imagine being in there for a long period of time. My ears started to rang like heck after 30 minutes! I wonder how many server operators actually go deaf? I can picture them wearing those headsets you see at the airports :).

  • by OnyxMedia ( 202132 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @09:54PM (#994019)
    I just installed a variable resistor (POT) on my power supply fan. Now I have a little knob on back of case which I can use to turn down the noise. With the fan spinning slow, it still moves enough air volume to keep the power supply from baking, but its nice and quiet.

    I used a 10k ohms potentionmeter from Radio Shack, but that seems to be way to much resistance. Probably a couple hundred k ohms would be perfect. Or you can buy a bunch of resistors and just install the one that gives you a good speed. But with the POT, on hot days, or when I won't be around, I can still crank the fan up all the way.
  • The article answers this question, the analog part of the machine (monitors speakers) are isolated from the digital parts. Heat from the monitor rises up away from the chip/MB and the chip is cooled through traditional Apple vent design.

    BTW, there's no PC noise when wearing headphones. Sure beats $80 in cables to hide your PC in the closet.

  • How about that POST beep? Hey dummy I pushed the button I know you're powering up.

    That sound the computer makes only when I type. If I ever find the source of those annoying clicks I'm calling tech support.

    That fan on the back, when will PC manufacturers make a machine for my ultra senstive bat ears? We must think of some PC catchphrase for this, Autonomous Audible Attack Syndrome anyone? "I'd love to see Stereolab tonight but my AAS is acting up."

    The sounds web pages make. Why would I want to hear some Don Henley song, let alone in crappy MIDI synth form.

    ICQ foghorn, just in case a tanker is about to crash into my apartment as I decide to chat with other anti-social types.

  • by CaptainAvatar ( 113689 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @02:35PM (#994027)
    It's already too late for that ... MacOS 9 already has voiceprint identification [], although this is only for logging in and not general use. I've been thinking of buying a microphone just so I can test it out ...
  • I used to use a diskless Sun ELC as my desktop machine - it was silent except when I had the CD running, and didn't waste much space. It was Black&White, so I occasionally needed to go to the lab to use a color screen, and it honked out when somebody did disk backups across the LAN, but it was usually just great, and 1153x900 still beats most PCs I use.

    Back when we used dumb terminals, they usually came with fans. But they were usually from Hewlett Packard, and therefore overengineered and highly reliable. My boss would simply disconnect the fan in his machine - the top of the case eventually got a bit warped, but it still worked just fine, and he could reconnect it if he ever needed to get it repaired.

    My friend Hugh had his computers in a kitchen cabinet, with cables running out the back to his desk in the living room, with three big monitors, keyboards, etc., but all the noisy stuff was stashed away.

  • When you're in an office where every person has three 21" monitors, a couple Ultra 10's, a couple P3/600mhz's and a laptop on their desk, you'll definitely notice just how noisey they really are.

    Our division recently moved from Mountain View to Santa Clara and I stayed behind for awhile in the old office. Even with just a hand full of machines running and nobody in the office, the noise was enough to drive you nutty.

    Thankfully, our new offices are real offices (not cubicles). Granted, they have goofy sliding doors instead of real solid wood doors, but at least the glass is somewhat sound-proofed. With my door closed and the lights off, I can tolerate the noise of my boxes purring along, even when I have my music turned off. But throw fifty of these things together -- or even a hundred or two hundred, in the same general and open office space and although the noise cancels itself out, it still registers in your poor head. It's a wonder people have headaches so often in these environments.

    Even my dinky Dell Latitude CPi laptop drives me nuts with it's horribly clanky CD drive and hard drives.

    As long as the need for mechanical moving parts continues, the noise will also remain. I don't see any inexpensive or simple ways to avoid all of these noises so long as there are plates spinning in your hard drive, CD's spinning in your CDROM, and fans cooling your system off.

    Perhaps some sort of additional enclosure around the PC case -- with slots for peripherals -- will help ease the noise, but this would probably have to be a custom job. Maybe something like a big Tupper-Ware box with the same sort of sound-abosrbing tiles that you find in an office ceiling fastened about the entire inside of the secondary case -- with a couple small slits in each corner to allow for air-flow. If it's made out of the right material, you could probably avoid any aditional cooling technology to be implemented.

    I don't know -- just an idea.

  • by knghtbrd ( 593 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @10:18PM (#994032)
    Most newer off-the-shelf computers do not have a CPU fan. My Dell PIII doesn't have a single fan on that chip and you'd think it roasts to death. No way, it's cooler than the P200 sitting next to it that can be heard from the other room. If I shut dow that machine I can barely hear a whisper. So how do the new machines keep from baking themselves? Did Intel stop making ovens instead of CPUs? Certainly not. Intel chips can still get hot enough to fry an egg without proper cooling..! Maybe it's part of their patent or something, eh?

    No, the reason is that the little fan that is stuck to the top of that P200 makes a lot of noise. The one in the power supply isn't exactly silent, but compared to the one on the CPU you'd never notice.

    What this Dell and a lot of these quiet machines are doing is moving the fan off the CPU and putting it in the back of the case. If you just put a suitable heatsink on the CPU itself with some heat putty and snap a little plastic baffel over the CPU, what happens is that the bigger, higher powered, quieter fan in the back of the case pulls air in side the case under this baffel, over the heatsink, and immediately out the back of the case. This is an extremely efficient design.

    The P200 sitting next to it pulls the air already over the heatsink off of it which supposedly adds to the circulation (though in my experience not very much) and pushes it into the middle of the case. Usually airflow is blocked by cables or something, so there's no real unobstructed path for the air to follow. Result? My P200 is quite warm to the touch. My PIII isn't cold to the touch (it's hot in here), but it's not noticably any warmer than the surrounding air temperature. Of course, add a petlier effect plate to that heatshink and watch the temperature of that chip drop below the room temperature.

    So I guess the question is, are there any good recommendations for comodity cases with a similar duct design? This plastic Dell case works, but it's not expandable enough for a real geek. Not enough drive bays and the whole thing is plastic and not nearly as sturdy as the average $80 metal case, to say nothing of the nifty CalPC steel cases we all drool over.. =)

  • The noise of computers has never bothered me. Right now, the room I sleep in has a Dual PII-450 that has a total of 11 fans in it, a Dual PPro-200 that has 5, and a PII-450 with 6. Unless I consciously think about it, I don't hear the sound.

    I guess I just sorta filter it out without even thinking about it. I'm not sure how common this is though. I've been doing it all my life, sometimes in bad ways :) I remember when I was young, my mother was convinced I had 'selective hearing', where I would filter out things I didn't want to hear without even realizing it. So if she was upstairs and called down to me 'you have a phone call' , I'd hear it, but if she called down 'come up and clean your room', I would honestly not recall ever hearing it.

    Weird I guess. Either way, computer noise doesn't bother me, because I just don't hear it unless I try to.
  • With a bunch of open systems, you run the very high chance that you're going to be leaking RFI all over the place. Plus a good cooling system (better than I have here) can cause the machine to run a few degrees cooler than the surrounding room. This is always a good thing. Your cooling solution guarantees that the machine's components will be at the same temperature as the room they're in, if not perhaps a little hotter due to energy/heat transfer and lack of air circulation.
  • by oh shoot ( 79863 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @02:39PM (#994035) Homepage
    There are two things that make the Apple machines quiet: Efficiency and quality cases.

    The iMac is silent because it has no fan. The CPU daintily sips power, whereas an Athlon or P3 guzzles it. This leads to very little heat, and thus eliminates several things: noisy CPU fans, case fans, and noisy power supplies.

    The quality plastic cases on the iMac, G3, and G4 also do a fair amount of silencing noise. These cases are made of thick plastic that absorbs noise from fans and hard drives. One of the more frustrating things about my G3 is that it lacks not only drive lights (helpful when seeing if the machine is frozen), but also the sounds the hard drive makes.

    How effective is the case? Try pulling open the cover that hides the CDROM, and notice the difference. The machine goes from just about inaudible to definitly there, but still quiet.

    Compare this to a PC with a cheapo metal case that has a plastic front. Every sound is clear - you don't need drive lights, because the HD makes different noises for reads and writes.

    The funny thing about quiet computers is that generally, you end paying more to get less (noise, of course).


  • Unless you're running a server of some kind or you use your computer at all hours, I don't see the point of uptime for its own sake. Even if you use your computer all day, just flip it on when you get out of bed in the morning (or whenever)...

    I'd have to wait the moment while it boots before laboriously reopening all my projects. I like to walk away without a thought and when i return, pick up where i left off. Even if i've slept in between.


  • If you've never listened to The Symphony for Dot Matrix Printers [], you don't know what you're missing. Celebrate the odd whirls and creaks of your system--they help tell you if your computer is healthy, as much as car noises do.
  • sometimes the CD-ROM drive would vibrate really bad.

    There are ways to slow down the spindle speed of a CD-ROM drive, which reduces the level of noice and vibration considerably.

    Take a look at these utilities:

    setcd [] (debian package)
    CDBremse [] for Windows
    or compile a piece of code in this usenet discussion []
    (the article is in Finnish, but code is written in English)
  • I like a little bit of noise from my computer, just enough so that I know it's on and working. Especially the hard drive.

    That's what Das Blinkenlights [] (BeOs) are for!

  • by Pike ( 52876 )
    Unless you're running a server of some kind or you use your computer at all hours, I don't see the point of uptime for its own sake. Even if you use your computer all day, just flip it on when you get out of bed in the morning (or whenever)...

    It says something about us /.ers that your post was moderated 'Funny' they couldn't believe you were serious :-)

  • I'm not talking about the costs of wasted power from hot CPUs, multiple 7200rpm drives, and 3D video cards...but the fans to cool them. In a new machinee, I have 5 fans costing a minimum of $30...and these are the cheap ones not the good quality (and quiet) PC-Power and Cooling equipment.

    To cut the sound some, it would easily double or tripple the costs.
  • My sun4 has a fan in it.. but it's so quiet, you have to get your ear near it to hear at all. It's just there to provide minimal airflow.

    Many computers are actually not noisy..
    Peoples lust for the next fastests best thing means more heat, which means more fans....

    The other thing, of course, is having all noisemaking equipment (main cpu, motherboard, drives) all in a closet or other room even, and simply have the rest neworked over some kidn of high speed bus.
  • Gee, does anybody actually use Google [] anymore? I asked Google for quiet power supply ATX and just one of the many wonderfully informative links it returned was for [].

    I think I'll order a new power supply now...


  • by dragonfly_blue ( 101697 ) on Sunday June 18, 2000 @02:49PM (#994096) Homepage
    I just built a server last week, and one of my goals was to make it somehow quieter than it had been. It was built from an old Compaq Deskpro a client had given up on, and when I got it, it sounded like a fricking airport. I record music with my computer, so keeping the volume level down has assumed some importance, especially since I have three or four computers going sometimes. Microphones are pretty sensitive these days, and digital recordings only serve to expose any extraneous noise in the environment, while analog tapes sometimes help to mask such artifacts.

    Anyway, moving right along. I basically had taken the Compaq Deskpro apart, stripping it for parts, even took out the processor and the hard drives and cables, even the proprietary BIOS (which I subsequently had to hunt up of course.)

    I had pretty much stripped the thing, short of taking out the motherboard, and chucked it in my basement for around 8 months until I remembered it.

    When I rebuilt it, it took a while to find all the pieces, but I finally got it back together. Everything worked fine; I noticed it was a P-133 (not MMX) with a fairly decent heatsink on it. What the hell could be making that much noise??? It sounded like a wheezing tuberculosis patient.

    So I snooped around a bit, and looked at it from a few angles, and lo and behold, it was of course the power supply fan. "Aha!" I thought to myself. "I'll just replace the fan with another, quieter fan!"

    So after trying about four equally noisy fans (and lord only knows why they sounded like jet airplanes) it occurred to me that perhaps they were receiving too much current.

    I'm no electronics expert, but I seemed to remember something about resistors (those funky little striped electronic thingers) resisting current, so I hunted up my box of spare parts, and tried throwing a couple of 'em on in series with the power supply fan.

    Eventually I found one that was just right, and it slowed the fan down to that perfect balance, between putting out enough air current, and sounding like the Los Alamos Wind Turbine Hurricane Emulator.

    I guess what I'm saying is; if you have an especially loud fan in your computer, why not just step the current down a little bit? Sure, it might not blow out quite as much air as it did, but you won't find yourself trying to figure out where that whooshing sound is coming from, either.

    Probably won't work if your machine is overclocked though... ;-) In that case, get a Peltier instead. Or earplugs.

  • The Apple ][ design was to eliminate the fan as to avoid the noise.

    The Ergo Brick was designed without a fan. It used a heat conductive gel that used the metal case to conduct away the heat.

    But if we eliminate the noise from the fan, then the noise from the monitor, the drives would then become an issue. What's the point?

  • Exactly. When one lives in the seedier parts of town, one finds the soothing hum of several computers a sleeping aid as it drowns out the yells of drunks and the "POP" of drive-by shootings. :-)

    (Well, that was before I moved to Japan, I sleep to the soothing sounds of ferrel cats fighting and making out in the neighborhood.)
  • Can ACPI be used to monitor temperatures, and turn fans on/off accordingly? It seems like ACPI implementations are still pretty weak. I think the fans go off in various sleep states, but it'd be nice to toggle them based on temperature.

  • I live in Houston. The A/C in my appartment drowns out almost any other noise. Hell, to watch TV I have to punch up the volume on my stereo to retarded levels just to to hear it over the A/C fan. Quiet computers are low on the list of "must haves" at the moment. If I ever move back to Canada that might change.
  • I actually have one of the newer iMac DV's that does not have a fan at all, and another reason they can go fanless is the design of the case. The case is designed so that when it rests on your desk it tilts up a little to allow access to airholes for ventilation underneath, and on the top of the machine it has more airholes. This allows it do ventilate better in a "natural" fashion than most PC's do.

    However, it still does make some noise. In particular you can here the HD, and if you put in a CDROM, that also makes a lot of noise.

  • You're smoking some bad crack. I have never been on a flight which hasn't allowed me to use my nice shiny Thinkpad. You obviously haven't flwon in a while.

    Laptops are in the same category as cd players and walkmans on airplanes...once they've started cruising, use it all you like. Cell phones are a quite different story..they were designed to emit large amounts of radiation in communications bands, I would think.

    Anyway, why do you think they make dvd playser for laptops? Those coast to coast business flights :P
  • Wow, so the fans were that bad! Did they use sign languages to communicate (besides typing) in the server room(s)?

  • The fact that the case feels hot is a GOOD thing. It's doing it's job and dissipating heat. If it were NOT hot, that would mean that the heat is trapped inside.

    Just like, you can tell, the well-insulated homes are the ones that have tons of snow on the roof. The ones leaking heat melt the snow.

    If it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is!
  • Laptops are generally much less noisy, and they also consume less power. APM allows you to suspend them quickly. And with Firewire and USB, you can expand them almost as much as a desktop.
  • I've solved the sound problem on the one machine in my apartment that never goes off. I disconnected the power supply fan.

    Yep. It wasn't intentional, originally, the fan broke and I just never got around to replacing it. But now I've had this K7 running almost continuously (i.e., 24/7) for two years without a problem, without a fan, and with virtually no sound.

    Sure, I expect the CPU to blow out at some point, or maybe lose some memory, but at this point the whole thing's been pretty cost-effective.

  • Yeah those mp3 from that site really rocks!! I'd trade this on napster over the metalica anyday!.
  • You know, I remember when I started doing professional development for a small mom/pop shop in Phoenix, AZ - and they didn't have a spot for me to work, so they stuck me in the computer room. I complained that the noise was going to be a problem, they told me to just ignore it, and it would go away. You know something, they were RIGHT.

    Gawd I sure do miss the sound of that Prime machine's power supply, the air-conditioner (that kept the room a chilly 65F, year round) noise, the numerous servers, and the Genicom 3820 and 4440 line printers!

    And they are complaining about a "noisy" PC?

Beware of the Turing Tar-pit in which everything is possible but nothing of interest is easy.