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Build a Quiet Gaming System 204

ThinSkin writes "Armed with a newly discovered soundproofing foam, Loyd Case from ExtremeTech set out to build a quiet gaming rig that hits the sweet spot in both performance and silence. After choosing the right components and insulating the PC case, Loyd's silent PC weighed in at a shade under $2500, scored 5206 3DMarks, and is hardly audible from more than a meter away."
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Build a Quiet Gaming System

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  • what?? (Score:5, Funny)

    by rovingeyes ( 575063 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @06:56PM (#14937526)
    is hardly audible from more than a meter away

    I dunno about you, but I really like to be within reach of my computer when I am playing...

    • Haven't you heard about a marvelous invention called WIRE.
      It allows your input and output devices to be situated away from the noisey box.. :P
      • Re:what?? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kesuki ( 321456 )
        wire may have latency advantages, but they also have this nifty 'wireless' technology available... so one can take one's keyboard and mouse a few meteres farther than cable can be extended.

        That being said, the 'insulating foam' seems like it has less to do with the silence than with the ultra silent, ultra efficient heatsink like the zalman one they used [] (they also mave an aftermarket VGA cooler model, that's just as silent)

        yeah the CPU and VGA cooler each putting out around 20 dbs of noise ;) and then clai
        • yeah the CPU and VGA cooler each putting out around 20 dbs of noise ;) and then claiming it's some 'special foam' that's making it virtually silent? 20 Dbs isn't that silent either, i usually run my TV set at 20 DBs.

          20 + 20 = 22 or so. The special foam absorbs some of this noise, which reduces the noise, possibly to 12db.

          hrm. ~20 dbs or 2 dbs not to mention that one can build a full mineral oil bath rig that uses the same zalman cooler sans fan, for a 0 dbs 'full immersion liquid cooled' rig.

          How many

    • Just get a long monitor cable, and a wireless keyboard and mouse. Then you can put your noisy little hot-air maker anywhere you want, as long as the monitor cable can reach.
    • Unless you're working on a laptop, how many people work such that their EAR is within 1M of their PC?
      • I just measured the distance between my ears and my main dev machine. It's less than a metre away.
      • you have a metre long monitor kb and mouse cables?

        ( i know they exsist but how many people purchase extenders? )

        grandparent is exactly what I thought. except for the fringe people that hide the PC in a closet 3 rooms over from where they actually are working, most computers are either on or under a desk. definately alot less than a metre away.

      • Everyone. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Inoshiro ( 71693 )
        Every single workstation in the comp sci lab at the University has the monitor on top of the actual computer case. A 1m radius sphere around it would intersect with anyone's head.

        When I sit at a desktop at home, my head is between 70 and 90cm from 2 computer towers, both of which are on my desk next to my monitor.

        Do you know that a metre is 100cm, or 3 and 1/3rd feet?

        I don't know of any people who have their PC cases far away from their monitors, and I don't know of any people who sit more than 1 metre fro
  • Feh (Score:3, Funny)

    by Mad Ogre ( 564694 ) <> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @06:58PM (#14937549) Homepage
    I can do the same thing to any PC in just a few seconds with a can of "GREAT STUFF" foam.
  • Eh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by GmAz ( 916505 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @06:59PM (#14937555) Journal
    One must not forget that all that foam will increase temperatures in the case as well as make it a pain to get back in the machine to replace\troubleshoot hardware issues. He should have gone with [] . Its much much thinner and won't retain the heat.
    • Yeah, Dynamat (Score:5, Informative)

      by ignatz72 ( 891623 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:34PM (#14937777)
      When I first saw this article the first thing that popped into my head was DYNAMAT. Though the Antec solution w/ foam is pretty cool. But what about the dust that would collect in the foam? EWW.

      A couple drawbacks with Dynamat - it ain't cheap, so it would cost more than the foam kit, but you could build a quiet box much cheaper than $2500 anyway, so that probably isn't a huge consideration.

      I've used Dynamat in my car, and it is also kinda tough to work with. For best results you have to warm it for fitting, and that means you're working with a sheet of sticky play-doh. And you would think cutting it with an xacto knife or razor would be cake, but again, it's tricky.

      Unfortunately, Dynamat probably would likely retain some ambient heat in the case just like the foam. To what degree though? *shrug*

      One last thought - Dynamat is typically used in much louder, more dynamic volume environments - your car with a thumpin system on a street with potholes. Seems like Dynamat is more for serious vibration dampening vs. ambient dampening. Then again, I haven't coated my car's interior walls or hood w/ Dynamat, so what do I know?
      • Re:Yeah, Dynamat (Score:3, Informative)

        by DigiShaman ( 671371 )
        Seems like Dynamat is more for serious vibration dampening vs. ambient dampening.

        That's exactly what it's for! In order to reduce or eliminate the white noise created from fans, you will need to use foam. Dynamat won't do anything for a PC other than reduce vibrational noise caused by hard drives and the like.
      • Re:Yeah, Dynamat (Score:2, Informative)

        by ddopson ( 940155 )
        There are three classes of acoustic products: Sound absorbtion and damping (air) - this is foam. It takes air born sound waves, absorbs them (as in _not_ reflecting), and converts them to heat (very little heat) Sound absorbtion and damping (solid) - this is dynamat. It takes sound waves traveling through a solid and damps them into heat. Kills vibrations on metal parts. Has an indirect effect on airborn sound by damping noise that is absorbed by the solid and would have otherwise been retransmitted (
        • I know sound studios use a pyramid foam that's very similar to the foam used in hard drive packaging to remove ambient noise from recording sessions.

          Given the decent shape, material, and quantity of this foam that HDs are shipped in, I wonder if some strategical placing of this foam inside the box could produce a noticable effect on noise without any added cost?

  • Great! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Now I can hear the explosions, gunshots and various other sound effects in peace!
    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Mad Ogre ( 564694 ) <> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:01PM (#14937578) Homepage
      Or you can surf your porn and hear anyone coming near your office.
  • Or.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:03PM (#14937586) could just use one huge heatsink: 4&code=020 []
  • Quiet or silent? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MaineCoon ( 12585 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:05PM (#14937604) Homepage
    I have built a fairly silent PC that, during normal operation, is barely audible. During gaming, it is not noticable with even moderate sound from the speakers at a medium volume, scores 7800 in 3DMark05, and cost $1800 (7 months ago). Today you could build it even cheaper:

    Antec P180 Case (a sound-dampening, full size steel case built for heat management and airflow, using multiple tri-speed 120mm fans)
    Antec TruPower 2 550 W power supply (in the P180 case, it goes down below, in a separate air flow chamber, so it stays pretty cool)
    Athlon64 3700+. Best gaming price/performance at the time I built the system.
    Stock heatsink/fan. This is where my noise comes from, and I was satisified; 32C/3000rpm idle, 44C/5500rpm at max load after 12 hours in an unvented, uncomfortably warm room.
    Audigy 2 ZS. Cuz I like EAX, k?
    eVGA GeForce 7800 GTX (nowadays, the 7900 GT is same performance but for $200 less than what I paid, and lower power/heat, and the 7900 GTX is more power for about $100 less and same power/heat)
    2 matched Corsair TWINX 1-gig sticks
    160 gig SATA-II Western Digital HD
    Sony DVD-ROM (they make fairly quiet drives)
    ASUS A8N-SLI Premium motherboard. Uses a heatpipe to move the chipset heat into the airflow coming off the CPU. Works fine. No noisy motherboard chipset fans.

    It isn't silent, but its quiet enough. If it's not running a game, I can only tell it's on if I concentrate and listen for it. If the window is open (I'm not on a busy street), the ambient outside noise drowns it out entirely.
    • Re:Quiet or silent? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:11PM (#14937642)
      The article doesn't seem to mention some other important ways to make your PC sound quieter. One is to simply move it away from the wall. Most PCs have a rear-blowing fan that fires right into a wall, and the sound reflection is quite strong. Moving the PC away from the wall reduces the power of the reflected sound. You can also mount foam on any hard surface behind or beneath the PC if moving it is impractical.

      Changing the way your PC is mounted to the floor can also make a big difference. All computer fans vibrate to some degree, and the feet on the PC case transfer this vibration to the floor or cabinet with a sometimes surprising transfer function. Getting softer or harder feet, or even bolting it down to a large heavy object, can quiet this down.

      Finally hard disks can be mounted on soft rubber grommets which makes a huge difference in how much sound is transferred from the drive to the case. This can eliminate the subtle but annoying noise generated by disk eccentricity and muffle the sound of the voice coil actuator.
      • I have a Dual G5 that is on the floor, on top of a spare towel. I had to put my desk in my bedroom as it was the only place it would fit, so I figured anything to help on the noise/vibration dampning is better than just sticking directly onto a hardwood floor. Seems to work OK.
      • Re:Quiet or silent? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bios_Hakr ( 68586 ) <[xptical] [at] []> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:33PM (#14937762)
        You'll pay a premium for "rubber grommets for component mounting". Instead, grab a bicycle intertube from WalMart for a few bucks. Use 9-11 certified utility knife to cit it into strips. Put a strip between the drives and the mounting bracket.

        Sometimes, the brackets are kinda tight. You can get over that by prying it open a bit. It'll come back together when you screw it down.

        Use all the screws you can. I see people just using one or two per side. Most CD-ROMs can take 4 screws per side; use all of them!

        Don't screw it down too tight. I've never seen a spec for how tight to torque a hard drive screw. Too tight and your dampener will be for naught. If you are concerned about the drive coming loose, grab some LokTite. If you are clever, a drop of rubber cement will server the same purpose as LokTite and costs a lot less.

        Get big fans and run them at lower RPMs. I know a lot of people are concerned over heat. Truth is, computers can run really fucking hot with no problems. 50c is a good number to be happy with. Even 60c isn't a big problem. Just make sure the hard drives are getting cool, fresh air.

        Make sure to select a good power supply with a 120mm fan. There is little you can do to quite a bad power supply.

        As for the other fans, get some baffles or thin foam. On the back of the PC, tape in some ducting to allow the fan to breathe without having a direct shot to the open air. A fan in the middle of a tube will be quieter than a fan at either end of the tube. Between the fan and the exit, stuff in some crumpled dryer sheets. These allow air flow but really deaden the noise. You can also use several stacked dryer sheets over the intake fans as well.

        Finally, take the fucking thing off the desk. There is no reason to have the PC on your desk. Put it under the desk or behind it. You know that box that the thing came in, use that to make a "computer cozy". Cut a few holes for air and cover them with dryer sheets. Cut another hole for the CD-ROM and cover that with a dryer sheet hinge. There will usually be a 1~2" gap between the box and the case. No dust or dirt will get in. It'll be dead quiet from inches away.
        • Re:Quiet or silent? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by geekoid ( 135745 )
          " If you are clever, a drop of rubber cement will server the same purpose as LokTite and costs a lot less."
          Nail polish is better. Easier to break, and not gummy.

          The reason CD-Roms come with 4 per side is to support different brackets and/or different screw sizes.
          Over tirgtening the scews can cause th cd rom drive frame to warp.
          Same thuing with hard drives.
          In both cases the spinning of the platters apply torque to the device.

        • Finally, take the fucking thing off the desk. There is no reason to have the PC on your desk.
          If I put my PC on the floor, my rats eat the cables.
          • Put it on the floor and put a cardboard box over it. Make a hole in the top and route the cables out of that. Dissolve some rat poision in water and then use that to treat the box.
            • Erm... they're pet rats. I'd really rather not poison them. :-)

              That aside, they could easily get onto the top of a box, they can jump a couple of feet no problem. I also doubt poison-soaked cardboard would actually stop them. Rats aren't always that easy to poison, and they don't generally eat cardboard, they just shred it.

              Plus, I imagine similar issues would arise with puppies, ferrets, rabbits, etc. too. That, and not everyone wants a cardboard box as part of their decor.

              And all that aside, there ar
              • Keep the computer under a box and behind the desk. No one will ever see it. No one will hear it.

                A friend of mine did one better. He had a bedroom closet on the other side of the wall from his office. He cut a small hole in the wall and ran a single USB cable and a monitor cable through. He installed a USB hub and plugged his KB and mouse into that. He also plugged a USB CD-ROM into the hub. Then he stuffed the hole with paper and put his desk right in front of it.

                His office is *dead quiet*. When he
        • Rubber grommets are expensive? I haven't looked, but I can't help thinking that there must be a pretty cheap source for them.

          I have not seen, nor can I find a "9-11 certified" utility knife, must be some new nonsense marketing buzzword. I think that a pair of circle punch cutters (to cut inner and outer diameter) from a decent leather store should do a better job.

          I am curious about the "crumpled dryer sheets" into exit tubes, it would seem that they would block air flow more than sound. There are better
          • Rubber grommets are cheap. Computer modding gear is expensive. Buying rubber grommets in a computer store or from an online modding site will be expensive.

            I think you missed the point of the knife. You aren't cutting grommets out of the intertube, you are cutting strips the size of the drive. There should be *no* contact between the drive and the case.

            "9-11 certified" is my offices' nickname for a box cutter. We get pretty raw on weekends and nights. Coming up with new shit to piss people off is one g
        • Finally, take the fucking thing off the desk

          Why? I have a HUGE desk. It's about 8 feet long, and has a longer "L" corner. I have two flatscreens and a laptop on an iCurve. The PC is a shuttle. That thing is obnoxious sitting on the floor, and very nice sitting on the desk. Lots of people have PCs that are just a bit bigger than that. We don't all have mini towers you know.
        • Re:Quiet or silent? (Score:3, Informative)

          by evilviper ( 135110 )

          You'll pay a premium for "rubber grommets for component mounting".

          "A premium" being $0.25 each?

          I know a lot of people are concerned over heat. Truth is, computers can run really fucking hot with no problems. 50c is a good number to be happy with. Even 60c isn't a big problem. Just make sure the hard drives are getting cool, fresh air.

          60c isn't a problem FOR THE CPU, but it is for everything else in the system. I doubt you'll get through POST with a 60C northbridge (Thank God AMD rid us of dammed hot and un

        • The Antec Sonata cases come with rubber grommets, a 120mm low RPM fan, and a TruPower PSU which is dual fan but extremely quiet. It's definitely not as economical as DIY (cost me $120 Canadian) but it's a great all-in-one package with custom fitted parts. My Sonata (first series) is almost completely silent, even while gaming. Its only shortcoming (other than price) is that there's no hooks to help fold back cables, and the PSU doesn't have detachable plugs, so you have to do some anaconda wrestling to t
      • The Antec P180 case (which is mostly tool-less) has 2 hard drive cages, the bottom cage mounts the drives on their side so that air is pulled in from the front (through a filter), past up to 4 drives mounted on edge, through a 120mm tri-speed fan, then pushed to the power supply. The drives are mounted into the cage via screws which are fully insulated from the metal of the cage via a half-inch-long soft rubber grommet.
    • My computer at work has an Antec case with sound dampening (offhand I don't know if it's the model that you mentioned, but it may well be), and although it's not completely silent, it's pretty close. I generally don't notice it making noise unless it's particularly busy with something, and even then, it's not nearly enough to bother me.
    • It must be the caes. I was thinking the same thing. I spent $1200 for new parts to rebuild this box and it is barely audible from a couple feet away:

      Antex P180 Case
      Enermax NoiseTaker PSU
      Athlon64 3700+
      Stock heatsink - ditton on the source of noise
      BFG 7800 GTX OC
      Matched 1GB Patriot RAM sticks
      200GB Seagate SATA
      SATA DVD+-R (can't remember vendor)
      Epox mobo

      As the parent said, it isn't silent, but I have to look at it to tell if it's on if a game is playing.
    • My system is similar to yours. We may have read similar reviews.

      My stuff:

      01) I use a similar case: I chose the Antec P150 instead of the P180, because I use a more traditional airflow system, and never could get into the P180 design
      02) same motherboard: ASUS A8N-SLI Premium Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 SLI ATX AMD
      03) probably the same memory: CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered Dual Channel
      04) I use two Nexus 120 mm case fans, spun down using zalman fanmate 2 variable resi
  • I dunno... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) * <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:10PM (#14937640) Homepage Journal
    is hardly audible from more than a meter away

    That sounds pretty far away. What about if you're closer, like say within 3 feet or so? ;-)

  • Expensive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nightspirit ( 846159 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:11PM (#14937643)
    You can create a realtivly silent gaming PC for under a grand. I built an amd 3400+, 1gig ram, ATI 9800 pro video, and a silent case for not that much money over a year ago (def under a grand), and using MS' game machine analyzer it rates in the top 3% of gaming PCs.

    Why do all these "game machine" and "media center" how-to guides build such expensive computers? The day where the average gamer or home computer user spends $2000-2500 on a computer is a decade ago.
    • Why do all these "game machine" and "media center" how-to guides build such expensive computers? The day where the average gamer or home computer user spends $2000-2500 on a computer is a decade ago.

      Agreed. I built an all out gaming machine a few months ago where money was not a big concern and I only spent about $1500. If money were an issue, I could have brought it closer to $1000.
    • "amd 3400+, 1gig ram, ATI 9800 "
      wow, where did you ge quite RAM?

      Seriously though, I would rather wear ear protection then put AMD and ATI in my box.
    • Why do all these "game machine" and "media center" how-to guides build such expensive computers? The day where the average gamer or home computer user spends $2000-2500 on a computer is a decade ago.

      Because then companies send them expensive toys to write up.

      Noone has any excuse to spend more then a Mac Mini on a home PC, and it's almost silent. It's not a game PC of course, but when you crank up a game PC, it's gonna be loud no matter what, that's alot of wattage to disipate.
    • You can create a realtivly silent gaming PC for under a grand. I built an amd 3400+, 1gig ram, ATI 9800 pro video, and a silent case for not that much money over a year ago (def under a grand), and using MS' game machine analyzer it rates in the top 3% of gaming PCs.

      You mean the Windows Game Advisor [], right? Warning - IE required.

      I scored in the top 1%. Pbbbbbbtttt. :-)

      AMD X2 3800+, 2GB OCZ PC3200 RAM, Seagate 7200.9 (SATA2) 120GB, Abit Fatal1ty AN8 SLI, GeForce 7800GT
    • You've obviously never met my neighbor.
  • 3d iMarks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by porneL ( 674499 )

    How many 3D Marks Intel iMac gets (or will get when someone hacks drivers)? It's super silent and cheaper than that...

    • How many 3D Marks Intel iMac gets (or will get when someone hacks drivers)?

      Doesn't it come with Intel integrated video (the GMA950 or something like that)?

      If so, I'd estimate it would get around 12 3D Marks. If someone hacks the drivers and overclocks the living fuck out of it, you may even get 14.

      Of course 3D Mark is a DirectX benchmark and the Mac uses OpenGL. So you would have to wait until a version of VMWare came out for the Intel Mac and then use its experimental Direct3D to OpenGL translation layer.
  • by Kittie Rose ( 960365 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:16PM (#14937675) Homepage
    Just to turn his speakers off?
  • My PC... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MaestroSartori ( 146297 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:19PM (#14937691) Homepage quiet enough to do music recording in the same room as it. It's fast enough to play most current games at reasonable framerates. It's a four year old Dell with a newer pro-spec soundcard and cheap nvidia fanless graphics card, and is whisper quiet now. When I first got it, it was totally silent except for the DVD drive sometimes whirring a bit. I literally couldn't tell it was turned on. I think the big slow fan is getting old, so it does make some noise now.

    Where is everyone else getting their hideously noisy jet-engine PCs from? Or am I just lucky?
    • Making fairly quiet machines is one area where I will give Dell decent marks. So that's part of the reason there. The other is that it's a 4 year old machine, meaning the processor probably barely needs a fan on it.
    • Re:My PC... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Schnapple ( 262314 )

      Where is everyone else getting their hideously noisy jet-engine PCs from? Or am I just lucky?

      You said it yourself that your video card was cheap and fanless. Most expensive video cards have fans, so that's one source. CPU fan is another, but those are mostly quiet. But I think it's really this - most gamers that build their own systems (you bought yours from Dell) will spend all their money on the motherboard, CPU, card, etc. but then go and get the cheapest case and PSU they can find. I should know, tha

      • but most hardcore gamers don't run Dells

        Don't confuse hardcore gamers with people who overspend on hardware.
        There are many 12 year gamers old using their dad's old computer who can spank the single 30 year olds who have nothing better to do with their money than to spend an extra few thousand dollars to gain a few percent increase in performance
      • Re:My PC... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by massysett ( 910130 )
        Dells have been pretty quiet for years now

        I can't stand Dell, but I give them credit for this. They seem to put attention into making their PCs quiet, though some of this might also be part of a drive to reduce costs.

        My Dell Optiplex sitting next to me is fairly quiet. There are only two fans in the thing. The Pentium 4 sits under neath a heat sink, and a plastic shroud covers that and directs airflow to the 92 mm case fan. The case fan has a thermostat in it to vary the speed. The only other fan in the

  • by Voltageaav ( 798022 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:19PM (#14937694) Homepage
    It's not that expensive for a kit anymore, cuts noise out of the picture completely, and is much more effecient to boot. ng.htm [] I don't know why more people don't use it.
    • I don't know why more people don't use it.

      Because many less-than-advanced PC builders are still skittish about introducing liquid fluid of the wet persuasion into their PC case.
    • I had one of the first Koolance cases they released. It was amazing for about a year. Then one day, I went to swap out a hard drive, and I must have cracked one of the nozzles. A day later, I had green coolant leaking out of my machine. Luckily, nothing sprayed out or splashed around...much, and my hardware was all working fine. Well, I was stuck ordering a new water pump. After a year of that, the stupid thing started leaking...again. I had noticed that the temperatures had been steadily climbing, s
    • It's not that expensive for a kit anymore,

      Right. It's not ludicrously expensive anymore... Now it's only ridiculously expensive. What an improvement!

      Meanwhile, for ~$30 in fans and a good heatsink, you can make any system practically-silent, without major work or modifications. I would know, my 100watt DVR is barely above the noise floor.

      cuts noise out of the picture completely,

      Umm, no, absolutely not. You've got to have a pump to circulate the fluid and a fan over the radiator to disperse all that hea

    • Liquid cooling can be cheap too! Instead of wasting all that cash on expensive rigs, just get your parts from the auto store & home depot. The only thing you'll have to buy are the cpu/vga water blocks. Everything else can by bought via home depot. I bought a $50 1985 Honda radiator on ebay (new) and retrofitted it to 4 CPUs and 2 video cards. There's also a 5 gallon jug of water connected to the system. I used 2 $40 500gph pond pumps from petsmart to pump the water through all the tubing. The mo
  • by jmke ( 776334 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @07:24PM (#14937719) Homepage Journal
    YOu don't need FX-57 or 7900GTX to play the latest games; if he choices mid-range products they will produce less heat, and can be cooled easily without extra noise. CPU cooler choice is outdated model, CNPS7700 is old, CNPS9500/9700 is better choice, and there are tons of alternatives which offer even better performance/noise ratios like Scythe Ninja to name one. The choice of case is "okay", Antec's own P150 would be much more suited though. at $2000 this silent system is hardly budget friendly; too many expensive parts. My route to silence was posted on /. last year: []
  • It's quiet, but not the heat measurements are deceiving.

    I also have a Sonata II case, with a very quiet Vantec PSU, a relatively quiet Radeon 9600XT, and the same heatsink. Difference: Athlon XP 2800+ cpu, Maxtor SATA drives, no sound-absorbing foam etc. When I turn all my fans on minimum, I quite literally can't hear my computer, and this is without the sound-absorbing foam.

    Yes, my computer also idles somewhere around ~50C.

    But on high load? The temperature can go as high as +70C when watching a movie, and
  • by John Whitley ( 6067 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @08:42PM (#14938166) Homepage
    Note that foam generally does a pretty good job of absorbing sound reflection, but what many folks don't understand is that it's fairly poor at dealing with sound transmission. It helps a lot that computer noise tends to be relatively high frequency, which foam is better at absorbing. As an example, an attempt to dampen out upstairs neighbors' footsteps using acoustic foam is an expensive way to do nothing. Especially as all acoustic foam is less effective the lower the frequency of the sound.

    In TFA, the foam primarily seems to be used to dampen internal reflections, making the case's sound reduction more effective. E.g. foaming the inside of the venting duct helps to reduce high frequency noise escaping from the duct. Clever.

    A great solution that I've used over the years is to just shove the computer into a closet, or even into the basement if the space affords it. When scouting out new living spaces, the ability to keep computers out of earshot has often been a key decision maker for me. I even got my last landlord to let me put a 4" circular port for cable passage into a closet off of a finished basement for just such purposes. Air space in the port was filled with foam discs cut to size -- open air passage between the computers and your space is to be avoided. Worked great; computers in the closet were completely inaudible more than a foot from the cable port.
  • Last year I bought my 15-year-old daughter a cheapo Dell for $450 that is virtually silent. There is plastic ducting inside the case that seems to achieve better cooling with lower airflow. It's the quietest desktop I've ever not heard. Though not a performance monster, it isn't a bad machine to begin with, and I imagine somebody who knew their hardware could beef up the specs for a lot less than $2500, and no foam.

    Just saying.
  • by hvatum ( 592775 ) on Thursday March 16, 2006 @10:22PM (#14938711) Homepage
    I never mess with any of this silent PC stuff. I've got a Geforce 7800GTX paired with a Athlon X2 Oc'd to 260 FSB. For 80mm cooling I've got five Vantec Tornado Ex Fans all stuck on double 12v lines, each pushes about 100 CFM. As a sidemount I decided to put a Delta "The Extreme" 120mm Ulra-high CFM fan, this bad-boy is rated at 260 CFM and 62 dBA when on full speed.

    The smaller fans are each 56dBA - and an old sleeve bearing fan is apparently making a really loud screaching noise. My cat and dog don't like to sit in the same room but it's better that way, no dog hairs get sucked in.

    The four way Raptor WD360GD 10,000 RPM RAID-5 setup isn't exactly quiet either. :)
  • Similar noisy system wouldn't be more than 200$ cheaper. And thats under 10% off overall cost there.
    If you don't need more than 500W power supply, quiet system costs about 100$ more than noisy system.
    I picked Nexus breeze as my case, and nexus CPU cooler, over stock fan and thats all I needed to get quiet system.
    The breeze comes with preinstalled foam, and it has only slowly running 120mm fans, and quiet powersupply to begin with.
    Only thing missing here is how much more costs a quiet GFX card, since I don't
  • by Coplan ( 13643 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @10:00AM (#14941180) Homepage Journal
    Before I started spending my spare cash on building computers, I used to compete in the automotive stereo scene. But now that I am into building computers AND I am into making music on those computers, I am very surprised at how many people don't look to the car stereo scene for advice. I'm guessing that the average geek doesn't think outside fo the PC-mod world. But just because something isn't marketed for computers, that doesn't mean it isn't usable. Dynamat and Killer Blue. Dynamat is thin, very dense, and it does wonders for sound dampening. Killer Blue is a spray-foam that works for areas where a sheet of rubbery stuff won't work. While dynamat does make a "PC" kit, the regular automotive stuff is cheaper and better. Dynamat also comes in several grades and thicknesses. You'll want a couple different types for different applications. Don't forget to put some between your fans and the case and between your power supply and the case. As for the Killer Blue, you won't need much of it. Some cases, you won't even need any. In my case, there's a plastic front and there's a lot of space between it and the case. I sprayed some of it in there - careful not to block any airflow around the fans. There are also some crevices at the corners where the Killer Blue was more appropriate as well. But the important thing about sound-proofing any case (especially aluminum cases) is the fact that you will increase heat in the case itself. Make sure you ventilate it properly. Use larger fans when possible. For that matter...start with a good case.
  • There is absolutely no reason why you should put foam IN the ducts. Especially open-cell foam like that stuff. It will decrease airflow. And the last thing you want to do is decrease the cooling efficiency in the case.

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.