Newbie Silences a Dell OptiPlex GX-240

Do-It-Yourself Systems
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Oct 26, 2003 by Jonathan Horner

Running a busy website is a sure-fire way to collect unsolicited emails from commercial interests and crazies alike. Still there are gems that put a smile on my face and remind me why I keep doing what I do with SPCR. I received one recently which began....

Hi Mike,

Silentpcreview.com is a great site and an obvious labor of love. Congratulations!

I’m a middle-aged man who has recently started using a computer fulltime not just for work but also for pleasure. The internet is a dream come true. I remember speaking up at the dinner table when just a kid and saying “I bet that one day you’ll be able to go to the computer and ask any question you want and get an answer” and being laughed at by my parents and siblings and told to be realistic (and eat my peas). Almost fifty years later, it is because I asked a simple question on Google that I am emailing you now.

A little over a month ago, I first thought about quieting my Dell. I’ve now reached the point of realizing how little I know. In spite of my ignorance, I’ve drafted an article about my experience and wondered if you might be interested in publishing it on your site. It would be both a follow up to the article about the Dell OptiPlex GX-240 (on Silent PC Review) cited below and a testimonial from a first time “newbie” computer modifier. I’ve attached some pictures I took during the process. Feel free to suggest any alterations, additions, deletions, or tell me to get lost!

I did not tell Jonathan Horner to get lost. I thanked him for his kind words and bring you his story, a newbie's successful first computer silencing project. Thank you, JH! - Mike Chin, editor

* * *

A NEWBIE'S PC SILENCING SAGA, PART 1

I have just completed my first ever foray into the wild and wacky world of computer modifications. I obtained a Dell OptiPlex GX-240 with a P4 2.0 GHz Northwood CPU in a trade for work done at a company that had just gone out of business. The Dell replaced a P3 733 MHz Micron Millenia midtower that I'd been using at home. The Dell was definitely much quieter while in use but there was still an objectionable amount of noise, especially late at night. Because I am now working out of my home with a flexible schedule but very reliant on my computer, I definitely have an increased appreciation and need for peace and tranquility while concentrating!

I had no idea at all that there was a world wide interest in quiet computing when I started a very naïve search on the internet. I stumbled across silentpcreview.com by typing in “quiet Dell OptiPlex GX-240” and found my way to the following link (to an article here on SPCR):

Dell Optiplex GX240: Photo Essay of a Quiet PC

This opened up a new and exciting arena to explore. I eventually sent a number of emails to vendors in the pc quieting business asking for recommendations on reducing the Dell’s noise level. I ended up exchanging a large number of emails with Jonathan Bird at Silicon Acoustics. He has been extremely responsive and helpful throughout this process. With the vast array of vendors and auctions on the internet, and the powerful search engines at our disposal, it is very easy to find the absolutely lowest price for just about anything. I stifled my cheapskate tendencies and chose to go with a retailer who could supply both advice and after the sale support. This decision certainly bore fruit in the case of the power supply unit (PSU) that I selected for this project.

After considerable research and reflection, I decided that a single fan solution was the most elegant way to quiet the Dell. I settled on the TS Heatronics Heatlane Zen NCU-1000 CPU Radiator combined with the Seasonic Super Tornado SS-300FB PSU.

Firstly, I removed the OptiPlex’s plastic housing and shroud with enclosed 92mm JMC/Datech case fan from its location below the stock Dell PSU, as shown in the 3 photos below.

After removing the motherboard and tray from the inside of the case, and detaching the stock passive aluminum heat sink from the CPU, the installation of the NCU-1000 was simplicity itself.

The stock Dell motherboard tray actually has metal extrusions that extend up to the four holes in the circuit board that are provided for the plastic retention frame that is used to mount the stock P4 cooler.

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