Time to show off the rig. I've put a lot of work into making this a quiet machine... and SPCR's articles and recommendations have been essential.
First, the specs:
Coolermaster 110 (drool)
P4 2.4c w/ Zalman 7000Cu heatsink
Gigabyte 8knxp w/ Zalman passive northbridge heatsink
1gb PC 3200
ATI Sapphire 9600 (passively cooled)
2 x 120gb Seagate Barracuda HDs in Smart Drive enclosures
IDE cartridge drive
I love the Coolermaster 110 case - it's so classy and minimalist. The pictures really don't do it justice; the goreous brushed aluminum is reflecting the colors of the crappy white desk and ugly carpet protector.
DVD burner, IDE cartridge drive, and two Smart Drive aluminum enclosures for the Barracudas. The enclosures act like heatsinks, so the drives stay cool, and are absolutely silent. I really should wipe off those fingerprints.
The colorful mobo, un-sheathed power supply wires and extra USB/Firewire header wires make it seem a lot more cluttered than it really is.
Zalman whoring - 7000Cu heatsink & fan-mate, passive northbridge heatsink, and 400w power supply. Gigabyte make fantastic motherboards, but whoever picked the acid-trip happy fun colors should be shot.
I've done a few other things beyond buying good hardware:
- All four 80mm case fans run at 7v. I'm lucky, my Papsts don't click.
- Dremeled out the restrictive grill behind the rear 80mm fan.
- The inside is covered with acoustic foam. I forget who makes it - it's 2 years old or so, better than PaxMate, not nearly as good as AcoustiPak. It did a lot to reduce vibration in the thin aluminum sides. Thump it and it sounds solid.
- The front case fans are on rubber fan isolators.
- The rear case fan is on rubber grommets (soon to be isolators).
- The wiring is routed out of the way of airflow.
- The case fan wires route to a single 'fanbus', which really cleaned up the wiring. I took out seven Molex connections that way.
I'm pretty happy with it. It's not a 'window' case IMO. I could go a lot further to make it pretty but the bang-for-buck just isn't there. Maybe on my next rig.
During the day, when there's a bit of ambient noise, I can't hear it. At night, there's a soft whoosh, but the whole thing - all 6 fans - is quieter than a single Panaflo L1A at 12v or a rev1 Arctic Cooling Silencer. It also stays cool - during a Prime95 torture test it gets to ~43c/30c CPU/case (ambient ~20c). I really can't think of any way to make it quieter without replacing major amounts of hardware.