About a year ago, I got tired of that noisy PC that was in our living room. So I started researching on how to silence computers and slowly started buying some parts.
One of my goal was to have the computer inaudible when idle, or rather when I was not playing a game on it. I had no problem with the thing revving up its fans to full speed when starting a 3D game as I wear closed headphones when that happens and I understand that the heat has to be exhausted somehow. I'm not a real gamer either, I play not more than 2-3 hours per week.
By mostly fooling around with a few fans I had on hand, I slowly understood that to have an efficient and quiet fan, it had to be as big as possible and spin rather slowly. I then decided that there would only be 120mm fans in the PC and that they would not go faster than 1000RPM when I was not in game.
I also experimented with a "speed controller" for fans, but since i was often forgetting it to high or low when the opposite would have been needed, I decided that it was not correct for me and that all the speed modulating of the fans would have to be based on temperature rather than with a manual device.
With all those constraints, I ordered:
-one PC-A05N Lian-Li case from Newegg as it was esthetically pleasing to me (I like sobriety and simplicity) and wide enough to fit a huge CPU cooler
-one Noctua NH-U12P SE2 CPU cooler hoping that It would be good enough to be used fanless
-one Asus 8600GT Fanless vid card
All this to be working with my dual-core 3GHz AMD CPU and my Asus M2N-E motherboard that I already owned.
I spent a complete night (up to 6 am ) assembling and testing the thing and this is how it ended up.
I found out that to cool itself efficiently, the passive vid card had to have a very very good airflow going through it. The only way i managed to achieve that was to have every fan exhausting the air outside the case and blocking all the other orifice in the case to make sure that the air was entering it by the vid card ventilation slots.
As you can see, every opening except the vid card slots and that rectangle grill on the left were blocked with duct tape. That way, i managed to have the vid card temp idling at 50Â°C which was very good considering that this card slow itself down at 125Â°C. I also needed to reverse the rear fan since it was originally pushing air inside the case.
The PC-A05N is a nice case if your goal is to have a low air pressure case, there is aditionally to the rear 120mm fan, a second one in the front which at the same time cools the hard drives that are mounted right behind it, and you get the PSU also exhausting the air in the front.
Theres a nice and sober front panel that goes in front of those two exhaust fan.
Yeah I took those pictures just before the yearly cleaning/vaccuming of the interns. Thats why the case is so dirty.
To help with further quieting the thing, I relied on the Asus firmware of the motherboard to throttle the CPU fan and both case fan according to its temperature sensor and I activated CPU scaling. The CPU is instantly under clocked to 1GHz instead of 3 when its not computing anything.
I first installed the Noctua cooler without a fan on it. It was good for idling or light computing, but It would reach nearly 95Â°C when gaming. Those temps scared me and I decided to install one of the 2 120mm Noctua fans that were provided with it. Adding the fan instantly dropped the temp to 70-75Â°C while having cpu at full speed and 100% usage for more than an hour. Much safer than 90-95.
My only deception with that setup, this is also where most of the noise come from, is the PSU placement. It seem like a trade-off was made so that the cool "inverted air flow" design was made possible. The PSU is having a hard time cooling itself. the front panel with those little slots is too restrictive. If I take off the front panel, the PSU fan slow down of almost 400RPM in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, it does not look good with the front panel removed and anyway, I would fear my cat could lose a leg with that huge exposed fan.
This is pretty much it, these are the temps reading when the computer is idling. (It's powered on 24/7, as its used as a semi-server also)
In any ways, I reached my goal. When the computer is idling and the ambient temp is not too hot, I cant hear it at all unless I kneel and go put my head right next to it. During the hottest summer days (35Â°C), It will be audible but not annoying at all....until I start Quake or Nexuiz
Please let me know what you think of my setup and don't hesitate to ask any question about it. I would also like to request for suggestion or improvement ideas.