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 Post subject: Help me silence my Home Recording Studio PC
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:55 pm 
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I'm using a Phenom II quad-core 3.4 ghz on a Gigabyte motherboard.

I have a home recording studio setup. I'm looking for any bits of information anyone might have on how to make my computer more quiet. I'm open to almost anything but water-cooling. Putting it in another room is an option, but one I'm trying to avoid. (I'd like to use that room as a vocal booth).

Right now there are 4 fans.

When the computer is under normal load, the loudest is a typical case fan that blows over my hard drives. I'm sure I can replace this with a fan designed to be quiet. Anyone have any links?

Next is the processor fan. It's the stock AMD fan/heatsink that comes with the Phenom II. It's not terribly loud until the system is under heavy load, but then it's pretty strong. Unfortunately, when my computer is under heavy load is when I need it to be most quiet: it will be when I'm recording.

After that the next loudest is my video card fan. It's a Radeon X800. I don't play any video games or do anything particularly video intensive, but I do have dual monitors setup running at 1600x1200. Does anyone have a good fan-less video card to suggest, or any way to mod the X800 so it doesn't need a fan?

Finally there's the power-supply fan. It's pretty quiet, but it's still there.

Any further ideas on how to go about quieting this system down? Like I said, I'm open to anything but water cooling, which I figure is a little too risky for me. I'm completely open to surrounding/enclosing it in something to dampen the sound, but I'm worried about over-heating at that point. I would have no problem setting up the CD drive as an external drive and mounting it on my desk if that was necessary.

Any ideas or links to products are greatly appreciated.

Computer Specs:

Antec case, model unknown. It's plain and white. It looks a lot like the "Antec Dragon", but it's a bit shorter and it doesn't have the hinge cover over the CD drives.
AMD Phenom II quad-core on a gigabyte 790xt
Radeon x800
2x WD 500GB hard drive
1x Maxtor? 120gb hard drive
4gb corsair ram, no fans
Corsair vx 550w power supply


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:26 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 10:31 pm
Posts: 822
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Do you have a budget in mind for any upgrades?

Some ideas (not necessarily in order of priority or cost):

1. a new case: Antec Solo

For a really quiet system, having a good case to work from will make things easier. There is plenty of advice on the forums here in relation to this case.

Cut out all of the fan grills, use the included suspension mounts for your hard drives, replace the stock Tri-Cool fan with a quieter and undervolted Nexus or Scythe fan.

2. Aftermarket CPU cooler

Consider either a Noctua NH-U12P or Scythe Mugen 2 for your motherboard/CPU combination. This will make a big difference to your load noises, as CPU load would cause the stock fan to become quite loud.

3. New passive graphics card

You don't need a particularly powerful graphics card to run dual monitors - with a little bit of airflow in your system a passive graphics card is perfectly fine. Consider an ATI 3450/4550/5450 or Nvidia 8400/9400/GT210 with a stock passive cooler.

Alternatively, you could consider buying a passive cooler like the Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 for your existing graphics card if you feel comfortable fitting your own aftermarket heatsinks. Check the Arctic Cooling website for compatibility.

4. Power supply fan mod

If you are comfortable, try swapping your power supply fan for a quieter model. This will involve some soldering if you want your power supply fan to ramp up and down with system load. Otherwise wire it to a fixed voltage that is quiet enough.

A Scythe S-Flex F 1600rpm is my suggested fan if you want to wire the fan to the PSU voltage control header.

Hope this helps!

If you are budget-restricted, let us know and maybe someone will have some more ghetto modding/cost effective tips.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:45 pm 
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Thanks Jamie. Budget's always a question, but I'll do what I need to do.

If I take all of your advice, I'm guessing it will cost ~$150. How quiet will the PC be?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:47 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
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Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Agree w/ all of JamieG's comments except #1 -- those old cases are quite sturdy, and the HDD cage can be removed so that all the drives can be suspended in some way. If the fans are all swapped out for quieter, then the case will not be the limiting factor.

The PSU fan swap is important; that Corsair is not made by Seasonics & definitely not as quiet as the ones that are.

Finally, when all the changes are done, you may find the HDDs to be the biggest noise sources. You might consider upgrading to quieter drives -- maybe a 40~80gb SSD for the OS/programs and a big quiet 5400rpm for data.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:28 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:54 pm
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Thanks Mike. Unfortunately, I'll need fast hard drives for recording.

Right now I'm looking at replacing the case fan, the CPU fan and the video card to something without a fan. I figure that will get me pretty close, and then if the hard drives are still bothering me I can upgrade the case, etc.

Why do we cut off the grill in front of the fans? So the air moving through doesn't make any noise?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:45 am 
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JoshuaD wrote:
Why do we cut off the grill in front of the fans? So the air moving through doesn't make any noise?

Yup. Depends on how fast the fan is spinning and how restrictive the grill is, but usually no grill means lower turbulence noise and higher effective airflow. (The correct term in fan lingo is "impedance".)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:27 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:54 pm
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Wow, what a difference. My computer is hardly audible where before it was like a small vacuum sitting next to me.

I've replaced my single 80mm case fan with three Scythe Kama Flow 2 80mm Fans and the HSF combo on my video card with an Accelero S2. I'm still waiting for the Scythe SCMG-2000 to arrive.

I kinda scoffed at the idea of my harddrives being considered loud when I heard you guys say that. The rest of the machine was so loud that I couldn't imagine caring about the hard drives. Now I think I may be mounting them on elastic chords like suggested. ;-)

I'm not sure if I'm going to replace my PSU fan. Soddering has never been my strong suit. I'm gonna do some Mic tests and see if the tower is still providing too much noise floor.

I'll keep you guys posted. :)


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