Bought a new computer not too long ago, built up from standard clone parts. Nothing special, and with no attention paid to the noise level. Now I'm looking to reduce the noise somewhat. I'm not as ambitious as some of the people posting on this site, and some noise doesn't bother me, but it does seem like it should be possible to make it less noisy than it is now.
The system has a Supermicro motherboard with an Intel P4 mounted in a generic sheetmetal case. Two 80mm case fans, one 70mm CPU fan (Intel, a rebadged Sanyo Denki) and the 80mm fan in the power supply. Hard disk is hard mounted to the metal rails. A good starting point for making something quieter.
Taking it apart, the only thing that's really making noise is the Intel CPU fan. The front case fan is already pretty quiet, as is the p/s fan. The rear case fan is currently wired to the motherboard's "overheat" connector, and is not spinning, so no noise from that one. But the Intel CPU fan is whirring away and can easily be heard in the next room. The CPU fan is vented out the left side of the case with a plastic duct, which probably serves to increase the cooling possible, but also makes it noisier.
I have been reading and searching this site and others for several days now, doing my homework as much as possible. I think I know what I want to do, but a couple of questions have come up I haven't found answers for so far.
First, I'm looking at using the Zalman 7000 AlCu heatsink and fan to replace the stock Intel unit. Got high ratings for cooling and noise level in the reviews, and seems to be a pretty nice design. It appears that it would fit, physically as well. I like the 7000 AlCu for being under the Intel spec for heatsink weight, as well, even though I only tend to move my machine to replace it.
Reading the reviews of the Zalman and the Thermalright XP-120 left me wondering one thing. The XP-120 review notes that the design allows the CPU fan to be mounted as a "blow" or a "suck". I didn't see, and cannot find, any similar information on the Zalman. It seems to me that I'd want the fan mounted for "suck" to move heat up and away from the CPU and motherboard, but the Zalman design precludes easy fan replacement or flipping over. Which way does Zalman's fan move air?
I read here that Intel are recommending direct venting the CPU fan to the outside of the case, and it appears that the clone case makers are taking this recommendation to heart. I haven't found much discussion of this recommendation on here. A few notes, but not much in depth. The Zalman heatsink looks like it is quite a bit larger than the current setup, so if it should be vented I'll have to make a duct and open up the case hole to fit. So, what's the current thinking on venting the CPU fan to the outside? Is it helpful, even if it raises the noise level somewhat? Or are people ignoring the Intel recommendation and depending on better heatsinks, case fans, and improved airflow through the case to keep the processor cool?
Second, I've read quite a bit about people using various "fan controllers" to adjust fan RPM for the best noise vs. cooling for their setups. I'll confess that I have almost no interest in constantly checking a temperature and RPM display and tweaking the knobs to adjust the fan RPM. I'm planning on putting the machine under my desk, and will not be looking at it much. So, that said, is something like the Kingwin TC-02S or the SilverStone Eudemon a bad choice? They're using PWM, so it will raise the noise level somewhat from what could be achieved with manual controls, but they offer automatic speed reduction from what I'm running now which should serve to reduce the noise level somewhat. A useful tradeoff? A waste of time and money?
My plan, right now, is to swap the stock heatsink/fan for the Zalman 7000 AlCu, hack the case to add a bigger exhaust duct to fit the Zalman, add the Kingwin TC-02S and let it control all three fans, and see if that reduces the noise level sufficiently. I think it will. If not, I'll have to dig deeper and work harder at it, but I'm going for the simple and most bang-for-the-buck approach first. It doesn't have to be "silent", just "less noisy" will do. Any major flaws in my plan here?