I've had a number of computers which I've tried to silence over the years, with varying degrees of success. My current system is a Shuttle system with a Panaflo L1a rear fan, a Seagate 7200.7, a passive GPU (FX5200), a Mobile Barton 2500+, and the "SilenX" power supply. It's decently quiet but not silent.
Unfortunately, the FX5200 doesn't really have enough power to run HL2, and other passive cards won't fit in my case.
So, I've decided to upgrade to a mid-tower Athlon 64 system.
Here's what I have so far:
Athlon 64 2800+
MSI K8N Neo Platinum
As for HDD, I'm going to keep my current 8M 7200.7.
I've got some questions:
1: If I operate the stock case fan and Zalman at 5V, how will the noise of the system compare to my current 9V Panaflo + annoying PSU? Will the system run too hot? I'm not the kind of person who cares if their CPU runs at 50C or 60C under load, so long as the system is stable.
2: Are the Antec HDD isolation grommets effective? I'm not worried about seek noise (doesn't really bother me) but spindle noise is unacceptable. My 7200.7 isn't really noisy in my current (direct mounting) setup (the noisy PSU masks it).
3: Are there eny specific airflow concerns if I intend to put in the Gigabyte 6800 NU with the fanless cooler?
Remember, my goal is not to get a "silent" system. The goal is to get an affordable system that offers excellent performance with minimal noise. I'm personally more concerned about the quality of noise (HF noise is a definate "no") than I am about the intensity (so long as it is reasonable).
I'm also not interested in exotic HW mods. I've modded PSUs before and decided not to play that game again.
If I can get a system that is as quiet as a good premade system (e.g. HP D530 without the annoying clicking sound), I'll be happy.