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 Post subject: FAQ for Newbies -- Identifying the noise sources.
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 8:46 pm 
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Thanks for reading this, you're obviously an honest person and not afraid to admit (at least to yourself :wink: ) that you're new at something and maybe need some basic help. You've come to the perfect place if you hope to silence a noisy PC, assemble a new one or just buy a quiet one. This FAQ is geared mostly to quieting existing noisy computers because so many people ask about this. But it will still be helpful whichever of these is your goal.

Start by reading relevant topics on the main site. Perusing the Recommended Sectionimmediately gives you an idea of what the main noise sources are. Reading the text for each recommended list provides an intro to issues for that component type. Most components on the lists have been reviewed by SPCR (links to reviews and/or articles that feature the product are provided), and the reviews give lots of in-depth information.

Check the "Sticky" post (like this one) at the top of each Forum, entitled Common Issues, Fundamentals, etc -- most of which exhort you to "read before posting!!" They answer questions about common issues with specific component types.

Before you post, at least scan / search through the forums to see if the info you seek hasn't already been covered repeatedly. Makes it more fun & productive for all.

Provide full details of your gear and conditions when you ask for advice. Things like a basic component list in your PC, ambient temp in your room, the noise environment (at least a general description) and so on. Temperature readings and noise perception are both extremely dependent on conditions. Being specific and detailed will save time and avoid frustrations for everyone trying to discuss the matter with you.

For those who have never done it before, before, here are some detailed how-to-assemble-a-PC articles. You can find many more on the web:

Finally, a few words about PC noise diagnostics:

    Your computer is too noisy. You know you want to quiet it down.

    Q: Where to start?

    A: Identify the noisiest components.

    This means removing the cover while the computer is on, stopping each of the fans one by one, and listening carefully. The fans can either be unplugged or stopped by hand by pressing on the center hub of the blades while it is spinning. 10-20 seconds of this will not overheat or hurt anything. (To reduce the chance of static electricity causing any damage, just touch an unpainted, uninsulated part of the PC case -- like the back panel -- with your bare fingers a couple of times before you poke around in there; that will discharge to ground any static elect. you might be holding.)

    Fans can be found on:
    - CPU heatsink (always)
    - motherboard Northbridge chip heatsink (not always; usually tiny & whiny)
    - video card heatsink (not always; also tiny & whiny)
    - case intake/exhaust fans (not always; on front/back panels)

    Note that there are 2 other steady noise sources (we'll ignore the optical drives for now, at least you can choose not to use them):
    - fan in the power supply unit (PSU)
    - hard drive

    The simplest way to stop the fan in the PSU is to stick something softish but not totally floppy and non-conductive into the blades while it is running. It's not exactly good for the fan, but I've never really hurt one doing this. I've used sturdy plastic straws, thick plastic "zap straps" (plastic locking wire tie, unlocked) and other similar things.

    Listening to the hard drive by itself means stopping all the fans, which can be a bit of a challenge.
Once you have established the noisiest offenders, consider:
  1. If one is much louder than the rest, a simple swap for a quiet replacement will make a dramatic improvement in noise. It might be enough.
  2. If a number of components are all equally noisy, quieting one or two will not make much of a difference, the loudest thing will still tend to dominate. That usually means changing everything. You could then choose to
    • replace the whole PC with a quieter one,
    • replace all the noisy components at once, or
    • start with one swap and consider it the start of a long term project.
Be warned: Most who chose the last step live here. :roll: :lol:

Once you have identified the noise offenders, you can research more effectively on the site or post more cogent questions and get lots of helpful answers. We are a helpful bunch, by and large. ;)

Finally, on previous iterations of the site, we had an invaluable collection of links relevant to silent computing, including totally useful utilities and software... and we're working to put this collection back together soon.

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Support SPCR by buying your gear through these links: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg


Last edited by MikeC on Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:48 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 4:58 pm 
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thanks

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 2:59 pm 
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Thanks. :)


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2004 10:52 pm 
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Thanks


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 6:29 am 
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Atreides wrote:
Thanks


Atreides - Thank you for actually reading the sticky post! This should help you get the most out of this site.

Oh, and WELCOME TO SPCR!!!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 9:25 am 
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Looks like a useful bit of info, thanks.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 9:02 pm 
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read this awhile ago when i was still just lurking around the forums. thanks--it was a great help!


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 Post subject: Thanks... and Hi!
PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2005 10:30 am 
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Thanks for this great website. This is just what I've been looking for!

...my sig says it all, really.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:57 pm 
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Stopping the CPU fan for anything over half a second can be a VERY VERY BAD IDEA, especially with AMD processors which tend to overheat quickly. Suggesting to 'newbies' to stop the CPU fan with some object or by touching it while the PC is running is not a good idea at all!!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:59 pm 
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Actually, nothing will overheat within a second. If you removed the heatsink entirely, then yes, shit will ensue, but stopping a fan for a couple of seconds won't break stuff (unless you break the fan).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:03 pm 
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Badidea the one post wonder wrote:
Stopping the CPU fan for anything over half a second can be a VERY VERY BAD IDEA, especially with AMD processors which tend to overheat quickly. Suggesting to 'newbies' to stop the CPU fan with some object or by touching it while the PC is running is not a good idea at all!!!


Try it yourself. See what rate of the temperature increase is when you stop the fan.

Kinda sad; going through all that trouble to sign up and post on a subject that you don't even know what you're talking about. The "especially with AMD processors" part is really the kicker in that regard. (for the past, oh, two years, Intel CPU's have been significantly hotter than AMD).

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:16 pm 
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Rusty075 wrote:
The "especially with AMD processors" part is really the kicker in that regard. (for the past, oh, two years, Intel CPU's have been significantly hotter than AMD).


That's one thing that could have been somewhat right. Intels throttle if they get too hot, minimalising the risk of burn-out; I don't know if AMDs do something like this as well, but if they do, this is certainly less advertised.

Of course, the rest of the post about the CPU burning up in a second is still incorrect.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:29 pm 
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Any modern AMD motherboard has thermal shutdown, or is at least supposed to to comply with the AMD spec. Even without that, as long as the heatsink is in place the system will crash before it fries, and since the instructions are prety clear about the user being present during the fan stoppage (how else will you know if it's quieter?) the freezeup will be readily apparent.

Even if you do wander away....an idling CPU can go fanless several minutes, even with a stock HS, before the temps rise to dangerous levels. Trust me...I've done many a while-running fan swap during testing.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2005 8:07 pm 
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badidea wrote:
Stopping the CPU fan for anything over half a second can be a VERY VERY BAD IDEA, especially with AMD processors which tend to overheat quickly. Suggesting to 'newbies' to stop the CPU fan with some object or by touching it while the PC is running is not a good idea at all!!!


I've stopped the CPU fan for five to ten minutes, while overclocked at 1.475v, and the temps didn't go over 48C.

Turning the 7700cu back on brought it back down to 34C.

I guess it depends on your heatsink and cooling.

I know that AMD's newer processors and mobos are supposed to freeze/shutdown at certain temps, so I have tried this before so long as I am below 1.5v on a cool day. I've yet to make it freeze.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 3:54 pm 
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Thanks for this.

I actually sold my whole setup, a Dell Dimension 4700 with numerous upgrades. I did not like the chassis as it was very small and with each upgrade, there was less and less room and more and more chance for overheating. There was only 2 fans in the whole case. 1 for the power supply and 1 in the rear exhaust which with one of those green plastic enclosure things lead it to the CPU to cool it down. Pretty ghetto. But looking back, Dell probably makes the one of the most quiet PCs as they are popular in business use. I noticed that my rear exhaust fan was secured to the case with rubber grommets so that's pretty cool.

The case did overheat one day when it was really sunny and I guess my room got hot. Actually my case did not overheat, but my video card did. Everything on my screen looked squiggly. Like I was watching anime, and all the lines would be like squiggly, even the subtitles. I thought it was a codec problem, so installed some new stuff, but it still was like that. Then I finally thought that my computer was hot, so I turned it off and and after like 5 minutes, I turned it on and everything was ok.

The reason I say the case overheated was because it was a bad case. Only 1 fan really. The PSU fan did not do anything to help the case cool down. So no intake fan, the wiring is not the best, and the case was really small and yeah.

Well, I helped my friend buy a Dimension 5100 recently and I did not know anything about BTX, but I am very impressed by it and believe it is strongly superior to ATX. The case design is quite unique as it has a huge gaping hole in the front as an intake and the only fan is mounted right next to the huge hole to draw the coolest air in and cool down the CPU. The PSU is different as it is BTX and the fan is faced inwards of the case perhaps to help with circulation. There is no fan in the rear, but I believe the case was good and would not overheat because of the BTX setup. I did slice my finger when opening it. I did not realize it, but I noticed some red stuff on the case, so I checked my fingers and realized I was cut and the red stuff was blood. haha. So yeah. What are your ideas on BTX? The favorite case here, the Antec P180, is ATX/BTX. I'm thinking about it as it is a good case for a good price, but if Dell has a crazy deal, then I might just go with a Dimension 9100 or 5100. Peace guys.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 6:35 am 
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hey guys im new here. hopefully u can help me with the noise on my computer. my question- could a case have something to do with making more noise? its a standard case and i was wondering if i bought an antec or somethin like that, if it would help. my friend bought an hp with the EXACT same components as my self made compy. his is near silent and mine isnt. im under the impression that the case might have a lot to do with it. is it possible that a good case could snuff the noise, regardless of how noisy it is?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 6:59 am 
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Quote:
is it possible that a good case could snuff the noise, regardless of how noisy it is?


My viewpoint on this is that components make noise, cases don't. However if you and your friend have exactly the same setup except for the case, it is the first place you should look for the source of the noise. It is important to isolate what exactly about your case is causing it to have such negative noise characteristics, otherwise you could end up buying an expensive case and still having the same problem.


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 Post subject: Re: FAQ for Newbies -- Identifying the noise sources.
PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2006 12:53 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
The simplest way to stop the fan in the PSU is to stick something softish but not totally floppy and non-conductive into the blades while it is running. It's not exactly good for the fan, but I've never really hurt one doing this. I've used sturdy plastic straws, thick plastic "zap straps" (plastic locking wire tie, unlocked) and other similar things.


Please note that if you use something too sturdy, such as an (insulated -- or even uninsulated, of course, if you have a death wish) screwdriver, while the fan is spinning, you can easily kill it. I've once or twice broken off a fan blade from a power supply fan that way. Never had a problem using the thin end of a zip tie, though.

Most of my fans-with-missing-blades were due to things falling on them or them falling on things while running, though, in other locations than PSUs.


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 Post subject: Re: FAQ for Newbies -- Identifying the noise sources.
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2006 11:47 pm 
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Jasper wrote:
MikeC wrote:
The simplest way to stop the fan in the PSU is to stick something softish but not totally floppy and non-conductive into the blades while it is running. It's not exactly good for the fan, but I've never really hurt one doing this. I've used sturdy plastic straws, thick plastic "zap straps" (plastic locking wire tie, unlocked) and other similar things.


Please note that if you use something too sturdy, such as an (insulated -- or even uninsulated, of course, if you have a death wish) screwdriver, while the fan is spinning, you can easily kill it. I've once or twice broken off a fan blade from a power supply fan that way. Never had a problem using the thin end of a zip tie, though.

Or you could stick a pencil/pen whatever in the PSU before you turn it on :wink:

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 Post subject: Broken Link
PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 12:20 pm 
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FYI the Useful Web Links link in the main post seems to be broken.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2007 1:51 am 
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I just read this thread for the first time, and am a little frustrated. I just spent several minutes telling someone in the forum all the stuff you've just written here!! :) Next time I'll just point them to this post.

Hopefully I, a long time veteran (right? RIGHT?) of this forum can be forgiven for not reading a sticky in the Newcomer's forum... :oops:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 26, 2007 9:22 am 
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well, this was comprehensive ^^

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:47 am 
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Thanks! Although logical as it seems, I never really quite got to that, I listened to the fans just by holding my ear near them, but never actually held one down to hear the other. Silly me :lol:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2007 2:21 am 
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wow, i'm actually reading sticky's lol, not much new in here tho
actually few weeks ago found that the fan in my PSU maked buzzing noise when computer is off, wierd, going to rma it. The only way i figued it was the fan motor and not PSU it self is because by rotating or pressing on the fan while computer is off would stop the buzzing.


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 Post subject: Re: FAQ for Newbies -- Identifying the noise sources.
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 11:51 am 
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Shadowknight wrote:
Or you could stick a pencil/pen whatever in the PSU before you turn it on :wink:


Except that computers aren't idling at boot time, are they? I guess if you had a very low ambient temp, and/or a very short boot sequence, you could get away with it...? :?


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 Post subject: Re: FAQ for Newbies -- Identifying the noise sources.
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 5:19 am 
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Emyr wrote:
Shadowknight wrote:
Or you could stick a pencil/pen whatever in the PSU before you turn it on :wink:


Except that computers aren't idling at boot time, are they? I guess if you had a very low ambient temp, and/or a very short boot sequence, you could get away with it...? :?


I strongly suspect that any PSU could take being run for a minute-and-a-half with it's cooling fan stopped, even under "load" during boot-up.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 2:00 am 
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Just what I needed to know, I've had a very noisy PC and was wondering how I go about identifying the culprit. I had no idea it was safe to stop the fan whilst on - will give this a try later on. Many thanks!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 11:40 am 
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Good thread, very helpful - thanks :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 8:20 am 
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very good informative thread for complete Newbies like myself.. Already learned loads not being regeistered but i thought i better had, as im sure there will be loads of questions/answers i need to ask and already answered!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:32 am 
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Many thanks for this introduction, I thought I was more lost than I actually am :D


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