I think the answer to Mike's question, are we better served by quiet gear, is "within reason". As far as the quiet computer thing goes, my machine is quiet enough for me to hear the hum from my monitor. OTOH, the heating and AC system in parts of the house is loud. In retrospect, I wonder if some of the fan replacements were worth the effort, even though by SPCR standards they worked very well. There is no way that I would sacrifice performance, or spend big time just to achieve that last db.
I'd have to say that my opinion on the matter falls directly in line with this. My computers at home are "quiet enough" for my purposes. Of the three that I have (media center, server, workstation), the workstation is definitely the loudest, but is also my general purpose and gaming system so it gets a bit of leeway.
Is the system audible if you listen for it? Yes.
Is the noise intrusive? No.
I've made that system as quiet as possible without sacrificing performance. It's running a [email protected]
and an ATI 4890 video card with the reference cooler (which inside the P182 is surprisingly not loud...). There's a Prolima Megahalems cooler on the CPU, and all but the top fan are Slipstream 1200RPM fans. The system is sitting on carpet and is under my desk. My measure of "too loud" might be higher than others, but the discussion is a personal matter.
On the other hand, my media center was built with the mentality of 'how much performance can I get while keeping it "silent"?'. It's got a fairly powerful AMD X2 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and two WD GP drives in RAID0, and a pair of Slipstream 500RPM fans. Have I ever noticed that it's on? Nope.
While working for Mike and reading the multitude of articles that have been written since I've never felt like any of them have been overly OCD about noise. It is in the title of the site after all.
If the computer you're using is getting "too quiet", simply add in another fan. This may sound like heresy to some, but a smooth sounding constant speed fan may drown out the more irritating coil whine of monitors or video cards.