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 Post subject: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:49 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:41 am
Posts: 6
I recently had the bad luck of getting tinnitus, and I'm a little scared that my computer might have to do with it. I initially bought a computer that I thought would be stealthy, but as I listen during certain load times, I can hear that, while not sounding like a jackhammer, it still has a deceptive noise that may inflict damage to my ears without me knowing.

So, this was my initial set-up:

Code:
RAM1:           Corsair PC12800 1600MHZ (2X2GB)
RAM2:           Corsair PC12800 1600MHZ (2X4GB)
Case:           Lian Li Fulltower PC-A71F
PSU:            Corsair HX 650W
HDD:            Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB
GPU:            ASUS Radeon HD6870
Motherboard:    ASUS P7P55D-E P55
CPU:            Intel Core i5 760
Optical Drive:   ?


All the default case fans are still in place.

Afterwards, I installed a Noctua NH-D14 CPU heatsink, but sadly, this has had little to any effect. In fact, I don't know if it's causing more noise considering that my motherboard tray didn't fit the motherboard, which makes the heatsink fastener touch the tray, possibly causing vibrations in doing so:

Image

I also rearranged my cables out of the inside of the case as much as possible:

Image
Image
Image
Image

To fit the side of the case on, I had to tape some cables to the tray. I can't feel any vibrations coming through them, so I doubt that the taping is a problem itself:

Image

The mechanical hard drive is mounted with rubber-dampened screws to the hard drive tray:

Image

The optical drive is (as the PSU) fastened with a rubber clamp, and I screwed some extra screws into it from the other side to tighten it, so it wouldn't rumble loosely.

Can you surmise any sources for the noise and just generally guide me to bring down the noise level? As said, it is not loud, but compared to, say, a laptop, it is significantly noisy. We aren't talking about broken parts that sound like car engines, just vibrations and possibly high fan RPMs. I have a feeling that vibrations are at the core of the problem more so than noisy fans, and that the heatsink clamp which wedged between the motherboard and the motherboard tray with a bad hole contribute to this - even though it is meant to help bring down noise, not create it. In fact, my computer almost seems even noisier, after I installed my heatsink, but that may just be a result of my newfound focus on the potential harm of the computer's noise.

Thanks a million - as said, I may have got tinnitus from this, so it's a fairly serious matter for me, and something that will continue to bother me. I am willing to throw money at the problem, but I have to know that it will work. Obviously, accoustic foam and such sound like it have the exact adverse effect as intended because all the resulting heat.

All the photos are in a gallery here.

EDIT: I detect a lot of vibration, when I touch the case behind which the clamp and motherboard tray is. And my case seems to be getting louder and louder.


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 6:28 pm 
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Posts: 108
You said you're using stock fans, if I remember that Lian Li has an exhaust fan and you've mounted your NH-D14 to blow air away from the 120mm exhaust. You're probably creating some air turbulence back there. Set up the NH-D14 to exhaust towards the 120mm exhaust and see how noise is, temps may also decrease.

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i7 920 (no oc) w/ Noctua NH-D14 | Asus P6T | Asus 6950 DC II 2gb | 12gb G.Skill Ripjaws 1600mhz | Intel X-25M 80gb Gen2 | 2x WD Caviar Green 1TB 64m cache |2x WD Caviar Green 2TB 64m cache | Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 | Seasonic X-660 | Fractal Design R3 + 4x Noctua S12B 120mm


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:32 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:15 pm
Posts: 218
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
You definitely need some quieting of your system if it is triggering your tinnitus. The spcr review of the Noctua NH-D14 shows that the addition of the 120mm fan provides very little additional cooling. On page 5 of the review spcr says "Run together, the sound has more growl and turbulence, and there are some mild intermodulation effects between the fans". I recommend removing the 120mm niose maker and installing the black Ultra-Low-Noise Adaptor on the 140mm fan. Then perhaps you can hear if you want to quieten the chassis fans.


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:09 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:41 am
Posts: 6
So, to understand what you are saying, you want me to set up my fans like this:

Code:
          Air flow
Rear<---------------------------------< Front

<-LL Fan<-XXX<-140mm<---<

Where the 120mm at the XXX is removed, and the 140 is connected with the ULNA?

Do I keep the stock fan, considering how close it is to the 140mm fan, or would it just be easier to do something like replacing the Lian Li fan with the 140mm, which is still connected to the ULNA with no fans mounted on the heatsink?

I just got in to the room of the computer this morning, and it is fairly quiet now, which I assume is because there is little load. It still has a very audible hum, though, but nothing loud.


Last edited by Dunga on Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:36 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:41 am
Posts: 6
My other post is awaiting approval, so just to update you:

Currently, the 120mm fan (to the left of the diagram, not in the middle of the heatsink, as was depicted) has been removed. I intend to replace the stock Lian Li rear fan with it and turn on its ULNA for some even better ventilation and noise reduction. I am still getting a fair amount of humming, but it still seems to be better.

I am also considering moving my GPU a PCI slot down to move its (top) fan farther away from the CPU and its heatsink, as that might create some better airflow and make it easier for the GPU to evacuate the heat. Sounds like a good idea?


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:21 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:15 pm
Posts: 218
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Dunga wrote:
I am also considering moving my GPU a PCI slot down to move its (top) fan farther away from the CPU and its heatsink, as that might create some better airflow and make it easier for the GPU to evacuate the heat. Sounds like a good idea?
I don't think it will make any significant effect on CPU cooling but might negatively affect GPU cooling. If the front chassis fan is pushing more CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) than the rear chassis fan then the excess CFM of air will mostly be travelling past the GPU and exiting out the rear vents. Moving the GPU downward may divide the air flow and leave less air passing past the GPU intake.


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:26 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:15 pm
Posts: 218
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
A current fad is positive pressure systems. If you used only the 2 fans on the front of the chassis, and leaving 1 fan on the CPU cooler to guarantee that adequate air passes through the CPU cooler, the air will exit out all the unblocked holes on the back of the chassis.


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:33 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:41 am
Posts: 6
Arbutus wrote:
Dunga wrote:
I am also considering moving my GPU a PCI slot down to move its (top) fan farther away from the CPU and its heatsink, as that might create some better airflow and make it easier for the GPU to evacuate the heat. Sounds like a good idea?
I don't think it will make any significant effect on CPU cooling but might negatively affect GPU cooling. If the front chassis fan is pushing more CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) than the rear chassis fan then the excess CFM of air will mostly be travelling past the GPU and exiting out the rear vents. Moving the GPU downward may divide the air flow and leave less air passing past the GPU intake.

I couldn't fit it there because of the SATA cables anyway, but great argument, thanks.

Arbutus wrote:
A current fad is positive pressure systems. If you used only the 2 fans on the front of the chassis, and leaving 1 fan on the CPU cooler to guarantee that adequate air passes through the CPU cooler, the air will exit out all the unblocked holes on the back of the chassis.

I'm all for removing fans, so that sounds interesting. Can you qualify "1 fan on the CPU cooler to guarantee adequate air passage"? I have the heatsink with the 140 mm fan and ULNA mounted already, and I am currently trying to replace the default rear middle stock fan with the 120 mm from the heatsink, although the screws are being a pain in the a ... Will that suffice? My case has never felt anything but cold to the touch, but obviously there's a reason the fans spin up from time to time.

I just want to make sure I have some measure of empiricism and science behind any decision to outright remove the two rear stock fans in the middle and top.


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 3:43 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 9:09 am
Posts: 1819
Location: Northern California.
that case comes with four stock fans. are you using them all too?


Code:
from newegg case specs...
120mm Fans = 2 x 120mm Rear fan
140mm Fans = 2 x 140mm Front Fan (1000RPM)


with two more on the cpu, one on the gpu and one more on the psu, thats eight fans....!

i would;
remove any fans from front of case. that way they are not close to your ears. (amusing the case faces you)
use one noctua in the middle of cpu heatsink and the other as the rear case exhaust.


have you thought about remote locating the PC into an adjoining room/closet/crawlspace? - it would then be totally silent.... ;)




EDIT:
p.s....


WELCOME TO SPCR!

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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:20 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:15 pm
Posts: 218
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Dunga wrote:
...some measure of empiricism and science behind any decision...

-1- test your system
-2- make a change
-3- retest and compare the results

These are good test tools:

CPUBurn - processor stress software x4 for your quad core CPU
FurMark - to stress the GPU
GPU-Z - to monitor GPU temperature and fan speed
ASUS PC Probe II - to monitor CPU speed and temperature and fan speeds

Have fun...


Last edited by Arbutus on Tue Jan 03, 2012 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:30 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:41 am
Posts: 6
xan_user wrote:
that case comes with four stock fans. are you using them all too?


Code:
from newegg case specs...
120mm Fans = 2 x 120mm Rear fan
140mm Fans = 2 x 140mm Front Fan (1000RPM)


with two more on the cpu, one on the gpu and one more on the psu, thats eight fans....!

i would;
remove any fans from front of case. that way they are not close to your ears. (amusing the case faces you)
use one noctua in the middle of cpu heatsink and the other as the rear case exhaust.


have you thought about remote locating the PC into an adjoining room/closet/crawlspace? - it would then be totally silent.... ;)




EDIT:
p.s....


WELCOME TO SPCR!

Yeah, I'm using them all: two in the front, one in the rear middle, one in the rear top where you can place additional hard drives. I guess I could the top one, too.

I actually don't think the front makes that much noise; I think the rear is much louder, so I think it would be better to try to remove the top rear stock fan.

The rear stock fan in the middle will be replaced by my other Noctua fan, and then I guess I can try to remove the front fans, too. In other words, all four stock fans get removed, and the Noctua 120mm replaces the rear middle stock fan position.

But aren't they there to do something? Remember, my supposed tinnitus happened before I got the Noctua heatsink, so something must have made them spin up and make a lot of noise - or maybe some kind of vibrations were behind that. Lian Lis are supposed to be silent in the first place, hence my immense confusion over why it got so loud in the first place.

And thanks! I imagine this will start taking over my life - I can't keep noticing the sound of the computer now. Maybe I should just get a MacBook and hook it up instead. :P


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:14 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:15 pm
Posts: 218
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Dunga wrote:
I actually don't think the front makes that much noise; I think the rear is much louder, so I think it would be better to try to remove the top rear stock fan.
The front door will mask some of the front fan noise. If you try a positive pressure system, using only the 2 fans on the front of the chassis and one noctua in the middle of cpu heatsink, you should block off the upper rear fan position so that some air will not be wasted and bypass the CPU cooler area.


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 7:21 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:15 pm
Posts: 218
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Dunga wrote:
...tinnitus happened before I got the Noctua heatsink, so something must have made them spin up and make a lot of noise...
The Noctua fans run at a constant speed. Most modern CPU coolers use PWM type fans and connect to the mainboard's 4-pin CPU fan connector and operate in automatic temperature control mode.


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:42 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:15 pm
Posts: 218
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Dunga wrote:
I imagine this will start taking over my life...
You can quickly try various setups as approximations.
- Fans can be temporarily unplugged.
- Chassis vents can be temporarily taped over.
- Voltage reducers can be moved around.

Dunga wrote:
Maybe I should just get a MacBook and hook it up instead. :P
It's good to see your sense of humour has not failed.


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:04 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:35 pm
Posts: 808
Location: Greece
Most cases including Lian Lis are not silent out of the box. Usually the user needs to reduce the speed of the stock fans among other things.

After removing any unecessary fans (like the top rear exhaust) check if your motherboard has any headers that can slow down 3 pin fans (look for options like "chassis fan speed %" in the bios, usually in the "pc health status" section). That could take care of one or two case fans. For the remaining, you could use the cheap 5v trick. The stock Lian Li fans are very good candidates for this: at 5 volts they still run at a very useful but quiet 800 rpm. The cpu fan is already taken care of (ULNA) so at this point fan noise should be under control.

Vibrational noise is next. You can try to power on the computer with the drive disconnected (after you`ve dealt with the fans of course) and see if you notice a difference. You`ll most likely will as the rubber used to soft mount the hard drive is usually not enough. Ideally you`d want to either suspend it, or place it atop a piece of thick open cell foam (like a kitchen sponge).

You also mention the cpu cooler as a potential source of vibrational noise. There are couple of things you could do: first, move the fan from the middle to the front of the heatsink. This way it won`t touch the second mass of fins and hopefully, the included rubber/silicone strips will be enough to prevent transfer of vibration to the first. Then, you could try to prevent metal to metal contact between the heatsink backplate and the motherboard tray. You could either put some rubber/foam in between or deform/cut part of the tray so that it clears the mounting plate.

Overall, it shouldn`t be too hard to silence your computer. You have plenty of cooling headroom so removing some fans and slowing down others shouldn`t be an issue. Vibrational noise can be a little harder to deal with but hopefully the steps above will help eliminate it.

Having said all that, I somehow doubt that computer noise is what triggered tinitus. We are subject to much louder noises in our everyday lives. I also suffer from tinitus but I would mostly blame traffic noise and my fair share of concerts I`ve been to.

edit: I can`t for the life of me find the post with the 5v trick to link to. I`ll try to describe it here: it involves cutting the corners of the fan molex connector. The connector is then plugged the "wrong way". This way, the fan receives 5 volts instead of 12 and a great reduction in fan speed is achieved.
Pic:
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:34 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:47 am
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Location: Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Dunga wrote:
Maybe I should just get a MacBook and hook it up instead. :P


MacBook is noisier than my PC. True, most of the times it is dead-silent, and then comes the "whoosh" to push out the heat :D.


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:04 am 
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The noise from the computer is unlikely to be causing the tinnitus. My understanding of tinnitus is that the noise is generated inside your head by your nerves. It is a bad feedback loop. One of the treatments is to feed your ears more noise of a certain nature and after a while the noise diminishes.

I would focus your efforts on getting treatment for the tinnitus as opposed to treatment for the computer. Even a dead quiet computer is not going to help.

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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:39 am 
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Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
ces wrote:
The noise from the computer is unlikely to be causing the tinnitus. My understanding of tinnitus is that the noise is generated inside your head by your nerves. It is a bad feedback loop. One of the treatments is to feed your ears more noise of a certain nature and after a while the noise diminishes.

I would focus your efforts on getting treatment for the tinnitus as opposed to treatment for the computer. Even a dead quiet computer is not going to help.

Maybe and Yes and Sometimes and Yes and Maybe......

There is a very interesting Tinnitus topic on this site:

Electronic Noise and Tinnitus article and the subsequent forum topic Electronic Noise and Tinnitus.


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:12 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:41 am
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Thanks a million billion, guys. A lot of above-and-beyond advice.

I haven’t used the optical drive in ages, but I should still disable it, so it doesn’t spin up and cause any potential noise. I’ll do that the next time I shut down the computer.

I have disabled the top rear stock fan and blocked the exhaust with some taped paper, but I couldn’t managed to remove the HDD bay that blocks the screws for the fan, so it’s still there(!). I have tried to find a guide on how to remove the bay, but I haven’t really found anything that elaborate on it, so if anyone has experience with removing them in Lian Li cases, I’d love a slightly better explanation than what I linked to. I assume I should be able to remove it with just a couple of screwdrivers, but it seems like I have to take off all sorts of parts of the inner casing and remove other parts than just the sides just to get to the screws, which sounds very un-Lian Li because of the difficulty.


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 Post subject: Re: Silent set-up is noisy - possibly harmfully so
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:46 pm 
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In your third photo it looks as if there are four screws in the section above the CPU cooler, aren't those the ones that you should unscrew to remove the HDD bay?


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