I don't want to invest much money into stuff that won't be useful if I upgrade, but I'm willing to invest time and effort. That could be interesting and I could learn something.
I'd like to focus on the prominent noise sources first rather than handling everything at once. The fans on the Antec EarthWatts EA500 PSU and EVGA 8600GT graphics card are very quiet.
The loudest noise is air flow noise relating to the rear fan, and that is kind of puzzling. It seems to mostly be coming from the rear fan, but it decreases when I open the case, and decreases even more when the fan is on its own and not mounted there. Maybe noise is from the fan blades stalling aerodynamically because they're working against too much pressure? I'm also left wondering how much of the noise is generated from airflow elsewhere vs. generated at the fan and escaping elsewhere. So, would a quieter fan help much, or do I need to enlarge the front bezel air intakes, as some other people have done? I'm also a bit tempted to cut out the rear fan grille.
Reducing airflow worries me because this motherboard has terrible thermal monitoring. There are only two sensors on it: one at the CPU, and another at a location I don't know. I'm not confident that they would tell me about any hotspots that develop.
The motherboard does have good CPU fan control, but no other fan control in the BIOS. It seems I have one channel of the IT8718F
chip available for additional PWM fan control, which I could use to control a PWM fan from SpeedFan. It's also possible to program that chip so it handles fan control without software intervention. I found a program
to do that.
After that, it would make sense to deal with are the hard drive and the CPU cooler. Thanks for reminding me about hard drive suspending. I've also seen that enabling AAM quiets this drive a lot. Using an SSD for the OS plus enabling AAM on this drive would be nice. As for CPU coolers, I see that many are compatible with various sockets, so I can get a cooler that will be useful in the future.