Page 1 of 3

Quieting a PC, and SPCR... in a nutshell

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2005 3:56 pm
by Shadowknight
COMMENT BY ADMIN: This post has been stickied upon request. It is an attempt to encapsulate SPCR -- and generally silencing computers -- in a single post. The task is just about impossible; there are over 4 years of mostly very in-depth articles written by numerous contributors. A summary like this can only begin to scratch at the wealth of detailed information that is in the 300+ articles on the main site. We encourage you not to stop here, but to use this as a starting point to delve deeper into the various topics. is a big, active, growing research library and there's tons of info here. There are many people frequenting and posting in these forums who have read just a fraction of the material in the main site; the advice can sometimes be spotty or incomplete. Studying all the Recommended articles alone will put you ahead of 98% of forum surfers (though it might take you a lot of time and some serious work to fully absorb.)

Thanks to Shadowknight for starting this thread and keeping it up to date even w/o official support. Please keep it up!


ETA: There are a few misc things I don't have space for here, look for another post I put up on the second page of this thread

This FAQ is broken into two halves, general background information and silencing philosophy, then the main section on recommended parts/equipment.

A) Recommend cheaper products?
Lists of recommended SPCR components can be found here.. Each section also includes DIY projects related to each component. For example, this section also has some cheap ways to quite your hard drive: Each section (Hard Drive, DIY systems, PSU, whatever) has articles in addition to reviews, such as swapping PSU fans, making rubber boxes to decouple and silence your hard drive, DIY elastic suspension, etc. One made a gigantic heatsink to cool their CPU, one large enough to mount a motherboard one. There’s no end to silencing ideas published on SPCR.

Each individual recommended section have a table which sums up products and differences. It's only updated every few months, so it probably won't include comparisons with more recently reviewed products.

B) What is silence?
Silence is an absolute. You can't make it more silent. It either makes sound, or it doesn't. It's like going into the mountains where the air pressure is lower than on flatlands, and claiming that you're in a vacuum. You can make things QUIETER, but not more silent. It's POSSIBLE to make things silent, but given the amount of heat put out by modern computing components, it's not bloody likely. Also, keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to go all the way in making a quiet computer. If you have background noise going constantly, you might just want to spend enough time/money to get it below that threshold. Hard core silencers shoot for a computer that is inaudible at 1 meter (about 3 feet) away. MikeC recently posted his official stance on "silent computing" on SPCR.

There is the occasional question by overclockers who come on this site who don’t understand why some people want quiet or silent computers. You can see a discussion here discussing this.

C) Addiction/Sound Perception
Silencers tend to get addicted to making things quieter and quieter. As you eliminate the loudest source of the noise in your computer, the PC will initially sound “silentâ€

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 7:54 am
by Green Shoes
Great write-up, Shadowknight! I vote sticky :D

I think point # 3 should be put in 24-type font and moved to the top of the post, though :wink:

Also might want to mention something about filters if recommending component # 13. :lol:

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:09 am
by peteamer
Very nicely done Centurion. 8)

I'll second the call for Stickying it.


Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:16 am
by Aleksi
Very good job, this one was really needed!

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:53 am
by Bean
Skimmed over it and its a nice faq!

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:56 am
by lenny
Shadowknight wrote:Silence is an absolute. You can’t make it “more silent”.
I want to make my computer a "sound sink" that absorbs the noise from the surrounding. Isn't that "more silent"?

Just kidding.

Nice write-up, very useful. Thanks for taking the effort.

A few suggestions :

Even motherboards without NB coolers can create noise. Some has reported hearing whines from the coils for voltage regulation. Ditto for PSUs. Not a major concern for most people, except for those very sensitive to high frequency sounds, and for those whose computers are already very quiet.

Mounting fans : for a quick check to see if it is effective, for for a ghetto look, try foam ear plugs.

Hard drive : sorbothane?

Keyboard / mouse : probably the noisiest part of your computer after all the silencing effort. Or even without.

Cats : they shed hair. Make sure you have intake filters. A fan grill may also be a good idea if you have a curious cat.

Finally, the numbering is a little screwy. But that's just a minor quibble.

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:19 am
by Shadowknight
Bean, fixed the errors.

Lenny: I stated this was mostly an "expensive" listing, but I'll probably put in a couple of your suggestions when I have time in the next day or 2.

As to everyone who pointed it out: yes, you probably need filters if you have ANY pets. I just put in the stuff about cats because I got 2 two weeks ago, and I felt like throwing in something random at the end (I was also considering listing my favorite Sam and Max comic strip title, "The Damned don't Dance."). Obviously, a cat can't contribute to quieter computing, and they have yet to introduce a model that doesn't have the "meow" sound much like the Hitachi fix to keep the Deathstars from dying. :)

Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:23 am
by Spod
Good FAQ!

Randop nitpicking:

Hard drives - FDB = Fluid Dynamic Bearing. (BB=Ball Bearing). You will often see FDBs referred to as FDB bearings (just like the way everyone instinctively calls Tesco "Tesco's" or the St. John Ambulance Brigade "St. John's Ambulance". Don't know if those examples travel well).

Link to hard drive vibration reducing methods sticky?

What is silent? - it might be worth mentioning that a system doesn't have to be silent to be effectively inaudible - it only has to be below the ambient noise level of the room it's in. Hence why it's perfectly possible to have a system with five fans and a hard drive, that you can't tell by listening whether it's on or not.

Video cards - the VF700 Cu is probably worth a specific mention, especially as it is less likely than the other solutions to clash with a passive northbridge cooler.

CD/DVD drives- Also remember that you aren't using the optical drive all the time, so idle noise is generally absent. Some drives have fans, but these usually only run when the drive is spinning.

Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:35 am
by anthonysimilion
FDB bearings is one - but don't forget about 'ATM Machines' - automatic teller machine machines!

Informative post Shadowknight.

Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 7:10 pm
by Shadowknight
bunch of additions, revisions, etc.

Posted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 5:35 pm
by el_
great work.

I Think TIMs and link to reviews would be important too. in cpu section.

also decreasing the vcore link review would be nice in the how to pick a mobo section or number 14.

great ideas.

Posted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:11 pm
by Shadowknight
el_: I have no idea what you're saying. Could you explain a little more clearly, please?

Posted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 7:14 pm
by el_
improved TIM or Thermal Interface Material. along the lines you were saying more surface area. the Thermal Interface Material of choice is Artic Silver 5 for 70% and 30% do better with Cerimique.

Decreasing the voltage to the core of the cpu is another way to decrease the total wattage/heat your hsf need to remove.

great job I'll get some of those directon fan mounts instead of the ear kind.

rubber stick fan mount availability

Posted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 12:56 am
by donut
I liked the look of those rubber stick fan mounts, but Directron is out of stock with no ETA. I managed to find them (apparently direct from the distributor) at (click on shopping cart, then accessories.) Note that I haven't actually tried ordering from them yet, though.

I also ran across these similar, nice looking Amacrox Rubber Suspension Kit, but couldn't find anywhere in the US that has them..

You might also want to link the zip-ties mention to this New Fan Mount Design....DIY thread.

Posted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 1:53 am
by madman2003
AAM = Advanced Acoustic Management, not anti acoustic management as far as i know.

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 5:02 am
by Bluefront
It's quite obvious Shadowknight put a lot of time/work into this thread, and it's a good start point for beginning modders.

But it's important to keep in mind, and should have been explained at the start of the thread, this is only on man's opinion of how to do these things, backed-up by other people's experiences to be sure, but still only a set of instructions that is open to question, and modification.

For instance.....The "don't use round cables" statement is troubling. It seems like because Ralf Hutter uses flat cables, that is the best/only way to do things. Jeez....

How flat cables can make your computer quieter than round cables is beyond me. And there is no convincing evidence to me, of data corruption using round cables. And from personal can find rounded/sleeved cables of almost any length, which makes routing/hiding cables much easier than using a flat cable. Plus they're prettier..... :lol:

Of course this is IMHO only.....just like this whole thread is in Shadowknight's humble opinion only.

Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 7:11 am
by Shadowknight
Er, Bluefront, maybe you should have followed the link about Ralf's post;

PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2004 5:05 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
Jan Kivar wrote:

There are, of course, some cheaply made cables (they don't have to be cheap!) that can/do/will cause loss of data integrity.

I've had this happen with expensive Coolermaster cables.

Jan Kivar wrote:
Plus, the controller/drive/OS will drop the transfer rate down automatically in some cases.

Yes, this is a "feature" that's present in Win2000/XP. Basicaly what happens is when the errors exceed what the normal CRC can handle, the OS (permanently, until you delete the IDE channel in Device Manager and reboot/redetect the channel) cuts back the speed of that IDE channel one level (ATA-100 down to ATA-66 for example), and if the errors still continue it will keep knocking the speed down until it gets to PIO, or stops giving errors, whicherver comes first. All this will be done behind the users back and they will notice nothing except slowness (or they can see the OS warning them about this in Event Viewer). I have personally had this happen to me and just recently repaired a customer's computer with a funky rounded cable in it so I have first-hand experience with this. Data integrity is too important to me to sacrifice it for looks or mythical performance. Is it worth slowing your IDE transfer speeds down or corrupting your data just for the sake of using out of spec cables?

Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 4:25 pm
by Shadowknight
I guess before I completely forget about this thing (and given it's not stickied), is there any other changes/additions anyone thinks I should put in?

bottom air intake

Posted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 8:16 pm
by Bill Dunsmore
Something that has worked well for me is a bottom air intake. I cut a 120mm hole in the bottom of the case and relocated the front fan in my Black Knight case. Elevated the case with homemade 1.5 inch legs. The fan is inaudible and case temps are excellent. Bluefront's posts got me started with this case mod. His point is well made that we all share ideas here. Overall, I think this primer for newbies is outstanding.

Posted: Sun May 01, 2005 1:14 pm
by Shadowknight
Again, unless something noticably cool comes into existence, I'm probably not going to be updating this thing again in the near future. I have edited the FAQ to throw a bone to people curious about the noise level of the WD raptor series, though.

Posted: Sun May 01, 2005 2:42 pm
by BenW
Has anyone found the Amacrox Rubber Suspension Kit on Maplins UK?

Posted: Sun May 01, 2005 3:04 pm
by Shadowknight
Using SPCR's search function brings up this link: ... =&doy=16m4

Posted: Mon May 02, 2005 7:19 am
by Green Shoes
I'm disappointed that no one has voted for "I like cheese" yet :(

Posted: Mon May 02, 2005 7:31 am
by peteamer
Green Shoes wrote:I'm disappointed that no one has voted for "I like cheese" yet :(
That's because AthlonPowers is no longer with us. :P

(Rusty075: If this provokes a response from him,... I'm eternaly apologetic :? )

Posted: Mon May 02, 2005 8:32 am
by StarfishChris
Undervolting does not lower CPU performance. That is underclocking. Undervolting is relatively independant of that (within bounds of stablility & ability to do so)

Posted: Mon May 02, 2005 9:32 am
by dfrost
Very minor comments: Aerocool makes the VM-101, not Aerogate. Also, while a VM-101 doesn't use a PCI slot below the card, there can be space conflicts above a card with one of these, as noticeable from this photo. Performance on other then very high power cards is great for the low weight and reasonable cost if it fits.

Posted: Sat May 07, 2005 2:25 pm
by Shadowknight
updated per last 2 comments, added link to Raptor analysis by SPCR member.

Posted: Sat May 07, 2005 2:39 pm
by superlyduper
H is rather good

Posted: Sat May 14, 2005 4:29 am
by Number12
excellent work shadowknight!
as a newbie I've been trawling through many forums - reading your post makes a good place to summarize lots of info, and to stimulate thinking about others.

That silenx thread was...interesting. I never knew. (Hope I'm not opening up old wounds)


Posted: Sun May 22, 2005 11:18 pm
by silencetowrite

this was a helpful post--good for newbies, and I should know because I am one.

i might suggest a bit more about motherboards, such as, what should one look for when considering whether their heatsink will play nicely with their board. for instance, i've been reading about some problems with passive cooling it the vga card is too close to the northbridge chipset. things like that. it would be helpful to have a short list of what to look for when weighing the stablity or features of a board against the ease with which it and its cpu, vga, and northbridge can be cooled quietly.

this is an issue i've been reading about heavily...i bet their are others out there who are too.

but again, great post!