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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.