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Silent PC guide

CPU fan noise


CPU fans are important, because a bad one makes a very high-pitch noise, and and the CPU is the one component in your computer that really needs cooling.

One of the best solutions to this problem is the Molex Radial fin coolers. They are reasonably priced, very quiet, does a pretty good job of keeping the CPU cool and it's easy to install. The only limitation is that it's not available for SECC1 CPUs. If you're in the US, you can buy these coolers from New England Digital Computers, Inc., if you're in Europe, Quietpc.com is closer. :)

Another option is to get a radial fan cooler, they are generally more quiet than axial fan coolers, but they can be bulky and may not fit in your computer... I only know of one place that has them, and they don't deliver to the US: noisecontrol.de.

If you have a SECC1 CPU, your options can be rather limited, since most new CPU coolers don't work with SECC1 CPUs. The best option I've found so far is to buy a good CPU cooler which takes a 40mm fan and replace it with a Papst/EBM or Panaflo fan. Beware that most SECC1 coolers takes 50 or 52mm fans and neither Papst/EBM nor Panasonic makes 50 or 52mm fans. Personally I bought a K1 cooler from PC power & cooling, Inc. To find a suitable fan, go to my case fans page.

It might also be possible to use a passive heatsink (without a fan), but I haven't seen any reliable solutions for this yet, and it requires good ventilation in your computer in general, which might not be possible if you have low-speed case fans.

Last, but not least, you might want to consider water cooling. Water cooling is traditionally a tool for overclockers to achieve low CPU temperature, but with the proper setup, water cooling can make for an efficient and quiet way to cool your CPU. As an added bonus, if you mount the radiator outside of your computer case, you can reduce the overall need for airflow through your computer, which makes it even more quiet. I know of three commercial kits for water cooling:

Senfu - the king
In all reviews I've read, the Senfu watercooling kit has the best waterjacket of any water cooling kit. However, the pump and fans which come with the kit are reportedly somewhat noisy, so you might want to get an aquarium pump and some better fans. You can buy it here:
Aquastealth
Gives a slightly more home-made impression, but still seems like quite a solid product. I haven't been able to determine exactly what processors this is compatible with though.
Swiftech
Seems like quite a solid product for socket processors, they have a list of distributors on their site.

If you are running windows, you might want to consider running a CPU energy saver program such as Rain to lower the heat output of your CPU. While this will not make your CPU more quiet directly, it can reduce the amount of heat inside your computer and allow you to turn off some fans temporarily. This should work particularly well together with the Digital Doctor 5 from Macworld or Plycon, since the DigiDoc5 can turn on and off fans automatically for you depending on temperature.

Ok, now that we have a quiet CPU cooler, let's move on to the gfx & chipset fans >>>


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Last modified: March 6th, 2001 - Design by Monica & Fredrik Hübinette