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The quiet diary

June 2000 - April 2001


Apr 5th 2001

I installed a Coolermaster DCD-4002 hard drive cooler today on the theory that it might help keep old IBM drive quiet. The old IBM drive is almost certainly too warm to use a SilentDrive enclosure, so I decided to try the coolermaster DCD 4002 first instead. The installation was easy, except for the fact that my IDE cables were to short and I had to re-arrange some things in my computer. Unfortunately it does not seem to make my HD any cooler, and I had to replace the noisy fan that came with the unit with a more quiet Panaflo fan. However, it does seem to do a pretty good job of keeping the drive cool, so I was able to turn off the 120mm fan in my case, which made the computer much more quiet. Of course, this makes me notice the high-pitch noise from the HD even more. :( I really have to buy some new hard drives soon.

Apr 4th 2001

I ordered some Arctic Silver II a few days ago, and it should arrive today according to the FedEx tracking. The Arctic Silver II is really for my secondary computer, which runs quite hot today, but I want to apply it in my primary as well. Since I will have to take out the water block to apply the Arctic Silver II anyways, I decided to take a look inside and see if it needed to be cleaned out.... The answer is a ground-shaking *yes*, it was very very grungy, with slimy stuff and some corrosion on the inside. The corrosion might be because I tried to kill the bacteria in the cooling water with Chlorine, which sort of worked but also dissolved the filter sponge in the water pump....

I really need to get that bromide, and possibly some de-ionized water. I wonder if the radiator is as full of gunk as the water block. If so, how on earth am I going to clean that out?? There is no way to open it.. Does anybody out there know of a solution?

The Arctic Silver II arrived, and so did a second water block and a better water pump that I ordered from Inferno-Tech I went and got a couple of barbed T air-hose connectors from PetSmart, and hooked up water cooling for both CPUs in my dual-CPU machine. The new pump is made be Eheim, makes less noise than the Senfu pump and easily pumps three times as much water.

I also applied the Arctic Silver II on my SilentSystem Radial Fin CPU cooler in my secondary computer, and the temperature dropped by about 8 degrees Celsius at full load. That's one centigrade per dollar, not bad!

Apr 2nd 2001

Watercooling is cool, but also a pain to maintain. My water cooling setup is still using an open container, and I have to fill it up with water every few days, and replace all of the water once a week since it grows slimy stuff really fast. I am also concerned that the slimy stuff might be clogging up the radiator and waterjacket, because the pump is pumping much less water than it was a month ago. I'm going to get some bromide or something to put in the water, and I hope that will stop the growth. It still cools well enough, but if the water flow stops completely I might burn one of my new 1GHz CPUs.

Mar 12th 2001

Watercooling is cool! :) I finally got my water cooling stuff and put it together. It's nothing fancy, but it does a really good job of keeping my CPU cool, even without running the two fans on the radiator. The pump that came with the Senfu kit is pretty weak, but it doesn't take much water flow to cool the CPU. According to my DigiDoc5, it is now cooler 2mm from the CPU core than in the rest of the computer case.... :) The hottest parts in my computer are now the graphics card, and the hard drive. The noisiest part is the hard drive. Someone really really needs to invent cheap sold-state hard drives!

Mar 7nd 2001

Got my DigiDoc5, which will help me monitor the temperature in my box. Nearly cut my finger of while installing it... They really need to round off the edges on those things. While digging through my computer I found something that I had managed to forget: My graphics card has a fan! Gah! The graphics card is also usually hotter than my CPU, so it probably needs the fan. Three of my computers are now reasonably quiet, it's just my main workstation left, and I only have two ways left to try: water cooling and sound dampening boxes. I've ordered some water cooling stuff, it'll be interesting to see how it works. :)

Mar 2nd 2001

I've finished the first part of my Silent PC Guide. I will add pictures and more instructions once I get a digital camera.

I finally ordered a Senfu water cooling kit, a digital doc 5 and some other goodies from www.plycon.com. It wasn't cheap, but now I will finally be able to find out weather water cooling is really worth the effort or not. If I add up all the money I've spent on silencing my computers lately, it almost adds up to an ISOMAC box..

Mar 1st 2001

Ok, I've been listening to fans, comparing them at 7 and 12 volts with regards to airflow, noise and vibrations. Here are the contenders and their specs:
    Silencer 80mm aux case fan from PC power and cooling
    1600rpms, 28cfm, 20dBA, ball bearings, 0.9W

    Papst 8412NGL
    1500rpms, 19cfm, 12dBA, Sintec bearings, 0.6W

    Panasonic Panaflo FBA08A12L1A
    1900rpms, 24cfm, 21dBA, Hydro Wave bearings, 0.82W

Now that you've looked a the specs, I want you to forget them. The specs don't mean dingos kidneys in real life, especially the numbers for airflow and noise level, since there is no standardized way to measure those things.

12 volts
At 12 volts, the fans should in theory behave according to the specifications. So much for theory...
  • The Silencer fan is very quiet, it has a slight humming noise which could be annoying if you can hear it. However, it does definitely not move more air than the Panasonic fan, which makes me think that the promised 28cfm is an exaggeration.
  • The Papst fan also makes some noise, the noise is quite different from the Silencer fan, it's more of a clicking noise than a humming noise. It is hard to say which fan is more quiet or less annoying because the noises are so different. However, if this fan was truly 12dBA, I think it would be easy to choose a winner, therefor I think that the 12dBA is also an exaggeration.
  • The Panasonic fan definitely moves the most air of the three fans, but it also makes the most noise. It has both clicking and humming components to the noise. It might be better to compare this fan to the Papst 8412NGML, which is rated at 2050rpms.
It's hard to pick a winner, it is however easy to choose a looser. The Panasonic fan is noisy enough that I would recommend two Silencer or Papst fans over the Panasonic fan. Personally I like the Papst fan better because the noise is more low-pitch and tends to dissipate better when mounted in a computer case.

7 volts
I run most of my fans at 7 volts, since it makes them much much more quiet. Two fans at 7 volts can be more quiet than one at 12, and with these high-quality fans there is very little risk of the fans stopping, even at 7 volts. All the above fans are very very very quiet at 7 volts, especially the Silencer and Papst fans. Again, my preference would be the Papst fan, because the clicking noise is very low at 7 volts. The Silencer fan is my second choice, it has a low whining noise, but it is unlikely that you could hear it once mounted inside a computer. The Panasonic fan is the noisiest of the bunch, in fact, it makes almost as much noise as the Papst and Silencer fans makes at 12 volts, and seems to produce less airflow.

Conclusion
The Papst and Silencer fans are definitely the winners here, and while my personal preference falls on the Papst fan, I would probably recommend the Silencer fan to most people since it comes pre-wired, is easier to find, and produces slightly more airflow.

As usual you have to be very careful when using these fans in your computer since they will cause the computer to run warmer than if you use a high-power (and high-noise) fan. It is a good idea to keep an eye on the motherboard and cpu temperatures before and after installing a new fan. I haven't had any problems myself, but I give no warranties. I will not replace your cpu/motherboard/HD if they catch on fire! :)

Feb 28nd 2001 (earthquake day)

Got the stuff for my silent SECC1 cooler today. (See entry for the 22nd) The 40mm Panaflo fan is not noiseless, but it's a lot more quiet than than the fan I already had in there. The 40mm fan that came with the cooler itself is very noisy though, it sounds like a very small jet plane or something.. I forgot to check the thickness of the fans before I ordered them, and the Panaflo fan is much thicker than the one that came with the cooler. Fortunately there was no problems attaching the fan anyways. The contraption works quite well and once inside my computer it was quite hard to hear the cpu cooler.

I also ordered some more 80mm fans to replace the fans in my file server, but first I am going to try them out and listen to them. I have one Silencer fan, one Panaflo fan and one Papst fan. Tomorrow I will try them out at 12 and 7 volts and compare airflow and noise level.

Feb 22nd 2001

I've decided to built my own silent heatsink/fan-combo for my SECC1 PII. The hard part was to find a heatsink that takes 40mm fans, since neither Papst/EBM nor Panasonic makes 52mm fans. (Most cpu coolers use 50 or 52 mm fans) However, I found one at pcpowerandcooling that takes a 40mm fan, so I ordered it and a low-speed Panaflo fan from digi-key, it will be interesting to see how well they work together.

I also found out why two of my hard drives weren't spinning down properly when I weren't using them. It turned out to the RealPlayer Startcenter that was accessing the disks at regular intervals. After disabling startcenter, two of my computers are at least more quiet when I'm not using them. :)

Feb 18th 2001

I got the Accumat I ordered. The material is quite similar to asphalt roofing material, it is odorless and easy to apply. It doesn't seem to make a big difference in sound level though. I also got a sample from b-quiet.com. Their material is definitely tar-based, it has a faint tar odor.. I had high hopes for the so called 'sound deadening material', but I think what I need is really sound absorbing material such as studiofoam or carpet padding. I have also ordered a small piece of Sorbothane, which I will primarily use to make the fan under our gas fireplace more quiet, but it will be interesting to see if I can make use of it to make my hard drivers more silent as well.

I got a tip about a nice program that can adjust the acoustic level of newer IBM hard drives. This costs some performance as it slows down seek times, but if you're putting together a box for the living room, upgrading your TiVo or just happen to be really picky, it should be a great program. You can find it Here.

The more I fiddle with this stuff, the more I realize that I need an ISOBOX or something like that. (Preferably something cheaper.)

Feb 8th 2001

Found a cool material for making hard drive mounts out of: Sorbothane. I haven't found anybody who actually makes hard drive mounts with this material though.

Feb 6th 2001

When I was looking for small quiet fans to replace my cpu fans with, I decided to clean the cpu fan to reduce the amount of noise it makes.... That was not a good idea.. One of the blades broke and then it *really* started to make a lot of noise. The whole computer was shaking... I had another fan to replace it with, but it didn't quite fit and when I was working on trying to make it fit buy using mild force, the plastic holder broke. This fan is a part of a Powerleap PL-K6-III 400 and the mechanism holding the heatsink and fan is rather unique, so no standard heatsink/fan combo will work... However, I managed to put another heatsink in it's place by making a sort of clamping mechanism with a piece of wood and a screw.. I really wish I had a digital camera since no description can describe how ugly this thing is.. :) While I had the computer open I replaced both of the fans with some leftover fans from other computers and rewired them to use 7 volts instead of 12 volts. All and all, I spend about an hour sweating over a semi-broken computer today, but the end result works and is much more quiet, so it wasn't a total waste. :)

Feb 5th 2001

Been sitting around waiting for the Accumat products and the Papst fans I ordered from Elfa. In the meantime I've been doing some more research and I have come up with a few new products and ideas. Most noticeably I've found an alternative to the hard-to-get Papst/EBM fans: The Panasonic Panaflo series of fans should be very quiet and you can order them online here.

Idea number two is to buy a hard drive bracket with builtin shock-absorption to isolate the vibrations from the HD from the computer case and thus making less noise. So far I've only found one such product, to find it go to: www.megahaus.com -> webstore -> brackets -> drive brackets -> SBRACKET.

Idea #3: I am not sure the Molex cpu fans are always enough to cool some fast CPUs, my PIII733 cpu keeps tops out around 58 degrees celcius, which to me is an indication that a PIII1000 would almost certainly be over 70, which is the temperature limit for that processor. However, it should be possible to buy any large heatsink/fan combo and replace the fan with a quiet Panaflo or Papst/EBM fan. Of course, water cooling will yield better and quieter cooling, but it also costs more requires more work. I may try this one one of my computers soon since I have two computers for which Molex cpu fans won't work.

Idea #4: I need to buy some wire fan grills and cut out the metal covering the fans in some of my computers. The metal hinders airflow and can also cause whining/vibrations because of air passing over the edges of the metal. This might not wound like it would make much of a difference, but remember that better airflow means you can use lower-rpm fans which means less noise.

Feb 3rd 2001

I ordered some Accumat AMT045 to line my computers with, hopefully it will help with the high-pitch whining that some of my hard drives make... Of course, after ordering the Accumat I found this website which sells a similar material, but much cheaper... Oh well, next time... However, Accumat is supposed to be better than asphalt based materials, but without some proper testing, who knows?

And 10 minutes after writing the above, I found b-quiet.com site which sells the exact same material as sounddeadeningmaterial.com (it even has the same descriptions..) Maybe b-quiet.com and sounddeadeningmaterial.com are really the same site? Of course, there is also Dynamat, but I've read that it has an annoying odor on this page.

I started the resource list to the left today, that should make it easier for returning visitors to find what you need to make your computer more quiet. Next thing will be to start a how-to section, but I think I need a digital camera first so I can show you how to do things. :)

Jan 30th 2001

Got a few square feed of carpet padding today. It's odd, because it's more like a thick blanket than a foam rubber type padding... Anyways, I'm going to dig out the hot glue gun and start lining my computers. Hope it works. :)

It works. It doesn't muffle the sound nearly as much as I would like, but it does muffle the sound noticeably. At first I thought it sounded more, because I had accidentally hooked up a fan which was previously disconnected. Unfortunately I can still hear the old cpu fan in there... It's an old noisy fan from 3dfxcool.com. I would like to put a Molex cpu fan in there, but they don't have them for early Slot 1 CPUs, so either I have to upgrade the cpu or start thinking about water cooling. (Unless someone out there knows of a quiet SECC1 cpu cooler?)

So far I have only lined one of my computers, I'm thinking of trying other materials for on my other computers. I have also put in an order for a bunch of Papst variofans from Elfa, I hope I can stand the rest of my noisy computers until they get here. :)

Jan 29th 2001

Again: Aha! The reason I can't find Papst fans in the USA is because they are not called Papst here. They are instead called EBM Industries, Inc. I called them to find a an online retailer that sells their products, but apparently they do not have one... However, they did recommend that I check out Allied electronics, Newark electronics or Kent electronics. Allied electronics has an online catalog, but it does not list all EBM products. Hopefully they still have the fans I want. I found the model numbers of the Papst/EBM fans I want on the German Papst site, here they are:
Series Model Measurements Noise
Megafan 4412FGL 119x119x25mm 26 dBA
Megafan 3412NGL 92x92x25mm 23 dBA
Megafan 8412NGL 80x80x25mm 12 dBA
Variofan 3412NGMV 92x92x25mm varies
Variofan 8412NGLV 80x80x25mm varies
Mp> Before any of you out there go buy these fans, beware that they are very low-speed, most of them are rated at 1500 rpm. Most computer fans are rated at at least 3000 rpm. Papst/EBM makes fans which runs at 3100 rpms, but then you also get more noise.

Jan 27th 2001

Aha! The same 80mm silencer fans I bought from Quietpc.com can be obtained in the US from PC power & cooling Inc at about half the price. They also sell quiet power supply units, which looks very tempting... They also have a temperature-regulated fan, but the noise rating on that fan is much higher than the corresponding Papst fans, so I'm going to attempt to order some Papst variofans from ELFA in Sweden.

One of these days I should really organize all the products links on this page into something easier to read.. :)

Jan 25th 2001

I got my stuff from Quietpc.com today, and I've been spending the day installing it. Unfortunately the 120mm fan I got is too thick to fit my case, so the biggest noisemaker is still there, but I did manage to make one of my other computers much more quiet by replacing the fan in the power supply with a Papst fan running on 7 volts and using a hard drive enclosure to make the hard drive more quiet. Now I just need to find a quiet cpu cooler for a Pentium II (not SECC 2) and that computer should be fine.

I one fan and the cpu cooler in my main workstation, and I wired the 120mm fan in it to use 7 volts instead of 12, but it's still quite noisy. I am going to replace the fan in the power outlet as well. Unfortunately all the fans from Quietpc.com came with four-pin connectors, and I don't have any more of those in my computer, but I cut off the connector from an old fan and soldered it into place instead....

I really like the Papst fans, however, part of the reason they are so quiet is because they are wired for 7 volts, not 12 volts. I was not informed that they were wired this way when I bought them, which is the only thing about these products that I can complain about. All and all, a very sound investment.

January 20th 2001

Ok, It's been six months since I did anything, but now I'm serious. I can't be sure, but I think the constant whining from my computers is starting to affect my hearing... So I'm going to start ordering some stuff. I started by ordering some fans, a drive enclosure and a cpu cooler from Quietpc.com. It's not cheap, but it it makes my computers more silent it'll be worth it. Unfortunately I couldn't buy their 'ultra-quiet power supply unit' because the 300W model is only available for 230 volts right now.

I'm going to take this one step at a time, but I have pretty much decided to order some Papst Variofans and one or more temperature-controlled RPM regulators from Elfa. I apologize for the Swedish pages, but I can't seem to find these products anywhere online in the United States. :( I'm also trying to design my own RPM regulator, but I haven't fiddled with electrical stuff in ages, so I'm not going to post my designs until I've actually tried them. :)

The next thing to order is a Digital Doctor 5 (made by Macpower and a Senfu water cooler kit from Plycon. All and all I'll probably end up spending $600 on cooling equipment in the near future...

Oh, and one thing I almost forgot, I'm going to try the procedure described on this page. It looks quite simple and seems like it could give good results. Check back soon, I will post reviews of all the hardware and procedures I try, but don't expect pictures, because I don't have a digital camera. (yet)

June 11th 2000

I'm back :) I had almost given up on this project, but I've talked to some more people and gotten some more ideas that I need to write down. First up, someone sent me some nice links, the first one is Quietpc.com a company that actually specializes in selling quiet computer parts! Unfortunately their SilentDrive probably won't work for me because almost all my drives are 7200rpm and put out a lot of heat. Also, their processor coolers are only for SECC2 cpu packages, and I don't have any SECC2 CPUs. Still, I really want to try out their products! The other link is Senfu International, they sell what seems to be high-quality water jackets and other stuff needed for water cooling. Unfortunately their website sucks, and shipping from Taiwan might be pricey..

I also had a very interesting conversation with a friend who visits hardware stores a lot more than I do.. :) He suggested I look at refrigerator ice maker/cool water hookup kits. They come with approx. 1/4" hoses and connectors, which should be just about the size I need. (The Senfu web page specifies a 4mm inner diameter for the hose...) He also suggested that I try to build a completely enclosed system without a water tank. The idea is that if you can bleed the air out the system you won't get algae and stuff growing in the water. However, bleeding the air out of the system without external water pressure requires some thinking. However, it might be possible to bleed the air out by temporarily hooking the system up to the tap with a long hose. Finally, to find the radiator for the system, I am still going to have to go to an auto parts shop... I'm just lazy I guess. :)


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