Silencing your gaming PC

How to get the Depeche Mode stamp of approval and enjoy the silence

December 6, 2012
silencing your gaming pc

“Words like violence break the silence, come crashing in, into my little world”. Only instead of words, its noise caused by fans and hard drives, and instead of my little world, it’s my gaming man cave.

PC’s can be loud, loud enough to make you turn up the volume on your speaker system or headphones, and I don’t know about you, but overly loud music can be painful to me. So we need to quieten things down a bit, and here’s how:

Replace all of your fans

Fans make a noise, in fact, if you removed all of the fans out your case,you might be caught out for thinking it’s not on. The problem with this is your components will almost surely overheat, not being able to cope running in a giant metal box with a lack of real airflow. “Can’t you understand what you’re doing to me, oh my!” your graphics card would lament, before running off into a corner to cry like a little girl.

To avoid the little girl crying scenario, low rotation fans from manufacturers such as Panaflo, Noctua and Scythe are available, and still manage to produce enough air flow pressure to keep your components cool. It might not be all you’ve ever wanted, but it’s all you’ve ever needed to avoid an overheating PC.

You can also make do will less fans in your PC, after all, fans are like words, very unnecessary. One way of doing this is to install watercooling with very large radiators that will soak up much of the heat produced by the CPU and GPU. Having a single fan in a triple fan 360 radiator may be enough to keep thing below boiling point.

Scythe S-flex

Scythe S-flex, it doesn’t look like much, but it’s what a silent PC wants

Silent or near silent hard drives are an option

Vows are spoken to place hard performance above all, but these will be broken if silence is your goal.

Replacing all of your hard drives with totally silent SSDs is always an option, but when you’re hit with the car-sized bill at the end of the month, it’s not an ideal situation, as even the cheapest SSDs still can’t offer value for money in the rand per GB race.

Still, some silence pleasures remain in the form of low power hard drives. These are typically “green” series drives from manufacturers such as Seagate and Western Digital, and while gamers’ feelings are intense and my words of support for the drives may be trivial, the lower rotation speed (usually under 6,000rpm) makes for a much quieter hard drive than the traditional 7,200rpm rotational speed.

Hard drive power controllers, from manufacturers like Lian Li, allow you to turn off storage drives that aren’t in use, although this adds the pain of replacing hard drives more frequently thanks to constant turning on and off.

My words may seem meaningless and forgettable to performance enthusiasts, but you’ll be surprised at how much noise hard drives can make.

OCZ Agility 3 SSD

OCZ Agility 3 SSD, good value for money if you’re considering mass drive replacement

Sound dampening material

Raw aluminum and giant ventilation holes aren’t particularly good for a silent PC, although, there are options that address each of these.

The first are fan filters, designed to collect dust before it enters your PC. These fan filters place a tight mesh in front of the ventilation holes which helps reduce the noise that leaks out of your PC. This does hamper airflow slightly and can inhibit fan performance. As a performance enthusiast, this might not be the perfect situation, but its a fitting option to keep your PC silent and cool.

As for the raw aluminum in your PC, it can be covered by sound dampening material. This helps absorb sound waves rather than reflecting them from all the exposed parts of your PC.

Recap

So to recap, if you’re after a silent PC, be sure to strip all non-essential fans out of your case. Replace the remaining ones with low rotation, low noise fans from a reputable manufacturer, and install water cooling with very large radiators to soak up the heat from essential components like the CPU and GPU.

Then replace your current hard drives with SSDs (if you’re Scrooge McDuck), or low power “green” hard drives (if you aren’t Scrooge McDuck). Finally, install dust filters over all of your fan mounts to place mesh between you and that horrid noise inside the case, and place sound dampening material along as much of the internal surface area of the case as possible. Once you’ve done all of this, you can listen to the below song in peace and quiet. Lyrics are in the article if you’d like to sing along. Oh, and enjoy the silence.

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Tags: headline, Noctua, Panaflo, Scythe, Watercooling

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