Make Your PC Quieter

Greg Mombert / Digital TrendsOver the course of the digital age, our electronics have undergone some drastic improvements and further developments. However, one aspect of PCs that still has a lot of room for improvement is the amount of noise that PC fans can make. Although such nuisances are apparently unimportant, they can be particularly painful in a vacuum.

Fortunately, there are ways to calm your PC down. With the right equipment and some mantras, most users can drive out the howling demon on their desktop. Here are some ways to make your computer quieter.

Check the fan bracket and dust deposits

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Here's an easy step that almost anyone can take. Carefully remove the side wall of your PC and check all attachments. Spouts, seals and screws can be involved. If any of them get loose over time, they can vibrate and make your PC much louder than it should be.

Check them all, tighten everything that needs to be tightened, and make sure the fans don't wobble or come loose. You can even buy brackets that contain padding or gel for added vibration resistance. However, this is a step that only advanced users want to take. This is a good time to also check the base of your computer and make sure the feet are rubberized and all on a flat plane to reduce noise.

Don't forget to clean the whole thing while having access to the fan and back of your PC. Get a soft brush and a can of air and remove the dust you see. This dust can overheat your computer and make your fan louder, so a little cleaning can really make a difference.

Finally, before replacing the side panel, make sure that all dust filters and heat sinks are cleaned. Dust creates heat, as does restricted airflow, which makes your fans spin faster and louder. Better cable management also leads to better airflow, which can also help keep your components cool so your fans don't have to work as hard.

Add sound insulation

The case is another area where you may find improvements. Many inexpensive computers come in enclosures that are built without considering acoustics. The cabinet may amplify the sound or let it flow freely from the cabinet to your ears.

This problem can be solved with sound insulation. Sounds extreme? It is not. Typical insulation is nothing more than molded foam that can be bought for $ 20-60 and glued into a PC with glue. The foam can be used to clog unused fan mounts or to layer over the side walls. It is easy to cut and can be attached from your local hardware store with bundled glue or double-sided tape.

However, this method has some disadvantages. First, not every foam is the same. Make sure you use foam that is designed for electronics. Otherwise there could be a house fire. Foam can also reduce airflow in your PC. Therefore, make sure that you do not block any working fan brackets or ventilation slots.

Replace old fans with new versions

A system that is always loud suffers from bad fans, too many fans, or both. See what's on your desktop. Do you only see one or two fans? Then they are probably cheap or old and make more noise than they should.

We have good news and bad news. The bad news is that these fans need to be replaced. The good news is that fans are cheap! Most users want to look for fans that offer an adjustable speed switch, or fans that support fan speed modulation through a program like SpeedFan. Antec's TriCool series is a good example. These fans can be set to low speed for almost silent operation. You can buy a few good fans for $ 20 to $ 30 each.

Here's another trick: Big fans are quieter than small fans! This may seem strange, but it is true. The airflow is based on the size and speed of the fan. A large fan doesn't have to work as hard as a small one to move the same volume of air, and fan speed is the main generator for fan noise. Ideally, you want to use the largest and slowest fans that fit in your case.

Remove the fan completely

Origin Millenium PC 2016Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

Bill Roberson / Digital Trends

What if you have too many fans? Remove some! Start with the fans on the side or top of the case, then go to the intake fans at the front and finally to the exhaust fans at the rear. Make sure you leave at least one inlet and one outlet fan.

When new fans are installed or extras are removed, you want to see how the computer's cooling works. SpeedFan can report temperatures, as can PC Wizard, Real Temp and HWMonitor. The processor should idle at no more than 50 degrees Celsius and remain below 70 degrees Celsius under load. If you have a graphics card, you should also monitor it. It should idle below 60 degrees Celsius and stay below 95 degrees Celsius under load.

Add fan controls or adjust the curve

If you set your fans so that they don't spin as much or only when your PC is working hard, you can really lower the noise level. For your CPU and case fans, you can access your PC's BIOS and adjust the fan settings to achieve higher temperatures or lower noise levels. This can include enabling an intelligent fan mode that automatically adjusts fan speeds based on the CPU and overall system temperatures. You may be able to adjust this curve by manually setting certain fan speeds for certain temperatures.

For GPUs, you can use third-party software such as EVGAs Precision X1 or MSI's Afterburner to adjust the GPU fan curve. However, AMD and Nvidia also have their own options in their drivers.

You can also use third-party hardware and software fan control solutions. The NZXT CAM system or Corsair's iCUE can be controlled via software and physically connect the fan and cooler to an internal controller.

There are also external fan controls with dials and touch screens like that NZXT Sentry 3 Module that offers a touchscreen that supports five channels, each with 15 watts. It contains five PWM fan connectors, a temperature sensor and a Molex power connector. It is connected directly to the fans and the power supply of your PC. The temperature sensor can be taped near the CPU or on nearby heat pipes.

Switch to an SSD

If your SATA hard drive causes a lot of noise during operation, this noise is eliminated by switching to an SSD. The "solid" in the solid-state drive refers to the fact that it contains no moving parts. The data is stored through circuitry that stays where it is and stays very quiet no matter how hard you have to work. If you have the money to replace your older hard drive and are still interested in expanding it, why not reduce noise?

More importantly, a loud mechanical hard drive may not be a good thing. This may mean the drive is failing and you may be stranded without your data and operating system. Replacing it with a quieter SSD serves two important purposes.

What about laptops?

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An unusually loud laptop may be defective. Contact the manufacturer if you think faulty system fans are the problem. Unfortunately, laptop owners generally cannot replace them. There's no way to just open the case, turn on a third-party fan, and be on the go like you can with a desktop.

So what can you do Try a cooling stand. Despite the addition of fans, this could make the laptop cooler as it transfers the work from the small, noisy internal fans to larger, quieter external fans. The results are not guaranteed. So check your budget before you start.

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