Desktop PC's an fan noise

I’ve been running cubase from my Laptop primarily for a while now, but due to a reshuffle of resources for our family I am buying a new desktop PC.

Any ideas how to keep it cool, without excessive fan noise? My laptop is quiet, but our current PC gets quite noisy when the fans spool up - loud enough that it’d be heard while recording in my little home studio. But, that PC is running very badly, which is most likely the casue of the fans runing excesivly.

Does anyone put their PC in some sort of sound-proof box?


No soundproof box here, but:

  1. Low noise CPU fan. Don’t rely on stock CPU fans. They may be noisy.
  2. Fanless graphics card. Those tiny fans found on most of the “gamer” graphics cards are definitely not designed to be quiet.
  3. Low noise power supply. This makes a huge difference.
  4. SSDs instead of HDDs. SSDs dont make any noise themselves and create less heat which eliminates need of any/extra case fans.

Result: My monitor speakers’ background hiss is louder than my PC.

#1-#3 only cost some $50 to $100 more than average noisy PC. #4 is of course a costly option.

I recently silenced my studio PC.

Two changes

  1. New case: Fractal Design Define R5 case. Two important features:
    a) in built three speed fan controller for the case fans which come with it as well and are very quiet. It’s always on low speed and the PC doesn’t heat up much
    b) Sound reducing material on all surfaces except rear: Certainly not sound proof but definitely sound dampening. Can’t hear my hard disks anymore

  2. New graphics card: ASUS Strix GTX970. This is a high end card but the new 900 series from NVIDIA is lower power. As a result the Strix operates passively, turning the fan completely off, when running Cubase. For me this is important as my other job (and fun) requires a high end card. The important thing is the Passive cooling. There are other cards that do this (including the much cheaper GTX960).

I already had a relatively silent CPU fan.

The machine is so quiet now I forget it is turned on and can even hear the buzzing of a power supply in one of my monitors which is slowing reaching end of life.

As the others said, pick a case that isn’t loud (most reviewers also measure sound level when reviewing PC cases so you can compare them). Buy silent fans. Again, the numbers can be found in reviews. Size also matters. For case fans, don’t go any lower than 120mm fans, because smaller fans need to spin faster to achieve the same airflow.
Graphics cards can indeed be quite loud, but as far as I know they always have automatic fan speed control so when using Cubase they’ll hardly be audible because Cubase really doesn’t ask much from your GPU.

some ideas that I used for my build:

  • A very solid rackable server case with HDD cages rubber grommeted (anti-vibration), no loose parts.
  • All Noctua fans using their throttling resistors for the lowest fan speeds
  • At the back of the case there’s 80mm fans, but I figured since they are inaudible thanks to the supplied Noctua resistors, the number of inaudible fans wouldn’t matter… :wink:
  • A grotesquely oversized CPU cooler (Noctua NH-C14) with both fans installed. This one blows down over all the MB components as well and the fans also run at very low speeds. I figured, the better the cooler, the less hard it needs to work…
  • As stated above, SSDs are always good. My HDDs are either shutting down after a short while (WD Green WD10EZRX for documents not needed during production) or are very quiet WD RE Enterprise (WD2000FYYZ) drives for audio.

Have fun tinkering!

Forgot to mention:

  • For a DAW with a modern CPU you don’t really need a discrete graphics card, so less noise, power and heat using the integrated graphics.
  • The PSU I used at the time was a fanless Kingwin Stryker 500W unit, they might be selling under a new name now, but they are the gold standard for a silent PC. EDIT: It’s sold under the Rosewill SilentNight brand now.


Some suggestions (links are indicative):

a) Replace HDDs with SSDs → No noise or vibrations, and no cooling required.

b) Use a self-contained water-based CPU cooler, which takes the CPU heat direct to the outside, dispensing with one case fan, as well as providing cool air to nearby components.

c) Fanless power supply.

d) Be modest with GPU requirements, which require less cooling, and thus less intense fans. My Gigabyte GV-N750OC-2GI handles four displays, including 3840x2160@30Hz, with very modest power usage and a very quiet on-board fan.

e) Dampen case panels with the adhesive sheets that are used in cars (as long as they don’t stink).

Nice graphics card, good find!

Thanks. It was the cheapest I could find that could handle 4K, as it is only an interim card until a 4K@60Hz HDMI 2.0 card becomes available that is equally modest in its power requirements.

thNks for all the tips!

Keeping the budget in mind, I upgraded to a quiter box, quiter fan, quieter PSU. Now to convince myself I really don’t nned that fan cool graphics card . . . .

Repeat after me: “I don’t need a graphics card at all with an Ivy Bridge or Haswell i7 if I don’t want to edit video.”

You just don’t. :sunglasses:
I’m done evangelizing now… :mrgreen: