Making my PC Quiet 2011

Some of you may have read my DAW build 2011 post. If not here it is… DPC latency is less than 20

Now that I have the system running great, I have decided to tackle the noise problem that some of us face. especially those of us new to the pc building game. If you want info on keeping things quiet check out this site They keep up to date on quiet components, I am referencing that site to help me on my quest for quiet.

I recently already changed my case to the obsidian D650 it is much quieter, than the previous case simply due to the better front design and hard drive holders that reduce vibration but I would not consider it quiet case as is, it seems to be more of a gaming case with a bit of a wide open design especially on top. Cooling is what this case cares about most not noise reduction.

So here are my choices.

1)Mod the obsidian D650
2)Return the D650 and buy a case geared towards being quiet
3)Put the PC in a another room using extension cords

  1. I could do this, the top of the case can be sealed with noise reduction material, as well as the botton and sides but the front design is still a bit loud although as I understand that airflow does not need to be high so a fan controller forcing the front noctua fan I added to the lowest speed would work wonders and give plenty of air flow.

-some sort of fan controll method is key, I like hardware options to avoid having to run software in the background

-I better more quiet power supply

-Something to decouple the PC from the ground.

That’s all I would need to do really and this thing would get very quiet.

-oh yeah and suspending the harddrives with elastic would help as well, it’s okay to do this in a case that has a fan blowing on the drives to reduce heat.

So the basics are…
-Quiet components to start with. Fans, HD’s, Power Supply
-Quiet mounting systems like rubber around screws elastic hard drive mounting, anti vibration under the pc to decouple from ground.
-Fan speed control to get the fans on low barely audible level (monitor temps to figure the best level for the fans)
-and Finally acoustic material lining the case wherever possible, do not cover critical vents.

Remember I am going for quiet not totally silent, some noise is expected but the goal is lowest noise possible with the knowledge and skills I currently have.

onto option 2 return the D650 and get a quiet case to begin with.
-the key here is that you still need quiet components to start of with but this case will be more geared towards quiet not looks or overclocking super graphics card cooling.

-I would still get a quiet, better power supply and a fan controller but I should not have to ad acoustic material and the case should be overall much more quiet do to a better design for quiet systems. The pain here is that I have to transfer to another case and I cannot imagine a case ever being as easy to deal with as the obsidian D650 it is a great desing for builders and moding it would be easy.

Option 3 PC in a another room
-This is an automatic silencer. Just put my PC in the hallway or living room, goto my local PC shop and by all the extension cords I need run em through a hole in the wall = problem solved.

So you think this would be an easier decision, but it really is not. I like the idea of moding the D650 it’s such a cool case and a pleasure to work in I could see the mods working out very well. getting a case geared towards silence is the most tempting option some of these cases are very well designed for that purpose and would save me a ton of work and research and also resolve issues that I may not be able to resolve with a mod. The last is probable the most ideal for audio work. If your set-up makes this possible I would do it and this way you can use any case you like and have to worry less about noise, although an external CD/DVD Blue ray my be a good idea so you don’t have to leave the room to burn and install :smiley: .

Unfortunately it is not very practical for me to put the PC in another room and I believe the best results will be achieved by starting with a case specifically designed for quiet operation.

So I go with option 2 buy a new quiet case.
I like the
Fractal R3 or
Antec P183

Are there any suggestions on a case. I’m off to put my PC back into my old case and return the obsidian D. I will post as I work on this for you guys to read and measure results with a db meter.

Unfortunately your “DAW build 2011” post is quite long, so I’m not going to read it thru this time … sorry. But I can share some of my experience on building quiet PC:

Noise - where it comes from? There are 2 sources: fans and hard disks drives.


basic rule is to get large fans instead of small fans. Small fans has to rotate on higher RPM to generate the same airflow as larger fans, which means increased noise. Also go for high quality fans, which has better (and quieter) bearings and even lower fan blade noise. I’ve always been a fan (pun intended here) of Rotron fans … but that goes way back to 1980’s (hey, I’m a prehistoric guy).

Remember to replace the fan (and heatsink), which came with your CPU, with some better solution. Also, if possible, get a fanless display adapter. And try to find as silent power supply as posible (but that’s a no-brainer, anyway).

Now, these ones generate heat, which you have to blow away with fans. And they rotate and vibrate too, which makes lot of noise. For both of these problems there is an easy solution: SDD! If that’s not an option, try to isolate HDD from the case. A low cost solution is few pieces of foam rubber and super glue. Used this trick with my previous PC with great results. Now having SSDs and can’t be more happy with them.

Liquid cooling is ubersilent and really not that expensive. You can use a system with an external heatsink and fan which you could place outside your room.

I don’t need silent, just quiet liquid cooling may be a future project but my NH-U12P is very quiet and keeps the cpu very cool. I have 2 more noctua fans they all have 3 speed settings although I plan to use a fan controller they are pretty easy to install and deal with.

I ended up with a Antec P183 V3, it is perfect for a base quiet PC. I know that the case is not everything but when the whole case is virtually opened for cooling and one of your drives is loud it is a pain to fix at times. I could have done some things with the obsidian but I chose the P183 V3 just to make my job a bit easier. The front panel design is huge in terms of keeping the sound levels down.

I also got a seasonic X750, which is very quiet and should be overkill which is fine I just wanted the option of Adding a high end gaming card at some point if I want to without any trouble.

With the Antec P183,
2 noctua case fans one front one rear exhaust (I will not use the top case fan)
one heat sink fan (I am using one of the heat sink fans as a case fan)
The seasonic X750 which is rated as very quiet if not silent
and some manual control over the fans with an external controller

This should be a very quiet system.

I may mount the hard drives with elastic bands but this case should deal with most of the hard drive noise unless I have one or two noisy drives in which case I will swap them out for quieter rated drives.

I really could have just kept the obsidian, Lined the side panels with good acoustic computer foam lines the bottom and top with it as well, slowed the hard drive intake fan down to 600 rpm’s turned off the top fan Set my other noctua fans to low and would have probably been close to the same result, I do think I will get a better result going with this case, it is not really a high performance case, but for audio and my fanless HD5450 it will be more than adequate with a couple case fans running and my noctua cpu cooler. I predict it will be much quieter than my old G5 and that did not bother me at all.

I think noise is not only about db’s it’s also about frequency and the key is to make sure the really annoying sounds are dealt with at the same time as overall level. Anyways I’m pretty excited, right now my old case is a motherboard holder there is no point in installing it as my case will be here in a couple days with the power supply.

I’ll post how it goes once I get it, it was a toss up between the Fractal R3 and the P183 I chose the 183 because it is just a better build although both are very quiet. It’s known that the top fan on the P183 V3 is useless unless you mod the case by cutting out the extra fan outline from the top fan grill, if you do that it’s good to go but I would not generally use a top fan in a case where I am trying to get things quiet, although I am sure with the right fan at the right speed it would be fine, I may even put a peace of auralex on top of that vent outside the case to test out if it can handle being covered without to much of a heat increase.

that’s all for now

I’ll be following your progress, somewhere in the far future I’ll be building myself a dedicated DAW PC hopefully.

Darn I should have gone with one of antects custom power supplies as they are near silent and exhaust out of the back. I am sticking with the seasonic as I have never heard any complaints about noise from them so it should be fine, if not there is always an RMA to solve the problem but I think it is a good choice overall. I may not even need a fan controller because one is built into the case and silent pc review shows that on low and with a front intake and 1 rear exhaust fan even with the CPU fan on 100% the case is nearly silent around 17db I think which should not bother anyone much unless you are actually going for total silence which is a another beast all together.

Wish me luck the case should be here thurs. i think with the noctua fans set on low and the cpu attached to the mobo on auto control this may be a very nice quiet system.

I may do a test by covering the top grill but only if I still think it is too loud as it will effect cooling somewhat although with no high end graphics card it may work out fine.

9pm time to stop working and relax, started at 8am :cry:

Sounds good, post up some pics if you can :slight_smile:

I just got the case the antec p183 V3. I am taking pics along the way, I have to goto the local PC shop and get some extension cords for the power supply due to this case I may need them to keep cabling clean for the best air flow.

It is a specialty case,and should do very well for low noise, I will post some pics and results with a db meter when it’s done. One thing I really look forward to though is coming from mac, using fruity loops as a drum sequencer vsti, not possible on a mac and by far the best drum machine ever made in my opinion along with cubase it’s my fav combo.

I’ll post results soon, now onto the build…

I used to have a pc now I have a mini mac, But what I did is to put the computer in an other room(No sound) and got extension cables for all the things. VGA, USB. keboard and audio worked great. I actually drilled a small hole in the wall at the bottom where the board was. Its the best way. Just get it around a corner or best another room.

Ayeah, I got this thing pretty quiet, the real easy part are the fans, I just put the low noise adapter that comes with noctua fans on each one front intake, CPU fan, and back exhaust fan.

Hard drives I think are the most difficult and the antecp183 has rubber mounts that deal pretty good with the drive vibrations but not completely and a low hum is inevitable although very very quiet. I would not ever know it was there while actually producing music, but sitting in a silent room it is audible but easy to get used to.

I ordered and installed some WD caviar blue 750GB drives and one was a bit noisy the other not as bad but still three 7200 rpm drives in a case will create some low end noise.

I do recommend the antec p183 v3 for low noise operation although it is not silent you wont heat it during production at all, way quieter than any other case I used.

I am trying to decide whether or not to return the WD caviar blues for a couple more sea-gate barracudas they are a bit less noisy the 7200.12 they do have a high pitched wine but the antec case blocks most of it.

I agree and stand by the idea that computers should always be in another room if you really want silent operation in a studio environment that way you don’t sacrifice cooling for lower noise. I will probably put the pc in my bedroom and run some cords eventually but for now it is good enough to call this a success.

So the antec p183
3 noctua 120mm fans with low noise adapters on all of em
3 seagate baracuda 7200.12 (only one installed as of now will get louder with all 3)
3 WD caviar blue hard drives if I decide to keep them, I little louder than the baracuda’s
PC located behind you as far away as possible in the same room

a very quiet and usable system in the studio.

Thanks I’ll post back when I get the drive I think were the least noisy for this set-up so far it looks like the seagate single platter 500GB 7200.12 drives may win the battle.

I will almost definitely get this pc in a another room asap, I just thought of a great idea to just keep the pc in this room near the door with extension cords and just move it outside the room with the door closed when I am working and just put it back in the room when I’m not then I wont have to drill any holes in the wall it’s a bit unprofessional but I make music alone so who is gonna know :smiley:

So after some testing (my build has been in 3 cases) I can honestly say that the case has little to no bearing on how loud the system is. Why? because with the right components and decoupling of moving parts any case can be quiet.

Honestly I liked the obsidian D650 case much better, it is a pleasure to work in and amazingly hard drives are actually quieter in that case. The only thing about it was the front intake fan noise which could easily be remedied with a fan controller and the right fan set on a very low speed around 600 or 700 rpm’s.

Also with some added acoustic treatment to the case it would be perfect. Amazingly I am probably going to build my dad’s pc in the antec p183 and move my pc onto yet another case almost probably the obsidian D650, it is just such a cool case and more my style I guess.

Then I am going to move my pc in the hallway and run some extension cords. I will be looking at lot’s of cases and will also be suspending my HD’s which may actually be easy in the D650. I’ll post back but remember that the case is not the whole deal, quiet components and proper mounting to the case is way more important these days I have learned.

So I have to take my time with this, because one of the main things is the design in the front of the case, usually to cool down hard drives and without something in front like a door, it is difficult to close of sound from the front. As far as I can tell that would be the only down side of any other case I have looked at.

The way the HD’s mount in the antec p183 is not great and that low hum is present from vibrations that may be controlled with some acoustic foam, or some alternative to mounting the drives. I consider the antec case a little old school in some respects but it’s that front door that does so much to deter sound from escaping the PC.

It’s a toss up between my fav looking case and fav case to work in D650 (still will be pretty quiet when I get done treating it) or doing some work on the antec p183 ( not so great to work in only really cool thing is the front door blocking noise from the front of the case.

wish me luck I’ll post back what I do and how it works.

went back to the obsidian 650D noctua fans on low 3 WD caviar blue drives and it’s very quiet. Great Case!!!

I did this and have never been happier. There is something I like about composing in complete silence.

by FAR the best way of doing it! hence many big studios still have machine rooms!

Noise from a CPU(PC)? I have to add that the machine I use in my studio makes no noise, I am now onto using my second one from the same company. My last album(CD) was done using one and ran 90 tracks of audio using Cubase 2 and the machine was as cool to the touch 12 hours later as when it was first turned on. The machine only has a small fan over the CPU and a heat sink to cool the drives hence no noise, so I do not get way people have to put a computer in the other room, I turn on mine and unless you are a dog you never hear it even when I have people over they all wonder where the machine is as it is small and noiseless. Just thought I would add my two cents worth. You can check out the machines at a small Canadian company that builds machines for music production only I went with them when I needed to upgrade from my Atari a few years back.


I solved it. Went with the corsair obsidian D650 case, It really keeps the hard drives vibration free= quiet, the noctua fans I put attenuaters on them all except the CPU fan and I replaced my psu with a seasonicX series 750W it is very quiet and works flawlessly. Yahoo!!