OT: Quiet PCs

Hey all -

I'm in a quandary.  I have a solid PC, but it's starting to become apparent that I could get some good performance gains by upgrading this box.  I'm stuck though -- you can get a really nice computer that's dead silent for $2500+ from a screwdriver shop, or you can get a good performing box from a big manufacturer for $800-$1200, but they sound like small Cessnas about ready for take-off.

My current Dell is fantastic, but unless I build a box for it, I can hear its internal drives and fan regularly.  The fans drive me nuts.  At the same time, I prefer the cost benefit that large manufacturers offer.  If I have to stuff ram or make changes, no problem.  I'm not really up for going to Fry's, buying a mobo, case, power supply, and hoping they're all quiet enough.

Does anyone have any solid recommendations for the quietest PCs available by a major manufacturer?

FWIW, the external Samsung DL DVDRW is pindrop quiet when not spinning.  Very nice.
There are a few online stores that build custom PCs designed for pro audio.  They are completely tricked out for silence, and to handle the rigors of audio sofware.  I'm looking at buying from one of these sometime next fall:


Sweetwater has a couple as well, and if you google pro audio computers you can find a bunch of other ones.
There was just an article about this sort of thing in Virtual Instruments magazine. (Great magazine by the way: http://www.virtualinstrumentsmag.com). There was a lot of discussion about various CPU/power supply fans, hard drive enclosures, etc. A couple sources mentioned  for the DIY'er were:


I have a system from Sonica labs that performs well, and is pretty darn quiet. I also have a Sweetwater system which I don't like quite as much. It hasn't been as reliabale, and seems quite a bit louder. Feature for feature, Sonica seemed to be a better deal to me. That's just my own personal experience. The folks at Sweetwater are always helpful and friendly, but the box doesn't seem as well thought out as the Sonica.

My Dell at home is pretty quiet, but I have to stick it in the closet next to my desk if I'm recording in the room.  That's why most studios have a machine room where they stick all of the towers.

The facility that I've been mixing a project at over the past few days didn't do that, and have the loudest G5 I've ever heard.  You get used to not hearing a fan, and when trying to do critical listening it gets annoying as all getup.

EndPCNoise is almost local for you Jim...  but it's over the line, so you'd pay tax.  Booo.

I've seen their stuff, and the fanless look very, very neat.  But that's the problem, too -- the boxes are $2500 for a decent starter.  Oh well; I guess I'll have to talk the wife out of more moolah.
If you are can use simple tools, all you need to do is replace the power supply with a silent one for around $50-100, then get a fanless CPU heatsink for around $50 or a water cooling system for the CPU (and graphics card if you have one with a noisy fan like me) for about $100-150.  If your hard drive is noisy, it's usually a Maxtor or Western Digital.  Seagate are very quiet.  There are silencing kits for around $30.  Usually 120mm case fans are almost silent, but you can get lower rpm ones for under $10.  80mm fans are more noisy.  Power supply/CPU fan is usually the most noisy.
Or if you're feeling really crazy, you can buy the computer of your choice and custom build a  casing filled with oil. No, seriously. Submerge all the non-moving parts in oil and it not only still works fine, but it cools the system with 0 noise. There is plenty of online documentation for doing this.




Actually, that's a pretty cool idea.  If it weren't for the mess, it would be sweet.  Maybe at some point, these will be manufactured.  If they are, I'd sign up.  The thermodynamics are pretty clearcut.  The biggest problem is two-fold...  no easy upgrades, and you have a fishtank that would ruin any room if it leaked.

I have found the system I want to build, and just need to spend the $3300 on it.  Specifically, I need to convince the wife that it's time to upgrade.  I priced it at pcaudiolabs, and just as I suspected, I'll save roughly $1600 by turning my own screws.
Does anyone have any updated/current info [i]or[/i] personal experience with a [u]quiet pc[/u]?�� I'm seriously considering the endpcnoise (Jim's post - reply #2); in particular, the one located at:


I agree that building one from scratch and DIY has monetary advantages, but I just don't have the time to track it all down and build it.��

I would appreciate feedback/insight from anyone with first-hand experience with Endpcnoise.com or any other quiet pc manufacturer.
I do.  I went out and built a killer PC, and it runs rather quietly.  I chose air circulation, myself.

I think the key is that you have to decide on the level of ";silence";.  For example, in my case, I was going from a NASTY dell that had cheap parts.    If you get a good pc built, and just simply change to high-quality quiet fans, you might be surprised at how good the results are.  We're talking $15 parts that are usually very easy to change.

If you need a truly quiet PC, that solid state case looks outstanding.  It's an extra $1000, but silence is golden.  Or, at least, $1000.

There are other options, too.  For example, you can get a rather quiet external DVD, and the cables long enough to run your PC from another room or closet.  There's also watercooling, too.

When it comes down to it, however, there's really three options.  Pay for one preassembled, buy one off the shelf, and replace the fans, or buy a Sonata case and build your own.  I found building a PC was incredibly simple.  The difficulties I encountered were mostly because of the newer tech and RAID and Xeons I used.  Vista didn't come with raid drivers, and it was maddening how long all of that took, but my problem was I essentially built a server.  If you use common components, you'll find it's like assembling a simple kit.  No warranty, of course.  Otherwise, you can figure out if the fans on a pc are replaceable, and most are.

Feel free to PM me more about what you're looking for, and I can probably give you a good comparison. 
I too built a computer and it is simpler than most people probably think.  There are probably enough techies around here now that we could save you from having to do alot of research by giving you some good recommendations.  One correction I must make to drumcat's post:  True, the computer won't have a warranty, but all the parts you build it from have individual warranties, so if something fails, you should be covered.  Also, I wouldn't recommend watercooling unless you've built a few computers already.  If you can find one prebuilt at a good price, however...  Good luck!
Thanks for the info nervoustic.�� Mat has given me some great info through Emails, and I'm still doing some research of my own before I make the big plunge.�� I guess my biggest concern is not getting wrapped up with dealing with the DIY development, construction and results, instead of being able to spend my time on composing music.��

If anyone else has any advice, I'm all ears.

Once again, thanks for the help.
For those interested [url=http://www.silentpcreview.com]www.silentpcreview.com[/url] is an amazing source of knowledge, information and reviews about quiet computing. A much more informative and in depth source of information than I've seen anywhere else. There's also tons of great ideas for modifying your own systems to be quieter. Highly recommended!

SPCR looks good.  I have found lots of things to read up on.

Thanks for that info Josh.
frozencpu.com and newegg.com also have a lot of products aimed at silencing your computer too.

I was thinking about a water-cooled system, but I'm not so sure anymore.  There are a lot of quiet air-cooled products that seem to work pretty well.  Or maybe I'll just go to Home Depot and built a sound-proof box for cheap to put the computer in.
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