How to make your PC quieter

Add sound insulation

Case is another area where you can get improvement. Many cheap computers come in cases that were built without considering acoustics. The case can amplify the sound or make it flow freely in your ears.

This problem can be solved with sound insulation. Too loud? this. The typical insulation is nothing more than molded foam that can be purchased for between $ 20 and $ 60 and stuck inside a PC with adhesive. Foam can be used to plug unused fan mounts, or layered on the side panel. It is easy to cut and can be combined with bundled adhesives or double-sided tape from your local hardware store.

However, this method has some downsides. First of all, not all foam is the same. Make sure you use foam which is for electronics. Otherwise, you may find yourself dealing with a house fire.

The second issue is airflow, which can actually increase the noise of your computer. The goal is to find a balance between sound moisture and airflow. A good way to accomplish this balance is to cut small sections of foam and adhere them to the side panel in your PC case, about four or five. It may seem small, but a little goes a long way.

Adjust your fans

If you’ve straightened out the hardware situation on your computer, we can start supporting the hardware with software options. We’ll need to install some monitor software to track the speed of our fans. The freeware SpeedFan is the most popular choice in the community, and it can both view and edit fan curves.

Ideally, you want your fans to spin as slowly as possible while still preventing overheating. This requires experimentation, and you’ll need to create curves that suit your case, components and workloads specifically.

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Upgrade Your CPU and GPU Cooling

If cleaning and cable tidying don’t help, then it might be time to look at buying a few new bits and pieces to help keep your PC quiet. The two noisiest parts of PC tend to be the CPU and GPU, because they run the hottest, and all that heat needs to be dispersed as efficiently as possible. If you’ve got a standard, off-the-shelf PC, it’s more than likely it’ll come equipped with a stock CPU cooler supplied by the CPU manufacturer. The same will apply if you bought a retail CPU from a store that came with a cooler in the box.

While these coolers mostly do their job just fine, they’re designed to a budget, and to do nothing more than keep your PC’s CPU within tolerable temperatures: noise and efficiency tend to be an afterthought. Fortunately, it’s not too tricky to swap a CPU cooler, although, you’ll need to be reasonably proficient with a screwdriver and comfortable working inside your PC case. There are numerous types of CPU cooler to choose from, including excellent air coolers from the likes Noctua and all-in-one water-cooling setups from Corsair.

The one thing they have in common is that they increase the surface area for heat to dissipate. This means heat is more efficiently moved away from the CPU, and because they use larger fans, more air is moved at slower fan speeds, making your PC quieter. Things are a little trickier on the GPU side, in that it’s difficult to change their cooling systems. That said, it’s not impossible, and if you’re confident with PC building there are third-party solutions like Arctic’s Accelero Xtreme IV you can fit to an existing GPU. Alternatively, if you’re putting together a new PC, get a GPU with either Nvidia’s excellent all-metal cooler or a decent third-party solution. You can read more about GPU cooling in our guide on how to pick the right GPU for your PC.

How to do it: If you’re using a stock CPU cooler, look into a buying a new one from the likes of Noctua or Corsair, which will make cooling more efficient, and therefore quieter. Invest in a GPU with a decent cooling system, or–if you’re confident with PC building–kit out your GPU with a new cooler like Arctic’s Accelero Xtreme IV.

How To Make a Fan Quieter

Before we get to specific types of fans let’s look at some general fan quieting tips:

• Clean your fan thoroughly at least once a month. 

Dirt is a huge contributor to noise and can affect the quality of your fan. Cleaning it regularly and thoroughly is a must. 

• Tighten any loose screws or knobs.

Check for loose screws or knobs on the exterior of the fan motor. They can be tightened with a screwdriver.

• Make sure the fan blades are aligned. 

When blades are not balanced, they’ll make a whirring sound that’s not pleasant to listen to. If the blades are made out of metal, you can simply bend them until they’re balanced again.

What if your fan doesn’t have metal blades? We’ve got a solution. Take a look at what you can do to fix it:

Step 1: Lay the blades flat on a level surface. Look to see whether the blades are touching the surface. 

Step 2: Place a cardboard or plastic sheet over the top of the blades. Make sure that the blades are touching the surface above them. 

• Oil the fan motor.

Hearing clicking or clunking noises? Then you may want to try oiling your fans motor. You don’t need to do this often, just two to three times a year.

You can use SAE 20 or a non-detergent oil to do the job. Make sure that you only use two drops at a time otherwise you could damage the motor. 

It’s important to moderate your expectations of how quiet the fan can be. All fans make some noise, especially ones that shift a lot of air. Even the quietest hair dryer will have a pretty loud fan.

Clear the way

While the design of your fans has the largest impact on how much noise the fans make, using the right case can help or hinder their impact. If a case features poor airflow, your fans need to blow harder to cool your PC components. This means more noise, even with quiet fans. Make sure your case contains plenty of room for air to flow around. A cramped case will be harder to cool effectively, and the air blowing over crammed-together components will create noise-causing turbulence.

You’ll want a clear path for your airflow to move through. In most modern designs, your case should pull in cool air from the front of the machine and then exhaust hot air out the back. You can refer to the diagram above to see what that setup looks like in most cases. If you can, avoid blocking the intake with a hard drive which can cause noisy turbulence and produce a ton of heat.

6. Stop the computer case from vibrating

  1. Secure the fans: Check all the fans that they are secured. Make sure that any wiring is clear from fans. It is easy to overlook it, so check it carefully.
  2. Secure the fan filters: Check the fan filters and finger guards, if any, to make sure they are secured.
  3. Secure the drives: Check all your drives are properly mounted and secure. With mechanical drives, you stand the risk of extra vibrations causing noise.
  4. Secure the motherboard: Check all mounting points on the motherboard to make sure that there is proper grounding on it and that no rattling or vibrating noises can occur.
  5. Secure structural case parts: Check everywhere inside the computer case. Anywhere where there are brackets, rivets, or screws especially.
  6. Check the rest: Make sure everything else is secure and nothing inside your case can vibrate from being loose.
  7. Secure the cards: Make sure all cards are secure. There is usually a screw holding each card in place. Check that the screw is holding the cards secure.
  8. Secure card brackets: If you have a bracket system holding your cards in place, see if it’s at all possible to add screws to secure them instead.
  9. Secure motherboard assemblies: Check all the shrouds and heatsinks on the motherboard to make sure they are secured. It is easy for them to vibrate and create noise.
  10. Secure front case section: Check the plastic areas around the case that they aren’t loose. There is usually a plastic section that secures to the front of the case that houses all the USB sockets, power switch, etc.
  11. Secure rear case section: The same is true for the back of a lot of cases. Sometimes internal clips break or become unclipped and vibrating noise occurs.
  12. Secure side panels: make sure the side panels are screwed or secured properly. If the is an acrylic window in either of the panels, make sure the mounting clips are secure. Sometimes metal fold-over clamps need to be resecured.

For some of the situations where you cannot see a way to remedy a loose panel or component, try some hot glue.

It’s a good way to secure things that you cannot fix using proper methods.

Just be very careful when using hot glue near fans. It is extremely easy to get some near the fan blades causing them not to spin anymore.

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2. How to fix some fan noise issues

There are many ways fans cause noise. Here are some things to check and apply to get your fans to run more quietly.

Sometimes it’s not just the case to simply replace a fan. Noise can be generated from a fan from several various factors.

What to know about fans when replacing or diagnosing fan noise

The most ideal situation is to install fans that are large. This way, a fan can spin slowly while producing enough air volume movement for adequate cooling or extraction.

A small fan can be annoying. The smaller you go, the higher the pitch of whine you will get from it.

If this is the situation you are in, consider upgrading to a larger fan size. If this option isn’t possible, slow the fan down until the noise level is acceptable.

When purchasing a new fan, opt for ball-bearing fans at the very least. There are more sophisticated bearing technologies, but they won’t be necessary.

A plain sleeve bearing is the cheapest bearing option in a fan and wears out quickly.

Before you know it, the sleeve bearing fan will be using more power and will become noisy. It quite often becomes noisy when first powering it up, and when the bearing heats up and expands, the noise becomes less.

A ball-bearing fan lasts much longer. It will remain quiet for a long while, cutting down the need for regular replacement.

How to slow down a fan’s speed (RPM’s)

If the fan has four wires and is plugged directly into a motherboard’s 4 pin fan header, you can often adjust the fan speed in your BIOS.

Most motherboards have this functionality and can save lots of time tweaking a fan.

If the motherboard’s BIOS doesn’t offer a good enough adjustment for you, go and download a free program called SpeedFan.

It does take a bit of learning, but it will offer you excellent control over your fan speeds.

How to use SpeedFan:

Observe the airflow

Make sure that the holes that the air is moving through from the fan’s efforts are large enough.

If the airflow is restricted, you may find it challenging to reduce fan noise.

To gain an insight into how this affects the fan, take a fan that is spinning and put your hand in front and then behind it to restrict the airflow.

Yous should notice, at the very least on one of the sides you restricted, the fan speed increase and become noisier.

Make sure your filter material is correct and allows air to flow through easily.

You don’t need thick filter material. It will only hold more dust.

Filters are absolutely vital to keeping the inside of your computer clean.

Make sure you keep up filter maintenance to avoid clogged-up filters causing extra fan noise.

Fan mounting

There are some computer cases that go the extra mile to produce rubber fan mountings.

I have never felt this to be necessary when you have a fan that is large enough and spinning at a low speed.

Just make sure the fan is screwed in with all its screws and none are loose.

Also, make sure the surface that the fan is screwed up against is 100% flat.

The moment you screw a fan onto an uneven surface, the fan will start colliding its blades into its own housing.

This happens from the fan housing being twisted and closing the small gap between the fan blades and the inside of the housing.

Clean Out the Dust

Dust is one of those unfortunate inevitabilities when it comes to PCs. Just like blue screens and dead hard drives, you’re going to encounter it at some point. Excess dust means excess heat, which means fans spinning faster to keep things cool—and if you smoke or have pets in the house, the problem can get quite severe.

So grab a screwdriver, open up your desktop or laptop, and give it a good once-over with an air duster (or an electric duster, if things are really bad). If your fan is making a clicking or other abnormal noise, this is also a good time to make sure the blades aren’t hitting a stray power cable, or something of that nature. Finally, if you have a desktop, consider putting some filters on your intake fans to prevent dust buildup in the future.

Add fan controllers or adjust the curve

Adjusting your fans so they don’t spin up as much or only do so when your PC is working hard can really help bring down noise levels. For your CPU and case fans, you can dig into your PC’s BIOS and adjust the fan settings to target higher temperatures or lower noise levels. This may include enabling a smart fan mode that automatically adjusts the fan speeds based on the CPU and overall system temperatures. You may be able to tweak this curve by manually setting specific fan speeds for specific temperatures.

For GPUs, you can use third-party software like EVGA’s Precision X1 or MSI’s Afterburner to adjust the GPU fan curve, though AMD and Nvidia also have their own options built into their drivers.

You can also make use of third-party hardware and software fan control solutions. NZXT’s CAM system or Corsair’s iCUE are controllable through software and connect fans and coolers physically to an interior controller.

There are also external fan controllers with dials and touchscreens, like the NZXT Sentry 3 module, which provides a touchscreen supporting five channels at 15 watts each. It includes five PWM male fan connectors, a temperature sensor, and a Molex power connector. It connects directly to your PC’s fans and power supply. The temperature probe can be taped near the CPU or to nearby heat pipes.

Acoustic Foam, Hard Drives, and the Rest

If you’re still not satisfied with the noise performance of your PC, you can look into attaching sheets of acoustic foam to the inside of your case from manufacturers like AcousticPack to help dampen noise. If you do use them, just be careful not to restrict airflow inside your case. Some cases like Fractal’s Define R4 come with acoustic foam pre-installed, should you not wish to do the dirty work. Noisy PC components like hard drives can be housed in things like Arctic’s HC01 hard drive silencer, but if your hard drive is particularly old and noisy, you’re better off looking to replace it with a new one. Or, better yet, go for an SSD, which will be miles quicker, and–thanks to a lack of moving parts–completely silent.

Power supply units can often be another source of noise, particularly in cheaper models. We’re going to be taking a more in-depth look at PSUs at a later date, but suffice to say, don’t cheap out on it! Look for 80-plus rated units from reputable manufacturers like Corsair and Silverstone, and study the same fan stats like airflow and noise level to help you choose the right one for you. If you really want the quietest gaming PC around, though, then the absolute best solution is to look at water-cooling the whole thing. That’s a whole other world of PC building to dive into, though, something we’ll be investigating at a later date.

How to do it: Acoustic foam is a cheap way to dampen noise, but watch that you’re not reducing airflow in your case. Consider replacing spinning platter drives with SSDs, and make sure your PSU is up to snuff.

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