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Silent or quiet desktop recommendations


Caravan Monster
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Caravan Monster

For some reason I seem to be developing super sonic hearing in middle age and the fans on my otherwise fine computer are driving me nuts. Any recommendations for quiet or silent machines. My current machine is a dell optiplex  with an Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU     E8400  @ 3.00GHz, iirc 8gb RAM running a linux operating system from an ssd and is more than adequate for my needs. I replaced the processor fan a while back but the new one still does my head in. What's the best way to go? Other than wanting it to be linux friendly and have similar or greater processing power I'm not fussy. Are the Intel NUC or Lenovo M series ultra small form models any good? I notice even some of the Lenovos have a processor fan. 

Super sonic hearing made me think of batfink, here's a cartoon:

 

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I'm been messing with 'silent pc voodoo' for years......I had something totally silent from China (case was the heatsink) looked really cool, then it bust after 6 months and the supplier wasn't interested.....

Small fans equals more noise, my current pc has a single cpu fan, I don't hear it but I'm always listening to background music.....and it runs off a 120w laptop psu.......it was running a 65w Ryzen 3 but I bought a 35w CPU for dirt cheap to try it out...

Look at something like an Athlon 3000G methinks that'll suit you down to the ground

My whole rig idles at around 20watts.......

I'm pretty confident I could get an aftermarket cooler and make mine totally silent but it hangs off my table leg so I can't be RSed........arch linux ftw!!

For once the monkey hanger is giving some useful advice too :P

And Dave's suggestion of the Pi 4 is interesting.....

 

IMG_20200919_124914.jpg.1391b705dd89e74741d8c9b64ef4b6e7.jpg

Edited by 5min OCD speculator
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There isn't a single answer, but a few tips:

1. Buy a case that has some sound damping built in - e.g. https://www.amazon.ca/SilverStone-KL07B-Kublai-Dampening-Systems/dp/B01N0GZ2AU

2. Buy some new case fans - the most recent ones are quieter than older spec ones - e.g. https://www.amazon.ca/quiet-Shadow-Wings-BL089-Cooling/dp/B07X3XVHKL

3. If you don't need high performance graphics, get a card that doesn't have any fans built into it

4. Make sure all the vents on your PC are free of fluff. A few blocked vents will warm the thing up and make the existing fans run faster and noisier.

5. Check that you have all the relevant drivers installed - some CPU/motherboard combos seem to need them to make the fans run at the right speed rather than flat out all the time

6. Replace HDDs with SDDs - quiter themselves but less power draw too

7. If you want to fully silence things after getting SDDs and a silent graphics card, then you could also consider getting a low power (and therefore slow) CPU and putting one of these on it: https://www.amazon.ca/ARCTIC-Alpine-12-Passive-Silent/dp/B07CZZZ4DQ Might work if you all do is web browsing and stuff. It won't work if you want to play games any more complex than minesweeper, do video editing etc.

Don't go with liquid cooling though, I've found that doesn't so much as reduce the noise as change it (from a blowing noise to a swooshing one).

Edited by TheBlueCat
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Not tried one but there is a fanless industrial PC  that pops up with lots of brand names but obviously same design on Amazon that seems pretty  well rated.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=fanless+pc+industrial&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

I did spec a Nuc for a friend, very small, harsh environment but it failed early for what would have expected. 

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In addition to giving to a good clean as already suggested, try to identity the biggest source of noise. For desktops cheap ass power supplies are often the culprit especially in branded blue chip stuff like dell. Quite likely you cant replace it though as they are often a non standard form factor.

EDIT: I actually disconnected the noisy PSU fan in a  mini ATX PC that had an integral PSU. It does have an uprated CPU cooler though and circulates a decent amount of air. 

 

Edited by goldbug9999
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Caravan Monster

Thanks all! 

@The XYY Man Bios only has two options for fan control, full speed or keep temperature at 31 degrees. Obviously I have it on the temperature setting. I replaced original broken fan with something that seemed ok and cost more than the computer is worth, but it got noisy after a few weeks.

@onlyme  Those industrial computers, the military lenovos and the intel nucs all look decent, but diy option is tempting

@TheBlueCat That case with sound dampening got me thinking a simple solution would be to put the computer in a cupboard with adequate airflow to muffle the noise. It's not really worth spending on the computer itself, I looked it up and going on the spec it must be between 11 and 15 years old and go for about £30 on ebay.

@goldbug9999 It's definitely the forward facing cpu fan that is noisy. I have tinnitus most of the time and it combines with the fan noise in a very annoying way. I blow it out with the airline every couple of months, it is amazing the amount of muck in the fan and heatsink

@Dave Bloke and @5min OCD speculator buying stuff and making it work ftw! I'll start reading up

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25 minutes ago, Caravan Monster said:

Thanks all! 

@The XYY Man Bios only has two options for fan control, full speed or keep temperature at 31 degrees. Obviously I have it on the temperature setting. I replaced original broken fan with something that seemed ok and cost more than the computer is worth, but it got noisy after a few weeks.

@onlyme  Those industrial computers, the military lenovos and the intel nucs all look decent, but diy option is tempting

@TheBlueCat That case with sound dampening got me thinking a simple solution would be to put the computer in a cupboard with adequate airflow to muffle the noise. It's not really worth spending on the computer itself, I looked it up and going on the spec it must be between 11 and 15 years old and go for about £30 on ebay.

@goldbug9999 It's definitely the forward facing cpu fan that is noisy. I have tinnitus most of the time and it combines with the fan noise in a very annoying way. I blow it out with the airline every couple of months, it is amazing the amount of muck in the fan and heatsink

@Dave Bloke and @5min OCD speculator buying stuff and making it work ftw! I'll start reading up

Not a cupboard, but a server closet :)

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37 minutes ago, Caravan Monster said:

 It's definitely the forward facing cpu fan that is noisy. I have tinnitus most of the time and it combines with the fan noise in a very annoying way. I blow it out with the airline every couple of months, it is amazing the amount of muck in the fan and heatsink

Is it a standard intel heatsink fitting, in which case you can replace it with a cheapish low noise version ? (the answer is likely "no" being a dell office desktop...).

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3 hours ago, Dave Bloke said:

Raspberry 4?

RPi4 needs a still needs a fan if you want to max it out, else it throttles itself when it gets above 70°C, but if you don't put it in a case and keep it vertical, you might be ok with a decent heatsink on the cpu and the memory.

https://www.jeffgeerling.com/blog/2019/raspberry-pi-4-needs-fan-heres-why-and-how-you-can-add-one

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Caravan Monster
7 hours ago, goldbug9999 said:

Is it a standard intel heatsink fitting, in which case you can replace it with a cheapish low noise version ? (the answer is likely "no" being a dell office desktop...).

The heatsink is separate to the fan. It's a fair size lump of iron and does a good job. I replaced the fan with a seemingly reputable brand name I forget that was slightly worse noise than the original dell one.

I do have a fairly decent smartphone that isn't going to leave home with contact tracing in place. Will look into these ancillary hubs and try using it with a monitor and keyboard. I wouldn't be surprised if it can handle my modest requirements although the weakness would be crappy android apps instead of proper desktop ones.

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On 11/10/2020 at 15:35, Caravan Monster said:

For some reason I seem to be developing super sonic hearing in middle age and the fans on my otherwise fine computer are driving me nuts. Any recommendations for quiet or silent machines. My current machine is a dell optiplex  with an Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU     E8400  @ 3.00GHz, iirc 8gb RAM running a linux operating system from an ssd and is more than adequate for my needs. I replaced the processor fan a while back but the new one still does my head in. What's the best way to go? Other than wanting it to be linux friendly and have similar or greater processing power I'm not fussy. Are the Intel NUC or Lenovo M series ultra small form models any good? I notice even some of the Lenovos have a processor fan. 

Super sonic hearing made me think of batfink, here's a cartoon:

 

What about just putting it in a cupboard and using wireless mouse and keyboard? 

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Caravan Monster

I ended up buying the first halfway decent lenovo t series ex corporate laptop I could find on eBay after an unexpected electrical event killed the PC. Hopefully the HDD has survived. Will come back to this in due course as quite taken with the idea of making a low noise and power consumption desktop.

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Caravan Monster

To follow up, I got one of those lenovo laptop docks for the T440 so there's as enough ports to run a desktop set up. Luckily the hdd survived the electricity going wrong and I didn't lose any data. I also bought an enclosure for the hdd which goes into standby when it hasn't done anything for a few minutes, so that's quiet and energy efficient. The processor fan barely ever kicks in and it's so much quieter than the old desktop it doesn't really bother me. As a bonus I've now got the laptop available if I ever need a portable computer. All in things worked out well in the end.

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