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On the Case of the Quiet PC - Cooling Fans
Written by Graham Garside   
Tuesday, 01 February 2005 07:16
Article Index
On the Case of the Quiet PC
Video Choices
Quiet Chipset Cooling
Hard Drives
CPU Coolers
Graphics Card Cooling
Cooling Fans
Power Supplies
System Cases
All Pages
Cooling Fans

The primary source of noise from any pc over the years fans have gone from being an added extra to essential to the safe runnings of a modern pc. Most peoples systems probably use quite cheap fans, not designed with noise in mind and quite often poorly executed.

The trick for keeping fan noise down is bigger, slower and well planned and placed. Most systems probably have between 4 and 8 fans in, usually stuck where ever the manufacturer could be bothered or where the case allows and often given little thought. With careful planning it's possible to keep a system running cool and quietly with as little as 4 fans including psu, cpu and graphics, but 5 are recommended.

The most important position to keep a fan is at the rear as an exhaust. This will take al that hot air from the cpu cooler and dump it out of the case. Here a 120mm fan is best, but often cases only allow for 80mm. In such a case (excuse the pun) it may be worth using a fan adapter to allow either a 92mm fan, maybe even a 120mm fan. The difference in noise and airflow is well worth it.

The other position you may consider putting a fan is as an intake fan near the bottom and close to the front of the pc so as to allow a controlled path though the pc, cooling every component as it goes along. Again here a 120mm fan is best, though 80/92mm is acceptable.

In a system aimed at being quiet no more than this is needed. The psu will also likely have at least 1 fan acting as an exhaust as do the video cards recommended above. In such an example as this it may prove more effective in a single case fan configuration to have it as the intake due to there already being two effective exhausts.

Nexus Real Silent Case Fans are generally accepted as being the lowest noise fans. With the voltage turned down they become all but inaudible so these are the number one recommendation for all fan sizes.


Also recommended are Panaflo and Papst fans. Though not as quiet as Nexus they are more readily available from retailers and are still very quiet.

Panaflo axial fans

Papst fans

A special mention goes to Acoustifans. Many people are probably familiar with these as low noise fans. While it's true that they are much quiet than a standard case fan, they do not compare with the above recommended fans. They are however quite good for performance systems thanks to their temperature controlled speed. In low heat modes the fan will spin slow but using it's integrated thermal sensor it increases it's rpm independent of motherboard based fan control systems. This combined with running on a lower voltage would be a very effective automated quiet cooling system.


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