As we move further into the digital age, our electronics have undergone some drastic improvements and evolutions. One aspect of PCs that still needs a lot of improvement is the amount of noise PC fans can make. Between failed drives, old fans, and insufficient airflow, there̵
With the right equipment and a few spells, most users will be able to exorcise the demon crying on their desktop. Here are some ways to make your computer quieter.
Check fan attachment and dust build-up
Here’s a simple step that almost anyone can do. Gently remove the side panel from your PC and check all your attachments. Grommets, gaskets, and screws can all be involved, and if they got loose over time, they can vibrate and make your PC much louder than it should be.
Check them all, tighten anything that needs to be tightened, and make sure the fans aren’t wobbling or loose. You can even buy mounts that contain padding or gel for added vibration resistance, although that’s a step only experienced users will want to take. Now is a good time to also check the bottom of your computer and make sure the feet are rubberized and all on a flat surface to reduce noise.
Also, while you have access to the fan and the back of your PC, don’t forget to tidy everything up. Grab a soft brush and a can of air and remove any dust you see. That dust can overheat your computer and can make your fan noisier too, so a little cleaning can really make a difference. Make sure to blow the dust out of your computer, not just redistribute it inward.
Finally, before replacing the side panel, make sure that all dust filters and heatsinks have been cleaned. Dust creates heat, as well as limited airflow, which makes your fans spin faster and louder. Better cable management also results in better airflow, which can also help cool your components, meaning your fans don’t have to work as hard.
Add sound insulation
The case is another area where you may be able to find improvement. Many inexpensive computers come in cases built without regard to acoustics. The case can amplify the sound or allow it to flow freely to your ears.
This problem can be solved with sound insulation. Sounds extreme? It is not. Typical insulation is nothing more than molded foam that can be purchased for between $ 20 and $ 60 and glued into a PC with glue. The foam can be used to connect unused fan mounts, or as a layer over the side panels. It’s easy to cut and can be attached with bundled glue or double sided tape from your local hardware store.
However, there are a number of drawbacks to this method. First, not all foam is created equal. Make sure to use foam intended for electronics. Otherwise you could be dealing with a house fire.
The other problem is airflow, which can actually increase the noise from your computer. The goal is to find a balance between noise reduction and airflow. A good way to achieve this balance is to cut small pieces of foam and stick them in your PC case on the side panel, about four or five. It may seem small, but a little goes a long way.
Replace old fans with new ones
A system that is always noisy will suffer from bad fans, too many fans, or both. Check out what’s on your desktop. Do you only see one or two fans? Then they are probably cheap or old and make more noise than they should.
We have good news and bad news. The bad news is that those fans have to be replaced. The good news is fans are cheap! Mostly. Most users will want to look for fans that offer an adjustable speed selector, or fans that support fan speed modulation through a program like SpeedFan.Fans, for example, are the best PC fans we’ve found, and they’re about $ 15 each.
Here’s another trick: big fans are quieter than small fans. That may seem strange, but it is true. The air flow is based on the size and speed of the fan. A large fan does not have to work as hard as a small one to move the same volume of air, and the fan speed is the main generator of fan noise. Ideally, you want to use the largest, slowest fans that fit in your case.
Hence, too many fans can be a problem. The goal is to get as much air flowing through your PC as possible, so adding more fans will not only make your PC louder, but it may also have little to no impact on your computer’s airflow. Airflow is a complex topic, and one that is still debated among PC enthusiasts. However, most would agree that it is best to have a single channel of air flowing through your computer. For example, fans on the front of your case will draw in air, while a fan on the back will remove the air.
In such a situation, a fan on the top of your case that draws in air would make your PC louder without doing much to keep it cooler. This all depends heavily on your housing and components, but in most cases you don’t need a fan on every available mount.
Remove the fans completely
If you have too many fans, delete a few! Start with fans on the side or top of the case, then move to the intake fans on the front, and finally move to the exhaust fans on the back. Make sure to leave at least one inlet fan and one outlet fan.
If new fans are installed or extras removed, you want to see how the computer’s cooling is performing. SpeedFan can report temperatures as well as PC Wizard, Real Temp and HWMonitor. The processor should not run higher than 50 degrees Celsius and remain below 70 degrees Celsius under load. If you have a graphics card, you should keep an eye on that too. It should idle below 60 degrees Celsius and stay below 95 degrees C under load.
Add fan controls or adjust the curve
By adjusting your fans to run slower or only when your PC is hard at work, you can really lower the noise level. For the fans of your CPU and case, you can dig into your PC’s BIOS and adjust the fan settings to achieve higher temperatures or lower noise levels. This can include enabling a smart fan mode that automatically adjusts fan speeds based on the CPU and overall system temperatures. You may be able to adjust this curve by manually setting specific fan speeds for specific temperatures.
For GPUs, you can use third-party software such as EVGA’s Precision X1 or MSI’s Afterburner to adjust the GPU fan curve, although AMD and Nvidia also have their own options built into their drivers.
You can also use third-party hardware and software for fan control. The CAM system from NZXT or the iCUE from Corsair can be operated with software and physically connects fans and coolers to an internal controller.
There are also external fan controllers with rotary knobs and touchscreens, such as themodule, which offers a touchscreen that supports five channels of 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 on nearby heat pipes.
Switch to an SSD
If your SATA hard drive is noisy during use, switch to an SSD will cut this noise away. Solid state drives use circuitry to store data instead of a disk. There are no moving parts as there is no need to read a disc to retrieve data which reduces the noise. An SSD typically costs more, but the lack of moving parts extends the life of these drives. Swapping your old hard drive for an SSD is also an opportunity to upgrade your computer’s storage space.
The noise that the mechanical hard drive makes when it is about to fail has been nicknamed “the click of death” for a reason. When a hard drive begins to fail, the read / write mechanism begins to move erratically, often causing damage to the drive’s internal drives while spinning. If your drive is making unusual noises, it may be time to replace it and avoid catastrophic data loss.
What about laptops?
A noisy laptop can be the result of a technical problem, a malfunctioning fan, or using your laptop in a way that restricts airflow to the vents. If you tend to use your laptop lying in bed, on your duvet or thick blanket, airflow could be the culprit. If so, all you need to do is change your location.
System fans are a common cause of excessive noise, requiring manufacturer assistance if your machine is under warranty. If your machine is out of warranty, you can also turn to a qualified repair shop for assistance. Just check if they service your specific brand of laptop as parts must be ordered directly from the manufacturer.
Laptop fans need some outside help due to their small design and limited availability of very specific replacement parts. While it’s possible to open a desktop case to replace an old fan, this operation is a lot more delicate with a laptop. There is no easy way for the average user to take apart a laptop and upgrade it with an external fan that would reduce the noise level.
Here’s what else you can do: try a cooling stand. Adding fans may seem counterintuitive, but a cooling stand reduces the load on your computer’s internal fans. Just lifting your laptop off the ground can solve many problems. Most laptops have their intake vents on the bottom, so if you’ve used one on your lap (or, god forbid, a blanket) switching to a desk or laptop stand can help.
External fans are usually a lot quieter. Note that results may vary by laptop design, so a cooling stand may not be able to fix a noisy laptop.