My Computer Is Quiet!

I leave my computer turned on all the time, and the noise was really starting to annoy me.  For a while, I had it buried under blankets and pillows, which didn't cause too much heat buildup since I have an Intel processor.  (An AMD processor would surely have cooked, though.)  That did cut down on the noise a lot, but there was some heat buildup, so it wasn't the best solution.

Then one day I came across an article about building a quiet/silent computer.  I was excited.  I read it.

There are 3 main sources of noise in a computer: the processor fan, the power supply fan, and the hard drive.  (Some CDrom/DVD drives are pretty loud too, but since they're not always in use, it's usually not a problem.)


The processor fan is the loudest component in most computers.  That's because they usually rotate at about 5000 RPMs.  To stop that nonsense, I decided to reduce the voltage going into my fan.  This is accomplished by cutting the power cable (+12v yellow cable on my fan) and soldering a resistor inline.  I experimented with a potentiometer, and then different resistors, until I found a resistance that made the fan spin a lot slower (quieter), while still moving a decent amount of air.  I eventually settled on a 300-ohm resistor.  This brought my fan down from ~5500 RPMs to ~2000 RPMs, and the noise reduction is amazing... when I replace the computer's cover, I can't even hear this fan at all.  And it keeps my Pentium-III 850mHz processor almost just as cool.  The only cost was the $1.00 or so that I spent on two 150-ohm resistors (= 300 ohms in series) at Radio Shack.  (Note: on another system, I used a single 150-ohm resistor to quiet the standard Intel fan that comes with the Intel Pentium 233mmx processor.  I didn't need as much resistance because this fan doesn't spin as fast as my Pentium-III fan.)


I heard about a power supply fan made by Panasonic called the Panaflo L1A (that's L-one-A).  This is supposed to move lots of air, while still being very quiet.  So I bought one (80mm) for $10 from  Well, it arrived, I hooked it up, and it was very quiet.  I don't understand why power supply makers wouldn't just use this fan to begin with, since it's no more expensive than any other power supply fan!  Anyway, all I had to do was remove my power supply, take off its cover, remove the old fan, cut the power wires, attach & solder the new fan's wires, and put the new fan in place of the old one.  Total cost was about $15 with shipping & handling. (Note: Papst, Panaflo, Vantec and Sunon make quiet fans.  "Quiet" is relative, but generally ~20-25 dBA or less is quiet... Papst fans are usually half that, nearly silent, but they're also very hard to find outside of Germany.  For quiet fans, check out,, or (Note again: on my Shuttle SV25 minicomputer, I replaced the 40x40x20mm power supply fan with a Sunon fan, and then put a 1-watt 50-ohm resistor on its power cable.  The fan now runs at 0.06 amps and 8.22 volts (while running).)


My hard drives were all Western Digital Caviar drives, and I liked them.  That is, until I found out about the new Seagate Barracuda IV drives.  These new IVs were supposed to be nearly silent.  Well, I was in the market for a new backup hard drive anyway, so I decided that I'd just get one of these Barracuda IVs and use my current WD drives as backup drives.  I got a 40 gigabyte Seagate Barracuda IV at for $120.  And, well, it's very quiet.

So, now I am very happy.  My computer isn't silent, but it's a ton quieter than it used to be.  I can sleep with it turned on, and it doesn't bother me anymore.  And, if I turn my room fan on low, which I usually do at night anyway, then I can't even hear the computer at all.  (I know, what's the point, if I'm just going to turn a room fan on anyway??  Well, a room fan has a nice, low, comforting sound... nothing like the noisy whine of a 2" ball-bearing fan spinning at 5000 RPMs.  So there.)

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