Methods to Minimize PC Noise
In the following will unintentional PC sound emissions be named noise. This since they also mostly are more or less unwanted.
Selection of components
By excluding as much as possible of mechanical and/or heat generating
components, and by choosing components known to be quiet and cool running, PCs can be built to run quiet.
By choosing a small operating system one can have the computer run cooler than with a big one. This will reduce the need for active noise generating cooling solutions.
Dampening of vibrations
The connection between the moving parts and the non-moving in a PC is
critical. The less mechanical vibrations are transmitted to other parts
of the PC, the less noise will be heard. Sometimes parts of the PC will
actually amplify noise. Using rubber or other non vibration-transmitting
materials to fasten the vibrating PC components can reduce noise.
The bearings are critical when talking about noise
emissions from mechanical hard drives, since they constitute a main surface between
a moving and a non-moving part in the PC. Hence we today see an increased
use of less vibration transmitting and vibration generating magnetic or
fluid bearings in mechanical hard drives. Ones solution to the problem
of mechanical hard drive noise is to put them in sound absorbing boxes.
An often used solution to damper noise emissions is also to insulate
the whole system unit, which is put in a big sound absorbing box.
A problem with the insulation-approach for hard disks or system units is
that we have to get rid of the heat generated in hard disks and other components
of the system unit, but that the sound insulating materials also tend to
absorb heat - at the best threatening the reliability of different
components, at the worst causing fire.
Fans used together with heatsinks represent the cooling solution today most often utilized in personal computers. They have the advantage that they are rather inexpensive and good cooling solutions, but the disadvantage that they produce noise. When carefully designed, fans can be built to run quiet. Fan ducts can be a solution for either to guide cool ambient air to a hot running system component, or for to remove hot air from this component to the outside air.
The electronic circuits of the PC can also be designed to continuously
measure the critical components inner temperature, and regulate cooling according
to need; so that for example fans only are used as much as they are needed
at a given moment and not more.
One way to avoid fans is to build a PC with electronic components that produce
as little heat as possible, or/and taking advantage of the physical properties
of air (warm air rises giving place for new cool air), thus making the fans unnecessary: Some electronic components can be sufficiently cooled by attaching heat sinks to them using natural
A bit troublesome and a little more expensive
solution for to cool PC components silently is to use more effective media than air for the cooling purpose; such as water. Water cooling will most possible be the future solution for all the people conscious about a low level of noise emissions, but not satisfied with anything else than the fastest components. Heat pipes and vapor chambers represent silent, and today more often used ways to cool PC electronic components. The combination of heatsinks, heatpipes and fans is also becomming a common cooling solution, especially for portable computers.