How to make a computer quiet
Below are recommendations and steps you can do to help make your computer quieter as well as a listing of the main causes of computer noise.
Computer fans (Case fans and CPU fans)
The majority of the noise most computers have come from the computer fans. As computers continue to get faster they continue to get hotter, which requires more fans and faster fans to help keep everything cool. A fan generates noise by spinning as well as generates noise as it moves the air.
One solution to getting the computer quieter is replacing the cheap case fans and CPU fans your computer comes pre-installed with and installing quieter fans. The amount of noise a fan emits is measured in dBA; for example, a fan with 21.8 dBA is going to be much louder than a 19.0 or 12.0 dBA.
Tip: If the computer has the available space, installing a bigger fan will move more air with slower speeds making the noise level lower. There are also fans available that adjust their speed according to the heat, which means if the computer is not hot it will lower the speed of the fan making the computer quieter.
A computer's power supply also includes a fan and is usually another major cause of noise in your computer. If your power supply has a power switch on it, you can determine how much noise your power supply generates by disconnecting it from the motherboard and turning it on.
Otherwise, you may want to consider purchasing a new power supply with a low dBA, there are even fanless desktop power supplies available that have a dBA of 0.
Some computer hard drives can be real loud, usually it's easy to identify a noisy hard drive by listening to the noise level as information is accessed off the hard drive. For example, if the computer is noisy as it boots up this is a good indication of a noisy hard drive.
Some hard drives can also be consistently noisy, causing a steady noise while the computer is on. You can identify the hard drives noise volume by temporarily disconnecting the hard drive and turning on the computer.
If you want to lower the noise volume of a hard drive but do not want to replace the hard drive, enclosing the hard drive in an enclosed case or removable case can make it quieter. However, keep in mind that many of the hard drive cases also have fans of their own that can increase the noise of the computer. Alternatively, you could purchase a new hard drive and replace it with the old one.
Tip: An SSD generates no noise and is faster than a traditional hard drive.
With the increased power of video cards, many of the new video cards are coming with their own fans that can also increase the overall noise of a computer. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution in making your video card quieter. However, for users who want to get their computer as quiet as possible, there are several online documents that have steps that replacing a video cards fan.
You can also make the computer quieter by following any or all of the below recommendations.
Move the computer - The location of a computer can make a difference. For example, if you have the computer on the top of your desk, try moving it below the desk.
Loose screws - Loose screws especially on fans can cause increased noise while the computer is running. Make sure all screws inside the computer are tight by going inside the computer and checking each of the screws.
Padded feet - If the computer is on a hard surface, such as a desk or hard floor, the vibration of the computer can cause additional noise. Adding padded feet to the bottom of a computer may slightly reduce the noise volume. Another tip would be to place a piece of carpet under the computer.
Gaskets - Silicone case fan gaskets are another relatively cheap solution for making your computer quieter. The gaskets install in-between your case and the fan and help reduce the vibration, making the computer quieter. Antec and other companies sell these.
Enclosed case or room - If the computer is a server or a computer that does not require much access, you can place it into another room (aka a glass house), often this is what corporations do with their servers.
If this is a home computer or a computer you need access to, placing the computer into an enclosed case can also reduce the noise volume. However, when doing this you need to consider heat related issues. The computer should have at least two inches in the front, back, and both sides as well as a location to bring air in from the outside.
Insulation - For users who want to make their computer even quieter you can install acoustic insulation, which makes it quieter but at the same time could increase the heat of the computer.
Water cooled - If you plan on overclocking and need your computer as cool as possible, and low noise levels are a priority, you should consider a liquid cooling solution.