Buying Guide: Ultra-Quiet Upgrades (Part 2)

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Graphics cards

Graphics cards do some serious work and therefore need plenty of cooling. In other words, they can make a right old din. Manufacturers such as HIS and Gigabyte offer specially designed quiet models. An example is the Gigabyte nVidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti Windforce ($378,

Gigabyte nVidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti Windforce

Gigabyte nVidia GeForce GTX 660 Ti Windforce

If you don’t want to change your graphics card, instead consider adding a quieter fan. The Arctic Cooling Accelero Extreme GTX Pro ($50, is a quiet cooler for nVidia GTX graphics cards, while the Gelid Solutions Icy Vision Rev 2 ($48, works well with a range of AMD and nVidia cards.


Don’t even contemplate opening up your PSU to replace its fan. You’ll need to exchange the entire unit for a silent version, of which several options are available.

NoFan P400-A

NoFan P400-A

If your computing demands aren’t particularly intensive, but your need for silence is utmost, opt for something like the NoFan P400-A ($218, Gamers should look to models such as the AeroCool Strike-X ($74,, which offers 600W of power and has a quiet 139mm fan and a striking design. Those who just want a simple, affordable PSU for everyday use would appreciate the Zalman GS-500w ($60,, which is a fine budget model.

Fan controllers

If your Bios doesn’t allow you to tweak the fan speed, another manipulation method is offered by a fan controller. These devices allow you to monitor and adjust the RPM of each connected fan, and let you keep an eye on the internal temperature of your machine.

The Scythe Kaze-Master ($59, fits in an optical drive bay and offers control over up to four fans. It also notes the spin speeds and internal temperatures on a built-in LCD.

If you don’t want to go down the hardware route, a solid software solution is the free SpeedFan ( As well as allowing you to control your PC’s fan speeds, SpeedFan can also cleverly read the temperature sensors that are built into the motherboard/processor.

Silence your PC for less than

Our trusty old office machine can be rather voluminous at times, so it was the perfect candidate for our attempts to silence a PC for less than $135. The noise it generates is typical of a three-year-old PC, so the upgrades we explain here will apply to many a system.

We selected four items from to help us in our quest to silence the machine. First up is dual-layer soundproofing material, which will be attached to the inside surface of the case’s side panels to effectively insulate any rattling and absorb the various noises emitted by the internal components.

The old rickety fans will be replaced by a pair of Dustproof AcoustiFans. Thanks to their sealed motors, dirt and dust will be unable to clog things up, making them both durable and quiet.

 AcoustiFan DustProof PC Case Cooling Fan 3Pin

 AcoustiFan DustProof PC Case Cooling Fan 3Pin

Vibrations on the inside of the case will be dampened by AcoustiFoam blocks, which fit into empty drive bays and help to alleviate the sonic emissions that spinning optical and storage drives add to the overall tone of a PC.

Finally, we’ll fit a set of anti-vibration feet. These simple additions are made of a softer compound than most standard case feet and are designed to reduce the amount of vibration transferred to the floor. This might not be an issue if you have soft carpets, but those with homes and offices sporting wooden floors will welcome the reduction in noise they offer.

Step 1. Before fitting the soundproofing sheets, measure the size of the panel you want to insulate. You may need to cut them to size, and should be careful not to cover any ventilation holes. Next, simply remove the backing paper and gently press the material into place. If you make a mistake, immediately remove the sheet and try again.

Step 2. The foam blocks are very easy to fit. The pack includes a single 3.5in- and two 5.25m blocks, which will slide into empty optical and storage drive bays. Simply open the case, decide which drive bays you want to fill, then gently push the foam bricks into the relevant gaps. Be careful not to snag the material on any sharp edges inside the case.

Step 3. Unscrew your existing fans. Using the provided soft mounts, affix the replacement fans. You can either plug each fan into the normal three-pin socket on the motherboard to run at full speed, or use the provided cable to plug them into four-pin Molex connectors from the power supply. You can then choose one of three speed settings via the coloured leads: Full (black), Medium (blue) or Low (white).

Step 4. To attach the feet to the bottom of the case, simply unscrew or peel off the originals. Clean the surface and dry it with kitchen towel to ensure the adhesive will have something to hold on to. Take the four new feet, remove the backing paper, and press them firmly into place. Hold for a few seconds and you’re done.

Having reassembled our machine, there is a noticeable difference in the amount of noise it creates. It isn’t silent, of course. If it’s still causing too much racket, a further reduction in noise can be achieved by replacing the power supply and/or CPU cooler.

The problem with starting a project such as this is that it becomes rather addictive: already, we’re eyeing up one of those fancy cases and a new CPU cooler. We wonder whether the budget would stretch to a water-based system...

Fit a fan-speed controller

If you like to manually control your computer’s fan speeds, a fan controller is a simple and effective addition. You simply attach the fans to the controller, bypassing the motherboard, and can then adjust their RPM via control dials on the outside of your machine.

Some controllers also have temperature gauges that can be positioned in discrete locations around the inside of your system case (on the hard disk or the outside base of the processor cooler, for example). These report the current temperature in critical areas of your system.

Fan controllers such as the Scythe Kaze-Master controller, which we explain how to fit here, can control up to four fans.

Scythe Kaze Master Fan Controller

Scythe Kaze Master Fan Controller

Step 1. Connect the power cable to the four-pin socket on the back of the controller marked ‘Power1, but don’t plug it into the PSU connectors just yet. Also fit any of the included fan adaptor leads into the four sockets marked ‘Fan1, ‘Fan2’ and so on. They’re a little tight, so be careful not to damage anything.

Step 2. Fit the leads for the temperature gauges. They’re numbered in relation to the fans. You’ll want to place the gauges close to their relevant fans to accurately monitor and control the internal temperature. They can be positioned either way up and secured using the provided yellow stickers.

Step 3. Now slide the control panel into an empty 5.25in drive bay and secure it with the provided screws. Attach the other ends of the fan adaptor leads and power supply. Now reassemble the side panels of the case, turn on the power and watch for the LED display on the controller to come to life.

Step 4. Above each dial on the panel you’ll see the fan’s RPM and the temperature. To adjust the RPM simply turn the relevant dial and the fan will speed up or slow down, either of which affects the temperature. As a general rule, we recommend running machines below 500C to help preserve the components.

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