Introduction and the Cause

Of Things Quiet

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This article started out as a comparison of a number of heatsink fan combinations that emphasized “QUIET”. As a professed “Power-User” performance has been my driving force and noise was never an issue.

Lars Olsen, a close personal friend, recently impressed upon me (twisted my arm is more like it) how important an issue NOISE has become to computer enthusiasts world-wide. In light of this, we decided to gather as many HSF’s as we could that are specifically marketed as QUIET, or LOW NOISE. This in turn, started us thinking about the whole issue of a quiet computing environment and we discovered many products that aided in producing such an environment. It will be our aim in this study to show you some of the products that definitely make a difference and share a few tricks that we’ve learned along the way.

The Cause of Noise

We should begin this section with a qualification; what one person perceives to be excessive noise may be quite tolerable to another. As CPU’s keep reaching higher and higher speeds our hard drives increase in speed as have our DVD drives, our CD ROM’s and our CDRW’s and of course, our Video Cards. The result of all this speed has resulted in two major headaches; the first is the tremendous heat generated and the second is the increased vibration caused by our faster systems.

To dissipate the heat we have added fans to our systems of higher and higher CFM and dBA’s This in turn led to more vibration caused by the more powerful motors needed to drive them. As our CPU’s are the major producer of heat, the heatsinks we use, changed radically, to handle the excess heat generated while maintaining a high performance level. This usually meant that the fan mounted on the heatsink became stronger with higher RPM’s and CFM’s and of course, more dBA’s and vibration.

Thus we end up with three major areas of concern, Noise, Vibration and Heat. All three must be dealt with in a manner that satisfies the end user. Without resorting to Water Cooling or Cryogenics the though of Overclocking or using a CPU that produces high wattages of heat is not practical if you seek a really quiet computing environment. This could change with the advent of the Athlon XP CPU that generates 20% less heat than its older brother the Athlon Thunderbird.

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