silent pc, modding

Silent computer

    Before moving to a new flat in a quiet neihbourhood computer noise was never a problem for me. I was satisfied with the noise levels granted by ordinary off the shelf cooling systems. But when the unlimited Internet channel appeared, I stopped turning my computer off at nights. And the “whine-problem” instantly became unbearable…

    Calm and cosy flat, birds are singing behind the window, at night I can hear antique clock ticking in the hall and my beloved snuffling on my shoulder… and my computer droning with its five fans and chattering with HDDs… I'd let things the way they are if I had a separate room for computer related work - but I don't, at least for now. I guess many other people don’t have it either and are as well being fatigued by computer noise. I hope that my experience of building a fanless computer helps such people to solve this problem.

    I didn’t want to make the case for my fanless computer from scratch. The matter is that I’m lazy :). I’m joking. I just chose some other, more rational way, from my point of view. This was my first experimental build, I wanted to try the new technologies and verify their reliability and workability.

    The poor state of russian native industry is not a secret for anyone. I had searched the Internet for a long time, spent a number of days off at radio markets looking for an apropriate heatsink for my fanless computer. But I found NOTHING. The sinks found by my friends hadn't quite met my requirements. I didn’t want to mod my case heavily or even build a new one from scratch as they did. I was satisfied with my stock InWin. Probably I was too lazy…

    The problem of hard disk noise insulation appeared at once after the computer had rid itself of all the coolers. Heretofore the squeak and chatter of heads were inaudible over the coolers noise. Let’s try to look into the essence of the Winchester noise to know the enemy by sight. First of all it is the low-frequency vibration – the result of wrong spindle balancing. Secondly, it is the repugnant high-frequency squeak which is produced by the heads hovering on the air cushion over the plates.

    I’ll with history. I was thinking over the idea of making fanless computer for two years. It all began one day when I was surfing the internet and I found website of one Japanese modder, Numano3 (this website do not exist now). And what I saw there was great: he made two computers without coolers, and not on very cold configurations. And it was long ago, when Zalman 7000 was manufactured and the only cooler on heat pipes was Coolermaster HHC-1, one with classical construction (surely was no TNN500 type cases and passive power supplies). So I had a dream...

    I’d like to give some information for the beginners. If you have pondered over computer noise insulation for the first time this article is for you. The simpliest and not expansive modding will help you reduce computer noise almost to 50%.

    This computer has been made for a friend of mine. It wasn’t assembled from the very beginning; it is an upgrade of an assembled computer… During the upgrade we bought a new hard disk (80 Gb Seagate) and new 640 processor in exchange for 3 GHz Celeron. Other characteristics of the computer were suitable for its owner. Video adapter is absent; the owner is not interested in graphic games at all...

    This technology is not new. The first patent was issued to some Gogler in 1944. Heat pipes have a wide range of operating temperatures, the speed of heat transfer outdoes the speed of sound and they have durability of 20 000 working hours. That makes them a high-efficient and reliable heat transfer solution.

    The heart of a noiseless computer is a heat remover. It is a device transferring the heat energy from processor to cooling radiator. Earlier the concept of home-made heat removers was plain. People fastened smeared with thermal paste pipes between two copper plaits. This method was doomed to failure, processor overheated or operated at its breaking point. The reason was plain, bad contact of heat pipes with copper heat remover. As a result less than 50% of their resource were used. In hand-made manufacture the coolers on heat pipes are not saved by any thermal paste because its capacity for heat transfer is 500 times less than copper’s one…

    Once drinking beer we contrived one more funny variant how to overcome hard disk noise. At the same time we could test some noise absorbing characteristics of thermal paste which hadn’t been studied and shown in documents earlier. The essence of the idea is to sink the hard disk in the thermal paste!

    This article is meant for PC users who don’t like the noise of computer fans, and who are skilled persons and like doing things with their own hands. Saved money will be a nice bonus.

    As a rule video adapter cooling doesn’t go beyond installing a cooler on processor and glueing small radiators to memory chip. This is quite reasonable but not the best approach from my point of view.

    We wandered about this idea when we assembled fanless computers… We had to bend heat pipes to obtain close fit of thermal blocks; moreover, more than once, we had to disassemble the construction and waste our time. In addition there was a theme in the forum, where modders discussed utopian possibility of copper ends joining with a rubber hose :)

    This silent box for hard disk was made in two evenings. It is fast to do, cheap and of good quality. Characteristic is good as usual. Properly speaking, this construction wouldn’t become prominent and deserve an individual article if one small misunderstanding didn’t happen…

     Almost everyone who saw my computer predicted real difficulties with upgrade of hardware, namely motherboard... It is difficult object, in fact motherboard is fast fixed to aluminum bed plate, numerous heat removers contact boards, and thermal tubes specially curved to the size and soldered in copper block-radiators run to processor and chipset...

    If you haven’t tried to get a piece of nonferrous metal for your modding this article can make you smile… It seems that you can buy everything in our country, not to mention a plate of aluminium. In actual fact it’s not so easy… If you’ve decided to buy a piece of aluminium you’ll come across the lack of understanding of trade organizations. They have a simple order: they whether offer to buy a huge sheet for a thousand dollars or say you goodbye…

    The previous construction has worked properly for near two years having undergone some insignificant redesign (mainly redecorating). In general it deserved only one censure – slow loading of levels in computer games because of laptop hard disks not united into raid. The time of upgrade came and we noticed at once the disadvantage of philosophy of components pacification with the help of remote radiators.

    All modern effective means of noise insulation of hard disks have one essential shortcoming: labour-intensiveness. At that the final product has weight of three kilogrammes and fills one third part of useful space of the case. This makes utterly inexpedient such solution of the problem for “moderate” silence lovers who usually approach the modding from position of optimal balance between the result and effort.

    To begin with I’d like to say a few words about the structure of the silencer-radiator case. It’s performed by the milling of 35-mm aluminum plate. The thickness of the walls – 10 mm. The outside is milled like thorns and is covered with the same cover plate. The interior cage is a few millimeters bigger than the HDD’s overall size. That was done to eliminate the contact of the HDD and the walls of the case-radiator when being in that cage.

    Let me begin with trivial stuff that modern computer needs for high-powered PSU. For example, the nVidia Company recommends using 480W PSU for its top solutions. While working, high-powered PSU allocates 200 watt heat. This heat must be abstracted. For this purpose , up to 3 fans are used in power supplies. Naturally, fans make noise...

    This construction is the first stage in the way to silent personal computer. We chose this model because of several requirements: safety, stability, capacity sufficient for a up-to-date computer (we planned to take something like Q6600, 2-4 Gb RAM, 8800 GTX(GTS)), construction which allows remodeling into the fanless one.

     Power supply unit is a headache for lovers of silent computers, second to hard disks. It’s not a big problem to cool a processor or a video adapter: there is much space – you can mount massive radiators and big fans. Power supply units cooling causes much more difficulties: the radiators area is limited with the box size; this, in its turn, constrains the ability of manipulations with the fan turns. To say more simply, for most models with the 80 mm fan slowdown to total noiseless..



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Non-constructive thoughts about modding...

    All began when one day my neighbour, he is Automatic Control Engineer, came and started to beg me to give him one diode. When I asked him why, he typed modding in a search engine. And it had a great effect on me. I was sick about it. Maybe there is nothing accidental in the world and this modding seed fell into good soil. All my life I was interested in design.


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