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Achieving a quiet PC with decent cooling when needed?

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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 02:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Achieving a quiet PC with decent cooling when needed?

Hello.

I've had a Fractal Define R4 for a couple of years, and I've been quite happy with it for a very simple reason: using a semi-fanless power supply and some Noctua fans plus a D15 for the CPU, it's effectively silent while idling, which is my main priority.

The problem of course, is that the counterpoint is that it's fairly warm. Closed off top, dust filtering, etc... Mean that the interior can't really get the hot air out, which also means when working the fans have to spin out a bit, and while it's not at all loud, it still gets a bit noisy anyway. Nothing we don't know.

So I've been thinking about the possibility of improving on that. Now, of course, silence and air flow are opposed, you have to choose and balance the two. But maybe there are cases that manage it better given my components.

So, as I said earlier, my main focus is that, while idling, it has to be dead silent, or close enough (as in:hard to hear it over the ambient sound late at night, which is where mine it's at right now, making it effectively silent during the day).
But my second target would be getting halfway decent airflow once the fans get going, without much focus on noise.

So what I'm thinking is: given that idling I have very quite components (graphics card turns off, case and CPU fans spin at 4 to 5 hundred RPM, power supply turns off), maybe I can achieve the same level of silence at idle with a significantly more open case that breaths better?
I don't know, say a Meshify S2 if staying on Fractal, or maybe something completely different like say a Lian Li O11 Dynamic, that has the fans and drive cages on the opposite side to where I sit relative to the case (although I don't know if my D15 even fits in there).
But I also have to take into account the 2 hard drives, that spend most of their time turned off, but sometimes they'll make noise, which the padding of the R4 probably helps with, so maybe I would be better off going to an R6, and just opening the top when I need to let the hot air out, keeping it close when I don't for silence (which would be practical on the R6 and not on my current R4 because on the R4 the top parts blocking it are screwed).


I'm asking around here cause I guess there's people that have experimented with my sort of issues, and maybe can give me an awnser about my thoughts on the more open case with slow fans vs just a silence oriented case.

Thanks.

Last edited by Molitro; 03-01-2019 at 02:24 AM.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 08:17 AM
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Not sure what you're asking. Just set a custom fan curve so things are quiet when the airflow isn't needed as much and have them spin faster when things are getting toasty. ez.

I just swapped to a Meshify S2 last week, it's a nice case. I was between the Meshify C, H500P Mesh, and Lian Li PC-011 myself and really wanted the C but it was too small... then I saw they released the Meshify S2

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 08:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I guess what I'm asking in a nutshell is just how quiet can an airflow focused case get.
As I said, my first priority is for the PC to be dead silent while idling, which the R4 can do, and I just don't know if a relatively open case can get there, or there's no other way to go but a noise focused case with padding and all the works.

Was hoping people around here maybe would have some experience and could point me in the right direction, at the very least just to avoid the hassle of ordering a case and finding out it can't do what I need.

Last edited by Molitro; 03-01-2019 at 08:43 AM.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 09:02 AM
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Unless you're using 90mm fans the noise from case fans and coolers is negligible. The amount of noise these things make is up to you so it can be a quiet as you like. The only thing that's going to be making noise is the GPU and that totally depends on which card you get and what thermals you want.
If I go with a silent profile I can make it so I loose a little bit of GPU boost so my 1080 runs just under 2000mhz by keeping the fans from rising above an audible level (the default fan curve is already like this).
If your case is set up to efficiently remove heat from the GPU and CPU while having plenty of intake for both, there's really no need to run fans at full speed since they'll be moving enough air at lower speeds.
As always, how loud your rig sounds is totally up to you.
Plus all GPUs and motherboards offer a fan off setting so the fans aren't even running when idle (unless you want them to).

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Last edited by white owl; 03-01-2019 at 09:06 AM.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Mostly I guess I'm just worried about just how much electrical noise, coil whine, etc... that the padding in my R4 covers up, and how much I could hear once I go for a non padded case.
As you say, fans, in the end, are easily made to be the least of the noise problem.

I may try out a Mesify S2 I guess, since I like both the style and the features. I'll think about it.


Although thinking about it there's an easy solution to this. I'll just open up my R4 and test it out.

Last edited by Molitro; 03-01-2019 at 09:30 AM.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 09:42 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Molitro View Post
I guess what I'm asking in a nutshell is just how quiet can an airflow focused case get.
As I said, my first priority is for the PC to be dead silent while idling, which the R4 can do, and I just don't know if a relatively open case can get there, or there's no other way to go but a noise focused case with padding and all the works.

Was hoping people around here maybe would have some experience and could point me in the right direction, at the very least just to avoid the hassle of ordering a case and finding out it can't do what I need.
I also like a PC that's as quiet as possible when idle. The room where the PC is set up is very quiet and I can notice any noise coming from it, no matter how quiet.

I got the impression that padding and a closed front on a case helps with things like coil whine from the graphics card or ticking from fan motors.

That was my problem here with a case that had no padding and had a mesh front. The whole PC was objectively quiet, but various hardware was producing noise that was subjectively annoying for me.

One example, the GPU was producing coil whine while in use which was very noticeable and was changing all the time. Another example, at some point I experimented with a fan that was very nice and quiet, but had ball bearings. I could hear a sort of "ssssssss" from the ball bearings that objectively wasn't loud, but was subjectively too noticeable for me to keep using the fan. Another thing I remember, I use a slow 5400 RPM HDD for data that is very quiet, but when it was accessed I could still hear it. All of this is in comparison totally fine with a case with padding on both side panels, and top, and front.

The Define R4 is great from what I could gather. What's your set up for fans right now? You need fans that can get air through the filters. If you don't have a fan installed at the bottom of the case next to the PSU, that's a really good spot for adding another intake fan.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I thought about putting an intake at the bottom, but the best fan I had at hand was still making noise. I may get another noctua to do it.

I have 2 noctuas front intake then one of the a15s of the d15 as the exhaust.

And yeah, you're kind of confirming my worries. I'm almost sure I'll start hearing coil whine from the graphics card at the very least.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Well this sucks a bit...
I keep looking up cases and the S2 seems to be straight up the best choice for me, has exactly the features I need.
But the problem is, the Meshify will probably be too open for the noise, but the normal S2, which would be an excellent choice, has no non-glass option, and I don't know how the tempered glass will handle the coil whine of my 1080, even if the front is closed off.
I'm not worried about the hard drives cause they go on the right side of the case, probably covered enough for the noise to die out.

Hell, who knows if the meshify with no glass side would actually be quieter if the side panel blocks enough noise. A glass side would be cool for a change though.

Then again, at idle there's no coil whine, so it'd only be a problem once the gpu gets going.

******* hell I don't know which one to pick.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 03:45 PM
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Quiet as possible when idle? How about ~silent after an hour of running a benchmark while overclocked a full GHz?


My system is dead silent 90% of the time. It only really ramps up when benchmarking...even most games I play don't even get me into more than ~50-60% fan speed.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-02-2019, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
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So after a little bit of messing around opening up my case I've determined that at idle, as suspected, the spinning hard drives are hands down the loudest thing in the case.
One that was on happened to turn off due to inactivity as I was listening to the case and the thing went from vibrating the whole case a bit and being clearly audible (with my ear centimeters from where the drives are, not really at about 1 metter, and I'm talking front open wide) to being completely dead silent.
The padding clearly deafens that sound significantly.

But...
Since I've been waiting on a 4tb WD blue for storage that should be at the very least a bit quieter, and the ventilation itself is dead silent, I'm gonna try out a Meshify. I'm betting I'll get it to be quieter on load than a silent focused case just on being able to turn the fans down (3 Phanteks PH 140 should handle the intake pretty nice and quietly).

We'll see how it turns out.
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