Reducing PC Noise

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Current Noise Control Solutions

Introduction to the Zalman TNN 500A
Existing noise control solutions and their limitations
Zalman TNN 500 description and technical specs
What we like about the Zalman case
What we don't like about the Zalman case
Top of our wish list
Conclusion, other reviews, where to buy
Full image gallery of the Zalman TNN-500A


What's been available so far?

Zalman Flower Heat Sinks

Over the last few years a variety of products have been developed to control/minimise PC noise. Notable among these are Zalman's own "flower" CPU heat-sinks and VGA heat pipes, Acousti Products' sound absorption lining, and cases like Antec's Sonata. The CPU heat-sinks (CNPS6000/7000) provide a much larger area for dissipation of processor heat and therefore need a much smaller/slower fan to achieve the same CPU temperature reductions. The VGA heat sink (ZM80-HP) is a monster heat-sink that replaced the graphics card's heat-sink + fanZalman ZM80 silent graphics card cooler - VGA Heat Sink combination. It enveloped the graphics card to provide 20 times the surface area for heat dissipation and could often be used without a fan cooling it down. The Acoustipack lining inside the case acted as a barrier and prevented some sound from getting out of the case. And the Antec Sonata was built to have a similar lining inside the case to act as an acoustic block. Other developments included hard disk grommets to dampen vibrations from disks, hard disk enclosures to minimise sound leak, low noise PSUs from manufacturers like Enermax and motherboard heat sinks and fans.

There are also several low tech and common sense solutions - like using larger fans. An 80 mm case fan will need to turn at a much faster rpm than a 120 mm fan to pump the same amount of air. Like for like using slower 120 mm fans in the place of 80 mm fans will make for less noise. Ensuring your PC is stable on all four feet, and not wobbling, does help. As does making sure everything is screwed down tight and your side panels aren't vibrating against the case body. 

Some of the problems with existing solutions

As specialists in the manufacture of quiet PCs we get to try all these components ... and then some. Not all of them live up to expectation and there are numerous unknown traps. Some examples:

Hard disk enclosures: Many are badly designed and allow the Hard Disk Enclosurehard disk to over heat. Some have fans built in to circulate air over the hard disk (which defeats the purpose as those fans generate noise). Other hard disk solutions involve the suspension of the hard disk in a rubber sling. The simple task of turning the PC bottoms up causes the hard disk to fall out of the sling. Why turn the PC bottoms up? Because couriers do a lot worse and the PC's gotta go through the couriers at some point. 

VGA heatsinks: These are cumbersome, take ages to put together, are very heavy (over a kilo sometimes). Further, as the graphics card is taking the full weight of this item it's not ideal for a PC that's going to be moved. If the PC is bouncing about in the back of a courier's van (and sometimes upside down) the stress on the graphics card will have it pop out of the AGP socket.

Acoustic lining/barrier mass with foam: Very nice products when you can line the complete inside of the PC. It's almost impossible to achieve this in real life. When you stick the lining on the side panels you've got to leave a 1-2" border for where theAcoustic barrier mass with foam side panel slots into the main body of the PC. Then there are nooks and crannies that can't be lined for a variety of reasons and the rear of the front panel is almost impossible to access on some cases. The most effective of the acoustic lining products are, as you would expect, the thicker ones but when you use the best ones you'll line your side panels and find that they don't fit onto your PC anymore. However, for cost vs effectiveness the acoustic lining is difficult to beat.

More on current solutions

The TNN 500A case description and details






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Last updated: Jan, 2007 


PC Noise Reduction, Noise Reduction Measures