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Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

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Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby MartinJG » Sun Aug 17, 2014 11:27 am

I did a self build 2 years ago (i5/P8P67LE MOBO) and used a standard cheap gaming style Novotech (Panther) case. The CPU fan is the standard Intel unit. It's OK but not great. The rear case 120mm fan is now getting a bit noisy so I have decided to upgrade the cooling and go as quiet as poss. It is used only for music and internet browsing so none of heat probs associated with gaming. Noctua seems to have been around for ever but a bit pricey. Are they still the best or are there any other fans/cooling units I should consider? I am considering passive cooling. Any advice on this much appreciated.

Many thanks

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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby feline1 » Mon Aug 18, 2014 10:12 am

Scan 3XS are actually doing a completely fanless machine these days (uses a fancy passive CPU cooler), have you had a look at that? That really is some completely silent that you may need to get a goat for the studio to keep you company. :angel:
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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby Pete Kaine » Mon Aug 18, 2014 3:01 pm

I don't really rate the Noctura solutions personally as I feel they've been surpassed at least in my eyes by quite a few firms over the last few years. My go to (if it will fit the cse) for that sort of box without getting silly with the price would be a True Sprit 120 (thermaltake) H/S/F and a aero cool dead silence 120mm case fan using the 7v reduction cable that ships with it.
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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby MartinJG » Mon Aug 18, 2014 6:16 pm

Pete. Funnily enough I had a look at the Scan site today but there are so many I just got utterly confused. I guess this is where the Noctua brand name tips the balance amongst the unenlightened such as me. I'll have another shufty.

David - Is a dog OK?

Thanks gents.

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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby Offramper » Mon Aug 18, 2014 11:32 pm

My latest build (Intel 4771) uses a Noctua NH-U14S CPU cooler which being PWM is speed controlled by the motherboard. The fitting of the cooler was a doddle - only problem is it is an enormous device, gives the impression of a cooler with a mobo attached rather than the other way round! As a consequence on my board - Asus H87 - the RAM slot closest to the fan is blocked except for low profile memory. The only other fan I have in the case is the one in the Seasonic X series SS-650 KM fully modular PSU. No problems so far and I am very happy with the absence of noise - the main drive being SSD.

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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby Pete Kaine » Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:21 am

Taken to the extreme Dave.

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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby MartinJG » Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:48 pm

Pete

Did my due diligence on your recommendations. Both have good very good reviews. I went for the True Spirit 120 rev but it was a toss up between the Noctua Vortex and the Aerocool Dead Silence. Not much between them on the noise front and shifting air but the Noctua 6 year warranty swung it for me. Thanks.

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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby MartinJG » Tue Sep 02, 2014 4:13 pm


I have now installed my True Spirit 120M HSF & Noctua Rear case fan (exhaust). Big improvement but to be honest I was expecting them to be a little quieter. Am I being unrealistic or is it possible to tweak a few things to get the noise down. For instance, I have noticed on a couple of forums that some folk suggest cutting away the mesh grill on the exhaust where there is bound to be a little 'noise friction'. This makes sense but is it a good idea and are there any other ways I can fine tune things on the noise front. By the way, for the record, I have a Corsair CX500 PSU. I also have a basic 120 intake case fan (speed contolled) on lowest possible tickover so very little noise from that.

Thanks

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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby MartinJG » Tue Sep 02, 2014 6:33 pm


Progress. Been poking around in my case touching and feeling a few things and noticed there are ever so slight pockets of vibration/resonance which I think are hard drive related even though they sit on rubber mounts. This would have been partially disguised by the relative racket of the previous fans. However, even when they are in neutral, the fan noise is still fairly audible. Suspect the cheap case isn't doing me any favours.
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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby Pete Kaine » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:19 am

MartinJG wrote:
Progress. Been poking around in my case touching and feeling a few things and noticed there are ever so slight pockets of vibration/resonance which I think are hard drive related even though they sit on rubber mounts. This would have been partially disguised by the relative racket of the previous fans. However, even when they are in neutral, the fan noise is still fairly audible. Suspect the cheap case isn't doing me any favours.


Unless your fully passive, your ears are always focus on the noise that is there, rather than what isn't (if that makes sense... it's early, I'm of tea).

The Aerocools I mentioned, I always use the 7v reduction cable on them otherwise they are prone to being too noisy, I know you went for the Noctura do they have similar cables in the box too and are you making use of them?

I always go for solid steal cases with the minimal of openings in order to keep the noise/vibrations down and I don't imagine that CX series supply is doing to any favours either.

Hmmm... I just went away and Googled your case. Points in it's favour for being steel, minus points for the load of holes in the side panel for fan mounting leaking sound out.
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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby MartinJG » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:48 am

Pete

I am using the 7 volt adapter on the Noctua as you suggested which should give @ 900RPM according to the manufacturer. Odd thing is the actually motor on the Noctua is super quiet but the blades emit a sort of soft thrumming sound despite the fancy anti turbulent gismos. Should I cut away the mesh grill on the exhaust fan outlet to reduce turbulence/friction or is that a bad idea? The Thermalight motor is (I think) slightly noisier than the Noctua but there seems to be less noise from the fan itself (on the pre heatsink side). Fan speed averages around 780-820. Temp at idle is around 26-29 C. That is about 10 C better than the old Intel cooler and without the noise. Not sure if it is my imagination but everything seems to be a bit smoother on the processing front too with no audible change in fan pitch. My case is actually a Prowler not a Panther (my mistake) but I think they are basically the same, cheap pressed steal with, as you correctly point out, more holes than metal. Thought that was a good idea at the time. Believe it or not, if I hold the top of the box and apply some gentle pressure it actually reduces the noise by a tiny amount which must be down to case resonance but it all adds up. You are absolutely spot on about the PSU. Couldn't hear it before I fitted the new fans. I think it is now the noisiest fan in the box. Has a slight clicking sound to it too which is a bit irritating. We are, as you point out, talking about minimal amounts of noise and diminishing returns on the noise reduction ladder but I have become a bit obsessive of late now that I am focussing on these things. I am sure I will get over it. Hope so anyway. I was hoping for whisper quiet but not sure if I will get that with the existing setup. Bit like decorating. You give the worst room a lick of paint and suddenly everything else looks tatty!

Thanks for your feedback. Much appreciated.

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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby The_BPP » Wed Sep 03, 2014 3:35 pm

Fractal design cases such as this one...

Factal Design Case on Amazon

Are relatively cheap at sixty quid, and feature sound-baffling sides and fans which can be externally adjusted. I think it's the best, cheap solution to sound issues.

An efficient CPU heatsink and fan will ensure a PC that's essentially silent when paired with this case.
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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby Pete Kaine » Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:28 pm

MartinJG wrote:I am using the 7 volt adapter on the Noctua as you suggested which should give @ 900RPM according to the manufacturer. Odd thing is the actually motor on the Noctua is super quiet but the blades emit a sort of soft thrumming sound despite the fancy anti turbulent gismos.

That's my problem with them as well. I'm under the impression that the notches are more designed to create a more of a cyclone effect and ensure it can move more air with less motor RPM. As you note it's great for getting rid of one type of noise but prone to another.


Should I cut away the mesh grill on the exhaust fan outlet to reduce turbulence/friction or is that a bad idea?

I'm not going to flat out advise anyone to dremel anything blindly, but you can see for yourself if potential adjustments would help you out. Take the fan back out of the case and see how it sounds free standing and then try and note the contrast between that and being behind the grill. Only you can really decide if any change in tone is going to be worth your time and effort on doing the mod.


The Thermalight motor is (I think) slightly noisier than the Noctua but there seems to be less noise from the fan itself (on the pre heatsink side). Fan speed averages around 780-820. Temp at idle is around 26-29 C. That is about 10 C better than the old Intel cooler and without the noise.

Yes, that sounds like a fair round up. Does your bios have the option to select lower rpm profiles to go with this? Given the amount of overhead you have for cooling, you could easily drop the RPM even further if the option is available.


Believe it or not, if I hold the top of the box and apply some gentle pressure it actually reduces the noise by a tiny amount which must be down to case resonance but it all adds up.

Doesn't suprise me at all, it's rather common on the lighter cases. The Fractal's mentioned above are heavy cases but it goes a long way to reducing the resonance your experiencing with that. Some of the sound proofing foam they do for pc's may help here, whilst they are pretty useless for traditional sound reduction duties, their added weight can help reduce the resonance itself on lighter cases.


You are absolutely spot on about the PSU. Couldn't hear it before I fitted the new fans. I think it is now the noisiest fan in the box. Has a slight clicking sound to it too which is a bit irritating.

Yep, your experience mirrors my own with regards to that Corsair range. It does show the improvements gained so far with the other fans at least if the is a silver lining to be had!

We are, as you point out, talking about minimal amounts of noise and diminishing returns on the noise reduction ladder but I have become a bit obsessive of late now that I am focussing on these things. I am sure I will get over it. Hope so anyway. I was hoping for whisper quiet but not sure if I will get that with the existing setup.

I know the feeling, I've been playing around with a highend media center solution this week and given it's completely passive so, I've been trying to find a mechanical drive for media storage that doesn't draw your attention in a silent room, don't think I'll find the holy grail but the noise levels generated in a typical living room I suspect would be well below the ambient noise floor of the space in question.

Oh well, bundle it with a NAS box it is then...


Bit like decorating. You give the worst room a lick of paint and suddenly everything else looks tatty!

:D

Yep!
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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby MartinJG » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:20 pm

TBPP

Had a look at the Fractal cases. Good reviews all round. I regret going for a budget case with hindsight. After the hassle of removing the MOBO to fit a HSF backplate might as well consider the whole caboodle and go completely overboard. Although this is a smallish case, it seems fairly roomy. Interesting paradox in cases. Hardrives are getting quieter and smaller and presumably cooler, which is good for laptops and smaller PC's, but processors are getting more and more powerful which implies the need for larger heat efficient CPU coolers (not to mention PSU's). I realise this mainly affects the gaming market but surely something has to give at some point.
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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby MartinJG » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:59 pm

Pete

Lowered the fan speed setting in the BIOS to 300 RPM. I assume this is what you meant. Bit academic though. I am currently monitoring the RPM and temp on Speedfan and Real Temp and the lowest RPM I have recorded is around 670 or so which is way above that setting. By the way, I am getting some weird temp readings for the CPU on Speedfan which range from 13C to 73C. There must be shome mishtake. Checked Real Temp and it is more or less consistent with the BIOS reading and ranges from 26C to 39C under load (except Core 2 which for some reason is managing 41C).

Re case modding...

'I'm not going to flat out advise anyone to dremel anything blindly...' :D

I actually did my own little benchtest of the fan before and after fitting. It does make a difference but not that much. More things to worry about with my vibrating case!

Thanks for the feedback.

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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby Pete Kaine » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:35 am

MartinJG wrote: Hardrives are getting quieter and smaller and presumably cooler, which is good for laptops and smaller PC's, but processors are getting more and more powerful which implies the need for larger heat efficient CPU coolers (not to mention PSU's). I realise this mainly affects the gaming market but surely something has to give at some point.

Harddrive wise... well the SSD's are cool as you like and it's simply a case of wedging more and more silicon in there. Mechanicals are forcing more and more platters into the same space and the heat generated I dare say is rising, rather than falling overall. After all we're still working with the same form factors, just stuffing twice as many platters in there every couple of years.

With CPU's they work to increase performance and decrease heat with each generation. Sometimes they manage it and sometimes they don't, but the overall thermal footprint hasn't really changed a great deal in years. The chips are all designed to throttle somewhere between 80 - 100 degrees and they have to keep well below that ideally. Each generation will shrink the silicon components and try and reduce the voltage in play by introducing new techniques although the looming danger (and what will kill Moores law in the end) is that we'll get to a point where that refinement doesn't work anymore.

At that point we'll have to see another type of processer take over and it could be within the next 10 - 20 years at the rate we're going. Optical, Fluid and even Biological processers have all been discussed and researched over the last decade or so, none have really left the prototype stage at this point however.

MartinJG wrote:
Lowered the fan speed setting in the BIOS to 300 RPM. I assume this is what you meant. Bit academic though. I am currently monitoring the RPM and temp on Speedfan and Real Temp and the lowest RPM I have recorded is around 670 or so which is way above that setting.

Not sure which board you have, if it's an ASUS however then that setting is the alarm setting where it alerts you to a failing fan. Normally the will be a profile switch as well which allows you to set "normal/silent/performance" and that will change your ramp up levels. Gaming boards go a step further and allow you to tune the ramp up profile itself, but it's a lot of cost for the additional features and I tend to go with further voltage restriction over that personally anyhow.


By the way, I am getting some weird temp readings for the CPU on Speedfan which range from 13C to 73C. There must be shome mishtake. Checked Real Temp and it is more or less consistent with the BIOS reading and ranges from 26C to 39C under load (except Core 2 which for some reason is managing 41C).

I haven't used speedfan in years, can't comment on how reliable it is these days. I use Coretemp/Realtemp for off the cuff testing or more recently I've switched over to Openhardware Monitor or AIDA 64 for proper benchmarking sessions depending on my requirements.


I actually did my own little benchtest of the fan before and after fitting. It does make a difference but not that much. More things to worry about with my vibrating case!

Ahh, that was a good move then and at least you know. I suspect as you say it's not worth the hassle, in fact I'd be concerned of metal spliters finding their way into the case and onto the board leaving it open to potential shorts. If your then going to remove everything to cut holes in the case, then you may as well carry out the rebuild in a better case!
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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby MartinJG » Sun Sep 07, 2014 2:11 pm

Pete

Not sure which board you have, if it's an ASUS however then that setting is the alarm setting where it alerts you to a failing fan. Normally the will be a profile switch as well which allows you to set "normal/silent/performance" and that will change your ramp up levels. Gaming boards go a step further and allow you to tune the ramp up profile itself, but it's a lot of cost for the additional features and I tend to go with further voltage restriction over that personally anyhow.


OK, I have now set the CPU cooling in the BIOS to 'silent'. Doesn't seem to make much difference though. Still only get RPM down to @670. Have a feeling that is all I am going to get for now.

Ahh, that was a good move then and at least you know. I suspect as you say it's not worth the hassle, in fact I'd be concerned of metal spliters finding their way into the case and onto the board leaving it open to potential shorts. If your then going to remove everything to cut holes in the case, then you may as well carry out the rebuild in a better case!


I wouldn't have thought of that so that clinches it. No point looking for trouble.

Finally. Re technology and Moore's Law. Checked it up on Wiki. Interesting.

Thanks

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Re: Which are the best quiet case fans & CPU cooling fans or heatsinks?

Postby Offramper » Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:14 pm

Pete Kaine wrote:Taken to the extreme Dave.

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:shock:

8-)
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