Completely silent computer built

I have an Nvidia 1080ti in my desktop, which is overkill for what i use it for, though i do play certain titles that perform better with a higher end card. But i do also play plenty of indie games that require little graphics power. That being said my reason for going all out on my card is that it affords me the luxury of not needing to upgrade my card for a long time and being able to run anything i want at any setting. With my previous PC i had to constantly fiddle with settings to get it in the sweet spot to run smoothly and it was a pain in the ass.

1 Like

That’s not really true. Depends on your definition of quiet. And how willing you are to deal with water cooling. And of course, And time you try to build small things get harder, more expensive, And limited.

If silence at all times is your goal then your probably right. But if the idea is instead to be silent to very quiet most of the time. And pretty damn quiet under load. It’s still cheap and doesn’t limit parts at all.

I picked up a “silent” case with noise absorbing panels for less than $100. Everything is air cooled. I spent maybe another $100 across the life of the box upgrading cooling in stages to get things cooler and quieter. And my CPU cooler cost less than the fans currently mounted to it.

It’s silent at idle, And mostly silent during light use. Soft, unnoticeable whir from the psu, occasional soft chatter from the platter drives. Under heavy load there’s quiet, non annoying air noise as the graphics card and CPU cooler spool up. If I turn up the fan controller integrated into the case while gaming (which I don’t need to do but still do anyway) it’s no louder than a reasonable sized desk fan. There’s noise. But the pleasant white noise variety.

And while my bits weren’t exactly “high end” in terms of price. They’re were plenty powerful when I first built the thing about 4 years ago. And a recent GPU upgrade and some extra ram have it going strong as we speak. Certainly nothing low heat or power efficient about any of it.

It just takes attention to cooling. Larger fans are quieter when moving a given amount of air. More fans at lower speed are quieter than fewer fans at higher speed. And good overall cooling means the loudest parts of the cooling plan. CPU and gpu coolers, don’t need to race quite as much under load. And of course regular cleaning. Dust = noise.

Agree completely. There is a big difference between a fan running at a normal speed (such as what blows on the fins on a liquid cooling system) vs. a system with two or three fans running full tilt. The first one is an acceptable low hum, letting you know you are using a machine that’s under or on the desk. The second one is friggin maddeningly loud, like trying to work in a wind tunnel. Big difference. But there is very little difference between the single fan at normal speed that I described vs. no fans or noise at all. It’s such a small difference that I just wonder… why? I mean, whiz-bang to have something that seems “solid state” like one of the various computer devices in Star Trek, but what’s the real gain? Not a lot. (And then there are all the other reasons of practicality and obsolescence that you described.)

Yup. My new server has no fans at all, no moving parts at all, just a big stack of SSD RAID and some hunks of copper to sink heat.

People with really good hearing could still hear it, if the stack of UPSes under it weren’t slightly louder.

But with my scarred eardrums and crappy hearing it’s totally silent! :smiley:

1 Like

Good old steam heat… It always makes a bit of noise if the radiator is cold and doubly so if the pipes feeding it are. All that lovely uneven expansion of the metal.

1 Like

And condensation in the steam pipes can make a lot of noise as the water that accumulates can get flung around if i recall correctly.


I rather miss the soothing hard-drive rumbles of old PCs; I think that was a large part of their charm. Maybe there’s even a market for rumble-packs that can be installed internally to replicate it.

But I can definitely do without howling fans. Especially if all I’m doing is running Firefox – then it’s just an infuriating reminder that my PC is doing something hyperactive in the background that it has no reason to be doing and that I am helpless to control. Blech.

1 Like

It’s frequency. We’re much better at picking out high frequency noises than low frequency ones. So even at a lower decibel level the higher pitched noises are much more noticable. It’s why the electric noise @Medievalist is talking about are so annoying. Despite the fact that they’re pretty easily drowned out by nearly anything no matter how quiet.

One of the fans I’ve got in my system is a cheaper noctua. Some sort of throw back to their older fan designs. I figured I’d give it a shot at half the price of the regular fans, given that I have one of the fans it’s supposed to be based on. It’s rated slightly louder, some fraction of a decibel than that fan, And some of the others I use. And that held true. It’s not practically any louder than some of the other cheaper fans I’ve got.

But even running at the minimum setting on a fan controller, or at the idle speed when controlled by the mobo. It’s absolutely piercing. There’s a high pitched whiz that cuts through the large box fan I use for white noise. Can be heard through headphones used for anything but music. Apparently they tweaked the blade design on that model and it significantly raised the pitch when running at normal speeds. If you run it on a physical low voltage adapter to force it to run as slow as possible, its just as unnoticeable as any other fan in the system. Despite only running slightly slower, because the pitch drops significantly.

1 Like

Are there any fans that do your ears right? I bet there are some that have higher quality bearings and the right blade design that won’t scream at you.

Plenty. The other noctuas in my system are fine, including that older one the Whistler was based on. The fractal silent fans that came with the case are nice and quiet so much so that I bought a couple more before I had the scratch for more noctuas. And they’re pretty good price wise. I havent had much luck with the cooler master quiet fans but some people love them.

And a lot of it is down to placement. You put your quietest fans where they’re least likely to have to run fast. Don’t put them on CPU cooler, or in intake spots. Don’t mount them where you can’t deaden vibration etc.

As said several times above, quiet is easy and cheap if your expectations are relatively low. I don’t game at all. I’ve been using fanless integrated mini ITX motherboards for years for my HTPC, last I looked best is Intel Celeron J4105 chip based and well under $100. I use standard drives, but could easily change to SSD if I cared enough. This system is good enough for most productivity work too.

1 Like

You probably already do this. But if anyone is curious mounting the HHDs and optical drives on rubber grommets solves most of their noise problems. When things are really quiet you can still here the clicking and whirring of the physical bits reading and writing, depending on mounting and sound insulation. But they’re remarkably quiet with just a bit of rubber.

My old school drives would likely be quieter if they weren’t mounted in quick swap drive bays. The tray can vibrate in the rack just a bit. But it’s surprising how much difference some rubber washers and fan mounts make for a couple bucks.


For my son’s build he was using a big old case a buddy had given him and the drive was LOUD! I showed him how to do a bungee suspend for the drive. I built my own case from MDF and perfed aluminum with the HD in a foam saddle. Don’t have a photo but here’s the Sketchup design. Main design flaw was forgetting about front panel USBs.


I have a Antec skeleton case. It is an open case with a 220mm fan on top. It is completely silent…
when I put on my headphones.
While I love the concept, I prefer the performance “standard” parts offer.
But hey, that’s why they call them “personal computers”

I admit I didn’t click through, but the excerpted quote, at least, has the makings of a Dr. Suess interpretation.

I ran the numbers factoring in his Pinnacle Ridge update suggestion. He had his final build at just shy of $3K AUD, roughly $2250 US. Checking current sources (mostly Amazon and QuietPC dotcom), I get just under $1900 USD. I didn’t cart anything up, so that number may climb again with taxes and shipping.

Sunon Maglev. No mechanical bearings at all, just two ring shaped magnets repelling each other. Not a cheap option, and not something you are likely to see in a gaming PC; more likely the sort of thing you will find in professional or industrial kit that never gets switched off.

1 Like

Magnetic bearings have cropped up in the PC fan space.

And for about the same price as fans using other low/no friction bearings.


Yes, I just Amazon’ed Sunon maglev and there are fans as low as $8 now. Had no idea. Haven’t spec’ed a fan in a while.

Mine’s got seven of them! (Yes, I’m crazy)

I run them at lowest speed most of the time (which is why I need so many to get good airflow), so the machine’s dead quiet. But if I want to game, I can crank them up to normal speed, and I’ve suddenly got a full spec machine again.

It originally had Noctua fans, but normal fans don’t like low speeds and slowly got louder over time. I’m hoping these ones will last longer.

Oh, and the biggest heatsink I could find:

Discontinued, alas…