Can you recommend a quiet PC?
November 19, 2007 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any recommendations for a quiet PC?

I've searched, and there are a few previous questions on this, but nothing recent.

I'm looking for something that meets the following requirements..

- off the shelf
- available in the UK
- can handle a decent number of pci cards and internal hard disks (ie - a mac mini won't be suitable)
- a little fan noise as possible (i don't mind some hard disk noise)
- below £1,000, not including monitor

It's going to live in my (small) living room, and will be on pretty much 24/7.

All tips warmly recieved!
posted by ascullion to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I only personally know two solutions for a dead-silent machine:

1) Buy a Mac, or;
2) Build it yourself.

I built a PC a few months ago that's amazingly quiet. It's very large, but not even the noisy Raptor hard drive is audible.

If you change your mind about DIY, I'll be happy to tell you what parts I used.
posted by Malor at 7:45 AM on November 19, 2007

argh... the Raptor is inaudible.

*looks around for coffee*
posted by Malor at 7:45 AM on November 19, 2007

stock dell desktops are pretty quiet these days. even when the office is empty i can not hear the one sitting next to me.
posted by phil at 7:53 AM on November 19, 2007

One of the machines I use at work is a Compaq Presario 6000, and it makes virtually no noise whatsoever. Every time I sit at the desk to use it I think it's off. Right before I typed this I put my ear up against it and there's a very faint hum coming from the fan and that's all I can hear.
posted by iconomy at 7:54 AM on November 19, 2007

i am speaking specifically of a dimension 9200. even when i put my ear next to it, while finding the model number, i could barely hear a thing.
posted by phil at 7:56 AM on November 19, 2007

Nthing the Dell suggestion. We have Optiplex 745 at our company, which are nearly inaudible. Current consumer models aren't much worse. Just make sure to buy one with Core Duo processor and a simple (passively cooled) graphics card.
posted by Nightwind at 7:58 AM on November 19, 2007

The fine folks at have tons of information about every single computer component from a noise perspective, for the DIY'ers. Since you requested an off-the-shelf system though, SPCR has customed designed a couple of complete systems filled with silent-to-very-quiet components:

Extreme Quiet SPCR Core 2 PC
SPCR Media Center Silent PC
Full Article: SPCR Designed Computer Systems

Happy silent computing! My self-assembled computer (with passively cooled CPU heatsink and video card) is next to my chair running in silent mode right now, and I can't hear the fans within its Antec Sonata case over the morning background noise unless I put my ear right up close to the blowhole. At sitting distance, I can just barely hear its faint whir in the dead of night.
posted by DaShiv at 8:13 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite] is a great resource for building your own or silencing a pre-built computer.

My dad recently bought a Dell XPS 420 that is more silent than my DIY built-to-be-silent computer (kind of embarrassing really).
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 8:14 AM on November 19, 2007

hmm this probably won't be much help to you but... i tried fooling around with getting a PC to be silent for my livingroom but it's not very easy. after case mods, fan changes etc i decided it was getting too expensive and time consuming to experiment. i finally opted for a completely fanless solution from the only thing which makes noise is the hard drive (but you can get very quiet ones these days) and i'm really happy with it (it's not cheap).
posted by canned polar bear at 8:21 AM on November 19, 2007

I built my own, I don't know if you are game for that.

Also, I don't know if these items are readily available in the UK.

Case: Antec P180 ~US$150 - designed for silence throughout
CPU Cooler: Scythe Ninja CPU Cooler ~US$50 - passive heat sink for CPU, completely silent
Video Card: Gigabyte Silentpipe 7950GT - varied prices - the Silentpipe lines are all passively cooled, silent video cards that offer high end performance

I second the Silent PC websites above, they are good reading. They can take things to extremes though. IMHO< if you get a quiet case, CPU cooler, and video card, you have 95% of the problem solved.
posted by Argyle at 8:35 AM on November 19, 2007

My iMac is incredibly quiet.
posted by chunking express at 8:44 AM on November 19, 2007

I asked about this topic a while back, thinking that water-cooling was the best way to go. Turns out that's not really necessary anymore. I just made sure I got quiet components and my new machine is inaudible when I'm sitting at my desk (it's on the floor about a foot away).

I've got the case and CPU cooler Argyle mentioned above. The only thing to consider is some power supplies can be loud too, so just check the decibel rating before buying. The big thing I discovered is to always and exclusively get 120mm fans. I had 80mm fans in my old machine and they just *screamed*.
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:15 AM on November 19, 2007

If you want to go the cheap(er) way, most systems can be silenced quite effectively with some sound-absorbing material mounted on the inside panels, and with rubber grommets mounted between components with moving parts (hard drives, fans). Also try to find fans with magnetic bushings, or go with passive cooling if possible (build a low-heat system, basically).

Many systems that are just above the audibility meter ("slightly-too-loud") can be brought below the threshold this way.
posted by kureshii at 9:22 AM on November 19, 2007

I've got a Dell Optiplex 745 and it's near silent (I can only hear the hard drive when it's accessing data). I got it cheap from here cos it was a refurb / cancelled order but still has three years warranty.
posted by JonB at 11:30 AM on November 19, 2007

Oops - that link didn't work. I meant here.
posted by JonB at 11:55 AM on November 19, 2007 is a goldmine of info and opportunity if you so desire.
posted by DrtyBlvd at 12:56 AM on November 20, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers everyone, I'll investigate and let you know what I choose.
posted by ascullion at 1:30 AM on November 20, 2007

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