9 Tips to Make Your PC Dead Silent

For those building PC’s for a home recording studio, or those who just want to reduce the noise of their PC in general, these are tips on how to quiet your PC.  This guide is both for builders and those with pre-built PC’s.  As far as measuring noise goes, generally, silent PC’s are <20 db and quiet PC’s are under <30 db.

I will order these tips starting with the tips which will have the greatest impact.

be quiet! Pure Rock Slim
be quiet! Pure Rock Slim

1) Replace your stock CPU Cooler.

Stock coolers (for Intel and AMD) are audible at low loads and loud at high loads.  A third-party aftermarket CPU cooler can reduce noise and allow for higher overclocks.

Be Quiet Pure Rock Slim, Be Quiet Shadow Rock LP and Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo cost ~$30 and have great reviews.  



2) Install quiet case fans.

Be Quiet! Pure Wings 2
Be Quiet! Pure Wings 2

For case fans, we want more airflow with less spinning.  Stock fans which come with PC cases are fine for airflow but can be noisy.  Replacing them with better fans makes a big difference.
Generally, 140 mm (large) fans are better than 120 mm (medium) fans because they carry larger swaths of air, but it all depends on what sizes your PC case will allow.  You only need 2-3 case fans at most.  My favorite choice is Be Quiet! Pure Wings 2 (140 mm).  At only $11 each, it’s a cheap upgrade.  They look premium, they are inaudible unless your ear is literally next to them and they have great airflow.

3) Control your fans via software

Your motherboard may have downloadable software which can be used to control the speed of your fans.  You can set them to 30% speed or less to quiet them down, unless maybe you’re overclocking intensely.  You may need to update your BIOS before this option is available, and you want to make sure your motherboard has enough controllable fan inputs (some inputs only allow for non-controllable fans).  You may need a fan splitter to fix this issue by allowing two fans to run on one input. Also, the company which manufactured your graphics card may have a software which allows for a silent mode (god bless Asus).

4) A quiet power supply matters.

Power supplies have fans and can contribute to the noise of a build.  There are fanless power supplies but they are expensive (often >$110).  If you’re okay with a very quiet instead of dead-silent power supply, you can find one with quiet fans for somewhat cheaper.  This is one of the more expensive upgrades on the list, so I don’t blame you if you’re averse to this. 

One suggestion is to pick a power supply with double the wattage capacity than your parts consume (a 600w power supply is only slightly more expensive than a 500w).  Power supplies, generally, run their fans when their capacity reaches a certain load.  By having a higher capacity, it won’t run its fan as much.

Samsung Solid State Drive
Samsung Solid State Drive

5) Switch to a Solid State Drive.

Apart from offering faster speeds, SSD’s also make no noise due to lack of moving parts, whereas Hard Drives do add to the overall noise of a build.  

6) Reduce the noise of your Hard Drives.

Until 1 TB SSD’s become cheap, HDD’s will be a reality for most of us.  Using one larger capacity HDD instead of several smaller capacity HDD’s can limit the noise.  A 5400 RPM (rate per minute, of spinning) HDD is less noisy than a 7200 RPM HDD, although the file transfer speed will be slower.  Western Digital Caviar Green HDD’s are known as some of the most quiet HDD’s, for those who want to buy a quiet one.  An external USB HDD is also an option.  Apart from having a portable hard drive that’s easy to plug in, you can also silence it at will by taking it out.

7) Improve air flow.

Clear the dust out of your machine.  Perhaps add a dust filter somewhere.  If your PC has an intake vent at the bottom, don’t place it directly above carpet.  If you can add feet to the bottom of your PC case, it can intake more air from the bottom.

8) Generate less heat.

This is kind of obvious, but PC’s fundamentally get loud because a lot of heat is generated.  Don’t overclock your processor too much.  Be sure to buy a processor and video card which are energy efficient.  For quietness, I wouldn’t recommend buying a processor which requires more than 100 watts nor a video card which requires more than 150 watts.  

RX 550 is the most energy efficient video card.  GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti are very energy efficient.  The high range of GPU’s (>$400) tend to get less energy efficient for what they offer.

Fractal Design Case
Fractal Design Case

9) A quiet case can reduce noise.

You need a case with a good balance of opening but not too many openings.  Having a case with too many openings is not good because you still need some solid surface to block noise.  Moreover, there needs to be some enclosure to trap air so that it can be moved by the fans in a specific direction.

The reason why I put this later on the list is because a case can only do so much for silence.  Some cases such as the Fractal Design Define series of cases have sound-dampening material.  While this is certainly a benefit, the noise of your PC will ultimately be determined by the loudness of your parts.