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Completely silent PC

Posted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:00 pm
by mozart
Have been chatting to a friend about building or buying a really quiet but powerful PC. The obvious came up - how do apple make their 18 core mac pros so quiet and why haven't specialist Audio PC manufacturers used a similar design?

Is it that the mac pros don't overclock? Perhaps the superior case design that, whilst quiet, means you can't do any upgrades and PC users want to be able to upgrade?

And what about the imac pros? They're even smaller than the trashcans. How ???? :headbang:

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:19 pm
by NathanBros
Think the two sources of noise in a PC are fans and HDDs, a silent PC should use a liquid cooling system and SDDs as main storage. There are silent fans solutions out there but dunno how quiet they are.

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:16 am
by Vital Few
Hi again Mozart

That is due to a patented fan design.

More info here. https://www.cultofmac.com/267222/how-th ... so-silent/

And then they have pretty large heatsinks on their CPU's and RAM.

But again, it's all about what kind of fan you are using. My workstation is a Dell T3500 with an X5687 processor. The processor is passively cooled by two fans on the chassis. And they are dead silent.

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 3:06 pm
by Rommelaar
NathanBros wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:19 pm
Think the two sources of noise in a PC are fans and HDDs, a silent PC should use a liquid cooling system and SDDs as main storage. There are silent fans solutions out there but dunno how quiet they are.
Cooling pumps make noise due to their small diameter impeller and speed. I would suggest a big air cooled CPU cooler with a big fan at low speed (= lots of air at low noise level), for a graphics card, either completely passively cooled or one which only uses it fans when needed (which is hardly the case with DAW applications).

A good computer noise isolated computer case helps as well, eg. Fractal Design R6, http://www.fractal-design.com/home/prod ... e-r6-black

Example of a good air cooled cpu-cooler https://noctua.at/en/products/cpu-cooler-retail/nh-d15

I have a fully air cooled setup running at 15°C over ambient temperatures, with GPU and case fans running only when needed.

Good luck with building / buying your system.

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:06 pm
by mozart
Vital Few wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:16 am
Hi again Mozart

That is due to a patented fan design.

More info here. https://www.cultofmac.com/267222/how-th ... so-silent/

And then they have pretty large heatsinks on their CPU's and RAM.

But again, it's all about what kind of fan you are using. My workstation is a Dell T3500 with an X5687 processor. The processor is passively cooled by two fans on the chassis. And they are dead silent.

Hi again :lol: That's interesting. Thanks. Clever design!

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 1:34 pm
by Nickeldome
I use the following and you can hardly notice it's there. The very first time I switched it on I thought it wouldn't start because I couldn't hear anything and had to check the processor fan rotating to see it was actually starting up? :)

Corsair HX850 (semi passive cooling)
Scythe Mugen 5 PCGH Edition (2 large 120mm fans)
MSI GeForce GTX 1060 (semi passive cooling)
Fully SSD drives. (Only external conventional sata drives to backup and archive audio)

I've considered water cooling but that's only interesting if you want to overclock to the limit and that also needs fans to cool? And these can be even more noisy than a good air cooler?

I run my i9 7900 processor at 4.3 MHZ (stock speed is 3.3 MHZ) and just hear it a little when it's very hot. Like close to 30c or above. besides that it's almost dead silent.

Hope this helps?

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2019 10:25 pm
by Patepro
Hi,
i ve been building pcs for many years. The most important thing for me is noise !
My way is the following:
overclock your cpu for about max 20-30 percent
my cpu is 8700k oc to 4700 all cores
then undervolt the cpu so long as you got a stable prime95
i use the noctua nd-d15 for many years (before nh 14d)
use the y-cable to get 7v or use your own cooler control
fan should be max 900 rotation
my pc is almost quiet - 32db - independent on load
temps are max 65 on load

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:36 pm
by mozart
Patepro wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 10:25 pm
Hi,
i ve been building pcs for many years. The most important thing for me is noise !
My way is the following:
overclock your cpu for about max 20-30 percent
my cpu is 8700k oc to 4700 all cores
then undervolt the cpu so long as you got a stable prime95
i use the noctua nd-d15 for many years (before nh 14d)
use the y-cable to get 7v or use your own cooler control
fan should be max 900 rotation
my pc is almost quiet - 32db - independent on load
temps are max 65 on load

Thanks Pate pro for the temps and SPL data. Unfortunately my SPL meter doesn't go down low enough for me to measure the PC noise.

I've got an i7 3930k overclocked to 4.2 all cores, with a thermalright archon SB-E X2 cooler with two Ty141 fans. It's housed in a define r2 xl with three stock case fans. At the moment the case fans are running with the fan switch at 7volts

With a cubase project running at 75% asio, I get average core temps of 55-60c and the room temperature is currently about 20-21c

It was built by Scan back in 2013 and has been pretty much rock solid..... The back case fan is starting to have bearing noise but the front two are still quiet.

I am about to replace the last remaining spinning disk in there with an SSD.

All this being said, I had heard that even an 18 core mac pro runs without it's fans going and thus completely quiet for a majority of it's time (dunno about under load though) and was wondering how they achieved that. Vital few provided some clue above and also, Pete Kaine of scan provided some answers on another forum.

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:36 pm
by mozart
Thanks to all for answers. Very interesting reading!

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:24 am
by Mauri
My setup is very quiet, obviously not 100% silent but barely audible. I've set the Q fan control to 'Silent' in the BIOS.
See my specs below.

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:15 am
by marQs
My computer is in a Fractal Define R6 case, M.2 drive as system, a big heat sink for CPU, two conventional HDDs in Silentmaxx HDD Silencer cases. The ladder don't really fit into the case, build a DIY solution to iso-mount them. Super quiet system, barely audible. As my graphic needs are modest, I've chosen a passive graphics card but there are many fan-cooled ones out there that are very quiet with standard load. The already very quiet external HDD I've connected for backups is the loudest part of it :-)

i7-7820 x on an Asus Prime X299-A, running @ 4,5 GHz permanently.

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:46 am
by mozart
Mauri wrote:
Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:24 am
My setup is very quiet, obviously not 100% silent but barely audible. I've set the Q fan control to 'Silent' in the BIOS.
See my specs below.
Thanks. Can I ask how many monitors you can run with your card? I've been looking for a quiet / passive card that can run three monitors....

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:47 am
by mozart
marQs wrote:
Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:15 am
My computer is in a Fractal Define R6 case, M.2 drive as system, a big heat sink for CPU, two conventional HDDs in Silentmaxx HDD Silencer cases. The ladder don't really fit into the case, build a DIY solution to iso-mount them. Super quiet system, barely audible. As my graphic needs are modest, I've chosen a passive graphics card but there are many fan-cooled ones out there that are very quiet with standard load. The already very quiet external HDD I've connected for backups is the loudest part of it :-)

i7-7820 x on an Asus Prime X299-A, running @ 4,5 GHz permanently.
Sounds like a great system!

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:21 pm
by marQs
mozart wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:47 am
...Sounds like a great system!
It is. Has no heat problems at all though I disconnected the rear fan of the case, that just came to my mind... it wasn't loud but I did want it to be silent.

It has no heat (and therefore fan noise) problems probably because the CPU is idling on 30% when my ASIO load of a project is near red :lol:
Don't want the possible noise but I'd be happy if a future Cubase could somehow improve that ratio!

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:02 pm
by mitchiemasha
That annoying moment when you finish your silent new build and hear a hum... The joy when you realise it's that quiet you've notice a hum from a synths PSU never noticed before. The "Wait, What! that's not coming from the PC, where's that coming from?" A quick swap of the brick and we're all good. At first i thought it was the speaker monitors. It really is that quiet.

My new build has 4 fans in it. 1 in the BeQuiet PSU, 2 tower and 1 CPU... Noctua. I run dual monitors off the i7's integrated graphics, no need for the extra card, we're not gaming. It's silent, I can't hear them spin, you will at full load but I'm yet to have a project to get anywhere near that.

The 2 in the tower are tiny, purely because of the flat bed design, these draw heat away from the VRM sink, above the I/O panel, a very important twist in design, the flat bed has the I/O recessed and the fans sit perfectly to match the motherboards extra heat sink.

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 5:14 am
by Mauri
mozart wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:46 am
Can I ask how many monitors you can run with your card? I've been looking for a quiet / passive card that can run three monitors....
I run two Benq GL2450 monitors, 'haven't tried running three.
Cheers.

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:24 am
by marQs
Got a passive cooled 2GB ZOTAC GeForce GT 730 Passiv PCIe 2.0, that runs 3 monitors on 3 different outputs (HDMI, VGA, DVI). Two monitors are 28" standard Samsung, the third is another Samsung 28" 4k.

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:29 am
by mozart
mitchiemasha wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 5:02 pm
That annoying moment when you finish your silent new build and hear a hum... The joy when you realise it's that quiet you've notice a hum from a synths PSU never noticed before. The "Wait, What! that's not coming from the PC, where's that coming from?" A quick swap of the brick and we're all good. At first i thought it was the speaker monitors. It really is that quiet.

My new build has 4 fans in it. 1 in the BeQuiet PSU, 2 tower and 1 CPU... Noctua. I run dual monitors off the i7's integrated graphics, no need for the extra card, we're not gaming. It's silent, I can't hear them spin, you will at full load but I'm yet to have a project to get anywhere near that.

The 2 in the tower are tiny, purely because of the flat bed design, these draw heat away from the VRM sink, above the I/O panel, a very important twist in design, the flat bed has the I/O recessed and the fans sit perfectly to match the motherboards extra heat sink.
I've just noticed that you've got a Carillon Case. I'd forgotten all about them. I remember them when they were tied to Turnkey in London but once that went under I thought Carillon went with them. Nice to be reminded. A company for the list!

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:33 am
by mozart
marQs wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:24 am
Got a passive cooled 2GB ZOTAC GeForce GT 730 Passiv PCIe 2.0, that runs 3 monitors on 3 different outputs (HDMI, VGA, DVI). Two monitors are 28" standard Samsung, the third is another Samsung 28" 4k.
Thanks that looks like a good card. What sort of resolution are you running those monitors at?

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:33 am
by mozart
Mauri wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 5:14 am
mozart wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:46 am
Can I ask how many monitors you can run with your card? I've been looking for a quiet / passive card that can run three monitors....
I run two Benq GL2450 monitors, 'haven't tried running three.
Cheers.
Thanks :-)

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:34 am
by mozart
marQs wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 1:21 pm
mozart wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:47 am
...Sounds like a great system!
It is. Has no heat problems at all though I disconnected the rear fan of the case, that just came to my mind... it wasn't loud but I did want it to be silent.

It has no heat (and therefore fan noise) problems probably because the CPU is idling on 30% when my ASIO load of a project is near red :lol:
Don't want the possible noise but I'd be happy if a future Cubase could somehow improve that ratio!
Yes indeed!

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:11 am
by marQs
mozart wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:33 am
Thanks that looks like a good card. What sort of resolution are you running those monitors at?
2 x 1920 x 1080, 1 x 4k (for exact resolution I have to look when home, but it’s just the highest possible for the monitor, just standard 4K). Wondered if the card would do it but it was plug and play.

However, the thing I haven’t found a solution for yet is different mouse speed/feel on screens with different solutions. A minor issue in the way I use those 3 displays.

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:55 am
by mozart
marQs wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:11 am

However, the thing I haven’t found a solution for yet is different mouse speed/feel on screens with different solutions. A minor issue in the way I use those 3 displays.
That's interesting. I hadn't thought about that. I'm planning on adding a third monitor which will be a different res to the other two. Something to watch out for. Thanks

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Fri May 24, 2019 5:45 am
by Patanjali
In engineering terms:
a. The less work components have to do, the less heat they will use.
b. The less components move, the less noise they are likely to make, and the less wear on bearings.

With any semiconductor-based components, transitions of state use the most heat, because they are transitioning through their analog phase, so the higher the number of transitions per unit time, the more heat they produce, requiring more cooling.

So, to put it into practical terms:
a. Over-spec the system, rather than push it to its limits, as all components will be less stressed, with less transitions compared to their heat dissipation ability.
b. Use larger, slower rotating fans, as they will generally be quieter. Around 120-140mm, 400-500 rpm or less. They will also collect less dust per area on their blades, so will be carrying less weight, leading to less stress.

Unfortunately, higher audio processing capability is at the expense of noise.

The balance is always between:
a. Performance, including minimum noise.
b. Cost.
c. Wear.

There is a sweet point, but it will always have compromises. If audio recording amateurs were as fastidious about their machine's performance as gamers are, and willing to pay up as much, a lot of equipment discussions here would be moot. Quiet, high-performance audio costs a lot of money compared to normal computing, so get with the program and cough up!

Re: Completely silent PC

Posted: Sun May 26, 2019 5:03 pm
by Carlo
Maybe a bit OT, but do you have the possibility to put your computer in another room? I did it a few years ago and never ever would go back. You spend a few bucks on cables, but IMHO worth every penny!