Silent Video

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m seeking quietness in my PC. A general rule of thumb when seeking to eliminate noise is the fact that small fans tend to be more noisy than large fans. This is because they have to spin many times faster to move the same amount of air. Hence the target of my latest crusade against noise was the tiny fan on my video card.

After hunting through several reviews, I settled on the Arctic Cooling NV Silencer 6. There are a few passive (fanless) GPU coolers around, but most of those stick out both sides of the video card and I was worried about them interfering with the giant Zalman CPU cooler that I have installed. The NV Silencer seemed like a good compromise.

The swap out was seemingly pretty easy, until I realised that a component on the video card interfered with the cooler. It’s one of those coils with wire wrapped around it. A voltage regulator or something I think. Things got pretty nasty when I realised that a) I don’t have a dremel (and I call myself a geek?!); and b) a sharp Swiss Army knife will not cut through 2mm polycarbonate. So out with the soldering iron for some super, super nasty hax0ring (cover your kids’ eyes before viewing the following pics):
(Click for larger versions)

Yet despite the nasty hacking, it was absolutely worth it. Before fitting this cooler I had figured that the largest sources of noise in the PC were the cheap PSU fan and the video card cooler. I didn’t really want to go hacking into the PSU, so I tried the video card cooler first. The difference is amazing. I even went over to switch on the XBox as a comparison, and the PC is only the tiniest bit louder. And that’s with no sound damping at all.

I really don’t think I’ll bother tinkering with the PSU fan. The next thing on the list is to isolate the hard drive a bit better, because the intermittent seek noise is pretty grating when you can’t hear anything else.

While quieter, the cooler doesn’t seem to have made a massive difference to the temperature of the video card. After an hour of gaming, the NVidia control panel was reporing a GPU temp of 52°C, which dropped to about 45° after an hour or so. Totally fine, but no different to the stock cooler. If you want to see how cold the system overall runs at the moment, here’s a shot of SpeedFan reporting temperatures after a 1hour CS:Source gaming session, and half an hour after that (the second shot has better labels on the fan and temp settings). Right now, an hour later, SpeedFan is registering 23 degrees at the CPU 😛 . I’d estimate air temperature is around 17-18 celcius. Not sure how accurate those SpeedFan temps are, but the CPU one definitely matches with what the BIOS reports.

Onwards and upwards!

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