Nobody likes a noisy PC, it can be annoying when you are trying to watch a movie, play games or even read a book when your PC is running in the background.. so the question we get asked a lot is - What parts do I use for a silent PC build?
There are many factors that can contribute to a noisy PC, the main ones being the CPU cooler, graphics card fans, mechanical hard drives, chassis and even the power supply.
There is a lot of heat being generated by the components inside and your PC needs to be cool in order to run effectively, this guide focuses on all the best choices you can make for all the components that make up your PC build. You'll find these options in the PB Tech Online System Builder if you are wanting to design a quiet PC for yourself.
Here's a very powerful Corsair RX 5500 XT/Ryzen Quiet Gaming PC build design from the PB gaming team, you can continue to customise this to create your own perfect build, swapping the Corsair 110Q chassis for the Cooler Master Silencio S600 TG for example, would give you a glorious view of the components within while still maintaining the quiet design!
There are cases in the market which are designed for silent builds. These cases generally feature padded side panels and a solid front and top panel which help dampen the noise from inside. They may also have rubber feet for elevation and stabilisation or rubber pads in set locations such as the power supply and hard drive cages for your hardware which will reduce vibration of parts. Cooler Master, Corsair, Fractal Design, Phanteks and NZXT all have solid options in this respect - but in terms of the latest, the Corsair 275Q is the current top pick from PB Tech customers looking these features at an affordable price.
An inefficient power supply can lead to more energy consumption and more heat generated which means the fan needs to work harder. The 80 plus standard has set the benchmarks of what we can expect from different power supplies. If a power supply is 80 Plus certified you can be sure that 80% of the power used from the outlet will be used as power while the other 20% may be converted into heat.
The rating system varies a bit with Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum identifiers. The efficiency wobbles a little depending on total the power draw from your system, but to make it easy let's assume we're running at 100%.
80 Plus Bronze: PSU is rated for at least 82% efficiency at 100% load.
80 Plus Silver: PSU is rated for at least 85% efficiency at 100% load.
80 Plus Gold: PSU is rated for at least 87% efficiency at 100% load.
80 Plus Platinum: PSU is rated for at least 89% efficiency at 100% load.
You’d also look for a larger fan on your power supply as larger fans can cool a lot more effectively while spinning less. Some power supplies will also have zero db fan modes which won’t operate the fan until a certain threshold is reached, some Corsair power supplies will have this feature such as the Corsair RM, AX and HX series.
Of course, that fan not spinning really only works if your PC isn't doing much heavy lifting, so the real solution for low noise under load is the bearing type, The most common types are ball bearing, sleeve bearing, and fluid dynamic bearings. The bearing type also affects performance and reliability but for the least noise, you’d want to go for the fluid dynamic bearings which is used in the Cooler Master V PSU series, this series also features a 135mm fan making it perfect for silent builds.
The main source of noise for most PCs will come from the CPU cooler. If you are still using the stock cooler that came with your CPU, you may want to consider getting a more efficient one. Air cooling is often the best way to go to keep noise levels down as AiO water cooling often leads to additional sounds coming from the pump, and also from the fans pushing air through the radiator.
For something that's effective in terms of cost, noise and cooling performance, an air cooler with a large fan is an ideal option, the CryoRig H5 XF140 is a top choice as it has a large 140mm fan resulting in a noise level of 19-23dB.
Of course, that 140mm fan could be tricky to install in a smaller tower PC chassis, so if that's the case, going with a the CryoRig C1 Low Profile 140mm CPU Cooler is another good option.
An all in one watercooler can be great for performance, especially if you're running very high-end hardware, but as mentioned above, both the fans and pump will contribute noise. If you are opting for a water cooler, going with ones that feature large fans (2x140mm is great) and adjustable speeds via software control, such as the EVGA 280 AiO Water Cooling Kit often give the best performance/noise result.
Ultra high-performance gaming graphics cards require a lot of power to run which generates a lot of heat and all of this needs to be managed. There isn’t too much you can do if you are running intense games but there are many graphics cards on the market which have zero fan action when temperatures are below a certain amount, which is featured in the majority of GTX and RTX EVGA Graphics Cards, ASUS ROG Strix, and Gigabyte AORUS models.
However, much like the 0Db PSU this becomes largely unusable if you're running the PC for anything heavier than web browsing, so going with largest cooler design on your chosen series is a better way to keep noise a low as you can (it's still likely going to be the loudest component in your PC), consider the dual fan or even triple fan graphics card options available.
For that are gaming at lower settings though, there is a range of totally fanless options such as the Asus GT1030 Fanless Graphics Card which works brilliantly in games such as League of Legends.