My current system is annoying me with heat and noise. I can handle one, but both are having an additive effect on my mood. Or would be a subtractive effect?
A philosophical question for another time, I suppose.
My case sits on a wheeled support about 4" above the floor. That makes it easier for me to move it when performing service on it. The locking castors provide stability during normal use. The front of the case is about two feet in front of my face and about two feet to the right of my right foot. When I am seated, I think my ears are about 4.5 feet from the ground and maybe a little bit farther than that from the front of the case. Due to the mixer controllers on my desk, I need to sit "back" from the screen(s) a bit. Because of this, there is a sort of a line-of-sight from the case to my head. Nothing to baffle or slow down the sound waves coming from the case. I have thought about pushing the case farther under the desk, toward the wall, but with my bad back, that would just make it harder to reach the DVD tray and front-panel camera card reader slots, etc.
As mentioned above, my system also heats up the room a bit, but that is probably due to my Q6600 CPU, the 850 watt PSU and the two Nvidia 6200/GT graphic cards.
A system upgrade will probably use cooler-operating components, so I probably only have to deal with the heat issue until my next rebuild. For long-term budgeting reasons, I'm hoping to hold out on a major system upgrade until 2011 or 2012. In the meantime, I think I'm willing to upgrade the case, especially if there's a good chance that I could cut my noise levels by half, even though it will do little to mitigate the warmer room temperature at the moment.
And I think there is an excellent chance of reducing my noise levels by half (or better).
My current case is a six year old mid-tower with a snorkel hole on top (no fan; wouldn't fit with my True-whatever-850 PSU in place). It also has a big plexi-window and a fan port on the left side. That side port has an 80mm fan mounted and blowing inward, no doubt casting some sound laterally along the floor and reflecting some of it up to my ears. The front of the case also has four 80mm fans blasting inward at full-bore with a direct-from-front path for the air going into the case (and for the sound coming out of the case), a carryover setup from the former occupant, a dual Opteron system that ran even hotter than the current system. That Opty rig was hot enough to keep a New Hampshire cabin warm in February. With the front door open!
I'm almost positive that 90% of the noise comes from the case top, front, and the left-side, nearly directly toward my head. Due to the wiring configuration of my electrical and music gear, plus the monitors, keyboard, trackballs, and KVM I have, it will be difficult and not convenient to relocate the case. Therefore, I am thinking of replacing the case with a Sonata III or another quiet case alternative.
I think I can reduce my system noise an awful lot by replacing my case with a case that:
Has no plexi side panels and includes sound deadening for the side panels
Has no side hole or fan
Has no snorkel (top) hole or fan
Has one bigger and slower fan for front of case
Has one bigger and slower fan for back of case
Has no open front, or at least has sound deadening, baffling, or maybe filtered front intakes
Note: Hard drive noise is currently a non-issue because all those fans is like living next to an airport anyhow. When an MD-80 is taking off next to your house with full afterburners on, you rarely notice the next door neighbor's dog barking its fool head off.
Anyhow, I'll deal with hard drive noise if/when it becomes an issue.
I would like to take proper readings before and after. Accurate measurement will help me figure out how far I may be able to improve the situation and will confirm whether or not I'm on the right track. And depending on the results of my "after" measurements, I could decide whether or not to try liquid cooling down the road.
I have a Radio Shack sound pressure meter. I'm confident in its accuracy for this project, but I'm not really sure how to go about this. By the way, it's fascinating (and very geeky) to take the SPM into libraries, restaurants, and ballgames. But that's just to satisfy idle curiosity. For this project, I would like to measure my PC's noise levels more accurately than I might measure the noise levels in a bar. What is the proper way to measure my own sound levels? I mean, besides "point and shoot". I guess maybe I can just hold the SPM in front of my head in my seated position (or from various positions), and just take measurements that way.
I already have numerous temperature probes arranged at various places in the case (near heat sinks and such), so I should be able to accurately measure ambient in-case temps and compare the heat in the old case to the heat in the new case. I understand that a new case with fewer holes will probably run somewhat warmer. I just don't want to have an oven cooking my components.
Any thoughts? I've seen that other site, the "silent PC" one. But as somebody else said in another thread, that site seems be lacking in current updates.