COOLING and NOISE Tut (v1.01) by VictorKaum

--- WHY & WHAT?

a) Why?
Reading the forums, many people ask about what memory or cpu or harddisk they have to buy. Rarely someone talks about noise and cooling.
IMHO both are important for home users.

You want good stability and performance? Cooling!
You do not want your box to sound like an F-16 jet? Silent cooling!

b) What?
a tut about fans & heatsinks and noise

c) Credits?
me j/k
Some parts of this tutorial are similar to my reply to Allenb1963 tut ->
Building your own system

d) Bad luck?
Irony... I'm writing a tut about cooling and noise and my pc crashes due to heat produced by a video card with passive cooling
therefor this is version 1.01, and I'm pissed cause 1.00 is lost in the crash.
Lesson: Always save your work... and never make a tut in the start new thread window but better use an external prog.

e) Legal notice: This tutorial may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information,
the terms of which must be observed and followed. Information may contain technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. I'm not responsible for any damage to your computer system generated by following this tut (or trying to). Know what you are doing when opening your box or modifying something!

f) This tutorial does not claim to be complete, feel free to reply and add your comments. thx


I'm not going to include watercooling, gazcooling or the microfreezer technology.
The reason herefor is that these are more "extreme" solutions and I have no practical knowledge in this area.
For more info about liquid cooled computer cases, hdd, cpu's, mem,... visit:

--- TUTORIAL TODAY (19 sep 2002)

Try to purchase low noise parts. You can get amazing results only by making sure you buy quality.
This will probably mean extra costs, but if you care or your ears ask to, it's worth the money.

Today's high performance boxes like P4 and AMD Athlon XP require additional and optimal cooling. This mostly also means more fans and more noise. Our aim is to reduce that noise to a minimum.However many people go to a pc-shop and buy expensive parts like MBR, HDD, CPU, MEM,... and then they come to the coolers. They take the first thing they see, "that will do the job". I doubt it.
Imaging that whole your box performance can be lowered with a bad PSU or CPU cooler!
But now we are also talking about noise. So first rule: if you can, spend your money on low noise parts without loosing performance or specs.

a) PSU

If you already have a computercase you can replace your existing fan with a silent one.
For instance for AMD cpu mbr's the Super Flower FP-400 420W it's a silent psu, or the Enermax EG365AX-VE(G) 350W
For P4 cpu mbr's you can use the same Enermax EG365AX-VE(G) 350W. This psu is very silent and very stable.
Or use the Zalman CNPS PSU
Offcourse you can choose your own wattage that suits your needs, above are only examples.

b) CPU

Some cpu's like the Pentium IV (S478) are shipped boxed with fan.
You can use this one but a good replacement is the "supersilent"
Alpha PAL8942 + PAPST N/2GML 80 mm Fan

It's silent: only 19 dBa
info fan at:
info heatsink at:

Another option is the Zalman CNPS 6500b-Cu
info at:

For AMD Athlon (Socket A) cpu's you can use the Alpha PAL8045 + PAPST N/2GML 80mm fan.
Or the Zalman CNPS CPU coolers CNPS stands for computer noise prevention system
like the Zalman CNPS-6000Cu has better performance, but make sure you attach and install the thing properly...
add some Arctic Silver to get better cooling. It's a silent fan but not cheap, and performance could have been better.
info at:
Or use the ThermalTake Volcano 9 coolmod if you want to impress your friends.

more general cpu cooling info at:

c) NorthBridge Cooling

This cooling can be done passive. This means no fan -> no noise. You need to purchase a good heatsink.
For instance the Zalman NB32
Zalman NB32-J chipset heatsink for people that like the yellow finish.

d) RAM (MEMORY) coolers

Want to overclock? use those:
RAM active coolers These things have a fan --> adds noise (about 23dba)
An alternative is passive RAM cooling. Passive cooling means no fan -> no noise!
For instance a DDR copper heatspreader
Or the ThermalTake DDR SDRAM passive cooler

e) VGA DDR MEM coolers and VGA chipset coolers

Add passive coolers to your videocard memory. Like the ThermalTake DDR SDRAM cooler
You can replace your vga chipset active cooler/fan with a passive Zalman heatsink. Zalman CNPSVGA

f) Case noises

Due to vibrations and resonance, a lot if noise is reproduced or amplified by your case.
To lower hdd, cd-rom, cd-rw and fan noise you can cover the inside of your case with special noise reductions mats
Dynamat Computer Noise Reduction Kit is such a thing.
Pax Mate does the same. they reduce the mid and high frequency noises.
info at:
info at:

Another option to comfort enventual neighboors, parents,... at a lower floor:
use an acoustic energy conversion pad undr your box to ensure vibrations are not passed to the floor

g) Thermal compounds and Shims

About thermal paste/grease, today some processors (like Intel P4 S478) ship in boxes with a cooler and thermal grease already been spread.
It's better not to use extra thermal grease if the processor already has some kind of thermal grease...
sounds obvious... otherwise use it. It's important that the heatsink makes proper contact with the cpu surface to garantee optimal cooling.
You can also purchase a copper, aluminium or silver shim to protect the fragile core while using heavy duty heatsink.
(protect your investment, for instance with a Silver Shim anodized or a ALU Shim)
Good (expensive?) thermal compounds are silver or ceramic based to assure optimal thermal conductivity.
note: do not use the Arctic Silver 3 on older slot type Xeon processors they require a thermal pad. (see for more info)
note: there are fake tubes sold for Artic, make sure you don't purchase some fake stuff.
info about thermal compounds:

h) HDD cooling

To ensure high performance you can cool your disks. For instance with a ThermalTake HardCano 5, offcourse this will add extra noise (about 23dba)
info about ThermalTake HDD coolers at:
Most of the HDD coolers will produce (a lot of) noise. Make sure to check noise specs if you need one.

the HDD itself -> many manufacturers sell low noise versions. Buy those. it's kind a strange if your are used to your hdd noises whenr eading or writing adn suddenly you do not hear your new disk. But it's heaven for ears and concentration. I know I do not hear my Maxtors running. I have silent Seagate drives too. And Seagate has recently released new noise reduction technology in their new high capacity high speed drives.

i) Rounded Cables

Rounded cables are not only nice looking, but they also increase performance cause they garantee better airflow in your case.
Next, they will reduce noise cause they lower the need for high speed fans. The fans can run at lower rpm reducing noise
Some ppl say you can hear flat cables making high frequencie noises, rounded cables don't have this noise.

j) And last but not least additional case fans

Depending on your case and computer specs you will need to add fans.
Some modern cases come either with 1 or 2 additional fans or most have place to install them.
To ensure good airflow you will need to create a proper intake and outtake making the cold air cooling the hot components
Most Pentium I cases and older were build to generate a downside -> upside airflow from the front to the PSU located at the back.
While back in those days that usualy was enough to ensure appropriate cooling, modern cpu's, videocards and other parts need additional cooling.
This can be done by adding a fan right on top of your cpu location. You will need to cut a hole in your case and install a fan in it. This can either be a 60, 80 or 120mm silent! fan.
If you do not want to do that with your case, you can easily install an additional fan in most ATX desktop and tower models at the front and the back. Make sure that you place the fans in the right direction!
A bad placed fan will add noise and will not decrease temperature and lower performance. You should place one or more intake fans on front and one or more outtake fans at the back.
Eventual add an extra intake fan at the back to cool memory and cpu.
Our aim is to reduce computer noise, therefor we will replace loud fans with silent ones.
For example with PAPST fans. PAPST is known for their reliable and low noise fans.
info at:

note: Do not add extra fans for nothing (like 10 fans to look cool)! This will only increase noise.
If your box is cool (temperature) enough, no extra extra fans are needed if you do not want to overclock.

--- Notes

general note: it's always better to have rpm controlled or monitored fans. This way you or your system can choose the optimal noise/rpm level.

tip: Reduce the rpm speed of fans used in always on low performance boxes, like home linux based router and gateway boxes. Mostly they do not need high rpm speed cooling cause their cpu usage is rarely heavy. Offcourse never compromise on stability.


Technology changes rapidly, therefor this tutorial can be outdated tomorrow. Use it as a general guideline on components and computer noise. I hope it helps you to get a quiter environnement. The sound of silence.


edit: added some HDD info.