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Cutting back on fans in the name of less noise?

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February 4, 2013 4:00:14 AM

Hey folks! So I'm hoping to put together my first gaming computer soon and I've been looking into cooling options. I've done plenty of research and understand the principles, but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty details of individual systems, it always seems to come down to a matter of personal choice, preference, and opinion.

So as someone who's never really built before, I was hoping to get some advice on the matter :) 

I've been advised to invest in a heat pipe CPU cooler rather than an in-box cooling solution (even though I don't plan to overclock). But my understanding is that such a cooler would be best paired with an exhaust(?) fan mounted on the side of the case behind the motherboard. Now, I'm also thinking about bottom, front, and side intakes, plus top and rear exhausts.

That's at least 7 fans. Even with a fan controller, that's gonna be a really loud computer, and I'm not too keen on that. So where do you think I could afford to cut back? I plan to use the computer for fairly high-end gaming. It will probably be a roughly $1000 build (hopefully a little less) and I'm thinking about an i5-3570 or an AMD FX-8350 and probably the Radeon HD 7870 or 7870 LE. No SLI/Crossfire. Pretty basic system, really.
February 4, 2013 9:32:57 PM

I have the Corsair 800D case which is a behemoth of a case. I have 5 intake, 3 exhaust fans, cpu cooler fan, 4 fans on my graphics cards. The noise isn't even noticable. If I'm gaming I can't hear it over the game anyway. If you are concerned with noise go with larger fans with lower rpm. All of mine are 120 and one exhaust at 140. At the moment I can't even hear my fans. Just a low level hum. The only ones that really make noise are the graphic card fans when they get kicked into high gear but if you only use one card you won't have the issue of the top card getting so much hotter than the bottom.

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February 4, 2013 11:13:37 PM
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What you could do is invest in some better fans. You could some get some Noctua fans, which don't really look all that great but have superb performance and also come with a cable extension that will restrict the power that goes to the fan and makes the fan slower, so it makes the fan use less power and go at a slower rate decreasing the noise. Also I would get one fan for the front intake, one fan for side intake, and one fan for each rear and top exhaust. SO you would have 5 fan instead of 7.
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February 5, 2013 2:54:06 AM

crewton said:
I have the Corsair 800D case which is a behemoth of a case. I have 5 intake, 3 exhaust fans, cpu cooler fan, 4 fans on my graphics cards. The noise isn't even noticable. If I'm gaming I can't hear it over the game anyway. If you are concerned with noise go with larger fans with lower rpm. All of mine are 120 and one exhaust at 140. At the moment I can't even hear my fans. Just a low level hum. The only ones that really make noise are the graphic card fans when they get kicked into high gear but if you only use one card you won't have the issue of the top card getting so much hotter than the bottom.


Thanks, crewton :)  That definitely is a beast of a case! Good to know, though, that with fans of a high enough quality and low enough RPM, I can probably do away with my noise concerns. I'm also glad to see that 140mm fans seem to be enough; plenty of cases have space for mounting 140s. To top it off, I've spent 5 years on a 2008 macbook that has always had LOUD fans (sounds like it's going to take off). I imagine that even with a fairly loud PC, I'll barely notice it in comparison to the noise of my old laptop.

What about that behind-the-motherboard exhaust? Any thoughts on that? Do you have one in your 800D? If I get a heat pipe cooler, should I set up a behind-the-motherboard exhaust?

And what about a bottom intake fan?
February 5, 2013 2:56:17 AM

Spartin503 said:
What you could do is invest in some better fans. You could some get some Noctua fans, which don't really look all that great but have superb performance and also come with a cable extension that will restrict the power that goes to the fan and makes the fan slower, so it makes the fan use less power and go at a slower rate decreasing the noise. Also I would get one fan for the front intake, one fan for side intake, and one fan for each rear and top exhaust. SO you would have 5 fan instead of 7.


Thanks for the alternative set-up, spartin :)  Sounds like you think a bottom intake and a behind-the-motherboard exhaust aren't necessary. Good to know!
February 5, 2013 9:26:12 PM

SyntaxSocialist said:
Thanks, crewton :)  That definitely is a beast of a case! Good to know, though, that with fans of a high enough quality and low enough RPM, I can probably do away with my noise concerns. I'm also glad to see that 140mm fans seem to be enough; plenty of cases have space for mounting 140s. To top it off, I've spent 5 years on a 2008 macbook that has always had LOUD fans (sounds like it's going to take off). I imagine that even with a fairly loud PC, I'll barely notice it in comparison to the noise of my old laptop.

What about that behind-the-motherboard exhaust? Any thoughts on that? Do you have one in your 800D? If I get a heat pipe cooler, should I set up a behind-the-motherboard exhaust?

And what about a bottom intake fan?



When you say behind the motherboard exhaust are you refering to the exhaust fan that is already on every case? That's pretty much where they put the exhaust fan! For my cpu cooler I have one push fan and the case's exhaust fan. Some get a push-pull fan set up on their cpu but mine doesn't get hot enough to need another fan on the heat pipe.

Bottom intake fans are really nice as that's where the coolest air will be coming from. I have mine coming up from the bottom and out the top of the case.
February 5, 2013 10:54:24 PM

If you're looking for quiet... why not just buy a quiet case instead of reducing airflow?

Here's a build that I going to be building as soon as all the parts arrive. I picked the case due to this write up by tomshardware on quiet cases. I got the windowed version, as it was slightly cheaper and looks a bit sweeter. I went with the 7870 XT (LE), myself, and feel pretty good about it. You can save a little money here if you live near a microcenter. Anyway, hope this helps you:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($205.18 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($32.90 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Samsung 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($75.00 @ Amazon)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.95 @ Adorama)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 XT 2GB Video Card ($244.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 w/Window (Titanium Grey) ATX Mid Tower Case ($107.98 @ Microcenter)
Power Supply: SeaSonic G 550W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $1120.95
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-05 19:50 EST-0500)
February 6, 2013 12:24:59 AM

Depending on what case your using have a bottom intake is almost impossible or is only going to the PSU. Also the exhaust behind the mobo is good to have but the hottest air will be at the top of the case.
February 8, 2013 11:50:34 PM

Best answer selected by SyntaxSocialist.
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