This article is all about tips to make your computer quieter. Sometimes, depending on how severe the noise is, it makes it difficult to concentrate being seated near a noisy computer.
In more serious cases, it can also cause you to turn the speakers louder to drown out the competing noise from your computer.
I’ve seen something as simple as one noisy fan causing a noise that sounds like a dentist’s drill.
Here are some tips to make your computer quieter
These are the most common problems that I’ve come across in my computer career.
Simply check these things and I’m certain you make your computer quieter.
1. Unplug one fan at a time and compare the noise levels
Important Note: Do not unplug your CPU or graphics card fan for this test.
In order to figure out which fan in your computer is generating the most noise, comparing the noise when it’s off vs when it’s running is a useful test.
It will help you start isolating the worst fans. This way, you will know which ones to replace or apply a fix to.
2. How to fix some fan noise issues
There are many ways fans cause noise. Here are some things to check and apply to get your fans to run more quietly.
Sometimes it’s not just the case to simply replace a fan. Noise can be generated from a fan from several various factors.
What to know about fans when replacing or diagnosing fan noise
The most ideal situation is to install fans that are large. This way, a fan can spin slowly while producing enough air volume movement for adequate cooling or extraction.
A small fan can be annoying. The smaller you go, the higher the pitch of whine you will get from it.
If this is the situation you are in, consider upgrading to a larger fan size. If this option isn’t possible, slow the fan down until the noise level is acceptable.
When purchasing a new fan, opt for ball bearing fans at the very least. There are more sophisticated bearing technologies, but they won’t be necessary.
A plain sleeve bearing is the cheapest bearing option in a fan and wears out quickly.
Before you know it, the sleeve bearing fan will be using more power and will become noisy. It quite often becomes noisy when first powering it up, and when the bearing heats up and expands, the noise becomes less.
A ball-bearing fan lasts much longer. It will remain quiet for a long while, cutting down the need for regular replacement.
How to slow down a fan’s speed (RPM’s)
If the fan has four wires and is plugged directly into a motherboard’s 4 pin fan header, you can often adjust the fan speed in your BIOS.
Most motherboards have this functionality and can save lots of time tweaking a fan.
If the motherboard’s BIOS doesn’t offer a good enough adjustment for you, go and download a free program called SpeedFan.
It does take a bit of learning, but it will offer you excellent control over your fan speeds.
How to use SpeedFan:
Observe the airflow
Make sure that the holes that the air is moving through from the fan’s efforts are large enough.
If the airflow is restricted, you may find it challenging to reduce fan noise.
To gain an insight into how this affects the fan, take a fan that is spinning and put your hand in front and then behind it to restrict the airflow.
Yous should notice, at the very least on one of the sides you restricted, the fan speed increase and become noisier.
Make sure your filter material is correct and allows air to flow through easily.
You don’t need a thick filter material. It will only hold more dust.
Filters are absolutely vital to keeping the inside of your computer clean.
Make sure you keep up filter maintenance to avoid clogged up filters causing extra fan noise.
There are some computer cases that go the extra mile to produce rubber fan mountings.
I have never felt this to be necessary when you have a fan that is large enough and spinning at a low speed.
Just make sure the fan is screwed in with all its screws and none are loose.
Also, make sure the surface that the fan is screwed up against is 100% flat.
The moment you screw a fan onto an uneven surface, the fan will start colliding its blades into its own housing.
This happens from the fan housing being twisted and closing the small gap between the fan blades and the inside of the housing.
2. Start your computer up with no drives plugged in
Computer drives like a hard drive can generate a fair bit of noise.
With your computer fully powered off, disconnect all the leads connected to all your drives.
Make sure you know which cable belongs to which drive. Getting it wrong can change your drive priorities and cause your computer not to boot up.
After you start your computer up, observe the noise levels. If your computer sounds much quieter, it’s time for a new drive.
A mechanical hard drive has platters that spin at high revolutions per minute. Sometimes the bearings for the spindle wear and cause noise.
At this point, I highly suggest that you back up all your data and replace the drive as soon as possible.
When a hard drive becomes noisy, it’s a strong indicator that the drive has exceeded its lifespan.
It is a blessing when your case has drive mountings that are rubberized. It will help a lot with head movement noise.
3. Check the CPU fan
Most of the time, if a CPU fan is noisy, it needs replacement. It’s very seldom a CPU fan goes noisy from a design standpoint.
While I have seen a few instances of CPU fans designed with improper mounting or have an undersized fan size, it’s the least likely scenario.
If you have the standard CPU fan that came with your processor, I highly recommend upgrading it to an aftermarket CPU cooler.
It will be better quality and designed in such a way to keep your CPU cooler, compared to the stock fan.
If possible, choose a vertically mounted cooling solution that can blow in the direction of the exhaust fan in your case.
To check if a large amount of noise is being generated from your CPU fan, take a rear of a pen or any plastic object that is relatively tough and slowly approach the center of the fan with it.
Hold it up against the center area of the fan blade until the fan stops. If the noise goes away, you will have to replace it.
If you only have access to the blade area of the fan, be very careful not to damage the blades with a sharp object.
Do not hold the fan too long. A few seconds to compare the noise will be plenty enough time.
Make sure the fan is secure. Some CPU fans have mounting screws or clips. If they aren’t secure, you could be experiencing some vibration noises from it.
4. Check the graphics card fan
The same test can be conducted to figure out if your graphics card fans are noisy.
Hold a piece of strong plastic up against the graphics card fan(s) to stop them and take note of the noise levels.
Again, don’t hold the fan(s) in the stopped position for too long as you risk permanent damage if something overheats.
If the noise is greatly reduced, observe the type of noise generated from the graphics card fans.
If it sounds like an abnormal noise like a worn fan, you will need to look at some alternate graphics card cooling kits.
If the fan sounds like it’s simply running too fast, install MSI Afterburner and set a fan speed curve to your liking.
This way, the fan speed will adjust to an appropriate speed based on the temperature of it.
5. Check the PSU (Power Supply Unit) fan
You can close off the fan area of your power supply using a piece of cardboard. If you hear a distinct difference in noise, you will need to replace the power supply.
I do not recommend replacing the PSU fan unless you are qualified to work inside a power supply.
There are capacitors inside a power supply that hole a serious amount of electrical charge for a long time. So it’s best to avoid opening the power supply up altogether.
Having a good power supply in a computer is one of the most important components.
Make sure the power supply has all screws screwed tight to the case.
6. Stop the computer case from vibrating
- Secure the fans: Check all the fans that they are secured. Make sure that any wiring is clear from fans. It is easy to overlook it, so check it carefully.
- Secure the fan filters: Check the fan filters and finger guards, if any, to make sure they are secured.
- Secure the drives: Check all your drives are properly mounted and secure. With mechanical drives, you stand the risk of extra vibrations causing noise.
- Secure the motherboard: Check all mounting points on the motherboard to make sure that there is proper grounding on it and that no rattling or vibrating noises can occur.
- Secure structural case parts: Check everywhere inside the computer case. Anywhere where there are brackets, rivets, or screws especially.
- Check the rest: Make sure everything else is secure and nothing inside your case can vibrate from being loose.
- Secure the cards: Make sure all cards are secure. There is usually a screw holding each card in place. Check that the screw is holding the cards secure.
- Secure card brackets: If you have a bracket system holding your cards in place, see if it’s at all possible to add screws to secure them instead.
- Secure motherboard assemblies: Check all the shrouds and heatsinks on the motherboard to make sure they are secured. It is easy for them to vibrate and create noise.
- Secure front case section: Check the plastic areas around the case that they aren’t loose. There is usually a plastic section that secures to the front of the case that houses all the USB sockets, power switch, etc.
- Secure rear case section: The same is true for the back of a lot of cases. Sometimes internal clips break or become unclipped and vibrating noise occurs.
- Secure side panels: make sure the side panels are screwed or secured properly. If the is an acrylic window in either of the panels, make sure the mounting clips are secure. Sometimes metal fold-over clamps need to be resecured.
For some of the situations where you cannot see a way to remedy a loose panel or component, try some hot glue.
It’s a good way to secure things that you cannot fix using proper methods.
Just be very careful when using hot glue near fans. It is extremely easy to get some near the fan blades causing them not to spin anymore.
There you have my top tips for making your computer quiet. I hope this has helped and that you can get your computer close to whisper quite using these tricks.
Marlo is a full-time professional computer programmer, electronics engineer and computer technician. Computers are his passion and he loves to help anyone wanting to know more about them.