Chairman of the Bored
Join Date: May 2004
Location: St. Petersburg, FL
Bikes: 2004 Raleigh Talus, 2001 Motobecane Vent Noir (Custom build for heavy riders)
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Ooops, forgot to mention noise.
Case fans will make two kinds of noise, mechanical noise (friction or vibrational), and air turbulance.
The mechanical noise can be fixed in a few ways: better motors (smooth out the peaks and dips in it's torque throughout each revolution), better bearings, and anti-vibrational mounting.
The turbulance noise can be fixed in only one way: reduce turbulence. In this case it's the rotating fan blades causing the turbulence. One answer is to use a larger, lower rotational speed fan if the case can handle it.
The ideal way to quiet down a computer is to increase heatsink efficiency, and then design the case to have a equal intake/exhaust forces on the case, to properly exchange hot air for cool air. I use a hybrid forced/convection setup in my current computer. The design is outdated by almost 2 years now (designed around an athlon XP2500/radeon x800xtpe setup, now running an A64 X2 4600/7800gt sli setup), but is still holding on fine.
The easiest way to increase heatsink efficiency is to use copper heatsinks. Copper is a far superior thermal conductor than aluminum, and will also transfer that heat into the air faster.
The next step up is to use heatpipes to a quasi-radiator (that's what I use, but aluminum based, so the weight of it doesn't rip my heatsink mounting lugs off). This is obscenely effiecient since the quasi-radiator design allows for a far greater dissipative surface, and then allows for use of a larger fan (92mm in this case), which is capable of more airflow at a lower noise level.
Final level, for those that must have the coolest operation with the lowest possible noise levels is of course watercooling....and depending on method used, you can have as little as 0 fans....but the maintenance is high. I used to run water, and it was the most silent machine I have ever built....simply amazing.
Just pick your poision.