Quiet PC components: PSUs
As fans are usually built into power supplies it can be tricky to simply replace that noisy component. Thankfully exchanging your old unit for a quiet model is easier than ever now with a wide range of options available.
If your computing demands are not that intensive but your need for silence is utmost then opt for one such as the Nofan P400-A (£145). Gamers should look towards models such as the Aerocool Strike X (£60), which offers 600W of power and has a quiet 139mm fan. Those who just want a simple, affordable PSU for everyday use would appreciate the Zalman GS-500w (£40), which is a fine budget model.
Quiet PC components: Fan controllers
If your BIOS doesn't have good fan control, you can fit a fan controller. These devices allow you to monitor and adjust the speed of each connected fan and typically also let you keep an eye on the internal temperature of your machine.
The Scythe Kaze-Master (£30) fits in a optical drive bay and offers control over up to four fans, and displays temperatures and speeds on an LED display. If you don’t want to go down the hardware route then a great software solution is the free SpeedFan utility. As well as controlling fan speeds, it can also read the temperature sensors that are built into the motherboard.
Fitting a fan controller
If you like to maintain your fan speeds manually then a fan controller is a simple and effective addition to any PC. Simply attach the fans directly to the controller, bypassing the motherboard's fan headers, and you can adjust the RPM via controls on the outside of your machine.
Some controllers also have temperature probes that you can position inside your PC (on the hard drive or the outside base of the CPU cooler for example) which report the temperature in critical areas of your system. Here we've used a Scythe Kaze-Master, which can control up to four fans.
1. Connect the power cable to the four pin socket on the back of the controller marked ‘Power1’ but don’t plug it into the power supply connectors just yet. Also fit any of the included fan adaptor leads into the four sockets marked ‘Fan1', ‘Fan2’, etc. They’re a little tight so be careful not to damage any of the neighbouring capacitors.
2. Next fit the leads for the temperature sensors. They’re numbered in relation to the fans so RT1 will show its results under the front panel display for Fan1. Obviously you’ll want to place the gauges near to their relevant fans in order to monitor and control the internal temperature accurately. They can be positioned either way up and secured by using the provided yellow stickers.
3. Now slide the control panel backwards into an empty 5.25in bay and securely fit it with the provided four screws. Attach the other ends of the fan adaptor leads and power supply. Now refit the side panels to the case, turn on the power and watch for the LED display on the controller to come to life.
4. Above each dial on the panel you’ll see the RPM of the fan and the temperature that the sensor is measuring. To adjust the RPM simply turn the relevant dial and the fan will either speed up (more noise) or slow down, either of which affects the temperature. As a rule we recommend running machines below 50 degrees Celsius.