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How loud is your primary computer?

Displaying poll results.
It's silent
  5945 votes / 17%
It's only audible under load
  9145 votes / 26%
It's a constant, minimal buzz
  5849 votes / 17%
It's mostly quiet, occasionally noisier
  4484 votes / 13%
It's not quiet, but not loud enough to annoy
  3488 votes / 10%
It's louder than I prefer
  3255 votes / 9%
It's far too loud
  850 votes / 2%
It's a 4.3 on the Richter scale
  1220 votes / 3%
34236 total votes.
[ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]
  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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How loud is your primary computer?

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  • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @02:34PM (#46092627)

    Wouldn't the last option be funnier if it was just


  • Routine maintenance. Every 3,000 Gb. Didn't use a mechanic, so I probably voided my warranty.
  • 2009 iMac. Under normal use, the computer itself is completely inaudible. If I fire up the external RAID arrays, however... The 2008 MacPro I can hear, but it's under the table so I don't really notice it. The PCs go up the scale from there.

    • by langelgjm (860756) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @03:22PM (#46093239) Journal

      So I went with my mid-2007 Macbook2,1. Audible only under load, and then the fan makes a lot of noise. Or in a completely silent room, with no load whatsoever, there is an annoying whine related to CPU idling.

      Also have a PowerMac G5 which under no load is audible but quiet, and under any load sounds nearly like a jet engine.

      The quad-core Xeon Dell PowerEdge server is loud enough that I keep it in S3 suspend and just use Wake-on-Lan to turn it on when I need it.

      Everything else is about standard desktop PSU/CPU fan quiet. Except for the AppleTV Gen1, now running OpenELEC/XBMC, which is nearly completely silent. Occasionally you can hear the hard drive.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        My primary's a Dual G5 Mac, but I think the system management configuration must be competely different in linux compared to what it is in OSX. I have run number-cruching apps constantly on it in linux, and don't think I ever remember it spinning the fans up much at all. (That's a complement to the industrial design - the fans are large, so don't need to spin quickly, minimising turbulence and noise, and the air-flow is cleverly directed for maximum efficiency.) However, I remember leaving it on overnight w
        • It was running linux, and I was doing a fairly large compilation job (basically an embedded linux distro) with many jobs in parallel, for hours at a time.

          Most of the time it was pretty quiet though.

          • by fatphil (181876)
            Aha, you probably have had the system version just before mine (after which "windfarm" was named), which had a different SMC, and the linux driver was lousy for a couple of years. It did get fixed eventually. The very first linux I tried from livecd (knoppix, I think) on my Mac also would windfarm up before even before finishing booting - it clearly wasn't load-related, it was a panic "I don't know what's going on thermally, best to have the fans on max just in case". (And indeed - I was afraid to do it aga
            • Which reminds me, I have an smc patch I should send to lkml...

              Please do. :)

            • by langelgjm (860756)

              Out of curiosity, what distro are you using? Also I'd imagine you end up compiling a lot of software yourself, as PPC binaries seem to be unusual in most distros?

              I tried Debian on my G5 for a while, but ended up switching back to OS X 10.5, almost entirely for multi-monitor support.

              • by fatphil (181876)
                I'm debian stable, have been for ~ 15 years on many architectures. The second worst distro on the planet...

                My app needs are *very* light, almost everything I do is text-based. So xterms are 99% of my windows. In them there will be shells spawning things like emacs, git, gcc, perl, w3m, etc. Outside the xterm, I use a graphical browser, pdf viewer, and mplayer frequently, sometimes audacity, sometime xpaint or gimp, and that's about it. Window manager? DWM, obviously!

                So I'm not a good person to be borrowing
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      2009 iMac. Under normal use, the computer itself is completely inaudible. If I fire up the external RAID arrays, however... The 2008 MacPro I can hear, but it's under the table so I don't really notice it. The PCs go up the scale from there.

      Yet more proof that Macs are better than PCs, right? You had to slip this into the discussion.

  • by MadX (99132) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @02:48PM (#46092815)

    Bought a nice case with foam padding (Coolermaster Silencio 550). Dropped the noise level by a considerable margin.

  • by Average (648)

    I hate living with noisy machines. My most powerful computer (running VMs, video-encoding jobs, RAID storage, and the like) is noisy like a Harley convention. It's also in a rack in my basement. Same basic scenario at work. The desktops/laptops/HTPC I actually interact with are all as SSD silent as I can make them.

    • by CdBee (742846)
      Too expensive! Got a pair of Laptop 2.5 SATA HDDs in big plastic cases fitted inside my Dell desktop. Minimal performance loss compared to a 3.5 inch drive but so much quieter. Removed the optical drive completely and use an external USB2 drive as and when needed
      • by Average (648)

        32-64GB SSDs ($40-60 range) aren't killing me in my desktop, laptop, or HTPC. Your budget may vary. They boot really fast. I don't need any larger than that because all the big files are off in my basement's cloudland.

        • by wagnerrp (1305589)
          You rent out space in your basement for someone else to own and manage servers, which you in turn use for file storage?
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      I hate living with noisy machines. My most powerful computer (running VMs, video-encoding jobs, RAID storage, and the like) is noisy like a Harley convention.


      Call me when you've sat next to fully loaded twin-tower Silicon Graphics VGX.

  • Picked up two 290x for my main computer for gaming and altcoin mining. The fan on the 290x's screams louder than any fan I've ever had the misfortune of hearing. I have entire racks of servers that make less noise. Still not sure how I'm going to address this as I don't want to void the warranty, at least not without them burning in for a month.
  • I used to have major problems with fan noise, as I kept my machine in my bedroom. Last two systems I've put together the fan noise was the thing I most focused on.

    Now the machine I'm using has a horrible HDD clicking during heavy downloads and virus scans. It's been that way since out of the box, and has functioned fine enough for 4 or 5 years 24/7/265, but it's gotten to the point that even though it's now down the hall from my bedroom a late night install will drive me nuts.

    I'd like to go solid state, but
    • Tell your parents they need to build an addition to the house so you can move the computers out of your room.

    • by mlts (1038732)

      I've been thinking of building a server with RAID 6, placing that in a closet or the attic. Then run a few 10gigE NICs from that machine.

      That way, the machines that I use will have SSD for the OS to boot from, but for data storage, would have iSCSI. I can add a switch, or just thread the Ethernet cable directly to the client. It won't be enterprise-grade, but it would be decently fast, secure, and quiet.

      An added bonus is that on a machine running Storage Spaces or ZFS, a backup is simply copying a snapsh

  • Just built a new rig last September. Tried one of those AIO water blocks, a 140mm one. It has 2 140mm fans, but they spin low as a result. It also has 2 intake fans (80mm or 90mm can't remember off hand), but they have a built in fan controller, so you can keep the settings low. It does have a dedicated AMD 7850 video card which of course has its own fan, but it also is pretty quiet.

    About the only thing that makes any noise is my speakers.

    You see my current system has gremlins. It might be windows update, b

  • by magarity (164372) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @03:07PM (#46093021)

    My tinnitus drowns out the sound of all but enterprise servers so all my PCs are totally silent.

    • by rts008 (812749) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @04:25PM (#46093955) Journal

      Hear! Hear! (or not)

      Same here. If I actually hear a computer running, then everyone else in the building has already evacuated to the bomb shelter, trembling in fear at the world-ending THING they can hear coming...and here I sit clueless about the upcoming disaster, posting to slashdot. :-)

      I used to lament my hearing loss until several years ago when I tried a hearing aide.
      After hearing the conversations around me for the first time in several decades, I promptly removed it for good. (I have an unreasonable fear that stupidity might be contagious when exposed to large amounts of same)

      • A hearing aide you say?

        "Sir" [taps you on shoulder]

        "There's a conversation you may be interested in" [furiously working at semaphore/sign language/scribbling on paper]

  • Maybe replace the dusty fans. My room gets dusty easily due to the desert area. :(

    • I live in the plains it's windy and dusty... I clean out my desktops about once every 3-4 months and I'm always amazed by how quickly it builds up. They are coming close to the end of their warranties but are still silent. Nothing like the desktops I had a decade or more ago they sounded like the hard drive was being etched in stone with a chisel and hammer when you wrote to them.

      • by antdude (79039)

        Isn' that annoying to keep our PCs clean all the time? Taking everything out, cleaning them, putting them back in, testing to be sure nothing broke, fix whatever was broken, etc. :(

        • I've not actually taken out any cards or memory to clean the contacts since the mid 90s and the compaq pressario with it's mismatched cheap materials that caused the contacts to corrode over night.

          I just open the case, blow them out, cough, and close the case.

      • by rts008 (812749)

        I live in the plains it's windy and dusty...

        Same here: Oklahoma.

        What I've found that helps is a decent case with good airflow, then I plug all but the air intake vents with drier 'softener' sheets (ie:"Bounce" sheets) that have been used.
        They filter a LOT of dust and debris, and I have found my 'dust bunny herding' time cut in half.
        Instead of tw or three times a year, now I only have to clean my PC once a year, and my temp. stays cool even when gaming.

        Where I see a lot of people making a mistake when buying a case is going for looks instead of spendi

        • I've been told about the drier sheet before they also said it freshens the room, which gave me a chuckle.

          • by rts008 (812749)

            Well, I can't comment on the 'freshens the room' bit, but it really works well on the dust bunny reduction.

            I'm afraid that the 'freshens the room' effect would require a series of tornadoes, hurricanes, and several tsunamis to freshen my lair!
            The wife refuses to enter my lair, she claims it causes nightmares relating to the world ending.

            • I have a workbench in the garage for soldering because the wife says it stinks and I'll burn the house down... I've been considering putting in a projector in the basement {aka man cave} she likes that idea.

  • . . . . so if I'm not in that room, I don't hear it.

  • My laptop, farore, is pretty much silent except when the fans really need to kick in. Even most games don't faze it - I have to run Crysis or something for over an hour before the fans get noticeable. It does spit out a good bit of heat, though, so if it's actually on your lap you'll want to have some padding between it and your er, most significant bits.

    My primary desktop, ganon, is normally barely audible, but when any of the fans get going it can get quite loud. I mined Bitcoins on it for about a month -

  • by sackbut (1922510) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @03:26PM (#46093293)
    I don't have a computer...
  • by tedgyz (515156) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @04:30PM (#46094029) Homepage

    My computer is like my farts:

    Silent, But Deadly

  • by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @04:43PM (#46094181)

    I only hear it when it's ringing... it's a cell phone.

    • Are you actually using a phone as your main computer?
      • Depends on what you mean by primary. The one I use most often during the day ... probably. The one with the most horsepower ... definitely not.

  • ...on the plus side, my daughter now falls asleep in datacenters.

  • I can hear the fan, but I almost never notice it unless I listen for it. And, although I need hearing aids, the fan isn't in the range I have problems with (I have an artillery notch, as a souvenir of my time in the Navy.) it's the same with or without them. I can hear it, but it's never been a distraction, or kept me from hearing something more important.
  • Seven hard drives, eight fans, basically fucked.

  • My laptop's silent and all solid state.

    My workstation's louder than a Mach truck and about as pretty. But it's a lovely workhorse!

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      my work i5 laptop sounds like a jet taking off while its just opening outlook, my desktop has 6 fans in it and one can only hear the video card crank up when playing a game

  • (Score:5, Informative)

    by Prozzaks (185225) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @06:53PM (#46095473)

    Silent PC review is a Web site that has been around 2002 which is dedicated to silent or very quiet computing. It's a trove of tips and tricks to make computer less noisy. They also have reviews of various components complete with high quality audio recordings.

    I highly recommend it! []

  • My primary computer is quiet enough, it's the other four in the room that make all the noise.

  • It's mostly silent *and* it's far too loud. Anything above complete silence is too loud. ok, I'll allow for some small electrical noise, but I'm really looking forward to when good computers can be passively cooled.
  • ... the sound of one hand typing.

  • CPU is watercooled (&overclocked 2.53@3.8), but the GPU hasn't received the water treatment yet (no space in case for a second radiator)

  • These days the computer I spend most time touching is my TF700T. Though sold as a "tablet" with dockable keyboard, I keep it docked all the time (more useful + more battery) and use it as what I wish my Eee netbook had been -- a lightweight, low-power machine with just enough juice for the common stuff, and let a server(s) handle all the routine heavy-lifting that would be annoying and/or would kill battery life on the laptop (e.g. torrents). (The Eee fell down for two reasons -- mainly battery life, but al

    • These days the computer I spend most time touching is my TF700T. Though sold as a "tablet" with dockable keyboard, I keep it docked all the time (more useful + more battery) and use it as what I wish my Eee netbook had been -- a lightweight, low-power machine with just enough juice for the common stuff, and let a server(s) handle all the routine heavy-lifting that would be annoying and/or would kill battery life on the laptop (e.g. torrents). (The Eee fell down for two reasons -- mainly battery life, but also the 1024x600 screen proved more annoying than I'd expected. 1920x1200 on a 10" display is much nicer.)

      I still use a desktop when I want more screen space, for apps only available for x86 (most notably Bricscad), and for some games, but the laptop sees a lot more use, and is completely silent.

      I also have the TF700T. I don't have the keyboard dock but I do have the mini-dock. I continue to use my desktop for finance, playing games, etc. but I use the tablet for surfing the web, reading email, travel, etc. My laptop only comes out now if I need to update an external device (i.e. firmware updates). Otherwise, the TF700T has replaced my laptop.

  • "It goes to 11"
  • ...we won't talk about the fileserver it connects to

  • A constant, minimal buzz.

  • On my Macbook, the fans spin up to audible levels when CPU usage hits 100%. That rarely happens in normal use, so when the fans start howling it's usually because some process hangs (I'm looking at you, Quicklook Helper!).

  • I built a new rig last year. No water cooling but also no overclocking...

    I replaced the case fans with Hydro-Dynamic-Bearing fans and bought one of the quieter PSUs. I also installed SSD drives and 16GB of RAM (no drive caching). Now, it is so quiet that I can't tell if it is on when idling, surfing the web, etc. The only times it gets "noisy", if you could call it that, is when I'm using the Blu-Ray drives or when I am playing a graphics intensive game and the video card fans spin up, but that's what a

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @01:54PM (#46101633) Journal
    I've got 3 case fans plus the CPU fan and the fan on the GPU, and I've tried the quieter varieties, but they don't seem to have the lifespan of a 'standard' fan and are more expensive anyway, so I just stick with the less expensive noisier variety and are happy enough with it. Besides which, aesthetically-speaking, it sounds like an actual piece of equipment to me this way. Liken it to having an aftermarket muffler on your car: makes it sound 'beefy'. ;-)
    • Amen. I have a server with 5 case fans ( Supermicro ), under load the thing howls like a jackal. But then again - "under load", in my case, means "inserting 129,000 rows / second into a Cassandra instance", so at least you get some audible feedback from all those perfs :-) :-) :-)
  • by Bonker (243350) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @03:21AM (#46107741)

    I'm partially descended from Cherokee on one side and Choktaw on the other. However, as a computer nerd with a florescent-light tan, I am the WHITEST Native American you will ever meet. (Oddly enough, there are *blonde* native Americans less white than I am.)

    I've also been blessed to keep my hearing despite working in or near various data centers and around heavy machinery. I've always been very careful about hearing protection.

    I can hear the capacitors in my CRT TVs cycling. I can hear the constant whine of AC power in the walls. If I'm lucky enough to be around older electronics with real vacuum tubes, I can hear them sing or hum, depending on size.

    At night, I can hear the nails squeaking in their holes as my house settles. I can hear that damn squirrel scurrying across my roof in the wee hours. Yes, stomach, I know that squirrel is edible, but I am an well-(over)-fed computer programmer and not a nomadic hunter-gatherer. Would you and my ears *please* quit waking me up for that kind of thing?

    Accordingly, I'm one of those individuals who can gauge the load on their PC components simply by listening to them. This has become more true as newer motherborards tend to have throttle-able fans. I can still distinguish when my CPU decides to page out to disk even *with* the fans droning out the hard drives, though.

    It can be bloody unpleasant at times. For example, I've paged 3 times while writing this post. Why? I'm running VM and a ton of RAM-hungry apps, including Firefox. I twitch every time it happens.

    However, it's also saved me countless hours of frustration and lots of cash as I can often identify hardware problems by sound.

    I really pissed off my neighbor once doing this. He had an AC mechanic out because his air conditioner kept quitting. Mine was as well... but I could HEAR the transformers humming oddly on the poles. (And not the good kind, where the Autobots defeat the Decepticons)

    "This isn't an AC issue. It's a power issue. I've called the power company."

    Made the mistake of saying that after he'd just paid for the AC service call.

Entropy isn't what it used to be.


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