How I Quieted My Twin Lian Li's

Add Your Comments

Detailed How-To – Peter Nelson

I’ve always used two computers… one for online and the other for fun stuff, mainly graphic and photo work. This keeps the graphic system mean and lean since it’s not encumbered with the garbage that’s needed for web use – it also keeps it free from nasties.

Although I like computer games, I’ve just never got around to playing them on my system – you’ll see this reflected by the type of video cards used. Until now, I had the system connected by a crossover cable and LAN. With both comcomputers now USB friendly and cheap thumb drives available, I’ve disconnected the LAN and use a thumb drive to transfer files between them.

Here’s the BEFORE pic. Yes, they were NOISY – the tall guy is the graphic one. As it recently had its internals upgraded, most of the changes were enclosure related.

Pic

I’ve tweaked the images to be dialup friendly.

The little guy was a Intel P2-400 w/ a ASUS motherboard w/built-in SCSI. It was getting a tad long-in-the-tooth even for surfing, so it got both hardware and case upgrading.

Having dual-output video cards along with monitors with dual inputs makes it possible for the system to share monitors as well as keyboard and mouse. This does away with an image-deteriorating switchbox. That’s dual 21″ CRT monitors.

Pic

I have keyboard and mouse extension cables coming up from the computers (they’re the ones coming from the left) between the desks. All I have to do unplug the mouse and keyboard cables (coming from the right) from one set of extension cables and connect them to the other set… btw… they’re hot-plugable.

Pic

Here’s AFTER the entire project was done – the online computer is on the left:

Pic

Both systems kept their CD players/writers, floppies & HDs.

Let’s start with the online computer part of the project:

I bought a Lian Li PC-6070. I found its feet had rough plastic edges on the bottom which made it a bear to slide. A simple solution was getting these Teflon furniture sliders from Home Depot… almost like it’s on wheels now. They work on carpet as well as hard floors.

Pic

I didn’t need the two front fans as I had quieter means of getting air. It’s running a Intel P4-2.4GHz.

Pic

Removing the fans allowed a nice opening for the air to cool the SCSI 7,200 rpm HD. The HD is suspended with Stretch Magic – 1.88mm:

Pic

To get more air for the HD, I relocated the speaker which was underneath the HD cage:

Pic

Easy to make an opening as it was already perforated with small holes.

Pic

{mospagebreak}

I wanted to do some nifty wire-management to help with the air-flow (this sounds better than admitting I’m anal). To hide the PSU wires, they needed to be lengthened. Here’s the original wire along with the two extensions which came from old PSUs:

Pic

The AUX wires lengthened:

Pic

The longer wires allowed me to hide them behind the motherboard. Notice the cutouts made at the top right and center – one was the exit for the wires and the other was made to reach the motherboard:

Pic

The wire entry cutout:

Pic

This tool makes stripping wires easy – lots better than the kind that comes with electrical kits:

Pic

Pic

Pic

I spent lots of time on this PSU mod and broke the warranty for no perceivable decrease in noise. The Antec PSU was already pretty quiet but I thought I’d give it a go. I removed the mounting screws of both the exit and the larger entry fan. Since I wanted to make use of the larger fan to draw air away from the CPU, I made sure that it was pointed down towards the CPU.

In went the VIBRATION DAMPING FAN MOUNTS from McMaster-Carr. Everything looked nice & ready to go:

Pic

WTH? So, I get rid of any vibration of the fan touching the outside of the PSU, but now have the fan touching the PCB board inside?!?#%

Pic

Oh well, at least the larger fan was easier to do and didn’t seem to interfere with any internal components. While I was working on the PSU, I noticed the ridge running around the outer shell. I happened to glance at the Stretch Magic which I was using for the HD suspension – a very dim light bulb went off in my head. {mospagebreak}

Humm… earlier I tried to add some rubber tape around the PSU but found that the it was too tight a fit to slide into the case, so I tied the Stretch Magic around the shell as well as on the case rails where it rested. It was so tight that I had to spread some Vaseline on the SM to get the PSU in.

Pic

Pic

Pic

Did it help? I like to think so, but what do I know. I used the old aluminum case to cut out some sheets to attach to the new one for filling in areas. The LL case had 4- 5″ & 3- 3.5″ openings – I only needed 2 & 1 respectively.

Pic

I used the included empty drive covers on the inside as well as the above mentioned sheets on the outside (in addition there’s the door covering that):

Pic

This paint for the CD player and floppy matched the case exactly. The tape was used for covering the many holes in the case as shown in the previous image.

Pic

This tape was great for those areas that had little clearance for vibration dampening to fit in. Pictured is the CD player. I had to coat the tape’s outer facing side with Vaseline to get the player to slide into the case.

Pic

In place of the two front fans, I used one fan (@ 7v) which was more inside the case AND soft mounted it. This served several cooling functions:

  1. Draws air in from the bottom front of the case
  2. Air cools the HD on the way to the fan
  3. The fan was turned up towards the video card heatsink which had its noisy little fan removed
  4. Part of the air flow goes past the video card, over the chipset heat sink (it’s fan also removed) and makes its way to the CPU.

Pic

That’s the SCSI card with the CD and HD cables on the lower left. The Matrox video card is at the upper left. I used the ol’ Zip Tie and ULTRA-SOFT POLYURETHANE SHEET from McMaster-Carr mounting technique.

Pic

The bracket came from some older case – also visible is part of the HD suspension.

The HD cage – the bright aluminum part was added to provide more holes for stringing the Stretch Magic:

Pic

The standard Intel CPU cooler was changed later to the Zalman shown in the first photo (the one where Bob is installing the video card)

Pic

{mospagebreak}

Looking up at the PSU and the rear case exit fan which is running at 7 or 5v’s…(I forget which):

Pic

Rear view:

Pic

I wound up using 2 MELAMINE FOAM SOUND ABSORBING CEILING TILES, 24″ X 48″ X 39/64″ from Mc-C. I hot glued some together to make blocks to fill inside spaces within the case:

Pic

In they go:

Pic

Pic

Pic

I cut 2 sheets of Melamine for the sides. They stay in with pressure and are easy to remove when the side doors come off.

Pic

Pic


{mospagebreak}

For the higher powered graphic computer (Intel P4- 3.06 GHz, OC’d to 3.33), I chose a LL PC-V1100 case. I first started looking at the inverted layout when I saw an Antec 180 review.

Although both cases came with Noise Dampening Material attached to the panels, I wanted to use even more potent dampening methods with the graphic computer then I did with the online one. Instead of using MELAMINE I got an AcoustiPack Deluxe v2 pack from Endpcnoise.com

Although I really liked the air-flow of the V case, it did have me do some serious head and eye rubbing to figure out the best way to run the wires.

On to it…started by removing the rear intake fan grill:

Pic

I did the same fan mounting as before:

Pic

This stuff came in handy again:

Pic

The fan is mounted; the PSU wire slot (bottom left) is too large and it gets filled in later:

Pic

One of these came with both cases – they direct exhaust PSU air out the back. I didn’t want to use them as I figured the back pressure would increase the noise:

Pic

Pic

I did find another use for one of them: I needed some means of directing air to the upper part of the case, similar to that inside fan I used on the online computer. However, here the video card HS faced away from the air flow. Also, it’s a Matrox Parhelia which was gonna’ get a harder workout than the Matrox G400 MAX. I still wanted to get rid of its little fan without removing the stock HS – the result of that endeavor is shown later.

This ghetto air-duct started by cutting up the air duct which attaches to the previously mentioned rear intact fan:

Pic

The modified PSU duct was caulked into place inside the fan duct:

Pic

It all made for a tight fit. A little Polyurethane cushioned it from the blower exhaust fan:

Pic

The HD cages have a nifty mounting system, but I knew my noisy 15k & 7.2k rpm HD’s needed something quieter:

Pic

{mospagebreak}

I removed the plastic mounting sliders from the first cage & used SM 1.88mm for the main Seagate 15k rpm HD:

Pic

Pic

I couldn’t get the second cage out to remove the rails without removing the motherboard. By that time I had installed and removed it far too many times, I gave up on the idea. That HD contains my last two partitions which only get accessed infrequently anyway.

Pic

The result is that the 15k HD can not be heard, but the 7.2 one (which is much older & noisier) sends a little THUNK noise through the case with each seek. With all the padding the case has, it’s a mellow tone, but it’s still there.

This shows the application of the thinner AcoustiPack material being applied to the top of the case over its OEM damping material.

Pic

Pic

A view of the outside, case rear. The large exhaust blower fan uses the perforated holes of the case as a fan guard as well as screw holes for mounting. I didn’t need the fan guard feature and also made an opening (top right) for the Zalman fan controller wire.

Pic

I angled the fan to clear the “custom air duct” (pic below). That’s the SCSI card with CD and HD cables. Also shown at the top is the rear USB ports that came with the Gigabyte 8IHXP motherboard (btw.. really love the quality of that GB board, so I got the same for the smaller computer.) The chipset HS (gold in color) is shown after removing its fan – explained later is the funny looking video card HS.

Pic

Visible at the bottom is how I covered up the unused half of the PSU wire cutout – leaving it open would have screwed up the nice PSU air flow. I used some aluminum from the old case.

Pic

Pic

Everything in place. On the left are the Plextor SCSI CD players, CD writer and foam block from the acoustic pack:

Pic

Stop laughing! It really works!

{mospagebreak}

Directing air onto the video card (via that hacked up air duct) didn’t cool the Matrox Parhelia enough for use without its fan. Not wanting to risk removing the OEM HS and installing a more efficient one, I pulled out one of my many old HS’s that came from discarded PSUs. I found one that fit PERFECTLY. It was the exact width and pressure fit onto the video card HS with just a firm push. I bent the top down a tad to catch some air:

Pic

This tape was applied to the plate which holds the PSU to the outside of the case. This feature of the two LL cases is one of those little quality things that you don’t realize you get when you pay the top bucks for the LL’s. It allows easy placement of the PSU. I had to think hard before spending the dollars for these units. After working with them however, it was money well spent; if I amortize their cost over the length of time I’ll have them (5 or more yrs probably), they’re a fair price.

Pic

Since I didn’t want to repeat the mistake of remounting the PSU as I did with the first computer, I elected to just slide some of that rubber tape between the fan and shell. The fan was mounted with plastic grommets instead of metal screws anyway. This Zalman PSU only has one fan – I had to look a while to find an older PSU with an AUX connection and one fan. Two fans would have created more noise without improving air flow.

Pic

I used some MELAMINE to stuff in the spaces around the floppy:

Pic

I hot glued the foam in place:

Pic

The black foam blocks came with the AcoustiPack:

Pic

Some wire management shots:

Pic

The two gray wires are the front USB ports. I had to make a small notch (lower center) on the motherboard backing plate ridge:

Pic

In addition to the AcoustiPack, from Mc-C I bought some 5692T498, FLAT SOUND ABSORBING FOAM, ADHESIVE BACK, SKINNED SURFACE, 1″ THK, 54″W, 1’L.
The AcoustiPack runs out pretty quickly, so this stuff came in handy.

Pic

I applied some to the left side of the PSU:

Pic

{mospagebreak}

The left side panel with it’s OEM padding and some additional AcoustiPack applied on top:

Pic

The more noise-critical panel was the right one. It faced the inside components as well as where I sat in relation to the computer. I used both the thinner and thicker AcoustiPack material.

Notice how the added damping goes further along the edge than the OEM stuff. I think this made a big difference on both panels. The OEM damping left a gap around the entire panel which would have allowed noise to escape. The additional material did make replacing the panels a tad more difficult.

Pic

By the time I got to the rear air intake muffler, I was running out of time and patience. Had I more of both, I would have used wood instead of the foam board – no difference in noise control but it would have looked prettier.

Pic

I found this shelf liner at Home Depot – sure looked like aluminum:

Pic

A fan view of the inside showing the flap of thin AcoustiPack material used as a noise baffle:

Pic

Looking from the outside towards the baffle:

Pic

My PSU exhaust muffler was a Fan Duct – 120mm (DUCT120) = $4.99 from Performance-PCs.com. It conveniently pressure fit onto the small pegs surrounding the PSU fan:

Pic

Pic

I hot glued some MELAMINE as noise baffles inside the fan duct. I shouldn’t have bothered – the PSU fan seems to stay at its lowest rpm because of the good intake air flow. I can’t hear it running, even with my ear next to it. The duct was needed however – it directs the warm exhausted air away from the intake above it:

Pic

A final shot before closing it up;

Pic

{mospagebreak}

After placing the online computer in its spot (to the left), I determined that noise was bouncing off the bare wall AND wood surfaces surrounding it. I hot glued MELAMINE on those surfaces. I was pleasantly surprised when it resulted in a measurable (to my ears) noise decrease.

Since the graphic system was more exposed, I used the better stuff to accomplished the same thing for it. That’s the thin AcoustiPack damping on the left AND the Mc-C stuff on the top and rear:

Pic

Finally done!

Pic

Was it all worth it? …..YES!

I’m happy with the results – both comcomputers are VERY quiet. Although the graphic one has more fans, it has the same noise level as the smaller one.

Let’s see….how can I give you folks an idea of the resulting noise….

When we got my wife’s little DELL (P4-1.4GHz, only used for email and WORD), I was impressed at how quiet it was – I could hardly hear it. Standing at the opposite end of the room, it’s inaudible. These LL’s are as quiet. It’s only when both are on that they become audible across the room.

The noise I hear when I’m at my desk is a faint, pleasant, hollow WHOOSHING sound – maybe a combination of WHOOSH and HUM. I couldn’t be happier. They aren’t audible at all when listening to CDs on my open-air headset.

Pic

Comments or questions welcomed – Cheers!

Peter Nelson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *