When we first design a new system, we only choose components, which will help ensure a low noise floor within the PC in order to help eliminate any background interruptions within your working environment. With that in mind, there are a few choices during the configuration of your machine that may help reduce this further.
Our system cases are all chosen for their low noise profiles, which may include sound proofing being fitted or being capable of hosting larger than average fans, which allow us to move more air in and out of the system at lower RPMs and which in turn equates to lower noise levels thanks to the reduced fan noise. However, it is not just the system case that has to be considered when aiming for a low noise build, any component with moving parts needs to be carefully thought about.
The stock fans on many of the cases we offer are adequate for a reasonably low noise environment having been chosen specifically for that reason, although on most configuration page we will also offer an upgrade option as well. These replacement fans from be quiet! or Noctua are higher performing models that are capable of moving more air at lower RPM’s giving us a further reduction in noise all whilst helping keep temperatures lower in order to ensure a longer productive life for your system.
The CPU heatsink often has the hardest task in the system as it has to keep the heat of the CPU tamed while the computer is being used in your sessions and on a number of our system’s we offer an overclock on the CPU, which while providing extra performance, can generate more heat and noise if not carefully controlled. As such, all of our overclocks on the studio systems are setup to generate the least amount of heat and noise possible. To allow for this we do not overclock the CPUs in these systems quite as hard as we might for our gaming PCs or graphics workstations, but we do aim to squeeze the maximum performance out of our audio systems with the bare minimum of added noise.
In the past the noisiest component in many PCs was the graphics card and it’s cooler, which often tended to be fitted with a small high speed fan that could prove to be extremely noisy in general use. With on-board graphics having matured over the last few years, they now often prove more than capable of driving up to three screens for workstation use. This means that for number of systems the days of requiring a discrete slot in graphics card for every audio workstation are long behind us. However where more performance is required a number of graphic card ranges now feature “zero dB” modes, which enables the GPU to spin down and switch off the fans under less demanding loads. This means that should you wish to make your system more multiple purpose, you can still fit a high performance graphics card that will also have the ability to make itself quiet whilst you are working with your music software.
The last source of cooling noise can often come from the PSU, although thankfully many of these now work in the same way as graphics cards and only spin up the fan under heavy workloads. By choosing a PSU with ample overhead we aim to ensure that the PSU is never run to its full capacity, which in turn ensures that the fan is unobtrusive as possible where it should never need to spin up to anywhere near it’s full speed. The higher a PSU’s efficacy rating the more beneficial it is to us for helping with keeping the overall system noise down, as it generates less heat which will require less cooling overall. As such, all of our systems feature Gold or Platinum rated PSUs and are chosen for their low noise cooling solutions in order to help discretely power your system
The biggest problem with reducing the overall system noise footprint of any computer is that there is often yet another source of sound to track down, that you may never have noticed before. Often users, who have chosen low noise systems, will then tend to find that the mechanical hard drives are spinning up and creating noise that would have been masked within other less quiet setups by the louder components you have now silenced. Whilst not normally an issue for many users, the final step for minimising your system noise at this stage is to remove the mechanical hard drives and replace them with solid-state storage. With pricing for SSD’s and M.2’s continuing to improve on the larger capacities of drive all the time, it is not just the sonic benefits that make this attractive. For many composes working with large sound libraries with long load times, they are also quite likely to find other workflow benefits too by moving over to SSDs to host those large sound banks.
With a range of different requirements across many types of studio environments, the path for achieving a quiet workspace can vary. Someone working fully in the box with a system tucked away is likely to have less demanding requirements than an artist recording in the same room with highly sensitive mics. If you have stringent requirements that you need to meet, please do talk to us here in Scan where we can help guide you in not just optimizing the system, but space you are working in.