How To Build a Silent Computer
invest in a power supply (PSU) at least 50€/$50
A good power supply is important to keep your computer healthy. Cheap ones tend to blow up after two years and it will probably take a hard disk or motherboard into silicon heaven too.
A cheap 550W supply often only 300W or less on 12V rail. Worthless. You may also buy the one with a coil whine… have you ever experienced weird noises coming from power supply when scrolling a web page? I have for a year or two. I don’t want to experience it again.
More expensive power supply has a nice (black) color, sleeved cables, is silent when idle or loaded. It is 80plus gold and has high-quality parts inside.
Mine is Seasonic G-360 https://seasonic.com/product/g-360/. I love it.
forget about 3.5” hard disks
I really tried to silence them, but even a silencer box doesn’t help.
On the other hand there are performant 2.5” hard drives. The speed is cca 100MB/s sequential for new generations (500GB per plate and more). They are really silent.
Not that good for random reads and writes though. But there’s an easy help for this. 250GB SSD for operating system and demanding games like Black Desert Online. You won’t want to come back from SSD. OS loads really fast.
I have one 250GB Crucial MX-200 and 2x Seagate 2.5” Momentus SpinPoint M8 1TB hard drives. I have a plenty of space for 300GB of footage from Mass Effect.
To cool 95W TDP CPU silently requires a tower cooler. I had AMD Phenom II X4 645 and cooled it with famous Gelid Tranquilo. Pretty nifty setup.
But for my mini ITX computer I picked something I don’t have to disassemble when I move the computer. Towers are heavy and could break the motherboard.
So I picked reasonably performant processor with 55W TDP. Intel i3 3225. I use a light stock cooler, which is really silent and my motherboard supports PWM control according to CPU temperature.
I’d pick 65W CPU tops. To cool 110W and more I’d pick a liquid cooling solution.
Pick a dual slot card with silent coolers. Gigabyte, MSI or Asus sell these cards. These days almost every manufacturer has these editions.
Avoid reference coolers with turbines.
Also consider TDP. I have AMD Radeon HD 7790 which has 75W TDP. It was a mid-end back then. Current nVidia GTX 1060 has 120W. 75W is easy to cool. 120W should be fine too.
rear exhaust fan
One rear exhaust fan is a must. An intake fan is not really needed if you have a case with many holes. Your components will gather dust in time, so you need to clean it every half year or so.
Alternatively pay up and get closed case with dust filters like Fractal Design R4.
PC case is somewhat important. You look at it all the time, so it must be pretty. It should be made of at least 0.8mm SECC stainless steel or equivalent in aluminum (>1.5 mm) to be sturdy.
Nobody wants crooked side panels. A case should feel sturdy. Everything around 80€ and more is fine.
Fractal Design R5 (I had R3… really exquisite case), Bitfenix Prodigy, NZXT, more expensive Thermaltakes. There are many more manufacturers and you can choose from really nice designs.
I have an older PC, so mentioned components reflect that. Welcome to a wonderful world of PC components!