If there’s one thing that really ruins the PC’s potential for use as an all-in-one entertainment centre, it’s the noise. You might not be able to hear it in an office, but any home PC user will know that the moment you switch your machine on, you’re engulfed in a wave of white noise.
It’s hardly surprising. The power supply has a fan, the processor has a fan, often the case itself has a fan and they all contribute to the noise. To make matters worse, many DVD drives are also very noisy, so watching movies on your PC is like being in the cinema while the people behind you point hair-driers at your ears.
Things are, though, heading in the right direction at last. Manufacturers have realised that noise is a problem, and companies such as Speeze have launched products like the three heatsink and cooling fan combinations reviewed here.
Two of the units – for Socket 478 Intel chips (part 9T236B1M3G) and Socket 370/A AMD chips (part 5T208B1H3T) – share the same type of cooling fan, even though the heatsinks themselves are different; the Intel one is considerably larger. Obviously the bigger they are the better they are at dissipating heat (assuming the material is conductive) and so less work has to be done by the fan.
Installing the AMD unit in an Athlon-based machine produced a noticeable drop in noise compared with the standard heatsink and fan. The Socket 7 cooler (part 5R238) also seemed quieter, although less work is being done here because these chips generally run cooler. This one was also easier to install – it’s really awkward to change the heatsink on the larger ZIF socket, even with the correct tool (i.e. not a hammer).
Without a sound meter it’s hard to say what the actual drop in noise was, but the units are rated at around 27dB, which is fairly quiet. Not silent, though. You still know when the machine is switched on, although at least it won’t be quite as annoying as it used to be.
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