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Workshop: How to silence your PC

How to get a PC quiet by using soundproof mats

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Introduction

Silent case fans, CPU fans and graphics card fans are a way to get a PC reasonably quiet, but even the quietest fans still produce an audible noise. Some manufacturers have developed sound proof mats to be placed on the inside of the case panels of a PC to reduce the noise made by gans even further. The mats usually have a self adhesive side, and there are sets available especially designed for specific cases. The generic sets however contain a number of large mats that can be cut down to size with a hobby knife and placed in to the case. We have tested three widely available kits to see if using mats will actually improve the sound levels of a standard PC.

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Absorbation and sound reduction

To keep the sounds generated by fans inside the PC two things are most important; firstly you have to prevent the sounds made by moving parts inside the case from "bouncing" off the sides, secondly the sounds that are generated need to be absorbed within the PC. Higher pitched noises are very easily stopped by material with a half open foam layer, the sounds will penetrate the foam and are kept in there so that the energy will eventually run out. Normal foam, like the material uses in packaging, are totally unsuitable for this purpose, as it normally has an open structure that will not absorb sounds. Sound proof foam has a so called half open structure, is a lot heavier than normal foam and therefore a lot more expensive to be produced.

Apart fro silencing the high pitched sounds it is also essential that the lower sounds like vibrations from the fans and hard drives are aborbed. The half open foam used to silence high tones is not as effective in silencing lower tones, as a more solid structure is needed to stop these sounds. This problem is solved by adding a solid layer of rubber, EVA-polymeres and other substances. This layer is flexible, and can be cut with a sharp knife, but is also very tough. All the mats we tested did have a layer of this material, on which the open foam was placed. The tough layer is selfadhesive, and will make the case panels heavier and lower tones will be stopped. The open layer stops the higher pitched sounds, so theoretically the use of these mats should cause a noticeable reduction in noise.

Application

Applying soundproof mats to your PC is not too difficult for anybody that has two healthy hands. It will probably take the average user around an hour to complete. There is more than one way to go abot soundproofing your PC, we will show you the way that we did it.


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