Lately, a lot of quiet power supplies have come onto the market, I assume to
fill the gap in quietness that silent CPU coolers and low speed case fans left.
The only way to quieten a PSU down is to modify it, which seems to scare a lot
Either the existing fan can be removed and replaced for a quieter, possibly
temperature controlled fan (airflow and noise vary with temperature) or the
existing fan just slowed down, usually by lowering its voltage. This drop in
voltage can be achieved quite simply in a number of ways.
One way is to introduce a resistor into the fan circuit - this, as the name
suggests, "resists" the flow of electrons. While not lowering the
voltage strictly speaking, the combination of current flow and the resistor
mean less voltage for the fan to use.
Before explaining the following method, I must explain that voltage, although
usually measured with reference to ground (zero volts) does not always have
to be measured in this way. Another way of describing a voltage is a potential
difference between 2 points. So, if we want to reduce the voltage a fan is running
at, we can either lower its "live" voltage, or increase its "ground".
Both of these will effectively reduce the potential difference across the terminals
of the fan.
A computer fan will usually be connected to +12v, and 0v giving a potential
difference of 12v. Another voltage available inside a computer is +5v. If we
take the positive (live) terminal down from +12v and put it on +5v, the fan
will then only see a 5v potential difference, therefore making it spin very
slowly indeed, perhaps too slow. A happy medium is to leave the positive (live)
wire connected to +12v, and change the negative (ground) for 5v. This will then
give a 7v potential difference, spinning the fan at just under its normal speed,
making it hugely quieter at the expense of airflow.
I've done this modification to 6 or 7 power supplies now and they have all
been just as simple as each other. Personally, I tend to go for 5v but this
is not enough to start some fans which will lead to a rapidly overheating machine.
Step By Step Guide
As with all guides, it is highly recommended you read all the way through
before attempting anything. Perhaps read through it and then print it out, so
you can reference it while your computer is turned off.
Begin by switching off your machine and removing the power supply from the
machine. Give it a 5-10 minutes to let the capacitors discharge or you might
be in for a shock. Then remove the cover of the PSU - if the power supply has
a fan on the outside of the casing, it may be easier to unscrew it first. The
cover is usually held on by 4 machine screws, one in each corner. I have seen
some with more screws around the base, so if the cover doesn't come off easily
have a good look around for any more screws.