Paper Hack.

There often comes a time where an obsession so insignificant collides with a compulsion so random and absurd that it just has to be done. Given how bored I’ve been lately, I have encountered just such an issue and conquered it with basic common sense (of the thermodynamic kind). Today’s issue of geeky OCD is brought to you by a noisy computer.

Ever since I got a new heatsink for my computer (flashy metal thing with a fan that keeps your CPU from burning up) I’ve noticed that the noise my computer generated was nearly double that of its unmodified self. It turns out that sometihng or other in my computer was defective and the heatsink’s fan just ran at full speed no matter what. A) That’s ineffecient, noisy, and wasteful of a few volts of electricity. B) My fancy new (now old) heatsink (ZeroTherm BFT-90) not only wicked away heat super-effeciently, but resonated super-loudly when the fan revved up. It’s kind of like a guitar. If you pluck a wire, you don’t hear much. But if you pluck a wire strung across a hollow wooden frame, you get a loud, rich sound because the guitar body amplifies the acoustics. My big copper heatsink was amplifying the vibrations of the fan attached to it.

What I decided to do was to remove the heatsink fan, and use the exhaust fan of my computer case to cool the entire contraption. I would use a duct to channel the airflow through the fins of my heatsink and out the back of the case. The ambitious case-hacker/modder might break out sheet metal, and welding gear to do this. I pulled out paper and scotch tape.

The entire setup does work, albeit at a reduced effeciency, since the airflow isn’t as strong, but it is *MUCH* quieter, which is what I’d been aiming for. I didn’t do any of this blindly either, I ran a set of ‘before and after’ benchmarks to make sure I hadn’t compromised the cooling capacity of my computer. The before and after temperatures showed a 5 degree difference in cooling ability, but still within safe limits.

I also took the time to tape up empty 3.5″ drive bays, since my computer case has a small fan in the front to cool my hard drives. This forces most of the air to flow over my hard drives instead of dissipating uselessly.

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