Building a Silent PC: My Quest for Quiet

Terry Gray

Created: October 2000
Revised: 14 July 2003

One of my most treasured freedoms is the freedom to choose what I am listening to, and one of the most difficult things to find in a modern urban environment is silence. These pages document my attempts to achieve peaceful coexistence (acoustically :) with the various computers in my life. By now my "quest for quiet" (or "search for silence") story has several chapters:

Chapter 1: Introduction, which describes how my silent computing fixation began, back in October 2000.

Chapter 2: Underclockers Anonymous, which describes some silent PC design issues and my first efforts to build a fan-free PC. The result was a very successful system configuration based on underclocking a 667MHz Pentium III processor.

Chapter 3: Adventures in C3 Land takes up the quest when I try to find out whether a low-power VIA C3 processor can be used to build a system that is both silent and small. The punchline is "a definite maybe" since I was not able to find a suitable commercial case for this project; however I have come to appreciate the aesthetics of the IKEA wooden drawer I used instead. Click here for a photo of my "IKEA computer".

Chapter 4: Need for Speed describes what to do when you just can't resist the siren song of a fast Pentium IV any longer.

Chapter 5: A Nearly Noiseless Knoppix Server describes a small file/print server solution using my "IKEA" silent computer and Knoppix ("uninstalled" on a Compact Flash card) as the operating system.

Chapter 6: Flash Knoppix records the steps needed to run Knoppix off of a CF-IDE (or hard) drive without installing it, a variation on an old idea whose time has come, encouraged by this page.

As time permits I'll try to continue documenting this adventure. Meanwhile, here are a couple of good silent computing resources...


One of the most venerable web sites on this topic is:

And a more recent addition that I have found extremely valuable: SilentPC Review

There is also an active Yahoo! "Silent-PC" egroup.