Nixing The Noise

One of the biggest problems of PCs is the noise. My newest computer is no exception.

As soon as I fired it up, I head the whine and the whir. They were tough to dismiss. I buttoned up the case, but there was little change. Some of the problem was fixable, some I’m resigned to endure.

One of the biggest problems with PCs is the noise. My newest computer is no exception.

As soon as I fired it up, I head the whine and whir. They were tough to dismiss. I buttoned up the case, but there was little change. Some of the problem was fixable. Some, I’m resigned to endure.

I mentioned yesterday, the speed throttling ‘pot’ had been left of the CPU cooler. Turning down that fan made a difference – and the CPU temperature has not climbed.

Right now the CPU, motherboard and power supply all check in between 32&#176 and 34&#176 Celsius (89&#176 – 93&#176 Fahrenheit). I think the CPU can easily hand 60&#176 Celsius. I have no clue about the power supply or motherboard, though I assume they’ve got less leeway.

I should add, computers are incredible heat producers. The faster they get, the more heat they produce. And, of course, heat means electricity. This has become a big problem for the proprietors of ‘server farms,’ which need to be cooled ferociously.

If I placed my hand over the fan grate on the back of the case also quieted the machine. That fan was spinning at around 3,000 rpm. As it turns out, in my box of never to be thrown out computer parts, was another speed controlling pot.

Listening carefully, I throttling that fan back until most of its noise was gone. It is now spinning at 2,000 rpm. That’s 1/3 lower in speed, but light years in noise.

Still the computer has a definite whir. I think the problem is the hard drives. Most PCs have one. This PC has five!

The Devil made me do it.

Actually, I had the drives hanging around from older projects. They seemed too young and virile to be filed away somewhere. Today, they could probably be replaced by a single drive – and sometime in the future that’s what I’ll do. Just not now. You have to draw the cash line somewhere.

Oh – last night while throwing in the last of the additions, I did notice some errors in my thinking. What I assumed was ‘just’ a disk controller turned out to be a RAID controller.

I didn’t plan for my two 60 Gb drives to become a RAID&#185, but I had little choice if I wanted to use them.

Also, my TV card may only support 320×240 resolution – 25% of the pixels I’d get with the 640×480 I assumed it was capable of. I bought it cheap, online. Maybe I just didn’t peruse the specs properly.

I think it’s time to stop writing technical stuff for a while.

&#185 – It stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives, and in my configuration two drives look like one. Since half the data is written to each, getting over some mechanical imitations, they are faster than single drives. Other types of RAID are used to create two copies of all data, for safety purposes.

The Main PC is Too Quiet

I have waited over twenty four hours before writing this entry. I am distressed. I am upset. I have killed the main PC!

It would seem that the data is intact, so that’s not my worry. However, this was a custom PC, built on my kitchen table and office floor. I don’t want to start over.

The back story goes like this. My PCs were too noisy. As I mentioned a few days ago, I ordered some quieter cooling from Zalman. It’s an ingenious design, and my auxiliary machine is a few orders of magnitude quieter than it was. A very pleasing outcome.

Last night, I attempted the same surgery on the main computer. Since the main PC has a slower CPU, throwing off less heat, this technique should have worked even more efficiently. Everything went together with no trouble. It’s really a simple swap.

And then, I turned the PC on.

Instead of the series of beeps I normally hear, the computer set out a continuous set of two second beeps followed by four seconds of silence (I had originally written 2+2 but just actually timed it). The computer would not boot.

I have checked all the connections and reseated both the video card and memory. Nothing. I got the same result after resetting the BIOS.

If it were the new fan causing these problems, hitting the Insert key should have brought the computer to a state where I could work on it. It won’t.

At this moment, pieces of the computer are sitting on my office floor and I am befuddled. It could be the memory, or CPU, or the motherboard itself? I don’t know. And, though most of the motherboard beeps are documented, this one doesn’t seem to fit the patterns that are listed.

I’m not sure where to go – other than the state of denial I now sit in.

I could just order a new CPU and motherboard, giving myself a speedier, newer PC in one fell swoop. The problem is, this machine is built around a RAID. Without going into the technical minutiae, two disk drives are acting as one to allow speedier access for video. But, without the RAID controller the data on these two drives is useless and unaccessible.

Though a few years old, it’s still possible to buy this motherboard (Soyo SY-K7V Dragon Plus) and the dated CPU that plugs in. And, even though that would mean sticking with an older computer, that might be what I do.

At this point I can’t do anything, because I haven’t isolated the problem. Later today I will try and force myself into troubleshooting mode – though it really is painful.

There is a rule of modern machinery that fits this situation: “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.”