Quitest CPU Air Cooler (for my build)

Hey guys,

I've been waiting for November to come around so I can take advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals.

I'm definitely getting a Fractal case and I've settled on the Define Mini C.
It's got a 170mm height limit. If I get a CPU cooler that's like 168mm, do you guys think it will get in the way of my RAM and/or top PCI-e slot? How would I go about determining that?

Also, are all the Define Series cases equally silent?

I'd like to get the most silent CPU air cooler that's under $100. I read that out of these 4: Noctua NH-D15, Noctua NH-D14, Dark Rock Pro 3, Cryorig R1.

DRP3 is the best cooler of all 4, but is also slightly louder than the others
D15 is the second best cooler, being slightly quieter than the DRP3 but being louder than the other two
R1 is the third best cooler, is quieter than all but the D14
D14 is the quietest and smallest, at the tradeoff of being 3-5C behind the other coolers in cooling potential

But then there's this chart:


It says that the Thermalright True Spirit 140 comes out on top.
I also hear good praise for other lesser known coolers such as the Scythe FUMA.

I went on PCPartPicker and looked through their CPU cooler database. I organized the list by "Noise Level" and compared the ones that actually had a score. Out of the many dozens, I found one that had the lowest noise level and was also still being sold: The "Enermax - ETS-T40F-RF 65.6 CFM CPU Cooler" with a noise level of 10.0 - 19.0 dbA.

How accurate is PCPartPicker when it comes to those kind of numbers?
Reply to sally_91
37 answers Last reply
More about quitest cpu air cooler build
  1. I think the meshify C is slightly louder than the actual Define C, but also has better airflow. So if you have more fans (and thus don't need to work them as hard) the noise difference should be negligible. I guess ultimately it depends on how much you value silence over performance.

    In fact, this same question applies to your choice of CPU cooler. Based only on the evidence you provided, I would say go D15. HOWEVER...see the link below.

    https://overclock3d.net/reviews/cases_cooling/cpu_air_cooler_mega_test/41

    Although I highly suggest you go through the results at the above link, I wanted to give you a little tidbit excerpted from the article:

    "the Noctuas largely dominated the performance charts with the Mighty NH-D15 taking top spot overall, but only by the tiniest of margins from the Cryorig R1 Ultimate."

    This is where it gets interesting...

    "Along with the expected results, there were also a few surprises to be had, with a few coolers really standing out from the crowd. The Arctic Freezer i32 for example is, we think, one of the stars of the show and something of a giant killer. Granted it may not have been the best performing 120mm fan based cooler and certainly not the best looking but at just £23.97 it was certainly the best value for money"

    I think the i32 is for intel chipsets only, but there is an AM4 version..which is the 33 (I think).

    Please read that article.
    Reply to rob.salewytsch
  2. Interesting article.

    I forgot to mention that I don't plan on overclocking my i5-3570.

    Wait. I googled this and read that all CPUs need a cooler of some sort.
    It turns out that the stock cooler is fine? Right now though, I have a noisy "Asetek 510LC Liquid Cooling System 120MM Radiator & Fan".

    To make it all for naught, I still need a quite CPU air cooler.

    Performance won't be my top, top priority, after all since just finding this out?
    Reply to sally_91
  3. sally_91 said:
    Interesting article.

    I forgot to mention that I don't plan on overclocking my i5-3570.

    Wait. I googled this and read that all CPUs need a cooler of some sort.
    It turns out that the stock cooler is fine? Right now though, I have a noisy "Asetek 510LC Liquid Cooling System 120MM Radiator & Fan".

    To make it all for naught, I still need a quite CPU air cooler.

    Performance won't be my top, top priority, after all since just finding this out?


    For what it's worth I am running a Noctua NH-L9X65 on my I7 870 and it's very quiet. Can't hear it at all normally, says 14.8 - 23.6 dbA . That's over 10 DBA less than the top one on that list.

    If it can keep my I7 870 cool it will have no issue with your I5-3570.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

    CPU Cooler: Noctua - NH-L9x65 33.8 CFM CPU Cooler ($48.95 @ Newegg Marketplace)
    Total: $48.95
    Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
    Generated by PCPartPicker 2017-10-31 19:44 EDT-0400
    Reply to jankerson
  4. So if you aren't overclocking. I'd look at lists that show noise level (like you posted) and then find the cheapest one near the top of the list.
    Reply to rob.salewytsch
  5. For ur use, a Scythe Mugen 5 would be a perfect fit.
    Reply to Lucky_SLS
  6. Thanks guys. Sorry for making you read all that. I did put in my work in researching the CPU air cooler with the lowest noise level, even if most would be overkill for my situation.

    I'm about to bite the bullet with the Fractal Design Define Mini C.

    The Meshify C has tempered glass and isn't part of the Define series which is their "silent computing" line, which is my #1 concern.

    There's a day or so left for this sale that's going on right now, and if anyone knows the answer to my question up top,
    "Are all the Define Series cases equally silent?," it would be much appreciated!
    Reply to sally_91
  7. The define r5 is the quietest case. So to answer your question, no not all the define series are equally quite.
    Reply to Lucky_SLS
  8. Lucky_SLS said:
    The define r5 is the quietest case. So to answer your question, no not all the define series are equally quite.


    That's a bummer. You think they would only improve on that aspect over time. I keep reading about how the R5 has issues with rattling and I don't feel like transferring the guts into it only to find that there's a problem. Plus I like how the Define Mini C has 3 dedicated SSD spots which I'll be using. I haven't heard any complaints so far, so I'm gonna have to sacrifice some sound level for dependability.

    I totally agree with you on the Scythe Mugen 5. It seems like there's 2 other coolers that are neck and neck with the Mugen 5(atleast according to PcPartPicker scores), namely the Cryorig H7 and the Gelid Solutions SnowStorm.

    I'm gonna have to look at TweakTown's noise charts one by one to see what they rated the most silent. They have so many reviews though. 255 to be exact.
    Reply to sally_91
  9. sally_91 said:
    Hey guys,

    I've been waiting for November to come around so I can take advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals.



    I doubt you will find anything as Black Friday/Cyber Monday are pretty much a waste. All most try and do is get rid of stuff they can't sell.

    Anything that is really good won't be on any sort of killer deals.
    Reply to jankerson
  10. jankerson said:
    sally_91 said:
    Hey guys,

    I've been waiting for November to come around so I can take advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals.



    I doubt you will find anything as Black Friday/Cyber Monday are pretty much a waste. All most try and do is get rid of stuff they can't sell.

    Anything that is really good won't be on any sort of killer deals.



    I think that would go in my favor since I'm planning on buying a 32GB Ram pack for an older Motherboard. DDR3 to be specific. Hopefully sites like New Egg will bump up the percentage on their promo codes.

    I forgot to ask. What is the difference between Rev.B and the original Scythe Mugen 5?
    And there's also the PCGH version.
    Reply to sally_91
  11. Cpu coolers do not make noise. Only the fan does. If you already have the Asetek 510LC, keep it. Just get a good fan for it like a Phanteks PH-F120MP or Noctua NF-F12, either of which are almost dead silent upto @900ish rpm.

    You have an i5-3570. You can't OC, you are stuck with stock values. That 510LC is far more capable than the stock Intel cooler, equitable to the Corsair H55 I run with either of those 2 fans I mentioned, on an i5-3570k at 4.3GHz. It's silent for almost everything except heavy gaming, and even then it's debatable whether it's the cooler I'm hearing or the gpu/case fans.
    Reply to Karadjgne
  12. In which case, I would suggest these https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LGN8476/?tag=pcpapi-20
    Reply to Lucky_SLS
  13. That would definitely be the cheapest route for me. I could also go in between and try an air cooler and just replace the fan(s) on that.

    I know that Static Pressure fans are used over Air Flow fans for radiators. But what about air coolers? Does it matter which is used?

    What is the likelihood of the air cooler coming loose vs using a liquid cooler if I tend to move my PC around a lot?

    Anyway, thanks for your guys's help! I got an e-mail from Fractal Design Support. I asked them what I asked earlier, Which of the Define cases is the most silent and then if it's the R5, what comes after:

    Quote:
    The Define R5 is the only case that we put through the world's quietest room tests, so it is the only one that we have hard data on.

    From personal experience I would say the next quietest would be the Define C/Mini C followed by the Define S, but only by the smallest of degrees. You could probably only tell that there is difference between them if you used the right sound testing hardware.

    However, it all is really determined by what you install in the case. If you're not installing silent or quiet components the case can only block out so much sound.
    Reply to sally_91
  14. What you are doing is fighting a loosing battle by going in circles while blindfolded.

    All cases are absolutely silent. Then you add case fans. Then a cpu cooler fan. Then a psu fan. Then a gpu fan. Then a hdd. It all adds up one way or another. Generally at idle, if you have decent fans set for low rpm abs aren't worried about a few °C of heat, the case will still be silent(ish). Then you start loading the pc down, cpu fans kick up, psu fan kicks up, gpu fans kick up, case fans kick up. So does the volume. The Define series (and some few others) can negate most of the lower volume sounds, IF you have just the single rear exhaust and keep the top modular panels intact. But no case is going to prevent sound when you really load the pc down and cpu fan/gpu fans are screaming.

    So its admirable that you want quiet, I too prefer quiet, which is why I have an oversized aio, define R5, Asus gpu and Evga G2 psu. It's silent upto heavy gaming, then it's barely audible. I have to stress test to hear the case fans. But I can still hear them.
    Reply to Karadjgne
  15. YUP,

    Running 3x Noctua 140mm Cases fans and 2x140mm fans on my NH D15, and 2x 100mm Fans on the GTX 1080 and the X-650 PSU with a 120mm fan in a Cooler Master - Master Case 5 Pro.

    That's 8 fans.

    I can't hear it running at all until like you start gaming etc.

    Until then it's silent and I am sitting a foot away from it.
    Reply to jankerson
  16. Yeah, I get that there's gonna be some sound and that you can't get completely silent, no matter what.

    I was just relaying the message from the Fractal Support Team for those who were interested.

    The whole point of this thread was to get as close to silence as you can with the current technology that's out there.
    The topic was on CPU coolers and I appreciate everything you've contributed but as long as you take the educated steps and precautions and learn how things work, you're not really blindly fighting a losing battle as you described.

    So again, I'd just like to learn about all the factors in play when it comes to making a silent build, and I know that you can't get perfect silence, but if you combine all the data that's out there, you can come close.
    Reply to sally_91
  17. It's not all that hard really.

    Quiet case fans + Quiet Cooler + Quiet GPU = Silent under normal use.

    As long as the case has good airflow so nothing overheats and cause the fans to spin up it will stay quiet.

    I run 2 Silent machines currently and another that I still need to swap out into another case and add another cooler to. The case is 12 YO so airflow sucks and so do the fans and the cooler is still an Intel OEM.

    So I will just swap the case out with a Fractal Design Focus G Mid Tower and add 1 Noctua 120mm Fan and a NH L9x65 for the i5 that's in it.
    Reply to jankerson
  18. Exactly. I use a kraken x61 that does double duty as intakes or exhaust and the 2x fractal case fans as the other. That's 280mm in, 280mm out. Since the cpu almost never goes over 55°C, the fans generally run @600rpm max, the aio 900rpm max. This goes a long way to quiet operation. Generally with decent fans, keeping them under @900rpm keeps db(A) to a minimum. I'll sacrifice 4-5°C for the silence.
    Reply to Karadjgne
  19. Yeah, my fans stay around 800 RPM for the CPU fans and 700 RPM for the case fans.

    CPU around the 30C range normally.

    Around 50ish gaming... Then they do spin up some, but still not loud.
    Reply to jankerson
  20. You know what? I'm probably taking this too far but I've been considering going fanless, overall.
    I've looked at Fanless cases and they all seem to be Mini-ITX - HTPC cases.

    If you were to Google "home studio sound proofing", you'd see all sorts of ways people are isolating parts of their room and/or equipment.

    Don't laugh but if you were to combine these two designs:



    Basically, a metal frame with an elevated base that has a grill opening for breathability. All sides would be open.
    Then you would just drape a "Sound Absorption Blanket" over...

    Would there be definite overheating or is it just like putting a PC in a closet or IsoBox?
    Reply to sally_91
  21. Check out the review of the new Azza Storm 6000 case. It's a perfect example of what you are thinking. It's one of the single most silent cases possible. Looks cool too. Only it really isn't. It's hotter than an old Pentium 4.
    What you really need to think about is sacrifices. Airflow and sound are on opposite ends of the spectrum. If you want fantastic airflow, you'll need large holes in the case to mount fans, which let's sound out whether cpu/gpu or case fan volume. For silence, you need solid walls with no gaps that'll prevent sound escaping the case.
    The Define R5 will tell you the same thing. It has modular vents on the top plate. If all 3 are intact, you get maximum sound retention. Take two out to add top fans or a radiator, you negate the purpose of the vent covers, and sound gets out.

    And no, you can't go fanless. Not and get any graphical performance, even semi-fanless gpus that don't kick fans on until 65°C or so, will kick fans on sooner due to lack of airflow allowing the gpu to hit higher temps.
    Reply to Karadjgne
  22. Yeah, haven't seen anything that really works completely passive since the old Pent 1 days and before... 486 etc.

    No fans at all, not even the PSU had a fan. Just can't get quieter than that. LOL

    When you could put the whole PC in a cabinet, the old desks used to have a built in cabinet for the PC. :D

    I kinda miss those days, other than the cost of the machines.

    Could be why I like my machines quiet and always have so I always tried to get them as quiet as possible when I built them.

    I can't stand fan noise, never could, even my P4 machines were quiet.
    Reply to jankerson
  23. I had one of those desks too.

    Say if I were to go through with this cockamany idea.

    How much space should I leave starting from the top of the case to the blanketed ceiling to create some kind of breathing room?
    More than half a foot? Would 1 foot be overkill?

    Do you guys think that an elevated base with a wired panel would make any difference or would it be the same if the
    the base was made out of solid wood and sitting on the floor?

    Reply to sally_91
  24. You need a fanless cpu cooler. And i don't know of any gpus that are fanless but you could attach a cpu cooler one if you were handy enough. Or you might have to make your own.

    It just seems strange that for silence, you will add a giant cabinet with a blanket over it. Surely aesthetics and sound have to balance
    Reply to rob.salewytsch
  25. Fanless gpu would be extremely hard to do. Not only must you add a heatsink to the actual gpu, but also the vram/VRM's. Normal vram/VRM's heatsinks are rather small and attached with thermal tape, but rely on the gpu heatsink fan or other mounted fan (nzxt G10) to provide a breeze. Without that breeze, you'd need much larger heatsinks and keeping them attached by thermal tape would be problematic.
    Reply to Karadjgne
  26. Guys, I've been using my on board graphics. I don't really game on this PC. I bought it to use as a DAW. Hence why I want absolute silence.

    I'm comparing the pros and cons of using a fanless CPU cooler/fanless PSU/upgrading the stock case fans AND going through with my diabolical plan (the blanket thing).

    I looked at like 14 fanless cpu coolers. I came across the "Zalman FX70" and according to Overclock.co.uk, it is
    140 x 158 x 110 mm (W x H x D)
    The Fractal Define Mini C's max cpu cooler height is 170. How can I tell if its width and depth won't cover the ram/pci-e slot?

    Also, I filled out Outer Vision's Power Supply Calculator. These are my results:
    Load Wattage: 187 W
    Recommended UPS rating: 500 VA
    Recommended PSU Wattage: 237 W
    Recommended Power Supply: EVGA 450 B1, 80+ BRONZE 450W

    If going fanless, does the recommended PSU wattage change?
    Reply to sally_91
  27. What actual components are you going to be running ??
    All well & good looking at fanless coolers but you still need case airflow to dissipate heat from around them,also unless you go with an expensive semi-fanless psu thats going to be the thing you hear most of all over the cpu cooler.

    If youre going with the mini c still then the solid side panel & tempered glass models are quieter than the one with the standard plexi-plastic side
    Reply to madmatt30
  28. madmatt30 said:
    What actual components are you going to be running ??
    All well & good looking at fanless coolers but you still need case airflow to dissipate heat from around them,also unless you go with an expensive semi-fanless psu thats going to be the thing you hear most of all over the cpu cooler.

    If youre going with the mini c still then the solid side panel & tempered glass models are quieter than the one with the standard plexi-plastic side



    This is my parts list
    I already bought the Mini C with no side window at a deducted price last week.
    Reply to sally_91
  29. sally_91 said:
    madmatt30 said:
    What actual components are you going to be running ??
    All well & good looking at fanless coolers but you still need case airflow to dissipate heat from around them,also unless you go with an expensive semi-fanless psu thats going to be the thing you hear most of all over the cpu cooler.

    If youre going with the mini c still then the solid side panel & tempered glass models are quieter than the one with the standard plexi-plastic side



    This is my parts list
    I already bought the Mini C with no side window at a deducted price last week.


    Then you are honestly overthinking things.

    Run the case fans at low rpm,any half decent 120mm tower cooler will be completely inaudible in that case.

    this seasonic gold semi fanless psu is $68 & it will run fanless with your component list literally 100% of the time.

    https://pcpartpicker.com/product/DPCwrH/seasonic-power-supply-ssr550rm

    coolers? no need to spend anywhere near $100

    Just buy the h7 & run it at 800-1000rpm ,it will cool a 3570 easily at that speed & you will not hear it at all.

    https://pcpartpicker.com/product/93Crxr/cryorig-cpu-cooler-h7
    Reply to madmatt30
  30. madmatt30 said:
    sally_91 said:
    madmatt30 said:
    What actual components are you going to be running ??
    All well & good looking at fanless coolers but you still need case airflow to dissipate heat from around them,also unless you go with an expensive semi-fanless psu thats going to be the thing you hear most of all over the cpu cooler.

    If youre going with the mini c still then the solid side panel & tempered glass models are quieter than the one with the standard plexi-plastic side



    This is my parts list
    I already bought the Mini C with no side window at a deducted price last week.


    Then you are honestly overthinking things.

    Run the case fans at low rpm,any half decent 120mm tower cooler will be completely inaudible in that case.

    this seasonic gold semi fanless psu is $68 & it will run fanless with your component list literally 100% of the time.

    https://pcpartpicker.com/product/DPCwrH/seasonic-power-supply-ssr550rm

    coolers? no need to spend anywhere near $100

    Just buy the h7 & run it at 800-1000rpm ,it will cool a 3570 easily at that speed & you will not hear it at all.

    https://pcpartpicker.com/product/93Crxr/cryorig-cpu-cooler-h7



    Thanks for spotting that semi fanless PSU. I just got done reading up on the fanless type. It's not as I had imagined. Right now I'm running a 700W PSU. How would the sea sonic compare? How do you arrive at a wattage after using one of those PSU Calculators? Is there a formula to follow?

    I used PCPartPicker's organization tool to find the highest rated PSUs in between 550-700.
    I found this EVGA on the upper levels and also the sea sonic you mentioned. The EVGA has ECO mode. Is that the same thing as "Smart & Silent Fan Control (S2FC)"? Besides one being modular and the other being semi, and a 100W difference, how do they stack up?

    I've been eyeing that H7 all week. I just wanted to see what my options were. It's smaller and cheaper than the Mugen 5.

    ::EDIT::
    Dang, have you seen the reviews for the Sea Sonic on newegg?
    Every page has an RMA complaint.
    Reply to sally_91
  31. I take little notice of reviews simply because people only generally leave one if they're unhappy.

    That said the seasonic is an old 2012 unit & probably isnt THE best recommendation , its still good though.

    The evga GQ is a good unit , you honestly don't even need close to that wattage though

    You're not running a GPU??

    Your build is sub 200w max draw (& by quite a margin)

    Go for the focus plus gold

    https://pcpartpicker.com/product/bkp323/seasonic-focus-plus-gold-550w-80-gold-certified-fully-modular-atx-power-supply-ssr-550fx

    & here's why

    http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=Story6&reid=529

    & the h7 is absolutely fine

    I ran a 3570 on a $12 gammaxx 300 with fan set to 900rpm (the lowest it would go) - under prime testing it still didn't go over 60c & was completely inaudible.

    On a $12 cooler !! The h7 is infinitely better & infinitely quieter.
    Reply to madmatt30
  32. Ppl who do reviews on newegg and Amazon etc are self-centered. No other word for it. They buy something and almost immediately post if something is either wrong or great shipping. Blah. What you don't ever see is someone reposting that they bought a good psu 5 years ago, abused it badly, and it's still working great.

    Take that Seasonic. Generally, Seasonic is an industry leader in quality psus manufacturing. They are pretty much the bar you gotta beat and few do. That said, they make 10million psus a year, world wide. With a 0.1% failure rate, that's still 10,000 bad units. It's goin to happen. And it's generally a failure of a capacitor (one of over a billion made each year) more than shoddy workmanship. (these aren't exact numbers, just made to make the point, but they are close enough to reality).

    Chances someone posts they got a bad unit? 95% probability. Chances someone posts they got a great unit 5 years later? 0.01%. And that's just that 1 unit. Seasonic is OEM and responsible for closer to 100 different models, vendors, series etc.
    Reply to Karadjgne
  33. Yeah, I just retired my old Seasonic M12II 620W. :D

    Used to for over 7 years 24/7/365 and the 1st 3 years it was beat on pretty good under heavy use 24/7/365 running F&H GPU.

    So I figure over 2 years past the warranty I got my money out of it.

    And it's still good so I put it back in the box and will use it as a test unit or backup.
    Reply to jankerson
  34. Still using a Seasonic M12-II 520w on a 3570k OC 4.3GHz and gtx660ti @124% OC. It runs 24/7/365. Been shut down may a dozen times in the last 5 years for cleaning etc.
    Reply to Karadjgne
  35. Karadjgne said:
    Still using a Seasonic M12-II 520w on a 3570k OC 4.3GHz and gtx660ti @124% OC. It runs 24/7/365. Been shut down may a dozen times in the last 5 years for cleaning etc.


    Solid model.

    Still running the rare M12II 650W in a 3rd gen i5 machine, the one that is Haswell Certified and has DC-DC.

    Only 4 years old so it still has a lot of life in it.

    Replaced the M12II 620W with a Seasonic G-550W. Not much difference in output on the 12V between them.

    576W for the M12II 620W and 540W for the G-550W.
    Reply to jankerson
  36. Can someone tell me how to correctly measure my motherboard? I'd like to check for RAM and PCI clearance.

    This is the motherboard
    Reply to sally_91
  37. Dead centre of CPU socket outwards.

    Tell you straight away the h7 will have NO clearance issues on that board.

    It requires 62mm to top edge of pci express slot & 49mm to edge of closest ram slot

    You have more than that for sure
    Reply to madmatt30
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