BTX Hair Dryer

jamor

I built a home theater PC from scratch a while back. It has an Intel D945GCZLR motherboard with a Pentium D 925, a passively cooled GeForce 6600, and an Avermedia PCI-e Combo TV Tuner, all inside an Evercase ECE1341 case. I went with the best BTX CPU cooler I could find: the Thermaltake CL-P0191. This thing sounds like a lawn mower.

Even with plenty of airflow into the case and plenty of room in every direction on my entertainment system, the cooler is far louder than the 14-28dBA its marketing materials claim. I have already replaced the cooler’s fan once, but the new one was just as loud.

What can I do to quiet this thing down? Would upgrading to a cooler Core 2 Duo or Quad make a difference? What about upgrading to an actively cooled GPU? Even stock ATX coolers are cooler than this thing—can I just use one of those?

—Frank Durocher

Frank, your motherboard doesn’t support Core 2 CPUs, and you can’t just mount an ATX CPU cooler on there, either. Oh, and nobody makes BTX CPU coolers anymore, though you can still find old ones online.

The Doctor thinks your best bet is to replace the 9.2cm fan on your Thermaltake CL-P0191 with a quieter one. Noctua makes a quiet 9.2cm fan that should do well, but beware: It puts out about 30CFM, roughly half what the stock fan puts out. If your current fan rarely goes above half-speed, you might be OK, but those old Pentium Ds put out a ton of heat, so you should test the new fan thoroughly to make sure it can handle your processor.

Upgrading your graphics card to one with a fan might help cool your case, but there’s a reason they have fans: They heat up. We’re not convinced that the added airflow would compensate for the greater heat output.

Ultimately, you’ll probably want to move away from BTX. A low-power Core 2 or Phenom in a mini-ITX or micro-ATX board with a PCI-e slot will run cooler and quieter, and with a smaller footprint. And unlike BTX, both specs are in wide use.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at doctor@maximumpc.com for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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