Buying a Quiet Trading Computer
A silent trading computer creates a more relaxed and peaceful trading environment. Computers don’t have to be loud! Keeping your office quiet can help you stay focused. At Blue Aura Computers we focus hard on making our computers as silent as possible. That’s why we almost exclusively use Fractal Design cases and improved case fans. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of using a quiet trading pc and how we accomplish that goal.
We know noise levels are a huge concern for a lot of traders. We don’t keep internal statistics on the matter, but an estimate would be as many as 40% of customers that call us to ask questions specifically ask about the noise levels. We’ve been receiving feedback and questions about this for nearly 20 years. In response to our customer’s needs, we decided to engineer our computers not only to perform at a high level but also do it as quietly as possible.
First, we want to set some expectations. Can a computer be engineered for silence? Yes, absolutely. But there is a tradeoff between low noise with fans spinning slower (or simply less fans installed) and rising heat levels. We have to find a balance between the two.
Under 100% CPU load you will hear the fans ramp up and push air into the case from the front. What we try to eliminate the best we can is the constant severe ramping up and down of the fans under light/moderate workloads. When fans ramp up and down continuously and forcefully that can be more of a bother and distraction then if they were just at a constant, high RPM speed.
Benefits of a Quiet Office Environment
You will gain improved focus and concentration. A silent environment with very little background noise will help you concentrate best. If you often talk on the phone, zoom or skype you want as little background noise as possible.
Trading Computers Generate Heat
The primary culprit with heat is of course the CPU (processor). Yes, video cards can also generate a lot of heat. But in a trading computer, the video card wouldn’t usually be producing heat at abnormally high levels, this would be more of a concern in a gaming computer. The system RAM, motherboard chipset and NVMe SSD drive would all contribute to heat levels, but only slightly. The processor is really the main item that is of concern here. This is why a really good CPU cooling solution is extremely important.
Identifying the Source of Noise in a Computer
There are different types of noises a computer can make. Fans are the main source of noise in any computer. Some fans, because of poor build quality or age will start to make a ticking or chirping noise. In our experience there isn’t much you can do when that starts happening other than replace the fan with a better one. Our high performance computers have several different fan packages available, more on that in the next section.
The Best Case Fans for Silent Trading
What separates Blue Aura Computers from our competitors is when we engineer our trading computers we select the most quiet, durable case fans available. What we offer are a number of fan packages based on price, since quality fans cost more and can add a bit to the system cost. We use both Fractal Design and Noctua Fans.
Fractal Design Fans
Our lowest cost fan package contains high quality Fractal Design fans. Specifically their Dynamic X2 GP-14 1,000 RPM 140mm fans and depending on the case their might be additional 120mm fans.
Our standard configuration with a Fractal Design Define 7 Case will have 3 front intake 140mm fans and one rear exhaust 140mm fan, these will all be Dynamic X2 GP-14 fans. You might be wondering why there are more intake fans vs exhaust fans. With positive air pressure (more intake fans vs exhaust) you accumulate much less dust in the case. More importantly, pushing more cool air into the case is more beneficial than exhausting hot air. Heat naturally rises and will make its way out of the case.
The other fan packages we offer are all Noctua. Noctua used to only make their standard tan/brown fans, those are the original brand colors. Since then, they now make black fans and gray fans. The NF-A14 features the second generation of Noctua’s SSO bearing. With this bearing design, the rear magnet is placed closer to the axis to stabilize the fan better with more precision.
So what are the differences between all these fans? Like any company, Noctua has different fans at different pricing to satisfy all their customers.
Noctua gray fans are the most affordable. They don’t come with any of the accessories like the colored anti vibration pads, but we put them on anyway so any computer you order from Blue Aura Computers that comes with gray Noctua fans will have gray anti vibration pads in the corners. The idea is the corner pads will allow less vibration to transfer from the fan to the case itself that causes rattles and buzzing noises.
From Left to Right:
- Noctua NF-P14S Redux PWM 1500 RPM High Performance Cooling Fan (gray)
- Noctua NF-A14 Chromax Black PWM 1500 RPM Premium Quiet Fan (black)
- Noctua NF-A14 PWM 1500 RPM Premium Quiet Fan (tan/brown)
We use each of these fans for different reasons. As you can see the fan blades are a bit different with each model. The gray are priced the lowest, so that is our most inexpensive fan package. The Chromax Black fans are the best choice if you select a Fractal Design case with a side panel window. Black fans with blue anti-vibration fans look really nice through a tempered glass window.
The Noctua NF-A14 tan/brown fans are actually our favorite. This is Noctua’s original design and they are the quietest, best fans they sell. Some customers feel they they aren’t as aesthetically pleasing, it’s hard to disagree. But if you want the quietest, longest lasting fans you can get, these are it. If you are using one of our cases with a solid side panel, you won’t see the fans anyway.
Fractal Design Nexus+ 2 Fan Hub
Now, a discussion about fans wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Fractal’s fantastic fan controller. This fan controller is included with the Fractal Design Define 7 and the Fractal Design Meshify 2 RGB.
This fan controller allows us to control the system case fans. The way we use this controller is to connect it to one of the motherboard fan headers, then we can set up the fans as needed for cooling the system and the processor. We set up the fan profile to control all the fans together with changes in the CPU temperature.
To keep things quiet, you don’t want the fans to ramp up and down continuously with all the small CPU temp fluctuations. We set it up so when the processor reaches a certain temp the fans will ramp up, but only when that temp is getting high – this would be under an extreme CPU workload. You will hear the fans at this point. If it’s too loud further adjustments can be made in the BIOS to set things at a more tolerable level.
We’re not going to get into the technical details in this article, but if you purchase a computer from us feel free to give us a phone call and we can help you make some easy fan profile adjustments if things are too loud under high CPU load.
Processor Cooling Solutions for a Quiet Trading Computer
There are 2 options we offer for processor cooling. Option #1 is a Noctua heatsink/fan air cooling solution. We set these up as a single fan push air through the heatsink. Under 100% CPU load you will hear the fan, but very few customers push their computer to 100% load for a long duration. For short durations, we set the fan so it ramps up and down so gently you won’t notice it. ASUS has BIOS settings that allow you to do just that.
Option #2 is a good AIO Liquid Cooler. Generally, this will be a quieter option. The water pump and liquid moving through the tubes doesn’t make much noise when the radiator is installed properly. 360mm AIO Liquid Coolers will have three 120mm fans. We can set the fan profile to a setting that keeps the fans much more quiet, this can be done in the Corsair software.
With either liquid or air cooling, a good system integrator can make sure both solutions will be very quiet under most circumstances. But if you’re very concerned about noise levels then we highly recommend going with an AIO Liquid Cooler.
Power Supplies with Quiet Fans
One of the many reasons we’ve stayed with Seasonic power supplies is their Hybrid Silent Fan Control. Seasonic uses a patented three-phase thermal control. It functions in three stages: Fanless Mode, Silent Mode and Cooling Mode.
There is a fan control button on the back of the power supply. If the button is pressed in (silent/cooling mode), the fan will always spin, even under light loads. If the button is out (unpressed) the power supply is in Fanless Mode at low modes and will not spin at all. If the computer continues to stay in a low mode state and the power supply doesn’t get hot enough the fan will continue to stay off. Under load, the fan will ramp up on a curve and only spin as fast as needed.
Silent Hard Drives
Another source of noise can be the hard drive. Older mechanical drives can make ticking noises as the platter spins and data is accessed. Fortunately, mechanical drives are almost a thing of the past. We don’t use them for the boot (operating system) drive anymore. We also rarely use them for secondary or backup drives. We are very close to not listing mechanical drives at all on our site.
Samsung SSDs are mostly based on TLC NAND Flash memory. Even in larger capacities they are more affordable than they’ve ever been. The Samsung, Sabrent and other NVMe SSD drives we use are completely 100% silent.
Cases with Sound Dampening Materials
We’ve saved the best, and most important section, for last. The cases your system integrator uses in the production of their computers plays a critical role in whether or not the computer will be quiet, or relentlessly echo every noise the PC is making inside the case. Sound dampening materials are crucial for a quiet computer. We believe that Fractal Design makes the highest quality cases in the computer market. Their sound dampening materials are the best of the best at stopping unwanted noise.
The Fractal Design Define 7 case with solid side panels on both sides will have a type of hard sound dampening foam on the inside of each panel. If you choose a Fractal Design Define 7 case with tempered glass, it will reduce the sound dampening of the case. It’s best to go with a non-glass case if you want the best sound reduction.
The Fractal Design Define 7 case also has sound dampening foam inside the front panel door. There are 2 top panels that come with the case. One is an open vented top panel and the other is a solid top panel with sound dampening foam.
By default, we always install the open vented top panel to aid in heat dissipation out the top of the case, but we send with the solid top panel for customers that want to swap it out for better noise dampening.
Keep in mind, you can only swap out the top panel with the solid one if your build didn’t include any top mounted exhaust fans or a top mounted AIO liquid cooler. In those situations, you must leave the open vented top panel installed. Switching the top panel is super easy. No tools required, you pop it off and the other one just clips in place. Below is an expanded view of the Fractal Design Define 7 case so you can get a better idea of what we are talking about.
What About Video Card Fans?
Well, as long as you’re using a case with sound dampening foam that takes care of most of the problem. The PNY Quadro and RTX video cards we use have one small fan that is relatively quiet and nearly inaudible when used in our Fractal Design cases with sound dampening foam.
The larger GTX and RTX cards are very quiet as well and with many of the cards have fans that don’t even spin unless the card temps get hot enough. In fact, MSI markets their RTX 3050 card as a low noise solution. MSI engineers certain cards like the 3050 with wave-curved 2.0 fin edges to disrupt airflow harmonics with the net result of less noise.
In this article, we went through all of the ways to make a computer as silent as possible. We covered quiet CPU cooling solutions, the best case fans for minimal noise, the best power supplies for quiet computers, silent hard drives and the best cases to eliminate unwanted noise.
If computer noise is a concern for you, we hope this article made you more confident that buying a system from Blue Aura Computers will be your best chance at achieving silent computing.
When configuring the computer on our system customization form, follow the tips we’ve outlined in this article when selecting the case (Fractal Design Define 7 solid side panel), power supply (SeaSonic with hybrid silent fan controller), case fans (Noctua fan package) and CPU cooling (Noctua air or even better a 360mm AIO liquid cooler).
Thanks for reading! Enjoy computing in silence!