Ways to reduce Noise of your Power Supply

General

A power supply is one of the components that can be found in every PC. And also one that almost always makes more or less noise, at least if your PC doesn't use a passive or semi-passive power supply. So, if you are willing to spend some more money, then you can indeed get a device that — unlike its brothers, which transport the waste heat out with one or two fans — at least often (with semi-passive) or always (with passive ones) do their job in a silent fashion. Unfortunately, however, power supplies are also a place where you are very limited in what you can improve if you find yourself with a noisy power supply in your existing PC. That also means that with power supplies it is especially important to pay attention at the time of purchase, to select of the correct power supply unit, with the required power rating, efficiency but also a low noise level.

The Cause

The main source of noise in PC power supplies are usually the installed fans that provide the air flow to transport the heat from inside the power supply to the outside. And for that specific topic I have written in a separate section about fan noise. What is important in general is that all the heat a power supply produces comes from the power dissipation that occurs during voltage conversion. Therefore, the more efficiently the power supply is, the less heat is generated and the slower (read: quieter) a power supply fan can turn. This even goes so far that some power supplies stop their fan(s) completely at low loads and thus almost can perform their service without any of the annoying fan noise. But if they do rotate, then the smaller the fan and the faster it spins, the louder it will be. And unfortunately, what is usually an option to reduce fan noise in the case, CPU and GPU fans, namely software fan control, is rather rarely the case for power supplies.

The Remedy

But this also means: with power supplies, the options to redure fan noise are unfortunately very limited. At least as far das existing systems are concerned. If a fan control option is provided — which is rather rarely the case is —, then one can lower the noise level somewhat with a suitable fan curve.
Argus Monitor for example supports the regulation of the fans of the current Corsair AX power supplies. But if the power supply is really the loudest source of noise in the PC, then usually a replacement by a new, quieter model is a real long term solution. As a general rule, it can only be said again, that — assuming the same performance category — power supplies that have a higher efficiency are usually quieter because there is less waste heat produced by the inefficiencies during voltage conversion, which a fan has to transport away. But regardless of that, it's strongly recommended to consider the topic of noise emission in addition to overall performance and cable management when buying a power supply.

Date published: 16.06.2021

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Author: Udo Rietschel

Written by Udo Rietschel

Udo is one of the two founders of Argotronic UG (haftungsbeschränkt). He is writing software since he got his hands on his first computer (a ZX Spectrum 48k back in 1988, while living in the GDR; a country that does not even exist anymore -- much like his ZX Spectrum).
Today, he is working as a software engineer, creating software for autonomous vehicles as well as Argus Monitor, which is — in his (biased) view — the best fan control software for Windows.