Next to be given the silent treatment was the fan on the MSI graphics card. Although not as loud as the Akasa CPU fan, itâ€™s still another source of unwanted noise. Thanks to a clever heatsink design, the fanless Zalman ZM80C-HP VGA Heatpipe Cooler can be used on all video cards that have pushpin holes around the GPU. I wonâ€™t go into too much detail here about how to fit the ZM80C-HP, since we already reviewed this product back in January (click here for the full review).
Although not an issue for us, owners of high-end cards such as the Radeon 9800Pro or the FX 5800/5900 will also need to install the optional ZMOP1 slim-line fan to keep the GPU cool. This will bump up the total cost slightly from Â£30.55 to Â£37.60.
Now with the CPU, northbridge chip and graphics GPU taken care of I measured the noise levels around the case. These were between 39 and 40dB(A) - a noticeable improvement of up to 3dB(A) compared with before and subjectively about half as loud as when we first started. The high-pitched whine from the CPU fan was now non-existent with the Fan Mate Speed Controller set at the lowest setting of 1350rpm.
This relatively slow rotational speed didnâ€™t seem to affect the CPU temperature either, which held steady at a constant 35 degrees C. Apart from the two case fans, the only other potential source of annoyance was the intermittent seek noise from the Maxtor hard disk, which caused the meter readings to fluctuate by about 3 or 4dB(A). This obviously had to be the next component to receive the silent treatment.