Hate fan noise from PC? Try the quieter Mac

Helpline

April 23, 2001|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

After hearing the fan noise made by a new machine running the AMD 1-gigahertz chips, I was wondering if all Pentium III-class machines require the same amount of fan power to keep cool. I am thinking of getting a new system with an AMD processor, but I don't know if I could ever get used to the hum of all the fans it needs.

The fact is that all desktop computers use cooling fans not only to chill chips but to reduce the heat created by the power supply that must generate juice for hard drives and assorted other parts. Only a small part of the hum comes from the fans placed atop most high-speed microprocessor chips like Intel Pentiums and the Athlons from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

The real honkers are the fans needed to cool the rather robust transformers used to provide the power for the entire machine, not only the central processing unit, but also the hard drives, internal circuitry, floppy drives, etc.

Short of resorting to draconian schemes like building a muffler box lined with acoustic tiles like we used to do to quiet the clatter of newsroom teletypes, most PC users in the Windows Intel world must learn to live with the fan noise that comes with the territory.

If fan noise is a make-or-break question, consider moving to the Macintosh world, where Apple Computer Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs is famous for his hatred of fan noise and many products use a no-fan convection cooling process that is almost noiseless. Machines such as the new iMacs and G4 Cubes have this feature.

Send e-mail to jcoates@tribune.com.

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