Noisy Antec 430W TruePower PSU

By Ed Brentnall · 16 replies
Mar 8, 2003
  1. I have just fitted an Antec 430W TruePower PSU to my system, and I'm disappointed. Now I'm trying to work out whether for some reason my hearing is finely-tuned to the noise it's making, or whether I have another faulty PSU. The first one I had seemed to be under-delivering on all voltage lines with the effect that my computer would randomly reboot. I know it was the PSU because I swapped it for a spare Chieftec 340W PSU I had, and it worked fine, but it was too noisy, and I thought, and was advised, that the Antec PSU would be better.

    Here's my system spec:

    Chieftec DX-01WD midi tower case
    Antec 430W TruePower PSU
    ASUS A7V333 motherboard
    1 x 256Mb Samsung PC2700 DDR SDRAM
    AMD Athlon XP 1800+ CPU
    Zalman CPU flower cooler (heatsink and 92mm fan)
    GeForce 2 MX400 graphics card
    SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 sound card
    Zoom V92 PCI modem
    TrendNET network card

    I don't have any other fans except the two built-into the PSU and the Zalman CPU fan.

    Originally, I thought the noisy culprit was the graphics card fan, but I temporarily stopped it, and the noise remained. I did the same with the CPU fan, and still it made no difference.

    Sadly, it seems that the PSU fan is the problem. It emits a high-pitched noise, which seems to be mechanical rather than aerodynamic, suggesting that the noise is being made by the physical parts of the fan rather than the air it's shifting.

    I am running ASUS Probe software to monitor voltage, temperature and fan speed, and the PSU fan speed is being reported as 1600rpm after about an our of uptime. The Zalman fan is running at 1500rpm, and is much quieter. Now I know that the Zalman is a 92mm fan, but it isn't making any mechnical noise, only aerodynamic noise.

    There are two fans in the PSU - a 92mm inlet and an 80mm outlet fan. I think that the outlet fan is the one causing the problem, but can I do anything about it? I don't really want to take the PSU back again, because other than the noise it's working fine, and I know it's going to supply all the power needs of my system for quite some time to come, but if it's always going to be this noisy, it's going to drive me mad!

    Does anyone have any experience with this particular PSU, and if so, have you been disappointed with the noise it makes? I'm trying to work out whether mine's faulty, and if it isn't, whether there's anything I can do to make it quieter. Obviously noise is subjective, but I can't believe my hearing is *that* good! ;)

    I live in the UK - does anyone have any suggestions how I can measure the noise it's making so that I can at least be objective about its performance? I have had a look for decibel meters, but I can't seem to find anything suitable.

    Please shout your replies - I'm going to put my earmuffs on now..!
  2. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    If it really is noisy, then it could well be that the fan is 'out-of-spec' so to speak. This is something that would not be tested for during manufacture as its subjective rather than a fault. Its certainly not normal for high pitched noises to eminate from a PSU and I have never known this problem before. I have however, had noisy fans before and sometimes the noise goes away after a period of use and perhaps some lubrication. If it really bothers you then I would get the PSU replaced as stripping it down would invalidate your warranty.:cool:
  3. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Posts: 2,704

    Is there any way to control the speed of the fans? A knob or such on the back? There are with some PSU's, just wondering.

    If I were you I'd get an RMA from wherever you bought it from and get a replacement.
  4. tkteo

    tkteo TS Rookie Posts: 52

    I have the exact same Antec PSU. As far as I can tell -- from my hearing, not measurements, since I do not have any instrument to measure the decibel level -- the PSU is relatively quiet, and definitely quieter than the cooling fans I installed. So, I suggest that you try to return the power supply, too.

    As far as I am aware, there's no way to manually change the speed settings on the PSU's fans.
  5. Ed Brentnall

    Ed Brentnall TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for all your responses, guys. There isn't a method of adjusting the fan speed on the PSU like there is with my Zalman CPU fan (I have a Fan Mate attached, which lets you turn it up or down to suit) so I have no way of regulating it.

    I just wanted to check with others that have the same PSU whether I am overly-sensitive to its noise or not, and it seems that I should be expecting less noise than I am from what you're saying.

    I don't want to invalidate the warranty, as I paid about £80 for the PSU, otherwise I would be tempted to lubricate the fans, cushion the PSU, fit rubber washers and so on.

    In case it's a bedding in problem, I'm going to run it for a week and see if it improves, but after then I'm going to return it. It does have a 3 year manufacturer's warranty, so I should be OK returning it again.

    Once I (hopefully) get to the bottom of the problem, I'll let you all know. I'm sure Antec are generally really good, so I'm not ready to give up on them just yet!

    Thanks again.
  6. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    In case it's a bedding in problem, I'm going to run it for a week
    and see if it improves, but after then I'm going to return it.

    If you keep it for more than 7 days (or what is considered a reasonable time under UK law - not really sure of exact period) before reporting the fault, then when you return it you may have to wait for it to be repaired. If you report a problem within 7 days then you should be able to swap it for another. Just a thought.
  7. Ed Brentnall

    Ed Brentnall TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Good point, Nic. Thanks. However...

    How stupid do I feel? There's nothing wrong with the new PSU.

    I have been fitting a nice new GeForce 4 Ti 4200 to my system today, and took the opportunity to isolate the PSU to establish which fan was making the noise. So, I took the PSU out of the case and stood it on a box while still connected to everything so that I could see both fans and have a good listen.

    Well, once I could get my ear close to the PSU, I noticed that the only noise it was emitting was a gentle purring noise, which was the sound of the air being pushed out (aerodynamic noise). But, somewhere close by was that infernal noise that has been slowly eating me up over the months. Do you know what? It was coming from the hard drives!

    I disconnected their power leads one by one and booted the system to see what difference it made - the main drive (a Western Digital WD400BB 7200 rpm 40Gb drive) was making a slight noise but nothing major, while the second drive (a Western Digital WD200BB 7200 rpm 20Gb drive) was practising for take off!

    So, sorry to waste your time. I'll do some more thorough troubleshooting before I start making accusations, and won't rule out anything next time! Now I'm off to find a quieter hard drive...

    Thanks to everyone for all your help and advice.
  8. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Maybe now that you have a quiet PSU everything else will seem unbareably loud.:D

    My PC sounds like a jet taking off, but the next one I build will be ultra quiet,:cool:

    Its very difficult to tell where noises are coming from when there are so many sources, but its good to hear that you eventually found the cause.:D
  9. Ed Brentnall

    Ed Brentnall TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I was so surprised when I actually heard the hard drives whining away - I couldn't believe that it could have been them causing the noise all this time, but it was!

    It all goes to show, as you say Nic, that it's really difficult to pinpoint the cause of the noise.

    So now, I'm going to replace the noisy hard drive (I wanted a bigger one anyway!) and look to getting a quieter one.

    If anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears (no pun intended!)...
  10. tkteo

    tkteo TS Rookie Posts: 52

    I bought the latest Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 series. It's quieter than the IBM Deskstar I had, and still has not turned into a Deathstar like the IBM :p
  11. tkteo

    tkteo TS Rookie Posts: 52

  12. Ed Brentnall

    Ed Brentnall TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well, I've been advised by the chap that sold me the PSU that the current quietest thing on the market is a Seagate Barracuda IV. Has anyone had any experience with this particular model?

    The other thing that I'm curious about (and the thing that caused me never to suspect the hard drive in the first place) is that my hard drives appear to be making this high-pitched spinning noise all the time, which I find really odd. I always thought that the drives would spin up when needed, and that, when they do, the noise was more gentle. Can anyone tell me whether it is normal for a drive to be audibly spinning the whole time, and whether that noise normally sounds like a noisy fan, please?

    I've checked the Performance by adding the Physical Disk counters to the System Monitor in Administration Tools (I'm running Windows 2000) to see what the disk activity is like (guess who's studying for their MCSE?! :D ) and that showed a lot of idle time, even when downloading a 150Mb file, so the noise can't be the noise of the drive reading and writing. It is constant, too, so it sounds more like a fan that's spinning at the same speed from the moment the PC is powered on.

    If anyone can explain this phenomenon, I would appreciate it as I'm somewhat confused, and have to confess that I don't know much about the way hard drives work, other than them having a number of magnetic platters that the read/write heads pass over to read and write data.

  13. tkteo

    tkteo TS Rookie Posts: 52

    In general, HDDs that use "liquid ball bearing" technology for the disc servo, instead of the "traditional" ball-bearing only type, are quiter. The liquid coating reduces the friction and noise generated. Seagate and Maxtor are two such manufacturers.

    Go to a website like Storage Review, which has excellent articles on HDDs.

    I personally avoid IBM/Hitachi Deskstars like the plague because their recent lines have been literally dying on people.

    The newest lines of HDDs by Maxtor, Seagate and Western Digital are all pretty good. Most of them should be incorporating 8MB cache and noise-reducing technologies by now. I have seen links to a few reviews on Anandtech and Techspot.

    Highly encourage you to be patient, and read up on the wonderful information available from some of these excellent sites. The info will come in handy for rounds of upgrades to come, since a lot of the basic principles do not change.
  14. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    tkteo ...
    I personally avoid IBM/Hitachi Deskstars like the plague
    because their recent lines have been literally dying on people.

    I think that what you are refering to happened about 3 generations back and no longer applies to drives manufactured these days. In fact Fujitsu had an even bigger problem with their MPG series drives only recently and are now no longer manufacturing hard drives for the consumer market.

    Given IBM's past problem, I think that you'll find they are now more aware and take take the greatest of care when designing and manufacturing all drives since, as they cannot afford to risk their good reputation further.

    Also, as regards this 'liquid ball bearing technology' as you put it, the correct term is 'Fluid Dynamic Bearing' (FDB) and they bear no resemblance to ball bearings of any kind (please note that all ball bearings need lubrication).

    I'd also like to point out that nearly all manufacturers (not western digital yet) have moved to producing hard drives that incorporate FDB motors to reduce operating noise and improve reliability. You will be hard pressed to find a modern hard drive that isn't quiet these days, although some may be quieter than others.

    I'd also like to point out that IBM's GXP180 series drives are now some of the quietest available and are virtually inaudable, both during idle and during seek operations. This is something that cannot be said for some of the Maxtor's drives (D740X series specifically - I don't own other maxtor drives) which are quiet during idle, but make easily audible noises during seek operations. Furthermore, all IBM drives allow you to customise their operation (using software) to enhance quietness, performance, and power consumption to your specific preference, should you require to do so.

    I think that whatever hard drive manufacturer you choose these days, you are unlikely to be disappointed, and price/warranty will probably be the main consideration.

    Its good that you provide assistance and suggestions for other readers of this forum, so please do not take my post as criticism. However, I feel that it is important to get the facts correct and to make it clear when an opinion is being given, as otherwise noone will ever take these posts seriously.:cool:
  15. Ed Brentnall

    Ed Brentnall TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Nic and tkteo, thank you both for your responses - all useful stuff for me to bear in mind.

    Can you explain why the Western Digital drive (the WD200BB is more noticeably noisy than the WD400BB) I have makes a constant noise? Even though it's idling, are the platters still revolving, and if so, is it the constant revolution of the platters that is making the constant spinning noise?

    I'm just trying to further my knowledge of these things, that's all.

  16. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    You are correct, the drive noise is caused by the bearings and motor, which continue to run even when idle. The use of FDB motors on newer drives (e.g. Seagate Barracuda IV) reduces this noise.

    If even a small amount of noise bothers you then you might want to look over here for some solutions ...

    Quiet PC

    WD400BB - Sound Emission = 41 dBA
    WD200BB - One of the noisiest Hard Drives - check this link ...

    HDD Test [old]

    quote ...
    "WD Caviar WD200BB: This is the noisiest hard disk drive of all in this group."
  17. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

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