The last two generations of G4 PowerMacs were not known for being quiet. The Mirror Door Drive (MDD) PowerMac caused such a stir with its noise that a website was started to protest it and Apple faithful complained in droves to the company. I own a machine from both generations, one known as the QuickSilver and the other a Mirror Door Drive. The QuickSilver sounds like it was equipped with wind-tunnel fans but the noise is even, so I don’t find it particularly bothersome. My MDD PowerMac was another story.
My MDD PowerMac was one of those built after Apple responded to customer complaints, so it had a quieter case fan and less noisy power supply fans. But the factory case fan had an annoying knock to it, and the power supply fans still whined, even though they were supposed to be quieter. I tried to get Apple to replace the case fan but had no luck.
I’ve searched the web for a year for a solution to the MDD’s noise. I wanted it to be as quiet as my homebuilt PC which I had constructed using components known to be low noise. The best known solution for the MDD was by a German company named Verax that made a kit to answer the MDD noise problem. The kit supplied new fans for the MDD’s power supply and replaced the large 120mm case fan with two smaller fans fitted to a special mount sitting on the CPU. The kit was very expensive, retailing at over $350. I did not want to spend that much money on the problem.
Many Mac owners solved the case fan noise problem by replacing the original fan with a 120mm Panaflo fan. There are several breeds of this fan, and I wasn’t sure what the spec airflow was supposed to be. If I replaced the case fan with one that didn’t put out enough air, I ran the risk of overheating the CPUs. But a few weeks ago, I finally found the specs on the factory supplied case fan and found a Panaflo fan that might work. While it didn’t put out as much air as the original factory fan, it was significantly quieter and had enough airflow where I thought it might work. I ordered it and, after trimming up its sides a bit, managed to fit it into the MDD case and hooked it up to the motherboard’s socket. The fan did nothing. Betting that the electrical lead polarity was reversed, I cut the wires and then spliced them to its socket’s pins backwards. The next time I started the MDD, the fan started right up.
It was a LOT quieter!
The power supply fans were now the loudest components on the machine. I discovered that in the last year the Verax fan kit had been broken into two pieces, allowing me to buy replacement power supply fans for only $129. I ordered the kit, removed and opened the MDD’s power supply following its instructions, and installed the new fans.
The MDD PowerMac is VERY quiet now. I can hear its hard disks hit for the first time; and when it’s not hitting the hard disks, I can barely tell it is on. Even so, the MDD runs at essentially the same temperature as before.
Too bad it took me a year and about $150 to solve a problem Apple needed to have designed out in the first place. Apple has largely addressed the problem with noise in its G5 model PowerMacs, though some problems with CPU’s ?chirping?have been experienced. I’m hoping quietness is one of the ramifications of ?water cooling? recently introduced in the G5.
One of the things I loved about the flat panel iMac was its silence. You could almost never hear it running. The same holds true for Dell computers. The day of the quiet PC has come. For me, the day of the quiet PowerMac has, too.