Making my Windows 10 computer labor less

Invariably when exporting a developed photo to disk, and sometimes when working on a photo, my PC gets undesirably noisy. I’m wondering what measures to take, in what order, to ameliorate this.

As background, I’m running Photolab 3.2–but I had the same problem with Photolab 2–and Windows 10 Home on a Dell XPS 8930 with:

  • Intel i7-8700 cpu @ 3.20 GHz with 6 cores and 12 threads
  • 16GB (2x8) DDR-4-2666 Micron RAM
  • 1TB WD Blue SN550 NVMe Internal SSD
  • NVidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card with 4GB RAM

If the issue is simply fan noise, then there appears to be a straightforward solution, involving replacing the fan at the top of the case and adding at least one fan at the front of the case. This is a widely-discussed topic at the Dell XPS community forum. See, for example, XPS 8930 SE, Exhaust Fan and PSU Upgrade.

Not being an expert, however, I wonder if an alternate approach might be to make my computer work less hard. From what I’ve read here, this doesn’t seem to be the case: my computer’s components, listed above, are all “good enough.”

But as I say, I’m no expert. So, I’m hoping one or more of you can offer a better-informed view.


Hi, RebDovid. I’m not sure what you mean by making your computer work less hard. But in general, a computer that gets noisy when working hard can be quieted down by opening it up, listening for the source of noise, and evaluating the following:
(a) If possible, use larger case fans, which move more air without having to spin as fast.
(b) If possible, replace loud fans with quieter fans. (Shop around on a site like Newegg or Micro Center where components are reviewed by people who tend to build their own computers).
© Make sure the inside of the computer case is clean and tidy - no obstructions or clogs.
(d) If a fan is old or damaged, it can get very loud even at low speeds.
(e) In my experience, Dell power supplies tend to be cheap and underpowered. Consider getting a premium power unit for your computer.

I think you’re on the right track. Improving the airflow in your computer’s cabinet will cool your PC better and result in the fans not having to spin so fast.

One thing you could check is your main processor heat sync and fan. Generally over time these get clogged up with dust, if it is then give it a good blowing out, this will keep your system cooler, and if your system automatically manages fan speed proportional to heat (i.e. the fan speeds up when the processor is working hard), then it should be quieter after a good clean (it won’t have to spin up as much due to more efficient cooling).

You can do the same for graphics card and case fans. Some cases also have filters around the case fans in an attempt to keep the inside of your computer dust free (avoiding the above), if it does, take them out and clean them.

giving your system a good clean from time to time is the best way to keep it cool and hopefully less noisy.

If you are into upgrading, then what Greg said is sound advice. There are low noise fans on the market, and also as Greg said if your case will take them then use bigger fans, the move more air for a slower spin speed and therefore they are quieter.

Thank you both for your suggestions.

Greg’s first two points echo the consensus at the Dell XPS community forum: replace the Dell top-of-case fan with a Noctua NF S12a FLX and add at least one more to the front of the case. Before posting here, I thought that would be the first thing to try. It’s also relatively inexpensive. I just hoped for input from people familiar with the demands Photolab 3 puts on Windows 10 computers.

Your fourth suggestion, albeit more expensive. is one I’ve also considered. At the XPS forum, there’s a lot of sentiment for the Seasonic FOCUS 850 watt fully modular PSU. The OuterVision calculator suggests a 500W PSU (the XPS comes with a 460W PSU). Negative comments about these Seasonic PSUs, for example, at linustechtips, together with my own experience and positive experience with Corsair, has me tending towards a Corsair RMx. I’d been thinking of the 650W unit, as it’s only $10 more than the 550W PSU. As the 650 is out of stock at anything close to list price, my choice seems to be between the 550 and the 750, which is another $10 more.

As for cleaning the inside of the case, I did that a week ago when I installed the SSD. It wasn’t that dirty before, and the cleaning hasn’t made a noticeable difference.

As mentioned above, if with the case open you can hear the CPU fan running more noisily based on workload then apart from cleaning as needed, the only option is to replace the complete set of HSF or maybe just the fan as the bearing could also be worn badly?

Thermal paste: Sometimes, it is a weak link in heat transport…

I think REbDovid is trying to say that DxO Photolab is a resource hog and I agree with him. It’s the same with my computer.
I was just doing a test with DxO and my other RAW converters watching CPU performance in Task Manager.
DxO makes utilizations of my CPU to jumps to 100% much more often then any other RAW converter I have on my comp.

That’s not necessarily bad, it can mean that processing with DPL is not wasting CPU resources.

i use a very similar system but with a NVIDIA GTX 1070. i belive the noise could come from the fans of the grafik card which are standing still here most of the time till they get needed.

To the extent the graphics card is the problem, and assuming that I’m not going to upgrade the 1050 Ti, how useful, if at all, do you think a better/larger power supply unit and case fan changes would be?

I bet DxO developers can answer the question if Photolab needs more computer resources then other RAW converters.
As you know from my posts on this forum I use a few different RAW converters like Lightroom, Capture One, Adobe Camera Raw and recently I also got On1.
As you also know I like to play and develop the same photo in all those RAW converters – I make similar adjustments with the same photo to see, how different results I get in each converter.
So I can assure you DxO gives me this spinning dot circle in bottom right corner when preparing preview and other converters give me preview with no lag.

Check this thread below. You will find other users asking for performance improvements.

So; are some DxO developers around here to comment how good is Photolab engine optimized.

i belive that a larger power supply just do nothing.
i also don`t see any need for upgrading yout 1050 Ti, it should be powerful enough.

i use some different raw converter and yes, photolab isn`t the fastest but for me it is the best solution for my needs.

I use DxO on a laptop similar to, but not the same as RebDovid.
I can’t deny that export is resource intensive but there are things you can do to share out the pain.

  • Firstly, one can tell Windows 10 to use the GTX1050 instead of the laptop’s integrated GPU. Go to Settings, Graphics Settings, choose PL, and select the high performance option. I can’t prove this makes the machine pant less, but it definitely reduces CPU fan speed when I run the Topaz AI utilities
  • Secondly, I export all the photos in low(ish) quality until I pick the shots I really want to work on.

I also use Topaz sharpen AI over the facilities in PL. Again, I haven’t got any proof this saves time; I do it because for the moment I get better results than from using NIK 2.5, and I have no proof that my current workflow takes more time than doing it all inside PL.

  • List item

Thank you for your advice. I’ve changed the setting. I’ll listen for any difference.

If this doesn’t work I think you should buy something like this:

Hint: it’s a Supercomputer.
I would say there is 65% probability this baby will drive Photolab without a lag.

…and can scratch your back with those decorations :weary:

Ah! but can you afford the electricity bill :thinking: :smiley: Or are you a bitcoin miner with your own system :upside_down_face:

My issue is noise, not lag.

I guess I exaggerated a bit with Supercomputer idea and I also didn’t think about electricity bill. :sunglasses:

Well; about the noise….
Photolab makes hard on your CPU so the CPU gets hot and the fan spins at max RPM to cool it down. If you were a gamer you would know how the fan spins when playing one of those CPU intensive games.
It’s the same with my comp (Intel i7-4770 3.40GHz ; 16GB RAM ; Win 10/64bit) when I run Photolab.
I don’t have this problem with other RAW converters.
Photolab is ‘’CPU intensive’’ RAW converter. Period.

If you like Photolab and the fan noise bothers you perhaps you should consider one of those fanless water cooling …. at least till they optimize Photolab core to be less resource hog.

Wouldn’t earmuffs be a cheaper solution?