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 Post subject: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:15 am 
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Hi guys! First post here... I've been modifying PCs to be as quiet as possible for years and have somehow only just discovered that this site had a forums section.

A little bit of background for this build... we run a photography/web design business and need a file server to store many terabytes worth of data from years of photography, web design, media collection and the like. We were originally running Intel server gear inside an Antec Atlas chassis but it wasn't particularly quiet and we ran out of HDD bays pretty quickly. Because of a lack of space and the layout of the office the server has to sit ~1m behind and to the right of my desk the drone of fans and HDDs was driving me batty while I worked.

Enter the Define XL...

After several months of research the following parts were selected:

Fractal Design Define XL (10 HDD bays standard, 4 extra bays - perfect for a 4-in-3 enclosure + one hot swappable HDD bay. Comes with some noise damping standard, enough room for E-ATX - a must - and separate sections for PSU/HDDs etc., as well as dust filters (another must) and a minimalist aesthetic)
Seasonic X-560 PSU (as much for the 80 Plus Gold standard as the hope that it'll be inaudible most of the time)
40GB OWC SSDs x2 - System disks which are currently running in our Macs as system drives - we're replacing those and bringing these across to the server
Lian Li EX-34NB - Wanted to leave a reasonable amount of space for airflow between the drives, a 120mm fan and an air filter. This fit all those requirements.
Noctua NH-U12P SE2 - Needed something quiet and I could pinch one of the 120mm fans for the EX-34NB to replace the original fan.
Noctua NF-P14 FLX 140mm fan x3 - For the front two fan bays and exhaust. Tried the fans that came with the case and they don't move particularly much air.
Antec Easy SATA Hot Swap Caddy - Had this laying around and decided to make use of it as the hot swap bay for the backup HDD that we use. It's not a great fit with this case as the case door won't shut while there's a HDD inside it but the HDDs are only there briefly to back up data and are then removed so it's not really a major issue.
WD20EARS & WD10EARS - The first lot of drives we're filling it with are the Western Digital 5400rpm green drives... we have used these before in our server builds and have found them to be excellent in terms of performance, price and noise.

CPU, RAM and motherboard... well, there's a long story there that I'll add into this thread later.

The case when it arrived:

Image

Image

I am quite dubious about the angle of the 180mm fan at the top... but otherwise I've been thoroughly impressed by the case, as well as the R3 which we ordered at the same time for a different build. I have high hopes that I will be able to make this system inaudible from where I sit.

More photos to come as the last of the parts arrive and the build progresses...


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:07 am 
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It'll be nice to see it filled up. :) On that angled fan in the back I haven't seen it in person but in theory I love the fact that the resulting vent faces rearwards so that the top can be as clean as the sides.

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i5-3570K at 4 GHz Turbo, HR-02 Macho w/o fan, MSI R9 290 Gaming, Fractal Design Define R4, 2 front fans, 1 exhaust. 2 SSD's and a quiet Seagate 4TB (ST4000DM000) HDD, Seasonic P-460FL (no squealing).


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:32 am 
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I am very interested in this project...

I had my eye on this case, I was in contact with Fractal-Design during its production and I had been waiting months for a review...I did not proceed to buy it though, partly because my case-noise issue was to an extent resolved with Green/Low Power drives, partly because I did not witness a worthy review out there, so I was in much doubt...

I am very curious about the noise-limiting qualities/virtues of this case and its cooling capacity...I love pictures too, so I;ll be encouraging you to post more info...


Bit-tech.net was not positive about the effectiveness of the top fan, but its review had many faults in the first place...


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:06 am 
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mkk wrote:
It'll be nice to see it filled up. :) On that angled fan in the back I haven't seen it in person but in theory I love the fact that the resulting vent faces rearwards so that the top can be as clean as the sides.


That's one of the reasons this case caught my eye - the fan design looks pretty well suited to the aesthetics and sound levels I'm after...


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 9:24 am 
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Pierre wrote:
I am very interested in this project...

I had my eye on this case, I was in contact with Fractal-Design during its production and I had been waiting months for a review...I did not proceed to buy it though, partly because my case-noise issue was to an extent resolved with Green/Low Power drives, partly because I did not witness a worthy review out there, so I was in much doubt...

I am very curious about the noise-limiting qualities/virtues of this case and its cooling capacity...I love pictures too, so I;ll be encouraging you to post more info...


Bit-tech.net was not positive about the effectiveness of the top fan, but its review had many faults in the first place...


I have to say - just on the "hand behind the grille" feel the top fan does more than the reviews would suggest... there's a reasonable amount of air moving out the back, even while the fan is set to an inaudible level. I'm happy to leave it there at this stage unless there proves to be a better option after some experimentation.

Well we've assembled the case with what we have laying around without putting any effort into noise reduction at all to get a baseline. The case is definitely quieter than the Antec Atlas case we moved from, even with 3x as many hard drives sitting in there. Now to start tweaking...

First port of call was setting up the HDD expansion bay so that we can fit as many hard drives as we want in there...

Image

This particular model is a touch too wide for the case so I had to sand down the inside of the case bays to allow it to slip in without jamming. Only took ~0.5mm of sanding to fit and it's not noticeable from an aesthetic standpoint - the expansion bay sits flush with the front of the case and looks extremely natural... to the point of some visitors looking at it and declaring it a Lian Li case.

It comes standard with some hard rubber grommets:

Image

They're reasonably hard and I'm pretty dubious as to their benefit. Gotta be better than nothing, mind. There's barely any room on either side of the drives inside this expansion bay, though, so I'm also dubious about how easy it will be to rig suspension that's effective. Guess we'll see... we may even end up using this expansion bay in one of our other computers and suspending the HDDs in the normal bay. Just from an aesthetics standpoint I'd like to have this bay work, though. Vanity ftw!

Also... can anyone shed light on why the front is perforated in this pattern?

Image

I can only assume there's some benefit to not having the entire front as open as possible...

First attempt at suspension - there are four sets of elastic there, the second one is almost touching the top hard drive though so it's hard to see.

Image

Result with four HDDs:

Image

You can see the amount of space left inbetween each of the drives is still reasonable in terms of allowing airflow through - I will be checking HDD temps over the next few days to see how it goes, though... and doing my best to check vibrations etc. to see whether it's effective at all. If not, back to the rubber grommets until there's a plan B.

More to come...


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 7:52 am 
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Jim G wrote:
I have to say - just on the "hand behind the grille" feel the top fan does more than the reviews would suggest... there's a reasonable amount of air moving out the back, even while the fan is set to an inaudible level. I'm happy to leave it there at this stage unless there proves to be a better option after some experimentation.


That's good to hear...it does however bring to mind a worthy point (or at least valid suspicion for me) bit-tech.net had made, that the back of the XL has too many drilled holes, thus allowing much noise to escape the case, making the XL noisier than its smaller sibling, the R3...

Jim G wrote:
Also... can anyone shed light on why the front is perforated in this pattern?

Image

I can only assume there's some benefit to not having the entire front as open as possible...

Risking shedding more shadow than light, I'd assume it might have to do with the way the air moves as it is pushed from the fan's spinning blades...maybe it works to distribute the air more fairly across the hdds laying behind the fan? That's conjecture, of course...

Jim G wrote:
First attempt at suspension - there are four sets of elastic there, the second one is almost touching the top hard drive though so it's hard to see.

Image

Result with four HDDs:

Image

You can see the amount of space left inbetween each of the drives is still reasonable in terms of allowing airflow through - I will be checking HDD temps over the next few days to see how it goes, though... and doing my best to check vibrations etc. to see whether it's effective at all. If not, back to the rubber grommets until there's a plan B.

More to come...

I have no opinion on suspension, never tried it, doubtful that I'll try it in the future...

...concerning the hdd adapter, it's generally useful when trying to house as many drives as possible, but I've grown a liking for kind of hdd heatsinks like Revoltec's which serve only one hdd, but are quite effective in cooling, without the need to add extra noise sources like fans...
I've also come to dislike the "screwless" design for the 5.25 device area, which usually just holds these devices on one side only and not very tight too...I'll take the non-user friendly screws (thumbscrews is quite good alternative) over any push-lock solution


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 11:30 am 
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Jim G wrote:
Also... can anyone shed light on why the front is perforated in this pattern?

I recall seeing models with a fan controller, placed in that corner of the panel. I suspect it's there to prevent cables getting snagged.


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 5:56 pm 
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Pierre wrote:

That's good to hear...it does however bring to mind a worthy point (or at least valid suspicion for me) bit-tech.net had made, that the back of the XL has too many drilled holes, thus allowing much noise to escape the case, making the XL noisier than its smaller sibling, the R3...


I have no opinion on suspension, never tried it, doubtful that I'll try it in the future...

...concerning the hdd adapter, it's generally useful when trying to house as many drives as possible, but I've grown a liking for kind of hdd heatsinks like Revoltec's which serve only one hdd, but are quite effective in cooling, without the need to add extra noise sources like fans...
I've also come to dislike the "screwless" design for the 5.25 device area, which usually just holds these devices on one side only and not very tight too...I'll take the non-user friendly screws (thumbscrews is quite good alternative) over any push-lock solution



We purchased the R3 and XL at the same time as new cases for our two servers... currently the XL is noticeably quieter than the R3 but they both have very different kit inside them so it's not a particularly useful comparison.

The suspension didn't prove to be particularly effective - the drives were nicely suspended in the vertical plane but they were pressing into the sides of the enclosure, meaning that the vibrations were being transferred anyway. Back to the drawing board there... I went back to the rubber grommets which came with the EX-34NB and decided to go with those and some acoustic foam on the outside just for the heck of it (had some laying around and figured it couldn't hurt).

Result:

Image

I also applied duct tape to the inside of the top and bottom so as to cover the round holes - I wanted to direct the airflow purely out the back of the enclosure. Between the foam on the sides and the duct tape on the top the airflow has noticeably increased out the back without changing fan speed. There is noticeably more air flow coming through the gaps in the centre than in the much smaller gap between the top and bottom HDDs and the enclosure - still adequate, though, imho.

After installing it in the case I rested my hand on each of the case panels and also the enclosure itself and the vibrations that are being transferred are extremely faint, so I'm happy with that.

Interesting product there for cooling/silencing the HDDs - we need 15 HDDs for our setup, though, so we kind of have to cram them in however we can :/ We were looking at the Norco server cases but since it has to be in the same room as I am noise-wise and we'd prefer a pedestal setup due to space constraints we ended up here with the XL.

Lian Li EX-34NB mounted:

Image

Image

The next time I have it out I'll spraypaint the visible perforated silver section black for no reason other than vanity and being anal retentive about appearances... It is really more noticeable when it's set up in front of the camera - on the floor in real use it looks like a straight black front.

Next step - sorting out the 140mm fans at the front. The Fractal fans that come with the case aren't really wowing me with the amount of air they move... they sure are quiet, though.

I will do some item-specific posts reviewing each bit more in depth later on if there's interest in that - this thread is more for the overall build process.


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 6:04 pm 
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Monkeh16 wrote:
Jim G wrote:
Also... can anyone shed light on why the front is perforated in this pattern?

I recall seeing models with a fan controller, placed in that corner of the panel. I suspect it's there to prevent cables getting snagged.


OK, that makes sense - thanks for the info :)


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 12:20 am 
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Quote:
I will do some item-specific posts reviewing each bit more in depth later on if there's interest in that - this thread is more for the overall build process.


I would be very interested to read reports about the cooling of the hdds in the lower chamber (with / without the "door", although I'd guess it would turn into an oven if the separating plastic door is used)...

One of the things I don't like about fractal design's hdd mounting and hdd cage is that it looks over-restricting cooling wise...

The hdd mounting plate effectively "hugs" the hdd from bottom and sides, without even giving it the benefit of transferring heat through metal-to-metal contact, while the hdd cage looks very wide, allowing just the upper surface of the hdd to be cooled by the transfer of air...

When these possible disadvantages are paired with the restricted space of the lower compartment - the two vertical hdd cages are too close together and the separating door or the psu cables are blocking air circulation - then cooling can be severely hindered...
I like a quiet case, I love a quiet case with lots of room for hdds, but that's only if the hdds are protected from overheating, cause I want/need them for their contents, the material stored in them....I don't have an hdd fetish (although I do "enjoy" the image of an hdd-packed case, neatly configured.....oh well....)


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 7:50 am 
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Modern HDDs require relatively little cooling, and statistics show a higher failure rate for overly cooled drives.


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 11:03 am 
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I believe I know what you are talking about, the Google hdd failure test published some time ago (and discussed here in the forums), but it would be wrong to say that "hotter is better than cooler"...it depends on the temperature range really...

Here in Greece a set of poorly cooled hdds, even Green/Low Power ones, will easily reach higher than 45C at idle...


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 11:39 am 
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Pierre wrote:
I believe I know what you are talking about, the Google hdd failure test published some time ago (and discussed here in the forums), but it would be wrong to say that "hotter is better than cooler"...it depends on the temperature range really...

Here in Greece a set of poorly cooled hdds, even Green/Low Power ones, will easily reach higher than 45C at idle...

That's what they make air conditioning for. I am assuming a reasonable (<30C) ambient temperature. Relatively little cooling will get a modern 7200RPM drive to operate with no more than a 12C temperature rise.


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 2:05 pm 
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Monkeh16 wrote:
Pierre wrote:
I believe I know what you are talking about, the Google hdd failure test published some time ago (and discussed here in the forums), but it would be wrong to say that "hotter is better than cooler"...it depends on the temperature range really...

Here in Greece a set of poorly cooled hdds, even Green/Low Power ones, will easily reach higher than 45C at idle...

That's what they make air conditioning for. I am assuming a reasonable (<30C) ambient temperature. Relatively little cooling will get a modern 7200RPM drive to operate with no more than a 12C temperature rise.

I get the feeling this exchange has the potential of developing into fruitless posting...

What is of interest here is this case's cooling capacity...especially the lower hdd compartment's which is by general standards not setup in the best of ways to keep 6 drives reasonably cool under a low spinning fan...
That could be a problem either generally or comparatively to other cases...furthermore there could be factors in each user's environment that could make a bad situation worse or better, that is the more subjective aspect...

I guess we're not discussing these particular circumstances (at least I am not going to do so) in this thread...how the case "behaves" with regard to cooling the lower compartment drives in a given environment will influence different users' decisions based on their specific predicament, but this is out of scope for this thread I guess...you or I are perfectly able to create our own threads for that...

Moreover, this line of thought, setting up the "air conditioner" to make up for a case's (possible, hypothetical up to this point) deficiencies, is not very sound for the average user...if you are running a datacenter, of course, you would be taking the control of operational environment very seriously...
I wouldn't turn on the air conditioner, though, for many hours during a day for 3+ months to make up for a 130-150€ priced case's limited cooling ability....that's not, to my mind, the kind of advice one would reasonably be giving to an average user (the kind that needs many hdds even)...
...again, that's IF and ONLY IF the cooling of the lower compartment drives (assuming all trays are filled) is bad enough to be considered as problematic...


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 2:27 pm 
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And I am attempting to make the point that the cooling capacity of this case must be exceedingly dire to be unable to cope with cooling HDDs sufficiently in normal operating conditions. So long as there are no major leaks of air along the way, even at 600RPM, I cannot see a 120x120x25mm fan being unable to cool modern drives sufficiently.

Allow me to present an example:
Image

All 250GB SATA drives, sda is the only one made in the last three years, the other three run, as you can see, significantly hotter. They're in a situation of severely restricted flow (1000rpm 120mm fan, filtered, indirect air source), a similar arrangement to the Define XL:
Image

With ambient temperature varying between around 14C to 30C. I would not consider any of these drives to be running excessively hot, although sdb is pushing matters.

I do not believe the Define XL will have any issues cooling six modern drives quietly so long as the ambient temperature is reasonable.


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 3:06 pm 
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Monkeh16 wrote:
And I am attempting to make the point that the cooling capacity of this case must be exceedingly dire to be unable to cope with cooling HDDs sufficiently in normal operating conditions. So long as there are no major leaks of air along the way, even at 600RPM, I cannot see a 120x120x25mm fan being unable to cool modern drives sufficiently.
...
They're in a situation of severely restricted flow (1000rpm 120mm fan, filtered, indirect air source), a similar arrangement to the Define XL
...
I do not believe the Define XL will have any issues cooling six modern drives quietly so long as the ambient temperature is reasonable.

The problem is you are not taking into account the configuration of the lower compartment of the XL, which is very different from the one you are showing in the picture there...
- The drives are not in the main, large compartment but in a confined one
- There are 2 rows of drives very close to one another, not a single column...
- The available airflow routes for the hot air to escape are severely limited:
1) the back of the case from that one series of holes from top to bottom...this is very restricting as is, but with cables running behind the back these could be rendered almost useless
2) the space over the psu to the rear venting holes...in one scenario these are not even available if the plastic separating door is used...in that case only the venting holes in the rear right side can be used to dissipate hot air...
Even if the plastic door is not used (I can find no reason why anyone keeping 6 drives in that compartment would ever use it) the airflow is restricted by the psu, presenting a vertical barrier, and its cables...if you don't own a modular Psu, you are in more trouble...

In sum, there are conditions that could potentially turn that lower hdd space into an "oven", where much heat is produced but is not being pushed out the case at an analogous pace, building up as time passes.

The intake does not fare much better either, with the door and the plastic covers...

So, considering the fan capability alone or in relation to a medium environment, is not enough to valuate this case's cooling capacity...


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 3:45 pm 
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Pierre wrote:
- The drives are not in the main, large compartment but in a confined one
- There are 2 rows of drives very close to one another, not a single column...

Irrelevant.

Quote:
- The available airflow routes for the hot air to escape are severely limited:

I don't believe this to be a significant issue. It is not a sealed environment, you will not be able to build pressure. There is a great deal less impedance to airflow out the back of the case than back through the front.

The P180 series is also not dissimilar in configuration and airflow restriction for the HDD bays, and has crossflow issues, just to throw a spanner in the works. It has no particular cooling issues.

You are making a mountain out of a molehill. I see no reason to believe this case will have difficulties cooling modern HDDs.

I guess we'll just have to wait for some results (with realistic ambient temperatures, I hope) to find out for sure, but my prior experience suggests it'll be fine.


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 4:59 pm 
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Monkeh16 wrote:
You are making a mountain out of a molehill. I see no reason to believe this case will have difficulties cooling modern HDDs.

I am registering doubts, potentialities or "suspicions" based on design, and I designate them as such, with far less conviction than that with which you dismiss them...

Monkeh16 wrote:
Pierre wrote:
- The drives are not in the main, large compartment but in a confined one
- There are 2 rows of drives very close to one another, not a single column...

Irrelevant.

I don't think it's irrelevant that air that crosses over one hot surface is made to cross over another...
...that drives are not just stacked vertically, but also horizontally in VERY close proximity (even in comparison to other such designs) and that they do so in a space where
...there is no clear airflow route, and in that situation that there is no "breathing space" (i.e. if there was unimpeded airflow the "tight" environment might not matter)

Quote:
I guess we'll just have to wait for some results (with realistic ambient temperatures, I hope) to find out for sure

Absolutely...this is dearly missed from reviews around the web...they test a case for cooling, noise suppression and rigidity and they place a single drive in or an HDD and a SSD...this makes them useless to me, having 8 drives and gearing up for nine...

Quote:
but my prior experience suggests it'll be fine

Even if it isn't, nothing that a little air conditioning won't fix...


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 4:07 am 
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Monkeh16 wrote:
Modern HDDs require relatively little cooling, and statistics show a higher failure rate for overly cooled drives.


I have read the Google research results and what I took away from that is that 30-35 (or 35-45) Celsius is the ideal temperature range for a hard drive... being that this server is in a non-temperature-controlled environment I'm having some trouble keeping them to stay that warm in winter! They drop down to <20 degrees at night in winter and I dread to think what's going to happen in the first 45 degree summer this server sees... I aim to have it remain as quiet as possible then but we'll see :S


Pierre wrote:

I would be very interested to read reports about the cooling of the hdds in the lower chamber (with / without the "door", although I'd guess it would turn into an oven if the separating plastic door is used)...

One of the things I don't like about fractal design's hdd mounting and hdd cage is that it looks over-restricting cooling wise...

The hdd mounting plate effectively "hugs" the hdd from bottom and sides, without even giving it the benefit of transferring heat through metal-to-metal contact, while the hdd cage looks very wide, allowing just the upper surface of the hdd to be cooled by the transfer of air...

When these possible disadvantages are paired with the restricted space of the lower compartment - the two vertical hdd cages are too close together and the separating door or the psu cables are blocking air circulation - then cooling can be severely hindered...
I like a quiet case, I love a quiet case with lots of room for hdds, but that's only if the hdds are protected from overheating, cause I want/need them for their contents, the material stored in them....I don't have an hdd fetish (although I do "enjoy" the image of an hdd-packed case, neatly configured.....oh well....)



The hard drive plates seem all but identical to the Antec ones that we replaced - airflow didn't really seem to be that much of an issue there, guess we'll see here...


Monkeh16 wrote:
And I am attempting to make the point that the cooling capacity of this case must be exceedingly dire to be unable to cope with cooling HDDs sufficiently in normal operating conditions. So long as there are no major leaks of air along the way, even at 600RPM, I cannot see a 120x120x25mm fan being unable to cool modern drives sufficiently.

Allow me to present an example:
Image

All 250GB SATA drives, sda is the only one made in the last three years, the other three run, as you can see, significantly hotter. They're in a situation of severely restricted flow (1000rpm 120mm fan, filtered, indirect air source), a similar arrangement to the Define XL:

With ambient temperature varying between around 14C to 30C. I would not consider any of these drives to be running excessively hot, although sdb is pushing matters.

I do not believe the Define XL will have any issues cooling six modern drives quietly so long as the ambient temperature is reasonable.



How did you produce that graph? I'd love to have some sort of automated service keeping track of the HDD temps for me so that I didn't have to run a script myself...


Well, I've been keeping track of the temps for a few days and making notes - if I get time tomorrow I'll post up some results and some more photos of what's gone in since I last posted.


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 4:56 am 
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Jim G wrote:
How did you produce that graph? I'd love to have some sort of automated service keeping track of the HDD temps for me so that I didn't have to run a script myself...


http://munin-monitoring.org/


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 5:12 am 
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Monkeh16 wrote:
Jim G wrote:
How did you produce that graph? I'd love to have some sort of automated service keeping track of the HDD temps for me so that I didn't have to run a script myself...


http://munin-monitoring.org/


Thanks very much for that - will try installing it tomorrow morning.


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 5:35 am 
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Location: England
Jim G wrote:
Monkeh16 wrote:
Jim G wrote:
How did you produce that graph? I'd love to have some sort of automated service keeping track of the HDD temps for me so that I didn't have to run a script myself...


http://munin-monitoring.org/


Thanks very much for that - will try installing it tomorrow morning.


I would hope your distro has a package. Criminal not to.


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 7:23 am 
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Posts: 400
Location: Boston, MA, USA
Monkeh16 wrote:
I would hope your distro has a package. Criminal not to.
Hooray beer (as in freedom)!

_________________
Currently running Mint 14 MATE on all machines.
Desktop/Gaming: E8400 / 650ti + Accelero S1 / Antec Solo
Myth Backend + Home Server: D945GSEJT / WD15EADS / Hauppage 950Q / Home made case
Myth Frontend + HTPC: Sempron 140 / Asus M4A785-M
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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 8:38 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:55 am
Posts: 127
Location: Greece
Quote:
The hard drive plates seem all but identical to the Antec ones that we replaced - airflow didn't really seem to be that much of an issue there, guess we'll see here...

This hypothesis, that the mounting plate has a slight negative effect on hdd cooling stems from my experience with my Chieftec full tower case which utilizes side mounting rails, in comparison to Fractal Design Define R2, which I have owned for a while...although in the former the hdds are cooled by smaller and lower spinning fans and all hdds don't seem to get the same amount of air, it kept the hdds cooler by at least 2-3 degrees Celcius if I remember correctly...I don't want to reduce the different results simply and solely to the mounting system, but I do believe it had some effect, that it did account for some part of the difference...
...to my mind the prime advantage of a mounting plate should/could be improved decoupling...if it doesn't achieve that, a system that allows more parts of the hdd to be cooled by airflow (even if the results are small - depending on the configuration, maybe they could be more or less significant or visible) is preferable...

But I guess testing will establish or deny our hypotheses and reply to our concerns...

I've been lucky enough that my hdds generally keep within or very close to the optimal temperature range throughout the year...but from early-mid May on, it can get ugly...July and early August are a nightmare, though...


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 8:52 pm 
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Posts: 89
Location: Australia
D'oh. Double post. How do I delete a post?


Last edited by Jim G on Fri May 06, 2011 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 8:53 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:46 am
Posts: 89
Location: Australia
Jim G wrote:


Bleh. The standard package installs fine but for some reason it won't recognise any additional plugins that I add into the plugins folder. And of course HDD temps aren't monitored by default. Darn darn darn...


OK. Since we're having supplier issues with the server internals I've put some of the stuff we've already got in there so that we can at least have some of the server up and running in the meantime. That means:

AMD X2 555 BE - CPU
Asus M4A88TD-M - Mobo

It's not like we need a lot of horsepower to run this thing as a fileserver anyway and that's it's main purpose. I'm hanging out to add in the rest of the HDDs, though.. :(

Following on from the above HDD enclosure that's been installed... with the standard Noctua fan in front the hard drives are running way too cold. At 19 degrees ambient the HDs were being kept in the low 20s which imho is way too cold for a drive. So I put on both the LNA and ULNA that came with one of the other Noctua fans... there's still more than enough airflow past the drives (done by a basic "hand behind it" test) and the HDD temps have risen to between 32 and 37 degrees, which I'm much happier with. The 120mm fan is inaudible in this setup. I foresee taking out the LNA in summer at the very least...

Since we can't put in more than 6 HDDs until the rest of the stuff arrives I've filled some of the empty slots with old HDDs that we have laying around to simulate the amount of stuff that'll be in the way of the airflow once everything's set up. I had a look at the upper HDD cage and found that quite a bit of the airflow from the front 140mm fan was escaping around the sides of the cage and slipping past the HDDs on either side, greatly reducing the amount of airflow over the drives themselves. A bit of adhesive foam around the edges later:

Image

Far side image to come.

The airflow coming over the middle of the drives and out the inside of the HDD cage has greatly increased following this mod, which made me quite happy. This allowed me to downvolt the front Noctua 140mm fans and still be sitting in the low 30s temperature-wise. I'll be interested to see what happens to temps once four drives are on and in there, though.


I also attempted to pull out the 180mm fan to turn it 90 degrees for cable management purposes... I had assumed that it was just clipped in - a hint for those who want to remove the fan... it's not just clipped in. Two screws hold it in place. You have to remove the four screws on the sides where the fan meets the chassis, slide the whole contraption out over the CPU cooler (only JUST fits over the Noctua cooler) and then replace in the same way.

Image

You can see the holes on the far side that the screws go into in the above shot.

Honestly - I can't hear a darn thing when the 180mm fan is on.. and I can't hear any difference when it's switched off. Thus I'm running it at its normal speed. The amount of air moving out the back is fairly surprising and given that it doesn't make any noise I'm pretty darn happy with leaving it as-is.

So... to keep myself occupied inbetween now and when a new CPU/mobo/raid card arrives I'll swap some of the HDDs to the lower bay and see what the temps are like down there.



Also - with the Noctua cooler + 120mm Noctua fan w/ULNA adapter and the current case airflow the X2 (stock) is running at 35 degrees @ 100% (mPrime)... 19 degrees ambient. It sits around 27 degrees on idle.


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 9:12 pm 
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Posts: 42
Cool modifications and such but I don't see how this is much cheaper/convenient than a Norco 4220/4224 case with 120mm middle attachment and some reasonable 80mm back fan replacements.
Building this myself with a couple noctua back fans/ 120mm middle fans. It's in a separate room though and I can keep it louder.
Nice pictures though! Honestly don't be too anal about hard drive airflow google's own report stated hard drive temperature didn't have a big effect on drive life.
In the discussions i've read i'd say anything between 20-50 degrees is safe/normal.


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 9:19 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:46 am
Posts: 89
Location: Australia
systemlayers wrote:
Cool modifications and such but I don't see how this is much cheaper/convenient than a Norco 4220/4224 case with 120mm middle attachment and some reasonable 80mm back fan replacements.
Building this myself with a couple noctua back fans/ 120mm middle fans. It's in a separate room though and I can keep it louder.
Nice pictures though! Honestly don't be too anal about hard drive airflow google's own report stated hard drive temperature didn't have a big effect on drive life.
In the discussions i've read i'd say anything between 20-50 degrees is safe/normal.


The Norco cases you mention there are close to triple and double the cost of the Fractal Design case respectively (around here, anyway!)... they were on my shortlist of enclosures for this, mind, but the added expense didn't seem worth it in the end... that and I wanted to fiddle. :p I have to sit within 1m of this case every day for work and I wanted something that was reasonably quiet to begin with.

I had a pretty thorough read of Google's HDD report and decided to interpret the results as meaning that the ideal range was 30-45 or 35-45 degrees based on what I read there. I haven't had a good look around here to find a discussion on that, though, and I'm open to other interpretations....


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 3:09 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:55 am
Posts: 127
Location: Greece
Quote:
Following on from the above HDD enclosure that's been installed... with the standard Noctua fan in front the hard drives are running way too cold. At 19 degrees ambient the HDs were being kept in the low 20s which imho is way too cold for a drive. So I put on both the LNA and ULNA that came with one of the other Noctua fans... there's still more than enough airflow past the drives (done by a basic "hand behind it" test) and the HDD temps have risen to between 32 and 37 degrees, which I'm much happier with. The 120mm fan is inaudible in this setup. I foresee taking out the LNA in summer at the very least...

Since we can't put in more than 6 HDDs until the rest of the stuff arrives I've filled some of the empty slots with old HDDs that we have laying around to simulate the amount of stuff that'll be in the way of the airflow once everything's set up. I had a look at the upper HDD cage and found that quite a bit of the airflow from the front 140mm fan was escaping around the sides of the cage and slipping past the HDDs on either side, greatly reducing the amount of airflow over the drives themselves. A bit of adhesive foam around the edges later:
...
The airflow coming over the middle of the drives and out the inside of the HDD cage has greatly increased following this mod, which made me quite happy. This allowed me to downvolt the front Noctua 140mm fans and still be sitting in the low 30s temperature-wise. I'll be interested to see what happens to temps once four drives are on and in there, though.

Good to hear the hdds are cooled very effectively in the upper compartment, and nice trick for directing airflow...
It's not all that clear though, and pardon my potentially stupid question, if all four drives in the main compartment were powered on (??) or some served just as obstacles to airflow...sorry for that...

Quote:
So... to keep myself occupied inbetween now and when a new CPU/mobo/raid card arrives I'll swap some of the HDDs to the lower bay and see what the temps are like down there.
Hooray!! This is my only main concern with this case since I would keep all the bottom hdd trays occupied, and if the results are good, I might give it a go...


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 Post subject: Re: Server "Tycho" - Fractal Design Define XL w/15 HDDs.
PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 3:37 am 
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Joined: Sun May 04, 2008 2:57 pm
Posts: 507
Location: England
Jim G wrote:
Jim G wrote:


Bleh. The standard package installs fine but for some reason it won't recognise any additional plugins that I add into the plugins folder. And of course HDD temps aren't monitored by default. Darn darn darn...


The configuration is fairly simple:
Code:
astriaporta munin # cat plugin-conf.d/munin-node
[cpu]

[cpuspeed]

[hddtemp_smartctl]
user root
group root
env.drives sda sdb sdc sdd

[memory]

[sensors_*]
astriaporta munin # ls -al plugins/
total 4.0K
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 2.0K May  7 11:30 ./
drwxr-xr-x 7 root root 2.0K May  7 11:31 ../
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root   30 May  7 11:30 cpu -> /usr/libexec/munin/plugins/cpu*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root   35 May  7 11:30 cpuspeed -> /usr/libexec/munin/plugins/cpuspeed*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root   43 May  7 11:30 hddtemp_smartctl -> /usr/libexec/munin/plugins/hddtemp_smartctl*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root   33 May  7 11:30 memory -> /usr/libexec/munin/plugins/memory*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root   35 May  7 11:30 sensors_temp -> /usr/libexec/munin/plugins/sensors_*


systemlayers wrote:
Honestly don't be too anal about hard drive airflow google's own report stated hard drive temperature didn't have a big effect on drive life.

I think you'll find the graphs in their report indicate otherwise. Failure rates at high and low temperatures were significantly higher than the midrange.
Image


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