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 Post subject: Help me silence my LOUD server case plz!
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2004 10:52 am 
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Hi,

I'm built a fileserver for my home network a while back and I'm getting more annoyed with it's noise every day. It's a Lian-Li PC70 full tower aluminum case, I'm using a Vantec Stealth 520W power supply, and I have several Vantec Stealth 80mm case fans installed, 6 iirc. I'm using a dual-P3 board so I have 2 cpu hsfs installed, and they're the Thermaltake M2 s370/462. There are 12 hard drives in this case so I need the cooling, right now everything stays really cool inside the case, I have no complaints regarding that. I'd like to do something about the noise though.

If anyone could suggest a way that I could get the volume down on this case, I'd really appreciate it. Here are some photos:

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Thanks for your help!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2004 12:35 pm 
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That's a very loud system, you really should have read some of the articles/checked some old posts/done some searches of the forum, and at least tried to fix a few of the big problems with that system, and gotten an idea as to what the rest might cost.

Vantec "stealth" power supplies aren't stealthy at all, they're some of the most obnoxiusly loud PSU's available. (I heard vantec's explanation is that "stealth" refers to their appearance, not noise level)

The good news is, P3's are pretty easy to cool. What core and speed are they? Exactly what heatsinks are on them?

12 hard drives are also a noise problem, what kinds are they?

An aluminum case will vibrate like crazy from all those hard drives, and to a lesser degree from the fans and PSU as well.

I'm guessing to keep all those hard drives cool without excessive amounts of fans, and without having them in a vibration prone aluminum drive cage, you'll have to put some sort of heatsinks on them.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2004 6:36 pm 
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with all those hard drives, applying sound dampening material to the case could help a fair bit, and that would also stop the aluminum vibrating, if it is. i couldnt see the pictures, are they working?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 11:47 am 
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Location: Toronto
Thanks for the replies. I just checked my local specialty computer retailer and they're still marketing the Vantec PS as a "quiet" accessory. I'll look into that one a little more. The hard drives are all of the 7200rpm variety, they get hot, but I don't really notice any noise from them (especially above the noise from the rest of the case lols). The cpus are s370 P3-1ghz chips. They run fairly cool but I need something on them, of course.

I understand that it's possible to get resistors for my fans so that they'll run more quietly. Specifically, it was suggested to get a 7volt resistor to reduce my fan speeds. It will reduce the airflow as well, reducing cooling, but hey maybe it won't be too bad. Has anyone tried this method before?

Here's another attempt with the pics, no idea what's up with my hosting:



Image
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 12:23 pm 
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Weird, the pics worked when I previewed the message, and they still work when I try opening the urls in my browser. I wonder what's up with that?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 1:14 pm 
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Gregorius wrote:
Thanks for the replies. I just checked my local specialty computer retailer and they're still marketing the Vantec PS as a "quiet" accessory. I'll look into that one a little more. The hard drives are all of the 7200rpm variety, they get hot, but I don't really notice any noise from them (especially above the noise from the rest of the case lols).


7200RPM would be assumed, what brand (and model name or number) are they?

If it's your case vibrating, it won't be obvious what's causing it.

Gregorius wrote:
The cpus are s370 P3-1ghz chips. They run fairly cool but I need something on them, of course.


Any idea if it's a coppermine or tualatin?

Gregorius wrote:
I understand that it's possible to get resistors for my fans so that they'll run more quietly. Specifically, it was suggested to get a 7volt resistor to reduce my fan speeds. It will reduce the airflow as well, reducing cooling, but hey maybe it won't be too bad. Has anyone tried this method before?


There's no such thing as a 7volt resistor, a resistor which reduces one fan to one voltage, will reduce a different fan to a different voltage. This is most useful when your heatsink/fan is a lot more than you need.

Gregorius wrote:
Weird, the pics worked when I previewed the message, and they still work when I try opening the urls in my browser. I wonder what's up with that?


It could be a bandwith limitation, try, instead having the images displayed in the message, putting links to them.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2004 9:04 pm 
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In this case I have 4x WD 120gb (8mb), 1x WD 120gb (2mb), 2x WD 200gb (8mb), 3x Seagate 80gb, 1x Seagate 60gb, and 1x WD 80gb. I've never done any research at all into case vibration. I guess it's possible that's happening here, but it seems like a very small issue compared to fan/air noise, imho.

The P3s are of the Coppermine variety.

My bad about the 7-volt resistor comment. The suggestion was taken from another forum, I'll quote: "...for "7-volting" your fans. It uses the +12, and -5 volt rails. Simple resistors can undervolt your fans too, but aren't adjustable like the fan controllers." NFI what that guy is talking about. I was browsing through a local online retailer's shop (bigfootcomputers.com, mathias, you might know them?) and I was checking out the "quiet" case fans that they have for sale. My current Vantecs are 2050rpm each, producing 21dBA. They have 9dBA 1400rpm SilenX fans that are about double what I paid for my Vantecs. I guess I'll have to buy these unless I could decrease the rpm on my Vantecs. That's possible, right?

(BTW, pics are working right now, yay.)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 6:12 am 
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An interesting problem. Ok, so you should have gotten a sturdy stainless steel case in the first place but it is too late for that. You have to get your case to stop resonating. All aluminium cases do that and the only solution is to use some heavy dampening material on the flat surfaces inside the case. Within the forums you will find a lot of discussions on the various materials under "cases".

I would also replace the fans. I do not know about Vantec but I suppose they are more noisy than Panaflo or Papst. Consider changing them.

Once you change (or undervolt) your fans, the issue of case airflow will come up. I suppose you already checked and removed grills whereever possible but be ready to fight for the airflow.

Gregorius wrote:
In this case I have 4x WD 120gb (8mb), 1x WD 120gb (2mb), 2x WD 200gb (8mb), 3x Seagate 80gb, 1x Seagate 60gb, and 1x WD 80gb. I've never done any research at all into case vibration. I guess it's possible that's happening here, but it seems like a very small issue compared to fan/air noise, imho.


Now this is an obscene amount of WD hard drives in one case :shock: I just threw away my last WD drive bacause I could not bear the high-pitched sound it produces. Having 8 WD drives... there is no solution. They will be noisy and annoying. Try replacing them over the time with Seagate or Samsung drives, don't keep them. No amount of insulation is going to help you here. Try to see if you could live with less space and get rid of them...

Gregorius wrote:
"...for "7-volting" your fans. It uses the +12, and -5 volt rails. Simple resistors can undervolt your fans too, but aren't adjustable like the fan controllers."


For the fans, you better get the quiet fans from the beginning. Then you would not be that worried about downvolting them in the first place. I never tried playing with the 7-volting using +12 and +5 (not -5) rails, I just use the Zalman fan controllers if I have to. Simple, cheap and safe. And adjustable.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 4:36 pm 
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Wow, Tigr, did you read the rest of this thread? You want me to "upgrade" to Panaflo 80mm fans? So I'll take out my Zalman 21db fans and replace them with Panaflos that produce 21db. Something's wrong with your math there. :roll: Ok, maybe I can find Pabst fans that are quieter than my QUIET case fans, but like I said the SilenX fans that I found come at an ultra-premium price. Not cool. Maybe you can quote a sound pressure rating for an 80mm Pabst fan? Thanks.

A sturdy stainless steel case would weigh over a hundred pounds fully equipped. I don't need that, I paid a premium to have a lightweight case. As for resonance, I held the sides of the case with my hands to see if there was any noticable difference in sound... and there was none. 99.9% of the noise in this case is coming from fans and air movement.

As for the hard drives... wow. That's quite the comment you made there! I have 3 other WD drives (including a 36gb 10k rpm Raptor) in another workstation box which is relatively silent. These drives produce NO NOISE. My brand new workstation has a 76gb 10k rpm Raptor and I can barely hear the actuator arm move when I put my ear right up to the case. I appreciate your suggestion, but I'm not interested in spending several hundred dollars for zero improvement in sound emission.
The only possible improvement I can see wrt to the HD situation is to use rubber grommets on the hard drive mounts.

But other than that I think I'm going to focus on airflow and fan noise.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 6:48 pm 
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Yeah, I know of bigfoot computers, and I just noticed in addition to vantec steath power supplies, they also categorize high and ultra speed panaflos under quiet for some bizare reason.

Gregorius wrote:
Wow, Tigr, did you read the rest of this thread? You want me to "upgrade" to Panaflo 80mm fans? So I'll take out my Zalman 21db fans and replace them with Panaflos that produce 21db. Something's wrong with your math there.


I thought you said you had vantec's? Panaflo L1A's are quiter than vantec stealths. They do move a bit less air though. However, from what I know, vantec stealths undervolt alright.

Gregorius wrote:
A sturdy stainless steel case would weigh over a hundred pounds fully equipped. I don't need that, I paid a premium to have a lightweight case. As for resonance, I held the sides of the case with my hands to see if there was any noticable difference in sound... and there was none. 99.9% of the noise in this case is coming from fans and air movement.


It's very hard to believe that vantec stealth fans are producing less noise than WD hard drives. Maybe you should check what effect turning off one or a few of the fans has compared to one/a few WD hard drives, or try one of each in another computer.

If it is fan noise, it should be the fans in your power supply(hard to check how it would sound without those three power supply fans though). You could perhaps take some of those vantec stealth fans and put them in your PSU.

Gregorius wrote:
As for the hard drives... wow. That's quite the comment you made there! I have 3 other WD drives (including a 36gb 10k rpm Raptor) in another workstation box which is relatively silent. These drives produce NO NOISE.


That's impossible for any hard drives, let alone a WD one, if you mean no noise over the other stuff, those have to be quite loud PCs.

Gregorius wrote:
I appreciate your suggestion, but I'm not interested in spending several hundred dollars for zero improvement in sound emission.


You don't neccessarily have to replace them, are you sure you need all of them? Perhaps you could use an external backup drive more? If so, you could check which of those is the loudest and put it in an external enclosure.

Gregorius wrote:
The only possible improvement I can see wrt to the HD situation is to use rubber grommets on the hard drive mounts.


What about suspension? You might not have room for it for all the drives, but maybe it would help a lot if there are one or two particularly loud drives.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 7:43 pm 
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Yes, my bad... I said Zalman but I meant Vantec. But the Vantec Stealths I have are rated at 21db. According to all online documentation I've seen, this is the exact same sound pressure rating as the (quietest available) Panaflos. That's all I'm going by here. If these ratings are wrong, I'll go get the Panaflos asap.

Quote:
It's very hard to believe that vantec stealth fans are producing less noise than WD hard drives.

My comment was indicating that 99.9% of the noise from this case is coming from the fans. I could test the individual drives and fans, but that would probably be a waste. I guess I need to clear up what I'm looking for here, I don't think I could completely silence this case, ie. get it to the same level of sound pressure output as say, my cable modem (which produces no sound at all). I guess I could describe this case as midway between the cable modem and a hair dryer, and I'd like to lower that. If I could get it to the level of an Xbox, I'd be happy.

For the record, the WD Raptor 36gb drive I described was in a very quiet case (relatively speaking), which was maybe just a little louder than an xbox. I guess due to the mountings and manufacture of that case, I couldn't hear that drive. My current workstation is a little noisier than that one, but I'm not lying when I say I can't hear my 74gb Raptor drive in it's case. There are two possible explanations, either I'm purchasing very quiet specimens of these drives, or my ears just automatically tune out the HD noise that you guys are talking about.

I'd like to thank you all for your feedback; I hope it doesn't sound like I'm shooting down all your suggestions. I've got a lot of ideas to work with now because of the feeback in this thread, and over the next few weeks I'll be applying some to my cases. I'll make sure to keep you guys posted.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 9:11 pm 
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Gregorius wrote:
But the Vantec Stealths I have are rated at 21db. According to all online documentation I've seen


"online documentation", nuff said. you're lucky to get manufacturers testing in identical conditions, and even then it's hard to tell if it's a fair comparison... on top of that, cfm/pressure/sound levels are usually given for a fan suspended in air. it's ok, most people here have accidentally bought at least one Stealth. :P
as for the rest of it... are your computers in the middle of an engine room (or a typical office, nearly as loud)? :shock: my pc is mostly "normal" but i can't begin to comprehend 8 WD drives in an aluminum case. if you really want to compare you could simply unplug the power to all the drives and turn the PC on. i don't think anyone even makes stainless steel cases; nice heavy Antec cases and such usually weigh no more than ~40 pounds.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:23 am 
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Gergorius,

What you REALLY need to do FIRST is do some reading in these forums.

#1: Vantec Stealth fans are rated 21 dBA, they're more like 28-30 dBA. Plus their noise is more in the annoying high-frequency range. They undervolt nicely and are acceptable at 5V but don't move enough air to be of any use. You get your best compromise with those fans at around 7V.

#2: Panaflos are rated 21 dBA, they're more like 24 dBA. Considering that the dBA scale is logarithmic, the difference is HUGE. Panaflos undervolt much more nicely. Again you get your best airflow vs noise compromise at around 7V but at 7V a Panaflo is pretty much inaudible. There's a sound recording of a Panaflo at various voltages. It's been done on some very high-priced recording equipment in a controlled environment. There's nowhere else on the net that you'll find equivalent objective info. Moreover, panaflo fans have a better blow profile and panaflo bearings are more resistant no noise increases as time & heat take their toll which is why it's the favorate fan around here.

#3: The quietest Vantec PSU I've heard is the ION (not the ION2) and even that one (at the low-noise setting, which is a very dangerous setting to use in your setup) produces a very high-pitched annoying noise. There are NO quiet Vantec products. Read up on the recommended lists.

#4: Aluminium cases vibrate. Significantly. If you'll stick with aluminium without any dampening, there's no way that setup is going to be quiet with that many harddrives.

#5: HDD vibration noise cannot be heard by listening to your harddrives or putting your hand on the case. You'll only understand the difference once you've suspended them and that's going to be very problematic with so many drives.

#6: WD drives are NOT quiet. The WD 36GB Raptor is a very noisy drive, i hear the 74 gbs are more reasonable. Still no WD drive will be anywhere near a Seagate or a Samsung Spinpoint.

#7: Your comment about your ears tuning out are right on the mark. Human ear adjusts very well to the surrounding noise, to cut out the annoying parts. What this means is your brain is effectively shutting down and discarding some audio info. It also means that your body is being subjected to high frequency noise bombardment which you don't even hear. As you quieten your computer, you'll find that your hearing improves significantly. When I first changed my fans to Vantec Stealths (running at full 12V) I was so pleased to finally have a quiet computer. Now, I find a Panaflo at 7V too noisy.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 4:04 pm 
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Gregorius wrote:
Yes, my bad... I said Zalman but I meant Vantec. But the Vantec Stealths I have are rated at 21db. According to all online documentation I've seen, this is the exact same sound pressure rating as the (quietest available) Panaflos. That's all I'm going by here. If these ratings are wrong, I'll go get the Panaflos asap.


It's not that simple. Did you at least test if turning of half or all your vantecs makes much, if any difference?

Gregorius wrote:
My comment was indicating that 99.9% of the noise from this case is coming from the fans. I could test the individual drives and fans, but that would probably be a waste.


Then test them all at once. Try just the two seagates, compared to two WD's.

And again, it could be other fans. That PSU has three 2500RPM fans, and I hear the auto control leaves them on high pretty much all the time. And the CPU fans look pretty bad( http://www.tr2tt.com/products/coolers/m2.htm ), what speed setting are they at?

Also, restrictive fan grills increase fan noise and decrease airflow. This is the same case you have, right? : http://www.overclockers.com/tips600/index04.asp

:shock:

Those fan grills are bad. http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=2307

Gregorius wrote:
For the record, the WD Raptor 36gb drive I described was in a very quiet case (relatively speaking), which was maybe just a little louder than an xbox. I guess due to the mountings and manufacture of that case, I couldn't hear that drive. My current workstation is a little noisier than that one, but I'm not lying when I say I can't hear my 74gb Raptor drive in it's case.


Although I'd expect the opposite, the server grade drives could be quieter. You won't know until you try unplugging the drives (not while the PC is on!)


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 12:24 pm 
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Bleh, I wish I had more time to do everything I want to do with this case right now. I have a lot of backing up to do before I dismantle that box. I have to burn roughly 500gb of data before I do anything to the case. Then I'm going to completely strip the case bare. I'll replace all the fans (with Panaflo's, I'm ordering them today) and mount the fans on rubber bushings. Once that's done I'll be able to test the fan noise alone and undervolt if necessary. I'll probably get a new power supply, I haven't heard one good thing about it yet so I'll just get an Antec perhaps.

At that stage I'll cut apart the case as much as possible to increase airflow. After that's done, I'll re-mount the hard drives (I can't suspend them, but I'll use rubber grommets) and I'll be able to check each one for noise output. I think I'll replace the cpu hsfs too since these ones are shit.

I'm pretty sure that those mods alone will leave me with a very quiet case, probably not completely silent, but a huge improvement from what I have right now. I'll also apply some of these suggestions to my other cases and reap the benefits. I'm looking forward to all the hard work ahead of me! :D


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