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 Post subject: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:22 am 
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Hi, I ordered a Fractal Design Define XL 2 months back. Starting 2 weeks ago. The case started developing an intolerable vibration.

The vibration noise is a high level of rattle that comes on and off every 2 seconds, so I assume it's Hard drive related. I do have 4 7200rpm hard drives spinning including the the seagate 3TB, which has a pretty bad vibration profile.

If I take off the side panel, the sound goes away. However, I detect no notice-able loose-ness in the panel and pressing against the panel. Sometimes, if I loosen or tighten the side-panel noise, the side panel vibration goes away for a few hours.

Anyone has any similar problems? Solutions? RMAing such a heavy case just isn't too economical, and I'd like to avoid doing so.


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:00 am 
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If you unscrew the hard drives just a little bit, then they won't be screwed on too tightly to the rubber. This might reduce vibrations a bit.

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:10 am 
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Thanks for the suggestion. I actually already replaced those rubber groments with ones from the Antec P180 (They fit).

I am inclined to believe this is side panel related. Unfortunately. Fractal Define doesn't seem to respond to e-mails or voicemails... It's a big difference comopared to Antec or Corsair's RMA response time.


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:55 am 
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If the side panel is a problem then I read a post here at SPCR that it's possible to attach a vinyl plate on the side panel thus increasing the weight significantly. This will reduce the vibration caused by the side panel. I don't remember the exact material (I only remember that it was vinyl, very heavy, and could be attached to the side panel).

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:04 pm 
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Is there any other way?

The Define XL has side panels lined with bitumen, so it is quite heavy as is. I can't see any visible warping of the panel or gaps at the sides, either.

Another day passed without a response from Fractal Design. Very disappointed at their customer service...


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:28 pm 
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There's just no chance for that panel to be resonating, since it's so heavily loaded. Mounting it may add pressure to the case so that the structure or the thin top starts to amplify vibrations coming from the drive cage. As said, loosen the screws a little if they are tight. Another thing that could possibly change the noise is changing the position of the drives in the case, as there are many places to choose from. If one of the drives is worse than the other, some suspension in one of the 5,25" bays would help.

I've only had experience with their swedish support but they've been quick. Perhaps they are having a backlog since Computex. Not that support could likely have much to say about this situation.

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:04 pm 
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I've fought this exact same thing as you - It is an inevitable thing when you have multiple hard drives of similar RPM. It's referred to sometimes as "beating", and is occurs when the hard drive's RPMs vary slightly (they don't exactly have the same RPM), and serve to either amplify each others vibration, or lessen it. I tried soft mounting, loosening screws, grommets, etc, and the ONLY solution that worked for me was suspension. I know it's not the answer you want to hear, as it takes considerably more work, but at least you know of someone else who's gone though it and beat it.

I currently run all of my storage as NAS in another room for this very reason. Some people don't notice the "beating" at all, but it was ultra super annoying to me.

BTW - one way to test this is to boot with only your system drive powered up. I'll bet that the pulsing hum goes away totally. Its not a function of an any single drive, but more so the way they interact with each other. I suspect 1 each of 10,000 rpm, 7,200 rpm, 5,400 rpm drives would not exhibit this, as their harmonics do not cross each other.


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:46 pm 
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Thanks for all the input.

mkk wrote:
Mounting it may add pressure to the case so that the structure or the thin top starts to amplify vibrations coming from the drive cage. As said, loosen the screws a little if they are tight. Another thing that could possibly change the noise is changing the position of the drives in the case, as there are many places to choose from.


I think this might help. I chose this case because how I can have relative good airflow in the main chamber. I am quite hesitant to use the top chamber for drives, but, that being said, the top hard drive cage is rock solid while the bottom cages have quite some flex (I can bend the sides with my hand).

Mankey wrote:
It's referred to sometimes as "beating", and is occurs when the hard drive's RPMs vary slightly (they don't exactly have the same RPM), and serve to either amplify each others vibration, or lessen it. I tried soft mounting, loosening screws, grommets, etc, and the ONLY solution that worked for me was suspension. I know it's not the answer you want to hear, as it takes considerably more work, but at least you know of someone else who's gone though it and beat it.

I currently run all of my storage as NAS in another room for this very reason. Some people don't notice the "beating" at all, but it was ultra super annoying to me.


Hmm, thanks, I'll look into it. I had the same hard drives in my old P180, and a Corsair 550D setup I tested but abandon. The vibration in both cases were heavy enough to transmit through the case (as it does in my fractal). However, the fractal takes it to a whole different level, the "beating" is as loud as a cat at times (it comes and goes). I am considering setting up my hard drives in a separate DAS case now... This is very frustrating... I can only imagine what you went through.

I live in a small studio in NYC, so no option for separate room placement.


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:59 am 
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Just as an aside, I think the "vinyl material" mentioned was vinyl floor tiles.

I've had many HDD setups over the years and it's just a fact of HDDs that they will vibrate and cause the associated beating (comes and goes) or humming (steady "buzz"). Usually you can locate the offending part by pressing it with your fingers or hand, which makes the sound stop. In this case I suspect the cages might be the culprit based on the flexibility you mentioned, transmitting those vibrations to the internal divider plate or the bottom of the case or both. Hard to verify by pressing if the side panel has to be on though - if pressing the side panel doesn't remove the noise, then it's more than likely heavy and rigid enough to not be the cause.

Four 7200 RPM drives will vibrate just about anything I've ever tested - I've built many setups into some 6 different cases for many different people and had 2-6 drives in my own at various times. The only way I/we ever got more than 2 drives to stay quiet was suspension or 5.25" bay enclosures. Even then the "free" drives create a little baseline of noise.

You really have to try an HDD-less or suspended setup to notice what the difference can be. Even an SSD upgrade to an HDD laptop can serve as an indicator - my UL30A turned completely silent in idle with an SSD.

The living arrangement sounds less than ideal to host a server-load of HDDs, but sometimes there's no choice. A separate enclosure you could put behind a drawer or something, maybe weighed down, might be the best thing. What you can't insulate, isolate!

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 7:24 am 
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On a side note. Realized that I can reduce (almost eliminate, but not quite) the beating sound by adding pressure on the bottom PSU side of the case (requires so much pressure that I have to hold the case with another hand or else the case moves first). So the problem might be side panel related afterall. Or it might be related to the PSU mount (thin backplate).... Still trying to figure this out.... Maybe if I line the sides of the panel with some tape....

Fractal Design's tech support responded. The guy seems very nice. I hope he can help me out. I guess I am a bit spoiled by the amazingly fast response time of the likes of Antec, corsair, and asus (Used to buy and swap parts, and keep 4 + computers on a regular basis, so used a lot of their support).

Das_Saunamies wrote:
You really have to try an HDD-less or suspended setup to notice what the difference can be. Even an SSD upgrade to an HDD laptop can serve as an indicator - my UL30A turned completely silent in idle with an SSD.


Yup, I am too well aware. I used to have a suspended setup. An Antec Solo case for my NAS, and a Lian-li with custom suspension as 2nd NAS. I got rid rid of them and swapped for 3TB HDs. I was trying to slowly phase out my time consuming computer building and PC gaming hobby (promised myself that this will be my last gaming PC, too) .... and also get some space back from my nerd-tastic apartment.


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:29 am 
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Das_Saunamies wrote:
Just as an aside, I think the "vinyl material" mentioned was vinyl floor tiles.


Precisely!

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:18 am 
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Been in touch with Fractal Design's Support. So, this could be side panel related after all. I was asked to bench the side panel and try to make things better. Well, it's working, kinda. Except it's very hard to get it just right. Surprisingly how much you can bend those bitumen panels with ease. The Moduvent could be part of the problem here. The panel "pops" when I try to bend it, which is part of the reason it's so hard to get right. You are never sure how much the panel "pops" back.

I am going to give this another go tonight. Wish I have a bender.

I also found out that the bottom dust filter was loose enough that was causing some vibration noise (plastic to metal).

The bottom hard drive case just doesn't have enough rigidity to keep things quiet. The middle divider, especially, is still causing a lot of vibration noise. I saw a post on [h]ardforum where some one was able to suspend mount HDs in a Fractal R3, so I am going to give that a go, considering the XL has similar cages.

So far, the XL is causing a lot of extra work. I am starting to regret dumping my old trusty P180B.


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:33 am 
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Case damping doesn't do any good when a panel is loose enough to vibrate where it attaches to the body of the case. Bending may work, but you might also try a soft tape (such as athletic tape or cloth electrical tape) along the edge if it can be applied and still allow you to attach the panel.

BTW, what do you think of the build quality of the Fractal Design case? I'm reading a lot of mixed reviews about poor workmanship and fit, thin panel material, and subsequent damage to cases in shipping. They don't sound quite up to the quality of cases from Antec that I've used in the past.

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:16 am 
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I will try to comment on the build quality of the Fractal Design case in more details after my final attempts at fixing some of my issues. Otherwise, I think my judgment will be clouded.


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:56 pm 
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Yikes. At least this'll be a learning experience. I just had someone buy 2-4 XLs for company use, luckily they plan to use SSDs so the vibration shouldn't be an issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:04 pm 
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Das_Saunamies wrote:
Yikes. At least this'll be a learning experience. I just had someone buy 2-4 XLs for company use, luckily they plan to use SSDs so the vibration shouldn't be an issue.


Why would you buy XL sized cases unless you're going to load them up with hard drives?

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 2:48 pm 
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JJ wrote:
Das_Saunamies wrote:
Yikes. At least this'll be a learning experience. I just had someone buy 2-4 XLs for company use, luckily they plan to use SSDs so the vibration shouldn't be an issue.


Why would you buy XL sized cases unless you're going to load them up with hard drives?


It's a triple-GPU setup.

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Case: FD Define Mini
Parts: P8Z77-M Pro µATX, N650Ti-1GD5/OC, G.Skill 2x4/1600/CL9 DDR3U, Xonar DX, WD G 1 TB, m4 128 GB, RX-5300 PSU
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE2 + Scythe SS PWM, 2x Noctua NF-P12
Extras: Eaton UPS, Dell 24" EIPS, Ducky TKL kb, SteelSeries m, Synology DS213j 3+3 TB RAID1
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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:31 pm 
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Das_Saunamies wrote:
It's a triple-GPU setup.


For cooling?

Does a high volume case offer much better cooling than a smaller one with very good airflow?

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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:55 pm 
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JJ wrote:
Das_Saunamies wrote:
It's a triple-GPU setup.


For cooling?

Does a high volume case offer much better cooling than a smaller one with very good airflow?


Going OT, but AFAIK the choice was made for the motherboard support and sectioned designed, lower price than Antec where they bought from. PSU and drives out of harm's (or airflow's) way is usually a Good Thing™. I don't have a comprehensive enough testing background to make more than educated guesses about the cooling, so I won't - the form chosen here is based on other factors anyway.

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Case: FD Define Mini
Parts: P8Z77-M Pro µATX, N650Ti-1GD5/OC, G.Skill 2x4/1600/CL9 DDR3U, Xonar DX, WD G 1 TB, m4 128 GB, RX-5300 PSU
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE2 + Scythe SS PWM, 2x Noctua NF-P12
Extras: Eaton UPS, Dell 24" EIPS, Ducky TKL kb, SteelSeries m, Synology DS213j 3+3 TB RAID1
idle & load: CPU 32 °C & 44 °C @ 300/600 & 600/800 RPM, GPU 35-65 °C @ 1200-1650 RPM


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:27 pm 
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I think I found the culprit to my vibration after a long journey of hard drive suspension, new side panel, cutting rubber strips to secure the side panel further, and adding weight to the mid dividing panel, which all turned out ineffective.

The culprit were the PCI slot covers.... They are causing the beating sounds when the side panels are on...


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 Post subject: Re: Fractal Design Define XL Vibration
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:21 am 
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Blood wrote:
I think I found the culprit to my vibration after a long journey of hard drive suspension, new side panel, cutting rubber strips to secure the side panel further, and adding weight to the mid dividing panel, which all turned out ineffective.

The culprit were the PCI slot covers.... They are causing the beating sounds when the side panels are on...

That's... a new one to me. Thanks for reporting this! :!:

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Case: FD Define Mini
Parts: P8Z77-M Pro µATX, N650Ti-1GD5/OC, G.Skill 2x4/1600/CL9 DDR3U, Xonar DX, WD G 1 TB, m4 128 GB, RX-5300 PSU
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P SE2 + Scythe SS PWM, 2x Noctua NF-P12
Extras: Eaton UPS, Dell 24" EIPS, Ducky TKL kb, SteelSeries m, Synology DS213j 3+3 TB RAID1
idle & load: CPU 32 °C & 44 °C @ 300/600 & 600/800 RPM, GPU 35-65 °C @ 1200-1650 RPM


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