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 Post subject: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice needed.
PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:59 am 
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Hi guys

A few years ago I've built myself a quiet PC which has been used as a fileserver. The fileserver (in its current state) consists of the following components:

- Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2160.
- Gigabyte GA-G33-DS3R (no PCI-E videocard installed, just using the onboard Intel Graphics).
- Thermalright ULTRA-120 Extreme (no fan attached to it, so the CPU is passively cooled).
- Antec P182.
- Corsair HX520.
- 3x NEXUS D12SL-12 120mm casefan (one in the top left corner of the top compartment straight behind the CPU cooler, one in the bottom right corner of the top compartment behind the HDD cage and one in the middle of the bottom compartment in-between the Power Supply and the HDD cage). All casefans are connected using a molex connector, so I guess they run at full speed (12V).
- 1x 80 GB Western Digital (WD800AAJS, OS Disk).
- 1x 500 GB Western Digital (WD5000AAKS, Data Disk 1).
- 1x 1,5 TB Western Digial Green (WD15EADS, Data Disk 2).
- 1x 2 TB Hitachi Desktstar 7K2000 (HDS722020ALA330, Data Disk 3).
- 1x 3 TB Western Digital Red (WD30EFRX, Data Disk 4).

To be honest I have never been satisfied with the acoustic performance of my fileserver. The cheap HP desktop PCs at work are much quieter than my fileserver. My fileserver sits next to me (it's underneath the desk to the left of me) and its backpanel is about parallel to my ear (about 1m distance between my ear and the backpanel of the case).

My desktop PC is a Mac Mini (Mid 2011) which according to Apple has a SPL of 16 dBA while being idle and when sitting in front of the Mac Mini. The Mac Mini is placed on the desk in front of me (a bit to the right side of my right arm) with its backpanel facing away from me (I guess there's also about 1m distance between my ear and the backpanel of my Mac Mini).

When my fileserver is off and my Mac Mini is on, I'm totally relaxed. I can still hear the Mac Mini when it's idle (or close to being idle), but it's really silent and the noise it generates isn't distracting/disturbing.

As soon as I turn my fileserver on, the amount of noise in the room is doubled or tripled which is REALLY annoying. Because of that I have considered getting a Synology NAS, but I think I would miss the flexibility of a normal PC which is being used as a fileserver, plus a Synology NAS is much more expensive. Also, when the hardware in your fileserver dies, you can easily replace it yourself.

So that's why I'm considering upgrading my fileserver. So far I have this in mind:

1) Fractal Design Define R4 Pearl Black:
--> I'm assuming this case has a similar cooling performance as my Antec P182, but a better acoustic performance can be achieved because of the fact that 140mm casefans can be used? I've always hated the bottom compartment of my Antec P182 because of the location of the casefan holder in the middle of the bottom compartment (it makes removing the HDD cage and cable routing a pain in the ass). It also comes with two 140mm casefans and a built-in fan controller for 3 fans which seems very nice. Are the included fans silent (enough)? I'm considering buying a third 140mm fan because all HDD cages will be filled eventually.
2) Seasonic X-650 or Seasonic Platinum Fanless Series (400W/460W):
--> As for the Power Supply I'm not sure whether to pick the Seasonic X-650 or the Seasonic Platinum Fanless Series (400W or 460W). I've read that the X-650 has a fan which doesn't turn on below 200W and I guess my fileserver will hardly ever reach that kind of load (unless it's unpacking compressed files). On the other hand I've heard that the Platinum Fanless Series produce (a lot of) electronic whining noise?

What do you guys think? Would the 2 new components listed above get the acoustic performance of my fileserver close to that of my Mac Mini? I'm also considering replacing the 80 GB OS Disk with an Intel/Crucial/Samsung SSD drive which can be attached to the backside of the motherboard plate in the Define R4 case.

Any thoughts, remarks or suggestions are really appreciated.

Thanks in advance! :)


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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:20 am 
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What are the main sources of noise in the current setup? Seems to me that you could just reduce the speed of some fans, maybe replace the one in the PSU if needed, and remove the most noisy drives. You could put the OS on one of the bigger drives, or use a cheap SSD or even an SDHC card.

The fan holder in the middle of the lower compartment on the P182 can be removed can't it? Back when I used a P180/P182 I never used that fan.

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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:38 am 
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Identifying the noise sources.

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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:49 am 
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Vicotnik wrote:
What are the main sources of noise in the current setup? Seems to me that you could just reduce the speed of some fans, maybe replace the one in the PSU if needed, and remove the most noisy drives. You could put the OS on one of the bigger drives, or use a cheap SSD or even an SDHC card.

The fan holder in the middle of the lower compartment on the P182 can be removed can't it? Back when I used a P180/P182 I never used that fan.

I hear a lot of airflow, so I guess it's coming from the casefans, but the Corsair HX520 also isn't very silent compared to the current silent Power Supply models on the market (that's what I've figured out after reading some silentpcreview Power Supply reviews). I've looked at some Zalman fancontrollers but it appears to be quite a hassle especially when compared to the built-in fancontroller switch of the Define R4 case. And I'm also way too close to the maximum number of drives in my Antec P182. That's why I really like the Define R4 case. As for rattling HDDs... I don't mind noise coming from HDDs. I've had a WD Raptor (10.000 RPM) in the past and I would pick that noise over fan noise (airflow) anytime.

I've attached a casefan to the metal bracket in the middle of the bottom compartment to cool the HDDs which works quite well. But it's way too tight in there which is quite annoying when you need to attach another Power Supply cable or when you want to take the HDD cage out.


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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:54 am 
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Location: Oslo
Quote:
All casefans are connected using a molex connector, so I guess they run at full speed (12V).


I would guess some type of fan control would do good ? Maybe also swap some them if they are noisy by default.

After fans (and maybe PSU) you will want to silence your hard drives. In a P182 you could easily suspend 2 in the top 5 & 1/4" bays on top, 2 in the top drive cage, and 2 in the lower drive cage.

My best suggestions is look up fan control and drive suspension - cheap atleast

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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:09 am 
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khaakon wrote:
Quote:
All casefans are connected using a molex connector, so I guess they run at full speed (12V).


I would guess some type of fan control would do good ? Maybe also swap some them if they are noisy by default.

After fans (and maybe PSU) you will want to silence your hard drives. In a P182 you could easily suspend 2 in the top 5 & 1/4" bays on top, 2 in the top drive cage, and 2 in the lower drive cage.

My best suggestions is look up fan control and drive suspension - cheap atleast


I also think some kind of fan control would help, but it's such a hassle and I just think that a better cooling/noise performance ratio can be obtained with 140mm casefans instead of 120mm casefans. I've also cursed that bottom compartment of my Antec P182 numerous times for the reasons mentioned above. The budget is also there for an upgrade (300 euro without the SSD drive and more if really needed). And I'm also wondering if there would really be a substantial noise difference between the 2 mentioned Power Supplies since I don't think my server will often use more than 200W.


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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 1:20 pm 
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It's not the case...it's your build implementation. You don't need 3 case fans running at 12V as your system is very low power/ doesn't generate much heat.

Just get a couple of fan controllers and call it a day for case fan noise.

Replacing the fan in the Corsair PSU is also piece of cake. There's a thread on this somewhere. (I did it ~4 years ago, maybe). Or, you could just buy a Seasonic G360 for $60 and call it done.

I'd guess your OS HDD is the noisiest of the lot. Replace it with an SSD. Consider reducing your 4 other HDDs down to a couple.

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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:34 am 
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I've ordered the following new components a few minutes ago:

- Fractal Design Define R4 Pearl Black
- Seasonic Platinum Series 760W (going to use its 'Hybrid Silent Fan Control')
- Intel SSD DC S3700 100 GB (to replace my 80 GB OS Disk)

I'm going to run the 2 included 140mm fans @ 7V using the switch located at the front of the Define R4 case. I'll check the noise again then. If it's still too noisy then, I will run the fans @ 5V or buy even quieter 140mm fans.

Thanks for the help guys! 8)


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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:52 am 
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Help? I feel like I failed miserably. I mean, overkill PSU, we all like that here. And replace the D12SL-12s (the SPCR reference fan).. I'm in tears over here. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:42 pm 
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Vicotnik wrote:
Help? I feel like I failed miserably. I mean, overkill PSU, we all like that here. And replace the D12SL-12s (the SPCR reference fan).. I'm in tears over here. ;)

Kinda baffling, eh?

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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:13 pm 
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Quote:
I've also cursed that bottom compartment of my Antec P182 numerous times for the reasons mentioned above.


:evil: +1
I agree totally. (P180, though). I removed the damned fan.. :idea:

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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:08 am 
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Vicotnik wrote:
Help? I feel like I failed miserably. I mean, overkill PSU, we all like that here. And replace the D12SL-12s (the SPCR reference fan).. I'm in tears over here. ;)

The reason I chose that PSU is because up to 30% of its power (with a standard deviation of 5% in both directions, so worst case up to 25% of its power) the fan won't start spinning when using the 'Hybrid Silent Fan Control' mode. 30% of 760W is 228W (or worst case: 25% of 760W is 190W). That should basically ensure that the fan is (almost) always off which means less noise.


Last edited by CobraX on Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 4:22 am 
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khaakon wrote:
Quote:
I've also cursed that bottom compartment of my Antec P182 numerous times for the reasons mentioned above.


:evil: +1
I agree totally. (P180, though). I removed the damned fan.. :idea:

They should have made it possible to place a fan in front of the HDD cage in the bottom compartment instead of adding a metal fan construction in-between the PSU and the HDD cage. They should have copied the layout of the top compartment where they got it right. To me that was a major design flaw which I totally got sick of after using the case for about 4 years. That's why I really wanted to buy a new case. I also think that the included 140mm fans will be quieter at 7V than my current 120mm fans at 12V.


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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:50 am 
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CobraX wrote:
Vicotnik wrote:
Help? I feel like I failed miserably. I mean, overkill PSU, we all like that here. And replace the D12SL-12s (the SPCR reference fan).. I'm in tears over here. ;)

The reason I chose that PSU is because up to 30% of its power (with a standard deviation of 5% in both directions, so worst case up to 25% of its power) the fan won't start spinning when using the 'Hybrid Silent Fan Control' mode. 30% of 760W is 228W (or worst case: 25% of 760W is 190W). That should basically ensure that the fan is (almost) always off which means less noise.

Sure, but why not a fanless 400W model? Or a G-360 with a fan you would not hear over the HDDs. Putting one of those Nexus fans into that Corsair HX520 would also work and cost less than that 750W monster.
For my file server I went with a picoPSU 90W and a 60W brick, also pretty quiet.

The R4 is a great case, but for a pure file server I would go with something else. I very nearly bought a Node 304 to replace my Array R2. :)

If the Nexus fans at 12v bothers you, why not lower the voltage? They are great fans, but they are far from silent at full speed. I would use the 7v trick, or perhaps do a little wire work and run them off one or two FanMates to get full manual control. Or run them off the motherboard if it's fan control is any good.

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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:18 am 
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Vicotnik wrote:
CobraX wrote:
Vicotnik wrote:
Help? I feel like I failed miserably. I mean, overkill PSU, we all like that here. And replace the D12SL-12s (the SPCR reference fan).. I'm in tears over here. ;)

The reason I chose that PSU is because up to 30% of its power (with a standard deviation of 5% in both directions, so worst case up to 25% of its power) the fan won't start spinning when using the 'Hybrid Silent Fan Control' mode. 30% of 760W is 228W (or worst case: 25% of 760W is 190W). That should basically ensure that the fan is (almost) always off which means less noise.

Sure, but why not a fanless 400W model? Or a G-360 with a fan you would not hear over the HDDs. Putting one of those Nexus fans into that Corsair HX520 would also work and cost less than that 750W monster.
For my file server I went with a picoPSU 90W and a 60W brick, also pretty quiet.

The R4 is a great case, but for a pure file server I would go with something else. I very nearly bought a Node 304 to replace my Array R2. :)

If the Nexus fans at 12v bothers you, why not lower the voltage? They are great fans, but they are far from silent at full speed. I would use the 7v trick, or perhaps do a little wire work and run them off one or two FanMates to get full manual control. Or run them off the motherboard if it's fan control is any good.

Well, I was really going back and forward between the Seasonic Platinum Series 660W/760W and the Seasonic Platinum Series Fanless 400W/460W, but I'm still scared that the OTP feature might fail on the fanless PSU. I guess I'll sleep better now that I know that a fan can cool down my PSU if necessary.

The Define R4 resembles my Antec P182, but without the flaw(s) and if I attach the SSD drive to the backside of the motherboardplate, I can put 8 (data) HDDs in the HDD cages which is quite ideal and future-proof. The Define R4 also scores very high points here because of the built-in fancontroller for up to 3 fans. Best of all is that it's only a tiny switch which is barely visible.

I considered a Zalman fanmate before thinking about upgrading my fileserver, but I thought that after about 4 years a decent hardware upgrade was justifiable.


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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:21 am 
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I've decided to "retire" my 80GB, 500GB, 1.5TB and 2TB HDDs. I'm going to add 3 WD Red 3TB HDDs which will give me 4 WD Red 3TB HDDs in total. Should be more than enough storage to keep me satisfied for a few years.


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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:03 pm 
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You're not going to hear the HX520 after dialing down the other fans, it's fine.

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 Post subject: Re: New attempt at making my fileserver silent. Advice neede
PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:32 pm 
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CobraX wrote:
The reason I chose that PSU is because up to 30% of its power (with a standard deviation of 5% in both directions, so worst case up to 25% of its power) the fan won't start spinning when using the 'Hybrid Silent Fan Control' mode. 30% of 760W is 228W (or worst case: 25% of 760W is 190W). That should basically ensure that the fan is (almost) always off which means less noise.
From what i remember the fan on the Seasonic X Series PSU is driven by temperature not directly by load the PSU is getting to. So if this is true, will depend on how fast the PSU heatsinks can dissipate the heat and the airflow inside your case, either way this PSU are still very quiet even under load, personally i have to stand up take off the filter to check if my X660 is spinning.

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