Server Noise Reduction - How to Keep Yours Quiet | TechMikeNY

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Sound Tips for Keeping Your Server Quiet

 

A question we get a lot at TechMikeNY from our customers is a concern about how much noise a server might make.  Server noise reduction is especially pertinent to folks who are using the device for a home lab or small business owners who plan on putting their server in a room where people are working.

Is There Anything That Can Be Done to Decrease the Sound of My Server?

Here are some straightforward, simple solutions if you notice the server is making more noise than you’d like:

  • Make sure the server is in a place with good airflow and temperature. Remember, the fans are working to circulate the air and cool the server components.  If the server is already in an environment with a cool temperature, then the server’s sensors will read that, and the fans won’t have to run as hard.  You can read our blog post here on keeping your server cool.  A cool server is a happy and quiet server!
  • Make sure you are running the latest & greatest firmware and update if you aren’t. Manufacturers are always releasing firmware updates to maximize efficiency, energy, and cooling.  If your firmware isn’t updated, your server may be using an outdated algorithm to determine how fast to run its fans. 
  • You can adjust the default parameters of the fan speed on your server. Most settings default to the highest cooling setting to ensure maximum performance. Still, if you feel confident that the environment is sufficiently cool or the server isn’t doing too much heavy lifting, you can change the settings to be more efficient. For HP servers, this involves changing the Thermal Configuration in the BIOS menu to Optimal Cooling; for Dell servers through their iDRAC menu to Low Fan Speed Offset.

 TECH FOOTNOTEIf you notice your machine’s fans running on overdrive at all times, even when the system should be idle, that is normally a sign that something is wrong.  The usual culprits are an issue with a hardware part, or possibly software issues.  Follow basic trouble-shooting steps of making sure that all RAM and Processors are properly seated.  Also, if you recently installed new components, such as upgrading RAM, installing a new RAID card, network card or GPU, there could be compatibility issues with that new part.

 

Some other, more robust solutions to consider: 

  • Make sure the fans are clean. Computers hate dust, and eventually, all cooling fans collect some degree of dust and dirt – which hinders their cooling efficiency (which means the fans run at faster RPM’s to sufficiently cool.  More RPM’s = more noise).  If your server has been running for a couple of years and you’ve noticed an increase in noise (or even if the fan noise doesn’t subside after an initial boot), then it might be time to give it a cleaning.  Buy an anti-static computer cleaning kit, grab your compressed air canister and remove some of that gunk excess dirt.  (Remember to follow standard safety procedures when opening the device – making sure the unit is powered down and unplugged, etc.).
  • There are server cabinets explicitly designed to reduce the noise of a server. These models can come in various sizes depending on how many units you need, as well as different levels of noise reduction (most utilize some variation of foam lining to dampen the noise).  We haven’t gotten to test any of these out yet, but a quick google search shows you some of the options.  The bad news: these tend to be on the pricey-side, some even getting up in the couple of thousand for multi-rack, super-silent models.  However, if a server has to be around people and noise is a concern, this can be a possible solution.
  • Replace the fans with ultra-silent units. There are alternative, ultra-silent server cooling fans manufactured by third parties that are designed to be super-quiet. The good news: low-volume server fans are inexpensive. You can buy good ones for 20 bucks a pop.  The bad news: some servers have proprietary connectors in the system board, so you might need to do a little homework before buying – not all fans will connect to the existing connector.  Also, some users have issues with the newer fans having different RPM parameters that don’t play nice with the server’s firmware.  We could write a whole section on replacing server fans, but for the adventurous techies amongst us who like a project and a challenge, this is a possible solution.
 Don’t forget to use our resources! Our server guides provide some useful data on typical rack server models & configurations.  You can view our data on sound measurements here.

 

And if you ever have any questions, comments, or want to see your questions answered in our blog, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or email us at info@techmikeny.com.  We want to hear from you!

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