Arctic P8 or other consumer fan for 2U Supermicro chassis?

AveryFreeman

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Hey,

So I'm an unfortunate owner of a 2U Supermicro case that is ridiculously loud, and I am being relocated into a space I have to share with it intimately. I'm trying to decide whether I should try and sell or give the thing away, or fit it with some quieter fans.

It's a CSE-825 RB740 I believe (?) It's a UIO/WIO case, I have two motherboards that fit in it. The E3 variant X9SPU-F was tolerable because it had the optimal speed setting, but my E5 X10SRW-F board doesn't have optimal, so screw me. I tried replacing the stock fans which are Nidec 7000 RPM 80mm "fan0126-l4" SM models with "fan0094", which was cool because they are 700RPM slower and have higher static pressure, but it really wasn't slower enough to make any perceptible difference - they still sound just as loud. I've done the raw RPM commands through my SM IPMIVIEW app on my phone, which is a nice alternative to using IPMITOOL, since it can be done during startup, but I have to send the codes like 4-5 times because it keeps jumping back to "Full" which is jet engine territory during the startup process, and it's a pain.

So now I'm looking at these 3000RPM Arctic P8s, wondering what people think of them, and if anyone has replaced SM fans with some consumer -targeted ones. I know people do it with noctua, but does this really work? I am pretty sure fans that slow would make my drives fry, but a consumer fan designed for high static pressure while remaining slow and low on the volume sounds workable, as the Arctic P8 is supposedly.

I noticed the CFM are less than half of the FAN0094s I just put in it, but don't have any info on static pressure, which is what's really important for cooling the server, amirite? Or is that just important for pulling the air through the drive cage?

Anyone who's replaced their SM fans with consumer ones want to tell me your experience? Thanks
 

hlidskialf

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I'm not sure it'd be helpful in your use-case, but I used these exact fans in my SM 836 to quieten it up. However, I also put a new heatsink with an active cooler fan in place of the shroud. Temps are great, noise is less. However, I found that switching to an SQ power supply made the real difference. I can't even hear it running once it's booted up now.

Again, mine's a 3U with an active heatsink, so may not apply to you. But I really do like those Artic P8's.
 
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Markess

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My experience...which is worth as much as you are paying for it:

1. Generally with fans of the same size: if its quieter, it pushes less air and doesn't cool as well. There are exceptions, and there is a range of performance of course. But, you really need to keep in mind that most really quiet fans aren't a replacement for the loud stuff. That said...

2. If you decide you have to have a quieter system, then you really should consider pairing those quieter fans with cooler running hardware. That SM chassis was designed to work with a wide range of equipment. If its UIO, that would have included DP boards that could run some pretty hot Nehelem and E5 CPUs (@ 100+ watts each), and at pretty high utilization levels as well. If, however, you were to use single processor boards with more modest CPUs, they will create less heat than the high end of the design spec and you can (relatively) safely use less capable fans accordingly.
My home NAS runs at a pretty low utilization level, in fact its at idle most of the time. It's got all SATA/NVMe SSDs (no mechanical or SAS drives), only 32GB of RAM, and the E5-2630 v4 CPU is one with the "small", more efficient, E5 v4 die that was used in CPUs that were 10 cores or less. Its also got only gigabit LAN. Paired with a single Platinum 920SQ PSU, its usually drawing only 35-40 watts. You don't need much airflow at all to cool 35 watts. Even when its running hard, it rarely tops 90 watts, so I can use really really quiet fans without fear of roasting the system. One of my 2U systems uses Arctic fans without issue. The others have stock fans with RPM lowered at boot via IPMI tool running on a startup script.

3. As you reduce noise from chassis fans, their airflow becomes less about cooling components with passive heatsinks and more about simply exchanging air. They slowly move warm air out of the chassis instead of moving it fast enough to cool from airflow alone. In those cases, you need to add active cooling of CPU, chipset, etc as @hlidskialf mentions. The active heatsink(s) pull the heat away from components and dump it into the chassis, and the chassis fans push it out the back.

4. Lastly, while its not a cheap fix, switching to an SQ power supply will help with noise as well. If you consider going this route, others here have noted that the 920SQ tend to be quieter than the less expensive 1K28SQ models.

Just my opinion.

CHeers!
 
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AveryFreeman

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I'm not sure it'd be helpful in your use-case, but I used these exact fans in my SM 836 to quieten it up. However, I also put a new heatsink with an active cooler fan in place of the shroud. Temps are great, noise is less. However, I found that switching to an SQ power supply made the real difference. I can't even hear it running once it's booted up now.

Again, mine's a 3U with an active heatsink, so may not apply to you. But I really do like those Artic P8's.
I have an 836, are you talking about just replacing the two exhaust fans in the back? Because the 3 on the midplane are 120mm.

The 825 (and any other 2U chassis, I'd assume) has 80mm fans for the midplane, so they have a big impact on the ability for the fans to pull cool air past the drives. Unfortunately, I don't think there are any larger case than 2U for UIO.

Actually, I just had a thought. Maybe I could get the 3-pin variety and mount them backwards so they blow cool air past the drives. I might have to mount one of those PCIE-bracket air intake sources because there's no exhaust fans on the 825, but I have a couple lying around.

I do already have an active CPU cooler, cooler master, can't remember model, is a square mount vanriety. I didn't think it'd be wise to leave an E5-2660v4 to passive cooling... It actually just barely fits underneath the shroud, so I kept it for posterity.

Thanks for the info
 
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A-W-A

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Numbers : Artic F8's push quite a bit more air (31 CFM/ 52.7 m³/h) than P8's (23.4 CFM / 40.3 m³/h) and for comparison the Noctua NF-A8 PWM pushes (32 CFM / 55.5 m³/h ) but these are all way off the SM FAN-0094L4 (90.3 CFM/153.4 m³/h)

However : as Markess pointed out these cases were specified to cope with DP motherboards with a max TDP of 290W (145 W each) hence the fans SM Chose - I run mine with low TDP processors and then sometimes limit the max clock as well so have had no problems using quiet fans. At the end of the day the best thing is to get some alternative fans and run some stress test workloads yourself to get a feel for how comfortable you are with the setup - do them with the originals first and record temperature vs load vs volume then with any replacements and then you have the numbers to make the choice.
 

AveryFreeman

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My experience...which is worth as much as you are paying for it:

1. Generally with fans of the same size: if its quieter, it pushes less air and doesn't cool as well. There are exceptions, and there is a range of performance of course. But, you really need to keep in mind that most really quiet fans aren't a replacement for the loud stuff. That said...

2. If you decide you have to have a quieter system, then you really should consider pairing those quieter fans with cooler running hardware. That SM chassis was designed to work with a wide range of equipment. If its UIO, that would have included DP boards that could run some pretty hot Nehelem and E5 CPUs (@ 100+ watts each), and at pretty high utilization levels as well. If, however, you were to use single processor boards with more modest CPUs, they will create less heat than the high end of the design spec and you can (relatively) safely use less capable fans accordingly.
My home NAS runs at a pretty low utilization level, in fact its at idle most of the time. It's got all SATA/NVMe SSDs (no mechanical or SAS drives), only 32GB of RAM, and the E5-2630 v4 CPU is one with the "small", more efficient, E5 v4 die that was used in CPUs that were 10 cores or less. Its also got only gigabit LAN. Paired with a single Platinum 920SQ PSU, its usually drawing only 35-40 watts. You don't need much airflow at all to cool 35 watts. Even when its running hard, it rarely tops 90 watts, so I can use really really quiet fans without fear of roasting the system. One of my 2U systems uses Arctic fans without issue. The others have stock fans with RPM lowered at boot via IPMI tool running on a startup script.

3. As you reduce noise from chassis fans, their airflow becomes less about cooling components with passive heatsinks and more about simply exchanging air. They slowly move warm air out of the chassis instead of moving it fast enough to cool from airflow alone. In those cases, you need to add active cooling of CPU, chipset, etc as @hlidskialf mentions. The active heatsink(s) pull the heat away from components and dump it into the chassis, and the chassis fans push it out the back.

4. Lastly, while its not a cheap fix, switching to an SQ power supply will help with noise as well. If you consider going this route, others here have noted that the 920SQ tend to be quieter than the less expensive 1K28SQ models.

Just my opinion.

CHeers!
These are all great points. I have an E5-2630Lv3 in it right now, it only pulls down 55W for 10 cores (20 threads) so I'm right there with you.

I am more worried about the SAS controllers, mech drives, and RAM than I am the CPU thanks to active cooler, but I think this idea of reversing the airflow and putting a PCIe bracket-mounted cooler next to the controller + mnlx cx3 + NVMe should do the trick, I'll just have to reverse the airflow on that too so it will suck cold air in instead of blow.

No $ for SATA SSDs unless they were stupid cheap, but I will probably be running ZFS for an iSER target, so I could drop the RPM down to 5200-5900 on the next batch of drives without issue.

Are you aware of any utilities that will reduce drive RPM, or is that all done in firmware? I had 2 WD utils that basically turned my green drives into reds, enabled TLER and disabled parking, but I only buy hgsts now so not aware of anything like that for them.

As for SQ PSU, I think I already have some in my 836 (?). The 825 might need some but they're like $65/ea used on eBay rn, so might just try and find a way to retrofit them, probs use a 2-wire 4CM 12v. I'd be surprised if there wasn't a guide somewhere.
 

BlueFox

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Weird, my 836 is 3x12CM midplane and 2x8CM exhaust. Must be different variants.
Supermicro has only ever offered 80mm fans on the chassis, regardless of variant. Physical dimensions of a 3U chassis restrict the use of 120mm hot-swap fans.
 

AveryFreeman

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What? The 836 (and 826 and 846) have 80mm fans in the middle. Different fans speeds (depending on the generation of the chassis) but they are all 80mm...
Not my 836, 3x12CM midplane, 2x8CM exhaust. There must be different variants. I'm 100% positive about their sizes, I've worked inside this thing quite a bit (bought as just a case and installed motherboard, etc.). It's a TQ backplane, not SAS, so it's likely pretty old.
 

Sean Ho

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I have an 825 with 3x P8 on the fan wall. Arctic's P-series push less volume (CFM) but with higher static pressure (1.9mm vs 1.0mm for F8). I agree that components that generate less heat are helpful; with the stock X8DTi and X5670 the case was very toasty, and the cpus idled around 50C (passive heatsinks). Now with an X10SDV (D-1521, still passive) the case is reasonable temp and cpu idling around 42. Drives have been mid/upper-40s. PUE optimized fan curve on both boards. Using the fan shroud.

When controlling fan speeds manually with ipmitool, you remembered to set the fan curve in ipmi to Full, yes?
 
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AveryFreeman

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I have an 825 with 3x P8 on the fan wall. Arctic's P-series push less volume (CFM) but with higher static pressure (1.9mm vs 1.0mm for F8). I agree that components that generate less heat are helpful; with the stock X8DTi and X5670 the case was very toasty, and the cpus idled around 50C (passive heatsinks). Now with an X10SDV (D-1521, still passive) the case is reasonable temp and cpu idling around 42. Drives have been mid/upper-40s. PUE optimized fan curve on both boards. Using the fan shroud.

When controlling fan speeds manually with ipmitool, you remembered to set the fan curve in ipmi to Full, yes?
Hi, thanks for weighing in, I appreciate it

Yes, I set the fans to full first, but I could double-check. I believe that's why it's so damn loud during startup. With the android IPMIVIEW app I can set their lower threshold and % to 25% during boot, but I end up doing it like 6 times because of it going back to full, until finally it stays once the system is booted.

I might have better luck with an ipmitool vib for ESXi just setting it to 25% after boot, and suffer through the loud startup each time the system is rebooted or turned on. It's a chore to keep setting it on my phone, the only upside is I can make the boot up process quieter (intermittently).

I ordered some P8s, got 5-packs of both the PWM and 3-pin versions, I have a feeling I will find the 3-pins less distracting if they don't ever oscillate in speed. Any thoughts about this?

I also could set them via a physical fan controller if they are too loud at full blast for some reason. That would also cure the boot up noise, but would eliminate any way of tracking their behavior through ipmi (pros and cons).

The other thing I think I'm going to do is switch the fan direction so they blow through the drives instead of over the motherboard, since I have an active CPU cooler, and space for a 2-bracket PCIe blower fan I can use for air intake (will have to reverse pins, I'm assuming). That will blow right over the SAS controller and hopefully close enough to my CX-3 and m.2 adapters it'll make a difference for them. Should be easier to dust-cover, too.

I'm mostly concerned about the drives not having enough static pressure to keep the drives cool if it's a front-to-back setup, I had some resisters on the fans for a while and it made the drives pretty toasty.

I'm about to go check which kind of PSUs I have in case they are the loud kinds, I've got 6 total (3 sets), so hopefully one of them is SQ like I thought (haven't looked at them in ages) and I can compare their annoyance factor - esp once I quiet down the rest of the fans.

Even my 836 is starting to annoy me now, I got P12s for its midplane and will probably do a very similar back-to-front for it, but without the PCIe bracket blower fan for intake. It has exhaust fans I can switch with leftover P8s for intake from the back that'll probably be better than the blower fan, and not take up any slots.

Once I'm p12 and p8-ed up, it'll let me know if my CPU coolers are the main culprit at that point (I'm looking at you, Dynatron CPU cooler in the 825). I am pretty sure it's the 80mm exhaust in the 836 now that's bugging me, but who knows, maybe it's loud PSU fans - still need to see if I can find a mod walkthrough for replacing those PSU fans, $65+ a piece for SQ PSUs is untenable for me rn.

What do you think?
 

Sean Ho

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Manual fan control is via ipmitool raw commands directly setting the PWM duty cycles; it's distinct from merely setting fan sensor thresholds.

3-pin Arctics are fine and not too loud, you just lose the flexibility of PWM. Fan controller would also be fine.

I wouldn't do back-to-front airflow; if you're worried the drives aren't getting enough air, maybe fab a bracket for 80mm fans in front of the drives.

Some of the lower-power non-redundant PSUs are very quiet, too, like the 563-1H in my 825. Modding PSU fans usually requires a 555 signal gen to fake tach; I wouldn't recommend it in this case.
 

Markess

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Are you aware of any utilities that will reduce drive RPM, or is that all done in firmware? I had 2 WD utils that basically turned my green drives into reds, enabled TLER and disabled parking, but I only buy hgsts now so not aware of anything like that for them.
Unless there's stuff out there that I've never heard of, I don't think you can set or change RPM on a mechanical drive. Even Western Digital admitted after the fact that Green drives were fixed RPM. They carefully marketed them as operating at RPM between X and X...and they let everyone, including the Tech Press assume it meant it was variable when it really meant that each model worked at a different fixed RPM, and the range of RPMs they gave was really just the range between the slowest model Green and the fastest Green. To paraphrase them, its not their fault that everyone jumped to conclusions.

Most of the "savings" was from agressive headparking and the like, which in the early models would wear them out in a matter of months. During the period when Green and Red were mostly the same mechanically, those tools were great to set the Greens to mirror Red behavior and no wear out too fast. WD put a stop to that though in later models.

If you weren't running SAS, I'd suggest you look into Unraid or MergerFS+SnapRAID, both of which are designed to allow for arrays, or even parts of arrays, to spindown when idle for a specified period of time. There's tradeoffs with these, but for arrays that are relatively static (Plex libraries for example) and spend a lot of time at idle, they let you save a lot of watts and heat.

Yes, I set the fans to full first, but I could double-check. I believe that's why it's so damn loud during startup. With the android IPMIVIEW app I can set their lower threshold and % to 25% during boot, but I end up doing it like 6 times because of it going back to full, until finally it stays once the system is booted.

I might have better luck with an ipmitool vib for ESXi just setting it to 25% after boot, and suffer through the loud startup each time the system is rebooted or turned on. It's a chore to keep setting it on my phone, the only upside is I can make the boot up process quieter (intermittently).
Just checking, but you're aware that IPMITOOL settings aren't persistent? (or at least they never were for me!) You either need to run the command(s) after boot each time, or have a script that runs. As noted elsewhere though, the best practice is to set the fan duty cycle at Full/100% in the Sensors menu of the BMC, and use IPMI tool to adjust from there. This means that your boots will always be at full speed till the scipt runs (or you hand jam the command).

I'm about to go check which kind of PSUs I have in case they are the loud kinds, I've got 6 total (3 sets), so hopefully one of them is SQ like I thought (haven't looked at them in ages) and I can compare their annoyance factor - esp once I quiet down the rest of the fans.
My 920SQs are the quietest server power supplies I've ever heard (not that I'm an expert). That said, there's other, non SQ supplies that are darn quiet, while others are super loud. If you're curious just how loud your PSU fans are, you can always unplug the other fans (MOMENTARIALLY!), so that only the PSU fan is running under power, and boot the system to a prompt. It won't all fry in a minute, and a minute is often all it takes for you to say "OK, that's not just grating on my ears, its really grating!". Depending on your motherboard, if you unplug some fans from the motherboard to check out the PSU fan volume, you'll need to unplug them all at once: some boards will sense some fans are at 0 and put the others at 100% to compromize, which would defeat the test.
 
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hlidskialf

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If you weren't running SAS, I'd suggest you look into Unraid or MergerFS+SnapRAID, both of which are designed to allow for arrays, or even parts of arrays, to spindown when idle for a specified period of time. There's tradeoffs with these, but for arrays that are relatively static (Plex libraries for example) and spend a lot of time at idle, they let you save a lot of watts and heat.
I may be mistaken, but I believe UnRaid will do the same with SAS. It's only restriction is you can't mix SATA and SAS drives in the same array. You can set the drives to spin down after a set amount of time, and stagger spinup so you don't pull too much wattage at initial boot.
 
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nabsltd

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It won't all fry in a minute, and a minute is often all it takes for you to say "OK, that's not just grating on my ears, its really grating!". Depending on your motherboard, if you unplug some fans from the motherboard to check out the PSU fan volume, you'll need to unplug them all at once: some boards will sense some fans are at 0 and put the others at 100% to compromize, which would defeat the test.
Excellent advice. You can also power down and disconnect all but what is needed to cool the CPU, then when you power on, you can pull the one plug and your CPU should be fine for a minute. Hard drives that are just spinning (no heavy read or write) can probably sit there without fans forever.
 

gb00s

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Keep the original fans, go here and install this >> SUPERFANS on GITHUB.

Add it to /etc/crontab @reboot with the preferred setting and be happy. I have it in a 2U Dual-Socket production server at 12% with 20C ambient temps here and it's super silent. You can also intervene manually with superfans -u USER -p PASSWORD set 20 (IPMI user data).
 

Sean Ho

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Unraid can mix SATA and SAS just fine. It cannot take SSDs in the array (interaction of TRIM with Unraid's parity). SAS spindown support has been improving; it depends on the drive. The superfans script is just an easy-to-use wrapper around ipmitool. In Unraid CA, "Dynamix System Autofan" is another wrapper.
 

hlidskialf

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Unraid can mix SATA and SAS just fine. It cannot take SSDs in the array (interaction of TRIM with Unraid's parity). SAS spindown support has been improving; it depends on the drive. The superfans script is just an easy-to-use wrapper around ipmitool. In Unraid CA, "Dynamix System Autofan" is another wrapper.
Wow, really? I should read the latest release notes. (Been rocking Unraid since 2011.) I could have used that knowledge for some of those cheap SAS drives that come up in the Deals forum. :oops: