Help Quieting My Supermicro Servers

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athenaskidney

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Feb 8, 2023
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So I have two Supermicro servers, a 1U and a 4U.
I just want to reduce the noise a bit. It's mostly the fan wall that is in them.
Ideally I'd like to replace them with a quiet fan like Noctuas. I'm not worried about the power supplies at the moment, it's mainly the fan walls I want to get settled down then I can play around with everything else.

I'm not great at DIY, nor am I very experienced with servers so I'd like to minimize as much hacking as possible. I'm hoping it's something as simple as just zip ties and new fans and plug in the cables. I've been looking around a little and I saw Supermicro makes hot swappable quiet fans but I think it won't work with my fans because it uses different brackets. At least for my 4U server.




Supermicro 1U-X10SLH-N6-ST031-4BLTQ-1PS:

(Honestly can't make sense of Supermicro's model names so that's what is written on the label from my seller haha.)
Here is a picture of the fan array that's currently in it: 1umicro.jpg

Supermicro 847-12:
micro4u.jpg
I wasn't sure if I could pull the actual fans out of these brackets, then just slip in Noctuas or something. Or if it'd give me issues due to different voltages and what not. Or if it wouldn't fit at all.
 

mattventura

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Nov 9, 2022
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For the 847, those are just 80x80x38mm fans in a special housing. You can carefully disassemble the bracket, unscrew the stock fan, and put the quieter fan in its place.

You can also run the 847 with fewer fans. It's not nearly as loud if you lower the fan setting and run it with 4-5 fans.
 

athenaskidney

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I thought I remember looking into doing that a while back, and there was some limitation to doing this. But maybe I am mistaken.
I'll order one fan to test it out with. Any suggestions?
Was looking at this: https://www.amazon.com/Noctua-NF-R8-redux-1800-PWM-Performance/dp/B00KF7MVI2
Would that be appropriate? I'm not too familiar with the different types of fans, blade types, and stuff, I want to ensure I still maintain enough cooling overall. It is a 36 HDD bay unit, so enough static pressure is needed and such.



Also as far as the fan setting, I've looked in the past and I do not remember seeing an option in the bios. They are 4pin connectors I looked on the fans.
Also I popped one fan out and they all span up super loud, so not sure if that is of concern when changing to different fans. I believe the board I have in here was a H11SSL-i.

Anyways getting the fans changed out would make the biggest difference I feel, then tweaking any speed settings from there seems to be the way to go.
 

mattventura

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Nov 9, 2022
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Right, there's some restrictions on the size and shape of the fan, because the top-right corner (looking from the front of the server) has that indentation area. You either need a fan that clears that tab (I don't think the one you linked would, since it doesn't have as much depth), or dremel that part off. If you go with the latter option, you'd also need to cover the top of the fan housing so that it doesn't just blow air out the top.

The fan speed controls would be in IPMI. If you have a "PUE Opt" fan choice or similar, that's likely going to be the most quiet. The fans on my 847 idle at about 2700 RPM.
 

athenaskidney

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Hm ok I am going to have trouble finding a fan then... not sure how to even look for that.

As far as speed controls go, isn't IPMI used for network controls or something?
Anyways the only two options I have under IPMI is System Event Log, and BMC Network Configuration (disabled).
The only other tab with configuration stuff is Advanced and it has these tabs

Boot Feature, PSP Firmware Versions, CPU Config, NB Config, ACPI Sttings, Super IO Config, Serial Port Consol Redirect, PCIe/PCI/PnP Config, SATA Config, iSCSI Config.
I didn't see anything relating to fans or fan speed under those.
 

i386

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Check the specs of the fans, calculate the lowest rpm (including the tolerances) and see what's the low rpm threshold. Otherwise you will get fans that ramp up and down the entire time.
 

mattventura

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Nov 9, 2022
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Hm ok I am going to have trouble finding a fan then... not sure how to even look for that.

As far as speed controls go, isn't IPMI used for network controls or something?
Anyways the only two options I have under IPMI is System Event Log, and BMC Network Configuration (disabled).
The only other tab with configuration stuff is Advanced and it has these tabs

Boot Feature, PSP Firmware Versions, CPU Config, NB Config, ACPI Sttings, Super IO Config, Serial Port Consol Redirect, PCIe/PCI/PnP Config, SATA Config, iSCSI Config.
I didn't see anything relating to fans or fan speed under those.
After setting up IPMI, it has a web interface. The only thing you need to set up in the BIOS is the "BMC Network Configuration" thing.

The exact fan size you'd be looking for should be 80x80x38mm. Just keep in mind that that size is mostly found in servers, so be careful that you don't buy something just as loud as the stock fans.
 

athenaskidney

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Oh I see, so the settings will be in the web interface.
If I enable IPMI, then go into the web interface to adjust the settings, then disable IPMI.. are those settings retained and active?

And ok so the dimensions account for the notch you made note of? Or do I need to look for 80x80x38mm fans that ALSO have a cutout for the notch?
Anyways I started looking around and I saw nothing so you might be right about that. Is there anything I should look for or just look for lower db noise specs?
 

athenaskidney

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Hm.. I wonder if I could just take out the fans and brackets, then just zip tie new fans to the fanwall an plug in the 4 pins and call it a day haha. Bad idea?

Check the specs of the fans, calculate the lowest rpm (including the tolerances) and see what's the low rpm threshold. Otherwise you will get fans that ramp up and down the entire time.
Missed this comment. good point thank you.
 

athenaskidney

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The fan speed controls would be in IPMI. If you have a "PUE Opt" fan choice or similar, that's likely going to be the most quiet. The fans on my 847 idle at about 2700 RPM.
Ok so, just got through to IPMI.
The fan speeds were already at "optimal".
The only options being Standard, Optimal, HeavyIO, Full Speed.
Optimal and Standard are the quietest as expected, I notice no difference between the two though so I left at Optimal.

But yeah we're just at square one because it already was at optimal.
So I guess my next best option is to replace the fans. Gonna have to figure out which fans to use.
Someone is telling me to try Noctua NF-A8's.
They said they got 40mm Noctuas and thinks their fan brackets were smaller.

Opinions? The NF-A8's are 80x80x25. Compared to the 80x80x38.

My only other concern is that switching the fans is going to make the fans run at full speed, because like I said that seems to be the case when I remove just one fan from being plugged in. So not sure how it will react.
 

Markess

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@athenaskidney , would help if you listed the configuration for each server...motherboard, disks, any expansion cards. and the operating system. Supermicro chassis are usually designed to work with a wide range of hardware. Fans on them tend to spin high and get loud so they'll successfully cool systems at the high end of the spectrum. If, on the other hand, your system is lower power than the "maximum", you can often either set the existing fan's curve to be lower (i.e. more quiet) using IPMI tool, or replace the fans with something less performant (which is also going to be more quiet)

Anything you do to make the system quieter, will also usually make it less capable for cooling. So, knowing what you are working with is going to help in knowing how far you can go.

Also, certain Supermicro motherboards don't play well with Noctua, and will sense the Noctua's PWM fan curve as a momentary fan failure (RPM falling to 0 and restarting again over and over) and will cause the fans to repeatedly surge to 100% several times a minute in response to the perceived fan failure mode So, again, knowing configuration will help!

I've been using existing fans with a fan curve modified in IPMI tool that keep them just fast enough to cool while staying relatively quiet. But, my systems are pretty low spec, so I have a lot of "headroom" to work with.

Cheers.
 

athenaskidney

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@athenaskidney , would help if you listed the configuration for each server...motherboard, disks, any expansion cards. and the operating system.
1U Server:
opnsense
E3-1270 v3
8GB Ram
X10SLH-LN6TF X10SLH-N6-ST031 (I'm going off the listing I purcahsed it from and this is what as in the title, I can't pull out the server to check at this time).

4U Server:
truenas core
CSE-847
AOC-S3008L-L8E Rev2 SAS-3 HBA
AMD Epyc 7401P

H11SSL-i Motherboard
8x 8GB 2133P Ram
I do not know what HBA is in this off hand.
Drives are mainly 4TB SAS3 drives.

The fans that are in this currently are Nidec UltraFlo V80E12BHA5-57 T07A2 12V 0.6A

@athenaskidney

I've been using existing fans with a fan curve modified in IPMI tool that keep them just fast enough to cool while staying relatively quiet. But, my systems are pretty low spec, so I have a lot of "headroom" to work with.
I did not see any way to set a custom fan curve in the IPMI interface, like I listed above there were about 4 different options.
While my fans are not loud really, I'd like to get them a lot quieter, ideally by half. I know there is no good way of referencing how loud they really are in the room over text haha.

I see someone made a script for TrueNAS for fan control, not sure if this will do anything beyond the "optimal" setting in IPMI, but I am looking around at it right now.
But I think I still will end up needing to replace the fans in the end, so I'm open to suggestions if anyone knows of any fans.
 
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Markess

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I did not see any way to set a custom fan curve in the IPMI interface, like I listed above there were about 4 different options.
While my fans are not loud really, I'd like to get them a lot quieter, ideally by half. I know there is no good way of referencing how loud they really are in the room over text haha.

I see someone made a script for TrueNAS for fan control, not sure if this will do anything beyond the "optimal" setting in IPMI, but I am looking around at it right now.
But I think I still will end up needing to replace the fans in the end, so I'm open to suggestions if anyone knows of any fans.
There's several threads on the forum detailing the use of a program called IPMI tool to modify system behavior. For certain motherboards, it allows you to have a script that calls IPMI tool to run at startup to change/set things, like the fan settings, that are beyond the presets available in the GUI.

This isn't necessarily a manufacturer's feature though. Its more on the order of additional functionality that leverages the existing, and that folks have discovered, in some cases through trial and error. For some hardware it works, for others it doesn't, and for some there's partial functionality. Too much to describe here, but if you search the threads for "IPMI tool" you'll get some hits, plus there's this thread in one of the resouces sub-forums that details a lot of the info: https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/supermicro-x9-x10-x11-fan-speed-control.10059/

For example, in a lot of Supermicro boards, "Optimal" sets the fan baseline as 30% speed. In the past, I was able to use an IPMI Tool script at startup to set the baseline at 15% instead, and also set a lower maximum to keep it from getting too loud. I was using Linux and BSD based operating systems though. So, if you're using Windows Server or something else, I'm not sure if there's an eqivalent. Plus, I knew that the thermal output of my systems was much lower than the chassis was designed for, so I was able to make the changes with relative confidence.

What you can safely do, regardless of if you modify existing fan speed or do a replacement, dependinds on what hardware (CPU, etc.) you're working with. Using IPMI tool to force changes to the presets can negate a system's normal built in safety settings when it comes to cooling. But, the same can be true for fan swaps. In either case, you need to use some care, so reading up on the process is a good idea.
 
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acquacow

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Check the specs of the fans, calculate the lowest rpm (including the tolerances) and see what's the low rpm threshold. Otherwise you will get fans that ramp up and down the entire time.
You can tweak the lower fan speed threshold for the IPMI via console tools. I've done this to have the IPMI accept me running noctua fans.
 

athenaskidney

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Ok I got it on my firewall. Haven't tried the NAS yet.

Had to change to full speed mode
Code:
0x30 0x45 0x01 0x20
Then adjust speed to 8%
Code:
0x30 0x70 0x66 0x01 0x00 0x08
Almost dead silent. Hopefully that will be enough fan speed.

THE ISSUE is on a reboot it kicks it back to full speed and stays at that.
I have to rerun the ipmitool command.

Would like to not have to rely on a script to run on boot everytime, because I'd like to dsiable IPMI after this.
Not sure what to do about that?
 

athenaskidney

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As for my 4U Supermicro running TrueNAS
It seems I needed to do

Set to full speed
Code:
0x30 0x45 0x01 0x20
Then adjust these two paramaters down
Code:
0x30 0x70 0x66 0x01 0x00 0x08
Code:
0x30 0x70 0x66 0x01 0x01 0x08
I'm having trouble determining which fans these are adjusting. If I adjust one, something else is still very loud. If I adjust both, they both quiet down. However the FANWALL (between the backplane and motherboard) which is what makes the most noise seems to not change at all with these commands. So I'm not sure about that.
That is what needs to be quieted.

Also I presume I will encounter the same issue mentioned above of it all switching back to full speed on reboot.
So I still don't know how to resolve that.
 

Markess

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May 19, 2018
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THE ISSUE is on a reboot it kicks it back to full speed and stays at that.
I have to rerun the ipmitool command.
Yes, raw settings aren't persistant. So, for that method have to run it by hand after every boot, or set up a script to run at startup.

Also I presume I will encounter the same issue mentioned above of it all switching back to full speed on reboot.
So I still don't know how to resolve that.
Yes, will be the same. If you don’t want to run a script, you have a couple options that can leverage on the "Optimal" preset in the GUI:

1. Different fans, which you already know about. You'd need to do a bit of research to find a fan that @30% (the baseline "Optimal" setting) will give you adequate airflow when your system is idling and without excessive noise. You’ll also need to set the fan’s thresholds in the IPMI gui to match the fans speed profile. But using the GUI, settings are persistent.

2. Use inline “low noise” adapter like Noctua NA-RC6 (or 7,8,10, etc. they make a bunch with different resistance) on the existing fans. These work on non-Noctua fans too. They slow them down via a resistor. Some people swear by them, while others think they aren’t with the trouble. If you try them, you may need to adjust the thresholds downward in the IPMI gui.

3. You can also bypass the motherboard/BMC fan control entirely and use a physical fan speed controller that has a knob/knobs. Some people like this, but you loose all monitoring.

Someone just told me the fanwall on the 4U is seperate from what ipmitool controls.
And they said I could likely just remove the entire fanwall, and put in noctuas?
Noctuas are really quiet, but don’t move a lot of air. So, you need to plan accordingly. Also, Noctuas sometimes confuse some (not all) supermicro motherboards. The motherboard thinks the fan is going down to 0 RPM a couple times a minute and the system’s fan control logic ramps all the other fans to 100% to compensate for the “failure” until RPM on that fan resisters again. Makes for an annoying up and down sound. Only happens on some Supermicro motherboards though.

Could be other methods I don’t know about of course! Cheers!