Supermicro noise levels

Discussion in 'Chassis and Enclosures' started by jcl333, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. jcl333

    jcl333 Member

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    Hello all,

    I wanted to share some insight here, and maybe get some feedback. I contacted Supermicro support about system noise levels.

    The case I am intersted in the CSE-836TQ-R500B here:
    http://www.supermicro.com/products/chassis/3u/836/sc836tq-r500.cfm
    (I might also look at a similar situation with the 24-bay model)

    According to support, these are the noise levels:
    * Two FAN-0125L4's (back) @ full power these put out 47 dBA
    * Three FAN-0126L4 (front/middle) @ full power these put out 53.5 dBA
    If you set fan mode to "optimal", the dBA for each fan will be around 28 dBA (using a Supermicro motherboard)
    These fans are indeed loud otherwise.

    Power supplies:
    For the 94% efficient platinum, redundant 500 watt unit PWS-501P-1R
    @50% load 16 dBA
    Under heavy load, max is 29 dBA

    So, the power supply is no problem at all, even under heavy load 29 dBA is fine, but it is probably high-pitched.

    The issue is really the case fans. I think part of the issue is that they are not only cooling the hard disks, but using the fan shroud and passive CPU heatsink(s) they are cooling the CPUs as well, so it would not be that hard for them to need to spin up higher than the 28 dBA point with modest loading.

    Here is my thinking:
    * I plan to use a Supermicro X9SRH-7F here: http://www.supermicro.com/products/motherboard/Xeon/C600/X9SRH-7F.cfm
    * This motherboard is on the compatability list for the 16-bay case SC836TQ-R500B so all the features will be supported
    * Don't use the fan shroud, and use a Corsair H60 water cooler, or similar
    * I am using 1 CPU not two, and with an active cooler of it's own
    * I will not be using any high-speed / high heat SAS hard disks
    * If necessary, swap out the 5 80mm fans with slower/quieter one's, but still use 4-pin one's that work with motherboard control

    I have seen many postings complaining about the noise of these. I am starting to think that this is mainly due to not using them with a Supermicro board, and possibly using some of the other non-plantinum power supplies that might be louder. This power supply is fine, and the case fans seem easy to mitigate, or are possibly even fine as they are if you can run in "optimal" mode most or all of the time.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Jcl333
     
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  2. odditory

    odditory Moderator

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    Historically , complaints about noise have been related to screaming PSU fans that could not be adjusted without major surgery and soldering work. Its only more recently that super micro began offering lower noise edition psu's. The case fans were never theproblem , they could always be downvolted either through bios settings or resistor.

    Bottom line super micro cases are designed for enterprise environments rather than living quarters and you have to accept that when purchasing, as such you'll always be doing some amount of tweaking to get it to what's acceptable for your environment, even with the newer lower noise offerings. So as long as you're prepared to spend some time on it then you'll be rewarded with the superior build quality relative to the cheaper cases out there. They're like tanks .. pretty much all steel instead of aluminum.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 8, 2012
  3. hagak

    hagak Member

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    As odditory states a 4U server chassis is not built to be quiet. I am always dumbfounded when I see people putting in huge amounts of effort to make a server chassis quiet. That said I have seen server racks custom built with noise suppression in mind and they work rather well.

    Now back to SM machines. I have a 846 with the 1200watt dual supply. The supply is not loud for a server, but I am use to servers sounding like jet engines. The PSU fans though are far from pleasant sounding, and with the case fans I would not want this thing in a room I spent any amount of time in. As stated you can work on the case fans and if you are only doing a single cpu then reducing the cooling capacity is probably not going to be an issue since they are designed for dual cpu boards.
    But making the PSU fans not annoying may be a good bit of work, and while I love my SM chassis if I wanted a quiet machine I would not start with it.
    Course I have not heard the low noise PSU from SM, so those may be good. Hard to believe though since the fans are so tiny and need to move so much air.
     
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  4. dba

    dba Moderator

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    Hi jcl333,

    I believe that your plan will work very well. With a single CPU and just a few RAM sticks you will be generating less heat than the case cooling system was designed to handle. The H60 will pull away all of the CPU heat, so the remaining fans will only need to cool the drives and the rest of the motherboard. You'll be able to get away with fewer fans or, even better, by running the existing fans at lower RPM. The Supermicro fans are not designed to be quiet, but they aren't that bad when running slowly. If it bothers you, switch them out per your plan.
    Even better, the 94% efficient SM power supplies don't generate much heat and tend to be very quiet, unlike some earlier SM supplies. Since you will be running them at less than full load, their variable speed fans should be barely audible.
    My guess is that with your configuration you'll have a "relatively quiet" machine that can be turned into a "very quiet" machine, if needed, by swapping out the SM fans for purpose-built quiet fans.

    By the way, the Supermicro fans are standard variable speed fans that will work with any motherboard+OS that can handle such fans. My last Asus server motherboard, for example, was very good at running the Supermicro fans at just the speed needed.
     
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  5. RimBlock

    RimBlock Member

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    My 743TQ-865B-SQ (SQ = Super Quiet) is pretty quiet. It only takes 8x 3.5" plus 8x 2.5" or 5x 3.5" with additional mobile rack so probably doen not have the storage density you are looking for. I have just added a 8x 2.5" in 2x 5.25" mobile rack and it comes with a small cooling fan. I can easily hear that little fan over the rest so I disconnected it and will use the connection to power one of the fan wall fans to get rid of the caution light on the front.

    The chassis uses the FAN-0104L4 fan wall fans and FAN-0103L4 rear fan (or two FAN-0082L4 fans with two square 4-pin power cables CBL-0286L). The chassis uses the standard PWS-865-PQ power supply (non-redundant). They may help quiet down the chassis.
     
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  6. jcl333

    jcl333 Member

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    Hello all,

    Wanted to follow up on this earlier but I have been busy, thank you very much for the info.

    Odditory:
    * Yes, I agree that the newer Platinum rated SM power supplies appear to be different, most of the time I see reviews with older units that are understandably loud due to the greater heat they have to dissipate.
    * Yes, I am willing to accept some tweaking in exchange for quality, fair trade to me

    hagak:
    * I actually know alot about noise supression, and it is not easy to do. I actually just noticed APC selling server cabinets with built-in noise dampening intended to allow server equipment to be used in an normal office environment. They are very expensive.
    * Yes, even if the small fans are quiet, I am wondering if the pitch will be very irritating and if that will become just as much of a problem as the noise itself.
    * Totally agree with you on the small fans in the power supplies - I was very surprised when the SM support guy got back to me with the noise levels on those PSUs. Now, these are just 500 watt each, so maybe that helps, could be in trouble on larger units.

    dba:
    * Heh, appropriate handle for this post dba ;-)
    * Thanks very much for your supporting feedback, I was hoping I was onto something here
    * Looks like the H60 will not fit the SM motherboard unless I want to make my own mount, there are no holes it uses screws
    * We shall see if I can just tweak what it comes with to be quiet, or if I actually have to swap some stuff out

    Rimblock:
    * Yes, it was very tempting to go with one of the workstation cases, but as you say, they don't quite have the needed density

    In general, I am not targeting something that will be under my desk. I will be putting this in a utility/laundry room off of the kitchen where I currently have the heating system and washer/dryer, so it is already pretty loud in there. If you close the door it is not too bad. So, I am hoping I can get the server quiet enough that it can go in there and "fit right in" ;-)

    Now that we have established that there is a possibility of getting one of these things to be quite, I am tempted to go for the 4U/24-bay unit rather than the 3U/10-bay one, but I wonder if then I will be pushing my luck ;-)

    Now I just have to decide on some of the other details.

    Thanks again all for the feedback.

    -JCL
     
    #6
  7. hagak

    hagak Member

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    Utitlity room is not a bad place if you handle certain what if cases.
    1. Get the servers off the floor, may not need to be that much off the floor say 4-6 inches. Same goes for any cabling. This is because in my experience washing machines will leak, not might, they will leak. Same goes for hot water heaters.
    2. Make sure the dryer vents properly otherwise the humidity level and heat could be huge.
    3. You should be able to get the system quieter than the HVAC blower fan without much effort.

    I actually have my server rack in the basement which has 2 concerns for water, floor and ceiling because the washing machine is just above it! In 20 years our basement has never leaked so that is not a huge concern, but I still keep everything off the floor.
    My big concern is water from the washing machine pouring down on the server rack. I made a "splash shield" out of plexigalss that is mounted to the top of the rack (rack has sides and doors) so hopefully any leaks will be redirected away from the rack and does not go into the rack.
     
    #7
  8. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator
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    Sadly, for those in California basements are very difficult to come by. Otherwise, I am fairly sure the STH lab would be in mine. dba has seen how quaint my house is firsthand.
     
    #8
  9. jcl333

    jcl333 Member

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    Hello, sorry for the late reply. I realized I did not have forum post notifications turned on, I thought I had B.O. or something ;-)

    The good news here is that the heating system is relatively new, I use an on-demand water heater so there is no tank, and the washer and dryer are the high-end Maytag front-loaders, so these concerns should be OK. I will probably build a custom shelf for the server, heck I might even go ahead and put a rack in that way I could put the UPS and everything in there with it. I wouldn't be able to fit a actual server rack into the room, but I could probably use a pair of 2-post communication racks to emulate one.

    -JCL
     
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  10. jcl333

    jcl333 Member

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    Update to this post

    Hello,

    OK, after some more research, and some more e-mails with Supermicro (it is great how they put up with me) I have an update.

    Here is my updated plan:

    Chassis
    * Go with one of the 846 series 24-bay chassis (the 16 is still attractive, but not any cheaper)
    * I am going to make another post on this issue...

    Fan issue
    * Since the X9SCM-F only has 5 fan headers, use 4-pin fan splitters to control the five fans using just two headers
    > This is the animal here: http://www.frozencpu.com/products/10350/cab-183/Akasa_PWM_Splitter_-_Smart_Fan_Cable_AK-CB002.html
    * So I will use one header and splitter to control the two rear fans, and one to control the 3 midplane fans, so I am free to use active CPU cooler
    * I might still use a water cooler, but honestly even the stock Intel fan works fine for my needs, and they are quiet
    * On the case fans, I am going to try it with the stock fans first on the motherboard, and see if that is quiet enough before deciding to replace them or not. It might be quiet enough for my utility room.

    Power supply issue
    * Supermicro support actually responded with a list of power supplies that are compatible with the 846 chassis. However, they only officially support the power supplies that are actually available with the 846 originally. I can send the list if people want it.
    * This is actually more about right-sizing the power supply than it is really about noise, because I think even the newer 920W and larger platinum-rated power supplies are probably quiet enough under light load
    * What I will do is look at the load with my power meter and decide then. But I will probably go down to the 500W power supply, because it is still around 88% efficient at just 50W, and I am thinking I will be in the 100-150W range, or at least I hope so

    -JCL
     
    #10
  11. mobilenvidia

    mobilenvidia Moderator

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    Any decent PSU maker will have both Power efficiency graphed over output and Noise levels at outputs.
    I chose my Silverstone ST85P-F for this very reason as it offered the best efficiency at aprox my average use and the lowest fan speed/noise also.
     
    #11
  12. jcl333

    jcl333 Member

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    Yes, I have heard good things about Silverstone. If I go with the Supermicro case I am limited to Supermicro power supplies, but I have high hopes for the Platinum rated 500w units they have that only come in at 16dBA at 50% load, and I will even be below that.

    What size is that Silverstone? 850?

    -JCL
     
    #12
  13. badatSAS

    badatSAS New Member

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    JCL did you ever do this build? Also would you mind posting the power supply cross reference you got from supermicro? I'm trying to quiet my case down as painlessly as possible
     
    #13
  14. jcl333

    jcl333 Member

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    Hello,

    Sadly, I did not complete this build yet, I am in a bit of "analysis paralysis". At the moment I am pondering how much of a problem vibration will be in the 24-drive enclosure (Supermicro or Norco) if I am using non-enterprise drives, or maybe the WD red hard drives. I have bought the MB, RAM, CPU, and some of the drives, but still deciding on the case. I may yet still go with Supermicro, not sure. I am also still pondering the issue of hardware RAID vs. ZFS.

    I am confident that the fan issues are solved because I figured out how you can connect all 5 fans in a Supermicro case to the motherboard, in addition to the CPU fan, using PWM control, using a special cable harness to control the mid-plan fans and the two back fans off of a single header, which works fine since they each do the same job. I am also fairly sure if you swap out with these newer platinum power supplies that that will also be a non-issue.

    But, I would hate to go with this solution and be in a very high drive mortality rate situation. If you have one of these cases, may I ask what kinds of drives you are using, and what your experiences have been?

    As to your question, is this what you are looking for? <copy of e-mail from Supermicro tech support below>

    All of the motherboards that are available should be the latest revision. Unfortunately, we can’t control our reseller’s inventory, so the one you receive from them might not be the latest. The 846B chassis (as opposed to the normal 846 chassis) is a recently released chassis so there are currently no issues concerning revision.

    We currently do not have an air shroud for Socket UP motherboards inside 2U+ chassis. If you are using a UP motherboard inside the 846BA chassis, an active heatsink is required. For this combination, we have SNK-P0046A4 available.

    The fans do not have to be connected to the backplane and can be plugged into the motherboard for PWM fan control. Please be sure to change the jumper settings on the backplanes to ‘NO FAN’ if you are not choosing to use the fan header.

    It is possible to swap the power supplies in for ones of different power rating, but we only recommend the tested power supplies (the ones already in the different 846BA configurations. The following should work, but are not supported swapping solutions:

    PWS-0064
    PWS-0065
    PWS-1K11P-1R
    PWS-1K21P-1R
    PWS-401-1R
    PWS-501P-1R
    PWS-702A-1R
    PWS-711-1R
    PWS-721P-1R
    PWS-741P-1R
    PWS-781-1S
    PWS-801-1R
    PWS-902-1R
    PWS-903P-1R
    PWS-920P-1R
    PWS-920P-SQ
    PWS-981-1S
    PWS-1K28P-SQ
    PWS-1K41P-1R
    PWS-1K41P-SQ
    PWS-1K62P-1R

    Please note, you cannot mix and match power supplies (e.g. 1xPWS-1K41P-1R + 1xPWS-1K41P-SQ)

    It is also recommend to use enterprise drives with our storage chassis. WD usually gives the drives an RE# (e.g. RE4) naming convention for their enterprise drives.

    Our 4-pin fans can usually spin down to around 50% or lower of the maximum speed. It is recommended you try seeing if the noise level will be acceptable before swapping out the fans.


    Let me know if this is not what you meant, or if there is anything else you need.

    -JCL
     
    #14
  15. badatSAS

    badatSAS New Member

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    This is exactly what I was looking for JCL. I did a lower density SC745 build, but same issues. Mine came with the 3xFAN-0082L3 (non-PWM, LOUD 80mm fans) fanwall fans and equally loud 2xFAN-0081L3 back fans. I replaced the FAN-0082L3 with FAN-0104L's and currently have no rear fan without temperature issues. The only loud part left is the power supply. I really want a PWS-501P-1R, but they are pretty hard to find since I've been looking, at least for a reasonable price.

    My S1200BTLR had all appropriate fan headers - 3 for the fan-wall, 1 for CPU, and I have one left for the rear fan if I decide to buy it at some point, without using any splitters
     
    #15
  16. TheBay

    TheBay New Member

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    To the OP

    I have this chassis:

    Supermicro | Products | Chassis | 4U | SC745TQ-R800 / SC745TQ-R800B

    And the fans that came with it were 52db 5000rpm, all 5 of them! original part numbers were FAN-0074L4 x4 and FAN-0082L4 x2 (Screamers!), So I found the SQ (Superquiet) model of this chassis and got the parts list and fitted those fans, this may apply to your chassis if one exists, worth looking through the lists in the same range.

    Mine has 4x 80mm for the middle/SAS backplane and 2x 80 for the rear.
    Instead I fitted 4x 80mm 2500rpm 26db fans part number FAN-0104L4
    and 1 90mm Rear fan FAN-0103L4, the new rear 90mm comes with a plastic grill that covers the original 2 slots:
    http://www.boston.co.uk/productimage.ashx?data=fan-0103l4&width=350&height=350

    You should be able to cross reference your fan to other models and see if there is a quieter version,
    here is the list of all fans:
    Supermicro | Support | Thermal Components Matrix: Heat Sinks,Fans,Cooling

    FAN-0104L4 is what I used for the middle/sas backplane, looks like these will fit yours.

    My PSU's do make a little bit of noise, but acceptable for dual reduntant, I may swap it out for a SQ model one at a later date though, however they only come in stupidly high power output for my needs.

    Drive wise I am a BIG fan of Hitachi 5K3000's, as quick as most 7200 drives, run cool, quiet, damn reliable and love working in all manors of pools/raids etc.
     
    #16
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  17. jcl333

    jcl333 Member

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    Hello TheBay,

    Thanks for the reply, sorry for being late getting back to you.

    I must say this is a very clever idea that I had not thought of, so thanks for that. Even if the hot-swap thingy were not compatible, in theory you could take the fan inside out and adapt it, the important thing having the right size / performance fan.

    I will certainly consider the Hitachi's, I have been picking up 3TB Western Digital REDs when I find them for a good price.

    Right now I am deciding if I should go with this new Backblaze 3.0 deal, or stay with the Supermicro deal. If I go Supermicro I will definitely try your fan solution.

    The thing that gives me pause is the whole vibration issue. Supermicro is always sure to warn you to only use enterprise drives in a 24-bay enclosure. Even thought there are lots of people who do otherwise with success, including yourself I think, I still think about the issue.

    The Backblaze 3.0 specifically addresses the vibration issue. I am currently talking with the case manufacturer for these, who is actually enthusiastic about working with people even if you are only building one, they have a website that they are going to start collecting info about the various customizations people are doing.

    -JCL
     
    #17
  18. TheBay

    TheBay New Member

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    Hey no problem at all,

    I had 6 5k3000's in a HP microerver and no vibrations at all, more than I can say about the baracuada 7200.12 it shipped with, I could hear that downstairs in the room below.
    Every enterprise drive I have fitted (SAS) have vibrated more than any desktop drive due to the sheer rpm of the spindle, Can't talk of "Enterprise" 3.5 sata as I've never used them in an enterprise environment and led to believe they are just better binned normal drives with bits missing out of firmware.

    Regarding psu's if you look in my supermicro/ablecom thread another member has found a source of quieter more efficient PSU's. However the 500w in the case you specified is quiet, just in case you find a cheaper similar supermicro chassis with a noisy psu there are ways around it.

    Also on the supermicro chassis you suggested you can fit any 80cm fans to the rear wall as they are just screwed in, make sure they are 4 pin PWM, I recommend San Ace or Nidec for reliability, though Delta do some good fans, you can check what noise they make by looking at datasheets on their websites, look at PWM duty cycle and max DB figures, then google the part number of the one you want.
     
    #18
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  19. Kenneth

    Kenneth New Member

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    Sorry for reviving this relatively old thread, but I'm in somewhat of the same dilemma myself.

    I'm curious, jcl333 what did you end up with?

    I'm currently planning on building a SM storage server myself, and am trying to ascertain if I will be able to get noise down to an acceptable level, since this server will be located in an office at home. I am not aiming for silent or quiet, I am absolutely aware that this thing will not be that, but I'm hoping it can get to a level where it is tolerable.

    This would be a SM 847 chassis (36-bay) with a SM Xeon E5v3 mainboard and 1280W SQ PSUs. The PSUs are insanely overpowered for my needs but that's what comes with the chassis/solution, also I believe that the combination of them being SQ supplies and typical load being well below 50 % should make the PSUs quite okay, noise-wise?

    The chassis has 7x FAN-0126L4 standard, which are 7K RPM 53.5 dB monsters. As far as I can understand, using the "optimal" setting in the BIOS/IPMI should make the fans run about half-speed, which should help. I'd also imagine that I could remove several of these fans if necessary, since I will only be running a single E5v3 with a 85W TDP and no expansion cards, while the chassis has been thermally designed to support a DP setup with TDPs of up to 2x 135-145W I believe. There are several posts in this thread about swapping fans for less noisy versions. The 0126L4's are 80x80x38 and unfortunately the "quietest" alternatives at that size are 45 dB. Is anyone aware of quiet fans available in this size? (the ones I've been able to find are 25-30 mm deep).

    Any thoughts/ideas/suggestions?
     
    #19
  20. Patrick

    Patrick Administrator
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    I actually just bought a SC847A JBOD 36-bay chassis myself today.
     
    #20
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