Thoughts on sound "proofing" (dampening) a Startech 4POSTRACK12U

jppowers

New Member
May 25, 2017
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Hi folks!

I've been running my Startech 4POSTRACK12U for a little over a month now. It's housing a Dell Poweredge R730xd (Proxmox host/NAS), a L2 Netgear managed 24 port 1Gb switch, a couple 2U shelves holding up some Cyberpower UPSs and my cable modem, and soon a Supermicro CSE-512F-350B based white box build (re-purposing my old NAS hardware into a pfSense router). Thanks to some basic ruby scripts I found I've gotten the Dell's fans down to a moderate hum (very tolerable) at idle, and I can re-purpose my old perl script I used on my old NAS to do the same on the new 1U router once that's built up. It's not terribly loud but climbs to a dull the roar when the more powerful VM's spin up the fans. When I fire up my GPU Passthru Win10 gaming VM ... she screams, and that's a bit distracting.

I'm thinking that given the ... current world situation and my work-from-home nature for the foreseeable future I need some new projects to work on, and sound dampening the rack would be a nice one.

My plan is basically picking up a couple packs of these or one pack of these, 3D design/print some basic brackets to hold things in place on the sides and fill in some of the gaps on the front and back of the rack, and calling it a day. Basic measurements show I need 8 panels for the sides (~2ft x ~2ft on other side), and I can use the remainder of a 12 pack to fill in the gaps on the front and rear. I'm leaning towards the thicker (2") panels just to provide a bit more absorption.

The (vague) plan as it stands right now is just a couple basic 3D printed brackets mounted via the open holes in the top/bottom of the rack (where you adjust the depth of the rack) to "hang" the panels from, and just cutting holes in the middle points of the panels to plug with a 4 pointed 3D printed bracket/brace to hold them together. It'd be 2x2 panels, with the bracket/brace in the middle holding them together, and "hangers" on the outside corners to the top and bottom of the rack. If it works well I can do something similar for the top, although probably with a piece of wood or something on the surface so I can put stuff on top.

Am I cheaping out too much to get anything out of it? I'm walking in knowing $10-20 worth of foam panels aren't going to do a lot, but if I can get a lot more sound dampening out of $50 what should I be doing? I'm in a 1 bed room apartment with little access to power tools to really DIY it as fully as I probably could otherwise. In other words, I'm thinking no wood working projects since the local hardware stores aren't available to source from, let alone for even the basic cuts they can usually do for a nominal fee. Ideally I'd be essentially making sidewalls with some ~1/4in wood sheets and mounting the sound dampening foam to that, but sourcing that seems more difficult than waiting out the delivery delays on some foam material and printing some basic mounting hardware myself.

I'd appreciate any insights!
 
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tangent

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Feb 7, 2020
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I have no direct insights, but I am looking at a similar project myself. In my case it isn't the noise that is the real issues somuch as the heat. I'll throw on some form of noise damping panels eventually because why not. I'm looking at getting 1-2 6inch dryer vent hoses to re-direct the exhaust out the window, with a fan to assist. The AC in my apt should take care of the rest. I suspect if I don't manage to finish this by summer, the whole room will get a good deal noisier as fans spin up :p

I suspect lacking a front door will provide an inferior result when compared to a more expensive cabinet. In my case getting the waste heat out of the building should do all I need to quiet it down.
 

Spartacus

Well-Known Member
May 27, 2019
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Austin, TX
So first question is, where is the rack located in relation to where you're sitting/WFH?
Something to note, when it comes to sound if you're really wanting to make a difference denser is better. While egg foam will help its designed to reduce sounds bouncing off hard surfaces. If you're wanting to really reduce the noise solid material plus the eggfoam is ideal.

I had one of the dell 24u enclosures about 5-6 feet from me with a pair of R620s being the loudest and bunch of other things that added to the noise level. I put a double layer of cardboard in the front on the inside of the door (covering the mesh on the door (used cardboard due to lighterweight/thickness for the door) and solid 1/4" plywood piece in the bottom (leaving space in the bottom front for a intake), that cut the noise by about 40% as the rack was facing me.
I bought these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DB0QP8G/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I cut up one of them to apply internally on the sides front bottom and top, another 10%.
Lastly I didnt have a spot to vent exhaust but my room has an oversized vent, that means I had to leave the back open to allow it out, I did however use the full size egg sheet to place it up against the back wall, that cut the noise bouncing off the wall almost completely.
I'd estimate it was about 40-45 db sitting at my desk with all the modifications 60-65db previously.

IMO your best bet would be to make that 4 sided wood box you mentioned (front/sides top) and build it around your rack to size, grab some egg foam for the back wall, and then cut/design some kind of air intake for the front that worked well for me. If you wanted to take it to the next level you could line the inside of the box with eggfoam too.

Edit: without access to the wood/tools make yourself a cardboard one with as thick as you can manage might work decently too.
Secondary note, the foam pads I listed above come in gigantic cardboard boxes 4ft x 2ft x 3in :).
Thats what I used to make my double layer door panel for mine.
 
Last edited:

jppowers

New Member
May 25, 2017
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So first question is, where is the rack located in relation to where you're sitting/WFH?
Something to note, when it comes to sound if you're really wanting to make a difference denser is better. While egg foam will help its designed to reduce sounds bouncing off hard surfaces. If you're wanting to really reduce the noise solid material plus the eggfoam is ideal.

I had one of the dell 24u enclosures about 5-6 feet from me with a pair of R620s being the loudest and bunch of other things that added to the noise level. I put a double layer of cardboard in the front on the inside of the door (covering the mesh on the door (used cardboard due to lighterweight/thickness for the door) and solid 1/4" plywood piece in the bottom (leaving space in the bottom front for a intake), that cut the noise by about 40% as the rack was facing me.
I bought these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DB0QP8G/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I cut up one of them to apply internally on the sides front bottom and top, another 10%.
Lastly I didnt have a spot to vent exhaust but my room has an oversized vent, that means I had to leave the back open to allow it out, I did however use the full size egg sheet to place it up against the back wall, that cut the noise bouncing off the wall almost completely.
I'd estimate it was about 40-45 db sitting at my desk with all the modifications 60-65db previously.

IMO your best bet would be to make that 4 sided wood box you mentioned (front/sides top) and build it around your rack to size, grab some egg foam for the back wall, and then cut/design some kind of air intake for the front that worked well for me. If you wanted to take it to the next level you could line the inside of the box with eggfoam too.

Edit: without access to the wood/tools make yourself a cardboard one with as thick as you can manage might work decently too.
Secondary note, the foam pads I listed above come in gigantic cardboard boxes 4ft x 2ft x 3in :).
Thats what I used to make my double layer door panel for mine.
That's good to know. Thinking about it, I do have the new hardware for the supermicro stuff coming in I can probably use as panel backings in the mean time. I can probably use some 3M removable double sided tape or something so I can re-purpose the foam in the future for actual panels.

I do sit very close to the rack, but right now the idle dB is ~35dB right up at the front. When under load it'll get into the 50's easily. That's just the 730xd, so adding the supermicro probably won't add a ridiculous amount of noise, but I know I'll need to plan something.

I'll look at options like yours for more dense material. Thanks a lot!
 

Titus

New Member
Mar 15, 2020
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Honestly me and my wife have though about this. I am getting the green light once the front and back yard are landscaped to build a sound proof shed on the side of the house with its own sub panel and mini split. No more noise but whenever I sell the house new owner will wonder wtf it was used for.
 

Diavuno

Active Member
light foam is usless by itself.

your better off having the local hardware store cut some plywood and leaning the boards againts the server... itll keep the noice "in"
(noise will reverberate and cancel out some of itself... the more you seal the box the better...but it does needs to breathe for cool air...

generally 70-90% coverage on the sides with an additional 6-10" gap above and below to allow convection is enough...


If you want to be a littleextra I recommend the heavy sound dampening...
https://www.amazon.com/Fatmat-Self-Adhesive-RattleTrap-Deadener-Install/dp/B003TUNRGM/