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I'm currently searching for a server to put in my office. The mains specifications for this server is to make the less acoustic noise as possible and be rackable.

I already tried an HP DL360 G3 and it does an infernal noise, and it annoyed all my team even in a closed room.

So I looked at Dell servers but there is no description there about acoustic noise level and everything. Do you have some kind of experience with Dell servers or advice in buying server regarding this particular problem ?

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I wanted to add more tags related to this post but I can't create them with my reputation level... yet Sorry! –  Sylvain Filteau Jun 5 '09 at 1:47
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I love watching TV shows where there are people in rooms full of (supposedly) high level servers and arrays with hundreds of disks, but you can hear them whispering to eachother. Clearly they've never been in a real datacenter. Plus that wouldn't make good TV. –  Mark Henderson Jun 9 '09 at 9:28

13 Answers 13

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The first thing you have to realize is that they are going to make noise - they are servers, not meant for offices.

If you have to have one - I would stick with anything under 1U - they tend to have smaller fans and I would aim for non-SCSI drives (SSDs are really quiet but very expensive).

Every major manufacturer has to write a Product Safety, EMC and Environmental Datasheet for their hardware (OSHA, HazMat, etc).

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/about_dell/values/regulatory_compliance/dec_conform?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd

Each section with have Energy and Acoustics Data - Dell r710 - Declared Noise Emissions Measurements are in accordance with ISO 9296 (tested in accordance with ISO 7779).

Sound Power (LWAd, bels) (1 bel=10 decibels, re 10-12 Watts)

5.6

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To move a given quantity of air, smaller fans must run at a higher RPM and therefore make more noise than larger, slower fans. 2 or 4u cases also have the advantage of providing more space and flexibility to route (via shrouds / ducting) the airflow around components: a 2u server may have fewer, larger, quieter fans than a 1u server of equivalent spec'. –  iAn Jun 5 '09 at 13:46

There is a lot of variety in the PowerEdge line of servers. At least some of them are very loud. You may be better off trying to investigate some kind of sound proofing.

If you are curious about a specific system you should login to http://support.dell.com/ and check the manuals, some will tell you how much sound the system makes.

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+1 - Agreed. Some of the lower-end pedestal servers are fairly quiet, but all of the rackable ones I've worked with are loud enough that I wouldn't want one in my office. –  Evan Anderson Jun 5 '09 at 1:54
    
I should've added: The 1U's actually seem louder than the 2U or larger (depending on how much DASD is in them). I think it's because they're using smaller diameter fans and spinning them faster to keep the airflow up. I worked around a PowerEdge 1850 in a cube for awhile and it was absolutely a screamer. –  Evan Anderson Jun 5 '09 at 1:55
    
Evan: absolutely, all else being equal a 1U will be louder than a 2U, because the smaller diameter fans have to spin faster. –  freiheit Jun 5 '09 at 2:09
    
Regarding sound proofing, generally the most efficient way to reduce noise is to generate less noise instead of trying to dampen it. –  Martijn Heemels Aug 9 '09 at 21:42

HP DL360 is a 1U server. You'll probably have better luck with 2U or even 4U servers.

There's a fundamental problem: noise is a function of fan RPM, while air movement is a function of fan RPM times fan radius. And if you have a certain amount of wattage being used, for a given ambient temperature the amount of air you'll have to move through the system will be fairly constant. As an added bonus problem: rack-mount servers just aren't designed to be quiet, generally.

So if you're generating a certain amount of heat and your fan has to fit inside 1U, it'll have to spin twice as fast (or more) as fans that fit in 2U.

Cooler air in the room will help, too (modern servers have variable speed fans that will slow down if there's less need). As will lower wattage CPUs ("high efficiency").

Seriously, an HP DL380 that's otherwise configured about the same (same wattage CPU, same drives, same RAM) will be quieter, and generally costs about the same.

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Dell r610/r710 (we just started getting these at work) are SUPER quiet at idle. Start to push them and the fans are obviously going to kick, but at idle, they barely whisper.

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this violates everything known to man but...in my apartment i have a poweredge 2650 that i use for testing purposes. i pulled out the two intake fans and leave the case off.

Noise Dampening will occur if A) you use sound deading material B) install in a rack.

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I hate to ask questions that don't really address the original request, but are you sure there's no way around keeping it in your office? Servers really weren't meant to be "quiet" or for use in habited areas. If the machine must be in your office, is there a reason it has to be rackable? Could it be a desktop on a rack shelf?

There's got to be a better solution that won't drive you crazy.

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You might be better off looking into ways to reduce the noise. The previous suggestion to look into a 2,3 or 4U computer would help but not completely.

A longer term solution would include sound reduction for putting the computer(s) into another room. Doubling up the drywall and other sound reduction methods exist.

If you cannot put the computer(s) into another room something like http://www.kellsystems.com/ can drastically cut down the noise.

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We have 4u of Poweredges in a Kell cabinet and they still make a racket - don't believe the kell hype - their enclosures don't reduce the noise as much as the make out. –  Martin Jun 5 '09 at 20:47

I once used simple voltage regulators to cut down RPM in a rebranded OEM server. The thing didn't regulate itself at all so even when running idle, it kept roaring. It was in a rack that somehow was put into a room with people in it, so it was the only way.

It had pretty powerful fans though, so i had to really look around to find voltage regulators. Kept an eye on temperatures for a week and it's been running for about 2 years now.

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We had Dell PowerEdge 2900 (tower model, 6U) in office, and it was very loud on start, sounding as jet plane on take off. Very soon it would calm down but it emitted quite distinct fan noise, so we immediately moved it out to nearby empty office. At end of day when it was turned off, everybody noticed change of background noise.

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Why are you turning off your server at night???? –  twoleggedhorse Jul 11 at 12:01
    
We have in office in preparation for end user installation, so it was not necessary for it to be turned on overnight –  Goran Peroš Sep 23 at 19:14

eRacks offers quiet systems including 1u rackmounted servers - you might want to check them out at http://eracks.com/products/Quiet%20Systems

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We've occasionally had PE2950s in the office and likewise on startup they sound like a jet taking off; you will be disrupted by them.

I'm gonna make a fairly radical suggestion here: if you need a Server OS rather than Server hardware, have you considered a reasonably specced Workstation-model PC?

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Do you really need a rack mounted server?

I have a tower PowerEdge here in the office and the thing is practically silent.

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Well I had the same issue with my home lab and i managed to fix it after some research on the net

this involves modding the fans and the BMC firmware..and it worked like a charm, now the server on normal load wont go beyond 54db

http://www.ratzblog.com/2014/08/reducing-dell-poweredge-pe-295029002800.html

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Thank you for you answer. Could you please write down the most important parts of the linked website in your post so that, in the case that the link goes down, the answer is preserved. –  Christopher Perrin Aug 9 at 17:30
    
Well its a long process. that's why i wrote the blog post so i can save it for my reference later.. it wont go down hopefully its on blogger after all. –  Malinda Aug 10 at 22:04

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