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I have a Dell PowerEdge 830 server that has been operating as my file server for a few years. I had never had a problem with it, and it been sure to install all BIOS updates.

A few months ago I noticed that the one large CPU fan seemed to be running full power all the time. In the past it would go to full power during boot-up and then only during heavy periods of processing. Now it runs full tilt all the time, no matter what.

The room is well air conditioned. The CPU is barely being used, just keeping Windows running. I can't get any temperature readings though, when I run HWMonitor.exe it is not able to report any information. I couldn't find anywhere in the BIOS menu to adjust the fan speed or temperature settings. Last, I took a can of condensed air to the heat sink and fan to make sure there are clear pathways.

So now I have a dusty room that still has a jet engine in the corner. Any ideas on how I can control this fan?

Also, I should note, the sound is not any different than it used to be when going full power. I don't think there is a problem with the type of noise coming out, just the fact that it never slows down.

EDIT: When booting up the CPU fan does seem to slowly throttle up, then down, then once Windows begins booting it goes to full power and stays there.

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If you have a DRAC card in the server you can use it to see what's going on with the FAN. If not check the display on the server (if you bought it) and it should give you a status code.

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no DRAC but thanks for the suggestion – Justin C Aug 26 '11 at 19:06
up vote 0 down vote accepted

I needed to take a closer look at my hardware. It seems the plastic hook that holds one of the two bars that keeps the heatsink in contact with the CPU cracked. The plastic encasement helped hold the heatsink close, so with the fan going full-tilt the computer was able to operate.

Now I just need to fix the plastic part of the CPU socket so I can put the heatsink back on.

UPDATE: I found at least one website that sells the heatsink brackets:

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Yeah... if the fan is going full swing, first thing to check is the temperature of the processor, not the heat sink. – Konrad Gajewski Oct 23 '15 at 18:23

I too have a PowerEdge 830 that has a fan spinning up and running on high with the slightest usage of the CPU. I just determined that one of the hold-downs for the CPU heatsink had broken off. So while the heatsink was there, it was not fully seated on the CPU. I used a bread tie-wrap to wire down the 2nd lever, and now all is well with the fan (not) roaring.

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This seems t be what the accepted answer states. Minus the tie-wrap fix. – Dave M Oct 23 '15 at 19:23

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