btg_uk
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New PowerEdge T710 extremely loud

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Hello!

Having used HP servers before when I needed a new server for a project I decided to try a Dell PowerEdge instead. So I went ahead and ordered a brand new PE T710 tower server in lightweight configuration (1x XEON E5506, 4GB RAM, 1x 250GB SATA hot-plug, PERC H200 controller, 1 PSU). The server arrived 6 weeks ago, but due to my workload I have only recently found enough time to test it and set it up.

The main problem is that this server has a really poorly designed cooling system which is deafening loud. I really have a low-end config, but even in idle the four Delta AFC0912DE fans (6000 rpm max, pushing a staggering 160 cfm and producing an insane 63db(A) noise level) run at 2040 and 2400 rpm in a room that is at 20 deg C, blowing a huge mass of cold air out of the back end and producing a nerve-wrecking noise. Had I bought a rack server (which is meant to sit in rack in a data center together with dozens of other servers) then I would not complain. However, I have bought a tower server which is meant to be placed in a standard office environment, something which is not possible with this thing. We have a few HP ProLiant tower servers (ML350 G5 and G6, ML370 G6), and even our much better spec'd ML370 G6 does not produce such an amount of noise even when under load.

Since designing electronic components (aerospace) is part of my job, I had a closer look. Obviously the BMC is meant to be checking the temperature levels and adjusting fan rpm in accordance with heat levels. It seems to be badly done, though, as the exiting air temperature is the same as the intake air, which means there is very little heat transfer. A proper cooling design would keep the airflow just high enough to allow sufficient heat transfer from the components, which for this server with such a low end config would be at less than half the airflow (with the fans rotating at less than 1000rpm). Having the fans run at 2400rpm is not conservative, it is simply poor engineering, as the unnecessary high airflow not only creates noise but also increases fan wear and dust accumulation. This aside, I wonder why a two socket server like the T710 needs to have four 160 cfm fans @ 6000 rpm screaming at 63db(A) when a maxed out config (two fas 6-core XEONs, 144GB RAM, 8x 15k SAS HDDs) can be easily cooled with fans with much lower cfm rating like the AVC DS09238B12HPFAF (104 cfm @ 5000 rpm and 51 db(A)) or even the Delta T92E12BMA7-07 (83 cfm @ 4000 rpm and 43db(A)). And because for some reason Dell has decided to set the fan alarm threshold at 1080 rpm it's close to impossible to use other fans without triggering the low fan alarm. Overall I have to say I think this is a really poor design, especially for a device which is used in a noise conscious environment. 

And before someone asks: yes, latest BIOS is installed, as is the latest firmware for the BMC. Yes, I tried various fan performance settings in the BIOS without luck. And yes, I called Dell support, they looked into the problem but confirmed that the fan rpms are normal for this server. Unfortunately I'm over the 30 days return period, else I would have sent the thing back and bought HP instead. 

Does anyone know if there is a fix in form of a firmware/BIOS update in the works? Maybe not now that they're probably focussing on their new 12G servers due for Q1/2012. 

Any chance that someone from Dell reads this? 

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Preexo
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RE: New PowerEdge T710 extremely loud

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Hi,

I was wondering if you actually found a solution to all that. We have a T710 here in our office and it is way too noisy, so it was locked up in the closet, which only results in a even hotter environment and even more noise... 

Anything I can do to make it actually quite enough to have it in the 20 degrees office environment again?

What does DELL say about this?

EDIT: I actually have a T320 standing next to me, which is even under high load not at all noisy! How can there be such a huge difference?

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KeeponSmilin
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Re: New PowerEdge T710 extremely loud

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Does the noise get better within 5 minutes. My T710 is always lound for about 5 minutes, but is much quiter thereafter. It is in a room with workers and seems to be tolerated.

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btg_uk
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Re: New PowerEdge T710 extremely loud

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Mine goes to fullspeed after switching on and then lowers the fan speed, however it is still too loud for being used in an office. And the noise level does not drop after 5 minutes.

Can I ask you what cofig you have? Also, it would be interesting to see what fans you have as apparently older T710s were sold with 110cfm NIDEC fans which are less noisy than the Delta AFC0912DE I got with my server. To make matters worse, both fans seem to have identical part numbers.

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btg_uk
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Re: New PowerEdge T710 extremely loud

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An update: Dell replaced all four fans with the 110cfm NIDEC fans. It's a bit less noisy now but still way above acceptable. The fan rpm is way too high for what it should be considering the configuration and the very little amount of heat that oit produces.

I searched around in the forum and it seems owners of other Dell tower server models also complained about the noise, but it seems at least Dell has listened and fixed that.  I found some threads where someone from Dell (DELL-John H) intervened with their design team which resulted in a firmware update.

This T710 was supposed to be a demo for a much larger installation but the customer said no way if the server is that noisy. If I can't find a solution to the noise problem then this will be another victory of HP over Dell.

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ceo_someday
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RE: New PowerEdge T710 extremely loud

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Wow!  I know *exactly* what you mean.  I, too, have this same problem.  I've just put one in an office environment and it's just way too loud.  I bought some quieter, more efficient fans with the intention of installing them, but have since learned that by doing so, you will trigger an alarm that will run the fans up to their highest rpm.  The problem is that the more efficient, quieter fans  spin at a much lower rpm than the Dell proprietary fans, thus triggering the alarm.  Basically once you hit that lower rpm threshold, the BIOS spins the fan to their max, thus creating yet, another noisy environment.

I'd be interested in knowing if you have found a solution.

There has got to be a way to change the lower threshold...

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btg_uk
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RE: New PowerEdge T710 extremely loud

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I'd be interested in knowing if you have found a solution.


I did eventually, after lots of discussions with various people from Dell, find a solution: I just sold the dreadful thing and went back to HP. Bought a ProLiant ML370 G6 instead and never looked back. Very silent and perfectly tolerable in a quiet office.

In my opinion Dell had really lost the plot when they designed the PowerEdge Gen12 servers. Since the issue I had with my T710 I also had the chance to listen to other Gen12 servers like the T310 and T610, and boy are they loud! How anyone could think that this is appropriate for a server that is meant to be placed in a normal office is beyond me. The designers must have thought that tower servers will only end up in data centers (which isn't the case).

The successors are apparently much better in terms of noise, but based on my experience with their support I'm pretty sure that I won't go back to Dell for servers in the near future (although we might still buy some desktop PCs and workstations from them if requested by the customer). BTW, this project lead to follow-on sales of another 21 servers when the project was deployed. Guess to which vendor they went to...

And as a bonus, going back to HP also gave me better remote management tools (HP ILO3 Advanced vs Dell's iDRAC5 Enterprise which we had in the T710)

But I guess that 'solution' doesn't help you much, does it?

ceo_someday
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RE: New PowerEdge T710 extremely loud

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No.  Not really! LOL.

No worries, I think my problem was two fold (actually three).  I have to run a few more tests to validate.


1. The case fans were definitely too loud > 70db!

I changed these to Arctic F9s.  OMG, what a difference!  Dropped it to around 40db.

2. The next problem (we think)  is the sensor control module.  iDrac indicates there is no fan redundancy.  We can actually see that all four fans are operable.  The weird part is although iDRAC indicates a redundancy problem, it shows all four fans operating at 1080 rpm or higher.  (1080 is the lower threshold)

3.  The PSU fan is spinning well above its nominal rate.  It cycles 5 seconds on, 5 seconds off.  Extremely annoying!  I probably didn't notice this at first due to the loud case fans.  The temperature is ~83 degrees.  It should barely be spinning at all.


Regardless, I will report back with my findings.  I think it is a faulty sensor module or motherboard....or both!  There is a fix that doesn't involve me trying to sell this thing....(I think...)

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Preexo
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RE: New PowerEdge T710 extremely loud

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Hi,

I was wondering if you actually found a solution to all that. We have a T710 here in our office and it is way too noisy, so it was locked up in the closet, which only results in a even hotter environment and even more noise... 

Anything I can do to make it actually quite enough to have it in the 20 degrees office environment again?

What does DELL say about this?

EDIT: I actually have a T320 standing next to me, which is even under high load not at all noisy! How can there be such a huge difference?

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Kenneth Ingham
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RE: New PowerEdge T710 extremely loud

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Did anybody ever solve the noise problem?  I recently purchased a T710, which roars.

I bought Arctic F9 fans, but they have a different connector.  Might be time to break out the soldering iron.

Thanks!

Kenneth

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