Originally Posted by captain_video
I installed three Zalman Fan Mate controllers between the original fan panel 80mm fans and the motherboard and adjusted them for a noise level comparable to what my old server generated. The server sits in a small utility room right next to my viewing area so if the noise level is too loud it is easily noticeable in the next room. The surround system tends to drown out any extraneous noise so a little bit of fan noise is of no consequence.
After monitoring my unRAID server off and on over the past 5 hours I can say that the fan controllers appear to be doing the trick. The noise level is greatly reduced and the drives are showing a significant drop in temperature compared to using the Arctic Cooling 80mm case fans. Consequently, I have ordered a Zalman MFC1 fan controller from Newegg for $39.99 that comes with a $20 rebate. The rebate is good until March 31st in case anyone's interested. I intend to reinstall the rear fans when the controller arrives. The only issue is that the controller is designed to mount in a standard 5-1/4" external drive bay which the server lacks. I'm thinking that I might have an old external optical drive enclosure I could mount this in just so it's not sitting exposed on top of the server. I expect I'll just run the cables through the opening once occupied by the original PSUs, but that's no big deal at this point. The bottom line is that I will be able to control the fan noise and still maintain a decent level of cooling within the server without having to buy all new fans.
The cost of the Zalman controller with the rebate is less than what a decent set of five case fans would cost. Anyone considering a fan replacement might want to rethink that strategy and go with a fan controller instead. The original case fans are designed for heavy usage so it would be a shame to see them go to waste. I have them adjusted to where they are still a bit noisy for most people, but you can easily set them to suit your tastes and sound level requirements. I highly recommend setting them at the highest speed you can live with for maximum cooling. Your hard drives will thank you in the long run.
The next thing I'd like to try is some sound deadening material for the server case to further reduce the noise level. I bought some material called RAAMmat from RAAMaudio (similar to Dynamat) used for reducing road noise in automobiles and improving the sound of car stereos. I'm thinking about coating the interior of the server case with it to see if it helps reduce the noise even further. It did wonders for my car sound system so I expect it might work here as well. That little project will likely have to wait until the weekend. More to come.
So let me guess....did you use the stock fans with the controller or used the Arctic fans? If I could get a controller I could consider just using the stock fans, but at least turn them down.
As for the PSU, do you just still have the power cord coming out of the opening where the old PSU's were or did you manage to put a plate there. I think fabricating a plate isn't too tough as long as you put in a rubber grommet of some kind to prevent the wires from being cut or chafed from the metal.
My server at stock I can hear it just about everywhere in the house, so definitely needs some quieter fans, including replacing the PSU's. Somewhat a shame though, its cool having redundant supplies where if one fails, the other keeps the server running, but since this unit will eventually be connected to a UPS, its somewhat a moot point. I had noticed though that while one of the PSU's was running full blast, the other wasn't which was a tad quieter. I'm sure they make more energy efficient (and quieter) redundant PSU's for this server case, but expensive im sure.