Quiet fans with high static pressure for 2U servers

Arseni Mourzenko
Founder and lead developer
161
articles
January 27, 2019
Tags: hardware 10

Re­cent­ly, I pur­chased a bunch of 2U chas­sis for a SAN. Since the servers are in my home of­fice, they should be qui­et. This wasn't a prob­lem when I used 4U servers, but with 2U size fac­tor, and es­pe­cial­ly in the con­text where the front pan­el is all cov­ered by hard disks, cool­ing op­tions be­come quite lim­it­ed.

Dis­cus­sions on fo­rums about qui­et serv­er fans abound. Peo­ple buy serv­er chas­sis, ex­pect­ing, as I do, to keep them at home, but when they dis­cov­er how noisy those ma­chines are, they un­der­stand that they can't even keep them in an at­tic. But while there are lots of ques­tions, I haven't found any con­crete rec­om­men­da­tion. I even asked for one my­self, but had no valid an­swer yet. On fo­rums, peo­ple do rec­om­mend oth­er fans, but rat­ed above 50 dBA, or even above 60 dBA, they are not an op­tion for me.

So I spent hours search­ing for al­ter­na­tives and con­vert­ing amer­i­can units to the met­ric sys­tem. The re­sults were in­con­clu­sive, but I think they may be use­ful for oth­er peo­ple as well, so you can find them be­low. I start­ed by search­ing for the PWM fans for the serv­er, but then con­tin­ued with 3-pin fans for an UPS as well.

4-pin PWM fans for servers

I used the fol­low­ing ranges when as­sign­ing stars.

Sta­t­ic pres­sure (high­er is bet­ter):

<3 mm/H₂O 3 and 10 mm/H₂O 10 and 20 mm/H₂O >20 mm/H₂O
☆☆☆ ★☆☆ ★★☆ ★★★

Noise (low­er is bet­ter):

>40 dBA 30 and 40 dBA 20 and 30 dBA <20 dBA
☆☆☆ ★☆☆ ★★☆ ★★★

Here's the com­par­i­son of the fans:

Mod­el Size (mm) Cur­rent (A) Speed (RPM) Air flow (m³/h) Sta­t­ic pres­sure (mm/H₂O) Noise (dBA)
FAN-0126L4 (orig­i­nal) 80×80×38 0.60 7,000 123.2 27.69
★★★
53.5
☆☆☆
FAN-0094L4 80×80×38 1.10 6,300 153.4 21.59
★★★
51.0
☆☆☆
Noc­tua NF-A8 PWM 80×80×25 0.08 2,200 55.5 2.37
☆☆☆
17.7
★★★
Silent Wings 2 80mm BL028 80×80×25 0.15 2,000 44.2 2.25
☆☆☆
15.5
★★★
Pure Wings 2 80mm BL037 80×80×25 0.08 1,900 44.4 1.85
☆☆☆
19.2
★★★
Cool­er Mas­ter Blade Mas­ter 80 80×80×25 0.26 3,000 69.3 4.23
★☆☆
28.0
★★☆
Coolink SWiF2-80 P 80×80×25 0.09 2,000 52.3 Un­known¹ 19.0
★★★
Ever­cool EC8025H12BP 80×80×25 0.20 3,000 62.0 3.56
★☆☆
33.0
★☆☆

Noc­tua and be qui­et! fans, have a nice air flow while be­ing near­ly silent, but un­for­tu­nate­ly, a poor sta­t­ic pres­sure makes them un­suit­able for 2U servers. Cool­er Mas­ter's fan seems to be the only in­ter­est­ing al­ter­na­tive, but would work only for servers which stay idle most of the time. I would prob­a­bly try ones for SAN ma­chines, if I can't find any al­ter­na­tive.

3-pin fans for UPS de­vices

In the same way, I want­ed to find re­place­ment fans for an UPS de­vice (same 2U for­mat). Its orig­i­nal fans (two ME80251VX-000U-A99) are not par­tic­u­lar­ly ter­ri­ble, but still pro­duce more noise than my 4U servers and the 1U net­work de­vices.

For sta­t­ic pres­sure, I'm us­ing a dif­fer­ent star rules here, since the UPS de­vice needs much less pow­er­ful fans.

Sta­t­ic pres­sure (high­er is bet­ter):

<3 mm/H₂O 3 and 5 mm/H₂O 5 and 10 mm/H₂O >10 mm/H₂O
☆☆☆ ★☆☆ ★★☆ ★★★

Noise (low­er is bet­ter):

>40 dBA 30 and 40 dBA 20 and 30 dBA <20 dBA
☆☆☆ ★☆☆ ★★☆ ★★★

Here's the com­par­i­son of the fans:

Mod­el Size (mm) Cur­rent (A) Speed (RPM) Air flow (m³/h) Sta­t­ic pres­sure (mm/H₂O) Noise (dBA)
ME80251VX-000U-A99 (orig­i­nal) 80×80×25 0.16 3,600 76.5 5.84
★★☆
37.0
★☆☆
Ever­cool EC8038H12B 80×80×38 0.60 5,000 114.0 14.22
★★★
43.8
☆☆☆
Ever­cool EC8025H12B 80×80×25 0.16 3,000 62.0 3.55
★☆☆
33.0
★☆☆
Ever­cool EC8025HH12B 80×80×25 0.28 3,500 72.8 4.57
★☆☆
35.0
★☆☆
Silent Wings 2 80mm BL060 80×80×25 0.08 2,000 44.2 2.25
☆☆☆
14.5
★★★
Pure Wings 2 80mm BL044 80×80×25 0.14 1,900 44.4 1.85
☆☆☆
18.2
★★★
Coolink SWiF2-801 80×80×25 0.07 1,500 39.7 Un­known¹ 11.0
★★★
Coolink SWiF2-80L 80×80×20 0.16 2,600 65.0 Un­known¹ 26.0
★★☆

Ever­cool fans have com­pa­ra­ble sta­t­ic pres­sure, but they are near­ly as noisy as the orig­i­nal one. This leaves me with be qui­et! fans, and more pre­cise­ly with Silent Wings 2. I or­dered two of them, and will keep an eye on the tem­per­a­ture of the UPS.

Con­nec­tors un­known

For one fan, I couldn't find whether it it a PWM or a 3-pin fan.

Mod­el Size (mm) Cur­rent (A) Speed (RPM) Air flow (m³/h) Sta­t­ic pres­sure (mm/H₂O) Noise (dBA)
Sil­ver­stone FM81 80×80×32 0.50 5,500 123.87 13.78
★★★
48.0
☆☆☆

Seems quite promis­ing re­gard­ing its high sta­t­ic pres­sure, al­though it's also nois­i­er than Ever­cool EC8038H12B.

1 Data not pro­vid­ed by the man­u­fac­tur­er. Con­tact­ed Coolink to ask for sta­t­ic pres­sure data.