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Silent DELL PowerEdge server mod.

Howdy folks!

 

So i recently became the proud owner of this thing:

IMG_20200726_174617.thumb.jpg.158c8cb08017f6697c9d4b6f6f182cf5.jpg

 

 

That right there is a DELL PowerEdge R510 server. It's rocking dual 6-core Xeons and a total of 32GB's of ECC RAM.

By today's standards, this really isn't anything impressive, but that's exactly why i got it. the Xeons in there are the 'L' variant, for low power! This is relevant because i have a 4U server running in the same rack 24/7 with dual 8-core Xeons 128GB RAM and a 2080Ti running on pretty much full load. This means my power bill is high enough as is.

I got it on the cheap from someone who in turn got it from a datacenter where it got decommissioned. Anyway, it now lives happily in my rack!

IMG_20200726_194400.thumb.jpg.3174ad5e7b0867c828c2a8e785d82d63.jpg

 

One problem tough: my rack lives right next to my desk. And this box is not made for silence. Nothing made for the enterprise ever really is.

So yeah, guess it needs some fixes then! :D

 

Inside this thing has a total of 5 80MM fans for primary cooling, along with redundant PSU's which both have a 40mm fan. the 80MM fans arn't actually all that bad. They're definitely audible at idle, but it's the PSU fans that really make the noise.

under a heavy load the 80MM's also get to screaming tough.

DELL uses proprietary connectors for all of them, but luckily the pinout is still just PWM. This means i should be able to just cut the connectors and solder them to normal 80MM PWM fans.

1590581371_WhatsAppImage2020-07-26at17_28_48.thumb.jpeg.7843d1419f8b9992f2e701c86f1059ec.jpeg

 

The PSU's also use little 4-pin connectors. They kinda look like the connector you would find on some GPU's. 

Noctua actually makes some fans specifically for this. They have a couple of adapter cables included with them which should fit in this no poblemo. 

IMG_20200728_180324.thumb.jpg.f95a1a70f4d0d70ca79ee566bb83538f.jpgIMG_20200728_180332.thumb.jpg.b0391692dc2c6ac36d585187eb1e5417.jpg

 

So yeah, that's all i got so far. I have 5 80MM Arctic F8 PWM fans and 2 Noctua NF-A4X20 FLX fans on order for this project, and we'll see if cooling is still adequate when i swap them in.

 

One potential problem is the difference in RPM between the DELL OG fans and the Arctics. The Arctic fans only spin to a max of 2000RPM, which should mean they're nice and silent, but the server expects them to ramp up to 6500-7000RPM. 

This means i'll probbaly have to deal with a constant low-RPM warning. AFAIK this server doesn't really restrict anything with that warning going, but you never know untill you try i guess. 

The second potential problem is cooling. The original fans push a buttload of air, and the CFM of the Arctics doesn't even come close. The Noctua's in the PSU's should be fine i think.

 

If it doesn't produce enough cooling for the CPU's, i guess i'll have to figure something out. I hear Alpacool makes some awesome 2U radiators ;)

 

anyway, that's it. Expect updates as the ordered parts come in.

 

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13 minutes ago, RollinLower said:

Expect updates

From my reading about fan modding on PE servers, *some* BIOS mods existed to quell the RPM warning, so you might look at that as well.

As an aside, from the 1st pic, the way the light reflects, it looks like the inside of your desktop PC is growing plants, and I wondered if this was some kind of new eco-friendly cooling I hadn't heard about.

So rise up, all ye lost ones, as one, we'll claw the clouds

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What will you use it for? BOINC / Folding like the rest?

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7 minutes ago, Radium_Angel said:

BIOS mods

definitely sounds like somthing i should check out! thanks for the heads up on that one.

 

7 minutes ago, Radium_Angel said:

plants

havn't you heard? organic heatsinks are the way to go these days! 😛

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Just now, vsral said:

What will you use it for? BOINC / Folding like the rest?

it'll probably do some BOINC aswell, tough i mainly got this box to run some VM's. i'm still very interested in all that stuff but i have virtually(pun intended) no clue how any of it works, thus i recon the best way to learn about something is to just do it.

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7 minutes ago, RollinLower said:

organic heatsinks are the way to go these days!

While what you and I said was in jest, I'm now curious if this could be made some kind of crazy reality, like using Cacti or some gen-engineered plant that shuttles heat through its stems.

So rise up, all ye lost ones, as one, we'll claw the clouds

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12 minutes ago, Radium_Angel said:

While what you and I said was in jest, I'm now curious if this could be made some kind of crazy reality, like using Cacti or some gen-engineered plant that shuttles heat through its stems.

Watercooling...but with plants...through osmosis.

 

I guess there's nothing but to try it. I don't think it would work efficiently enough though.

 

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I would either look into using a script to control the fans or resistor modding the fans before BIOS modding or chopping up cables to full-on replace them. These all come with challenges like silencing the server alarm for a "fan failure".

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11 minutes ago, Windows7ge said:

I would either look into using a script to control the fans or resistor modding the fans before BIOS modding or chopping up cables to full-on replace them. These all come with challenges like silencing the server alarm for a "fan failure".

yeah this isn't really my first choice either.

i had a HP DL380 G6 a while back in which i tried something simmilar, but fan control is under firm lockdown in the server, so no script i ever tried worked.

 

the problem with resistor modding the existing fans wouldn't actually solve the low RPM alarm. also, if i mod the existing fans to spin slower to about 2K RPM i really wouldn;t get the benefits from just swapping them out completely. the stock fans are loud, even under minimal RPM's.

 

considering all of this i guess my current plan is the way to go foreward. If it all fails, replacement poweredge fans are for sale aplenty online so there is no real risk of damage to the server itself.

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If you can get spare fans cheap enough then I guess there's no serious risk going strait to splicing fan cables and different fans. So long as you don't mind not being able to return the new fans you cut if it doesn't go according to plan. :D

 

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I'm not entirely familiar with how PWM RPM sensing works, but if the computer is just outputting the RPM from a look up table with duty cycle and RPM values, I think it wont be a problem. Unless there's a separate sensor within the fan that actually reads the RPM and sends the data back to the machine.

 

Okay I did a bit more reading before I clicked submit, it appears that there actually is a Hall Effect sensor in the fan that outputs a PWM signal on one of the wires. You could trick the computer into thinking that there is all the RPM by forcing 100% duty cycle on the sense pin. If that doesn't work, I guess you could rig up a 555 or an arduino to actually make the correct PWM waveform to send to the motherboard.

ASU

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18 hours ago, Hackentosher said:

I guess you could rig up a 555 or an arduino to actually make the correct PWM waveform to send to the motherboard

yep, some people have done exactly this with older HP servers.

additional advantage of this is that you can run the arduino from an internal USB header, so no mess outside of the server.

 

disadvantage is all the extra wiring inside the server tough, as you would need to run a 'PWM' wire to every single fan header.

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4 hours ago, RollinLower said:

yep, some people have done exactly this with older HP servers.

additional advantage of this is that you can run the arduino from an internal USB header, so no mess outside of the server.

 

disadvantage is all the extra wiring inside the server tough, as you would need to run a 'PWM' wire to every single fan header.

I wonder what would happen if you just shorted the pwm sense pin to 12v to send 100% duty cycle? 

ASU

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Today the fans arrived!

fans.thumb.jpg.3e142cdcbcfa10afddab713a66967a6f.jpg

 

sadly it's not all good tough. turns out i didn't read the labels on te back of the OG fans correctly and they turned out to be 60MM. That's what the kids would call a pretty sizable oof.

problemo.thumb.jpg.92bd7cc01cc29bf99ce5699c2962244f.jpg

 

So yeah, that's not gonna fit. I guess i can try returning these. I ordered new 60MM PWM fans which should arrive after the weekend.

 

Anyway, i also got the two 40mm Noctua's. In true Noc style, they came in packaging big enough to fit atleast a 140mm fan! I bet the packaging was more expensive to produce than the actual product in this one.

 

The fan itself is a bit shorter than the OG DELL fan. I don't expect this to be an issue, if anyting, this extra space should actually help the fan breathe a little better.

275105362_fanin.thumb.jpg.903861d0e5c438ef2481ff54dcea54bf.jpg

 

I cut the connectors from the OG fans and spliced them onto the included connector kit from Noctua. This then terminates into a regular 4-pin PWM header where you can plug in the new fan. Super easy stuff, and the press-on connections mean no soldering required! i'm definitely a fan. (ha!)

connction.thumb.jpg.38aae16260a4a268141325157cecb307.jpg

 

And that's it! easy as can be, new silent fans in the PSU's!

1495993425_PSUsdone.thumb.jpg.0f7abf4ee30e02e65664ab90b3e6dcc9.jpg

 

After a quick test i couldn't hear the PSU's anymore, and i definitely checked to see if the fans where spinning. Succes!

Granted, i still have the OG DELL 60MM fans in the server. Those still make enough noise to completely drown out the little noctua's.

 

So yeah, i had hoped this project would be about done by now, but i guess more waiting is required.

Expect an update when the new 60MM's arrive!

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

so yeah, it's been a little while since i last edited this buildlog.

 

TL;DR: this works like a charm! but it's not perfect. the server boots into an OS just fine, but it keeps spitting out errors about the fanspeed. i'll explain in more detail below.

 

so first things first, the 60mm fan arrived!

i ended up going for Noctua's this time. simply because of the quality. i have noctua's in all of my machines now, even my network switch, and never had a fan fail on me once.

IMG_20200827_125759.jpg

 

here lies the biggest problem with this build tough. the server uses proprietary connectors!

The signal itconveys is just standard 4-pin PWM, but it's an 8-pin connector. DELL also uses this style connector in their R610 series of servers, but there it is used to actually power 2 fans per plug. so that's why it's an 8 pin. it really is just 2 PWM's stuck together.

IMG_20200827_125958.jpg

 

what i ended up doing was cuttting the 8-pin plug from the OG fans and soldering it to the PWM extension cable Noctua provides with their fans. 

 

This way, the Noctua fans stay original and can just be unplugged. also, the server stays original, i didn't change anything on the motherboard at all. all of this means that if i ever want to put some OG DELL fans back in here, i can just get some on ebay and swap them in.

IMG_20200827_132558.jpg

IMG_20200827_132617.jpg

after soldering i isolated each wire with some electrical tape to prevent it shorting out on itself. finding out which wire was supposed to go to which wire on the noctua's was a bit of a pain. DELL ofcourse never uses anything standard. so eventough the signal from the motherboard is PWM, the positioning of the pins is swapped. it took some trail and error to find the way they are supposed to connect.

 

So that's 1 in, 4 more to go!

IMG_20200827_134729.jpg

 

and there she is, al soldered and fans mounted!

i ended up just sticking the fans in with some double sided tape. 

the poweredge chassis has what look like mounting holes for fans, but i couldn't fit anything through there that would also hold the Nocs in place. so yeah, tape it is.

IMG_20200827_145918.jpg

 

with the cover over the CPU's there is still a surprisingly massive amount of airflow coming from the back of the machine. i don;t think i have to worry about overheating this thing. i'm not planning on running it under heavy loads for extended periods of time anyway.

IMG_20200827_150257.thumb.jpg.930a03f54bec7130bd20c110a07b458f.jpg

 

 

so there it is, a truely silent 2U server! fairy tale ending, me and my compute box lived happily ever after!

 

.. well not quite.

 

you see, the server expects Nidac fans that can run to over 10K RPM. these little Noctua's manage 2K tops, and the server's not happy about that at all. 

here's a snippet of what IDRAC thinks about my little mod:

IMG_20200827_184950.thumb.jpg.05dd14f9cb47c1fc288b5c6a7528219e.jpg

 

5 fans, 5 errors.

as far as i know there is no way to get rid of those without either modding the BIOS or spoofing a higher PWM signal with something like an arduino.

 

both of those options are a lot of work tough. and seeing as the server is actually still fully functional with these errors, i don't think it is worth the hassle.

 

So for now, this is how she stands. buildlog complete for now. at least, untill i think of something else. ;)

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  • 4 months later...

Nice I sit in the same room as a noisy Cisco 2900 series router. Planning on doing a similar mod at some point.

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Your post is so inspiring!

I have been given an R510 myself, I just ordered the 40mm fans for the PSUs and an LSI card. I'll see how it sounds and may order some 60mm fans too.

 

Thank you for your work !

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  • 10 months later...
Hello,
i want to do the same as you for my r710 server only the power supply
for server fans only script.
On the photo of the power supply, I don't know what you are doing with the white cable? what is it used for ? 
you cut it and connect only the red and black + 4 pin pwm plug?
Thank you :)
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  • 4 months later...

@RollinLower I Just Bought the fans to try this mod with my own r510, wish me luck. Thank for doing the leg work on this one made the decision really easy to just buy the fans knowing it had a good result

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5 hours ago, Nooblet_69 said:

@RollinLower I Just Bought the fans to try this mod with my own r510, wish me luck. Thank for doing the leg work on this one made the decision really easy to just buy the fans knowing it had a good result

good luck with the mod!

i didn't post it here, but after a couple weeks i added some small fans to the CPU heatsinks aswell. Super easy to do and it will keep your server silent en CPU's cold even during intense stress testing.

 

i don't actually own this server anymore though, so i can't show you pictures. but i just spliced into the fan headers i already modded.

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  • 4 weeks later...

@RollinLower confirmed working. Thanks for this guide made it super straight forward. I ended up using the replacement PSU fans as CPU heatsink coolers instead. I didn't find the PSU loud so no issue

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3 hours ago, Nooblet_69 said:

@RollinLower confirmed working. Thanks for this guide made it super straight forward. I ended up using the replacement PSU fans as CPU heatsink coolers instead. I didn't find the PSU loud so no issue

Awesome! nice knowing this writeup actually helped someone.

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Yeah Dell iDRAC & HP iLO are a PITA. I have a few SuperMicro Boards and at least with those you can use Open-Source IPMI tools to set the upper and lower fan alarm thresholds. I really wish Dell, HP IBM & Fujitsu would drop this proprietary nonsense and licensing fees and go to IPMI with HTML5.

FaH BOINC HfM

Bifrost - 6 GPU Folding Rig  Linux Folding HOWTO Folding Remote Access Folding GPU Profiling

Systems:

desktop: Lian-Li O11 Air Mini; Gigabyte Aorus ax570 Master; Ryzen 9 5900x;Noctua NH-D15; 4 x 16GB DDR4-3200; 500GB PCIe3 NVMe; 4 x 3TB NAS; AMD RadeonPro W4100; EVGA RTX 2060 Super XC Gaming; Corsair TX650M

nas1: Fractal Define R4; SuperMicro X10sl7-f; Xeon e3-1231v3; 4 x 8GB DDR3-1666 ECC; 6 x 3TB NAS; 6 x 4TB NAS

nas2: Synology DS-123j; 2 x 6TB NAS

dcn01: Fractal Meshify C; Gigabyte Aorus ax570 Master; Ryzen 9 5950x; EVGA 240 CLC; 2 x 32GB DDR4-3200; 512GB NVMe; EVGA RTX 2070 Super XC Hybrid; EVGA RTX 2070A; Corsair TX650M

dcn02: Fractal Define S; Gigabyte ax570 Pro WiFi; Ryzen 9 3950x; Noctua NH-D15; 2 x 16GB DDR4-3200; 128GB NVMe; EVGA RTX 2070 Super XC Hybrid; EVGA RTX3080 FTW3; Corsair RM750x

dcn03: Fractal Meshify S2; Gigabyte Aorus ax570 Pro WiFi; Ryzen 9 5900x; Noctua NH-U12S; 2 x 16GB DDR4-3200; 128GB NVMe; EVGA RTX 2070 Super XC Hybrid; EVGA RTX 3080 XC Ultra; Corsair RM750

dcn04: Fractal Meshify S2; Gigabyte x370 Gaming K7; Ryzen 9 3900x; Noctua NH-U12S; 4 x 16GB DDR4-3200; 128GB NVMe; EVGA RTX 2070 Super XC Hybrid; Asus TUF RTX3070 ti; Corsair TX750M

dcn05: Fractal Define R4; Gigabyte ax370 Gaming K7; i9-9900K; EVGA 280 CLC; 2 x 8GB DDR4-3200; 128GB NVMe; EVGA RTX 2070 Super XC Hybrid; EVGA RTX 3080 XC Ultra; Corsair TX650M

dcn10: Fractal Define C; Gigabyte b450 Aorus M; Ryzen 9 5900x; Ryzen 7 2700x; Hyper 212Evo e/w Noctua NF-A12; 2 x 8GB DDR4-3200; Samsung 250GB SSD; EVGA XC GTX 1070 ti 8GB; Corsair TX550M

dcn11: Fractal Focus G mini; Gigabyte b450 Aorus M; Aorus M; Ryzen 7 2700; Wraith Spire; 2 x 8GB DDR4-3200; Samsung 840 Pro 128GB SSD; EVGA RTX 2060 XC Ultra Gaming; Corsair CX450M Bronze

dcn12: Fractal Core 1100; Gigabyte b450 Aorus M; Ryzen 7 2700; Wraith Spire; 2 x 8GB DDR4-3200; Samsung EVO 850 128GB SSD; EVGA GTX 1660ti XC Ultra Gaming; Corsair CX650M Bronze

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