The integration of technology within our lives and homes has given rise to the procurement of devices and solutions that would not be commonplace a decade ago. Security cameras, network-attached storage (NAS), smart doorbells, and connected thermostats are just some of the examples of solutions that have become mainstream and may be found in the wild. For devices that are passively cooled via their housing or integrated heat sinks, utilization is never an issue until the device is no longer usable. For NAS units and switches that they may be connected to, active cooling via fans that are directly connected to the motherboard can contribute to the amount of noise encountered within a given room.
Our previous switch, which was a twenty-four port HP Enterprise V1910, had a 40mm Delta cooling fan installed. The speed and design of this cooling element made it intolerable to remain within close proximity. With a little research, it was determined that the Noctua NF-A4x10 would serve as a viable and quiet replacement for the offending Delta unit. Installation using the Scotch locks was seamless, and it took multiple checks to confirm that the fan was running. This level of silence is what consumers should be able to consistently expect for solutions that may be near living areas where the noise can be grating.
We undertook a comparable exercise this morning with a Ubiquiti Networks UniFi Security Gateway Pro 4 (USG-PRO-4) unit that was sitting at the top of our rack. The default AVC fans that are installed in the unit (DS04020B12L – Quantity of 2) were exceptionally shrill and high-pitched during the pre-rack setup process that was performed to modify the default address. The following thread confirms that we are not alone in experiencing this phenomenon. The initial effort of using the BlackNoise BlackSilent PM-2 fans (3800 RPM) to replace the offending AVC units (~4500 RPM) was a fifteen minute exercise that provided results that exceeded expectations. High-pitched whines are eliminated without compromising cooling capability. The “loudest noise” in the room has transitioned from the USG-PRO-4 to the pair of UniFi US-24-250W switches. As each switch contains two equally offensive Delta fans, the procedure will be worthwhile to undertake.
In the consumer space, the cost differential between a sub-par fan and a noise optimized fan equates to a few dollars. It would be far superior for manufacturers to account for outlying applications of their products and incorporate an improved cooling solution at the factory. The ability of large organizations with massive and diverse supply chains to obtain an upgraded fan at a reduced cost is a reality. The ability for individuals to procure the same cooling product at a reasonable price is fairly slim. Depending on vendor, replacement solutions from manufacturers such as Noctua or BlackNoise fetch a price of approximately $15 USD. Multiply this cost by the total number of fans per device and reducing the noise pollution can quickly become an expensive proposition. Worse yet, if a competing product with equivalent functionality and a superior cooling solution ends up being less expensive than the desired product plus fees to replace existing fans, then revenue may be lost.