Back in June, I decided to take on the fun project of upgrading my hyperconverged home lab to 10GbE using an Ubiquiti ES-16-XG Edge Switch. If you missed it check it out here. I couldn’t be happier with the switch in terms of performance and features, but I had one big problem. I was in denial. I didn’t want to admit it. But yes, I just spent $500+ on something that made my lab too noisy to sit near.
This problem then escalated after recently moving to a new house. My lab needed to move back into my office right behind my desk. I can’t do my job if people can’t hear me so something had to give. Rather than admit defeat and go back to a quiet 1GbE switch in the slow lane, I decided to crack open the 1U switch to see what was inside:
The answer is not that much! And from opening it up it was easy to see the culprit. These 2 tiny fans trying to pull in enough air to cool 2 big heatsinks all in 1U space:
I couldn’t believe how bad these were, but handily you can see the connector and its nothing more than a standard 3pin fan header. Now I can see a path, but what to do about the cover?
It turns out the cover itself was a significant amount of the entire weight of the switch. With this off I thought to myself, why even bother putting it back on? I’m hanging the switch off the side of my tower so why try cram everything into 1U when it’s not needed? At first, I thought maybe it won’t even need a fan if the cover is off and it’s exposed to air. I tested running the switch with no fan and within 3 minutes it was clear that it most definitely needed a fan, as I could’ve cooked an egg on the heatsinks.
So, back to the drawing board. I needed a solution, and this is what I came up with:
I repurposed the 2 x 120MM Corsair SP120 fans from the main case and screwed them into the heatsinks to keep them in place. Given the huge fan radius they now cool the switch easily and run almost silent in comparison. They now run even quieter than they did in the main case, as the switch is pushing less power to them (as it’s so much cooler than before). With that done I needed 2 new 120MM fans for the case itself. I needed something quieter than the previous fans and after much research, I went for these:
I have to say I’m very pleased with the Cougar CFD120s. Significantly less noise at full speed, decent airflow and looks cool to boot. Here’s the upgraded hyperconverged home lab back together, cool and much quieter:
Based on this little project my advice is the next time that server equipment in your home lab is bothering you with noise, don’t be afraid to crack it open and fix it! Thanks for reading,