Keeping my low-power server cool

This content is 11 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

6.30am, sometime over the Christmas holidays and, after being woken by one of our sons, my wife informs me that there’s a strange noise coming from one of the computers in the office… bleary-eyed, I stumble to my desk and shut down the machine, before returning to my slumber.

Thankfully, it was just a noisy fan, not (yet) another hard disk failure but it did require attention, which involved me learning a little bit more than I should need to about the innards of a PC… so I’m blogging the key points for future reference.

Hardcore gamers need serious cooling for their PCs. Thankfully mine is the “low-power server” that I built a few years ago and the requirements are a lot lower – indeed this machine only has two 40mm fans – one on the case and one on the main board.

I initially swapped the case fan for one I picked up from Maplin (I could get cheaper online, but not once I’d taken into account shipping for such a small item) but found it was the one on the Intel D945GCLF2 board that was making most of the noise.  So I put the Maplin unit there instead (it’s not the CPU that needs cooling, but the inefficient Northbridge/GPU that accounts for most of the power consumption on this board – the Atom 330 is only using about 8W and is passively cooled.

Unfortunately the screws that fixed the OEM fan to the heatsink wouldn’t fit the replacement, so I used a piece of plastic-coated wire instead to poke through the holes and twist tight – it’s functional at least.

With the case fan also making a racket now, I found that it only did so when sucking air into the case (the fan seems to brush on the case when attached).  I’d assumed that a fan on the bottom of a case should bring in cold air and with hot air rising to the holes on the top of the case. So I flipped the fan over (I’m not sure which way it was originally pointed) so it’s now blowing air out of the bottom (it’s the only place to fix a fan). Fingers crossed, it’s doing something… monitoring with Open Hardware Monitor tells me my CPU is fine but SpeedFan suggests something else is running a little warm!


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