Quiet, high flow fans for homelab servers?

I need additional arflow through my servers. They are all built in ATX chassis – I am not using “server” hardware. My TrueNAS boxes (main SAN and backup) are desktop motherboards with ryzen processors, and my VM host (XCPNG) is on a threadripper board.

My servers, unfortunately are NOT housed in a climate-controlled space, and moving them to one is not an option. (I will explain if needed, but suffice it to say, it’s not going to happen)

I am getting some warnings from TrueNAS about my M.2 drives being too hot. I plan to add some heat sinks to them, but I am also wanting to increase airflow through the case(s) to exhaust the hot air.

Here’s the catch: I need relatively quiet fans that also give excellent airflow. I can’t use server “screamers.” The servers are located directly beneath where we sleep, and screamers would be detrimental to my relationship with the wife.

I have extra fan mounts on the case(s) for both 80mm and 120mm fans. My drive cages have whatever cheap, crap 120mm fans that came with them, so I’d like to replace them as well.

Any suggestions for high flow, low noise fans? Sifting through all the results from a search makes my brain hurt, so I figured I’d ask here since there are a lot of homelab types that hang out in these forums that may have already dealt with this issue.


Quiet and high flow aren’t really things that go together. When you say beneath where you sleep does that mean in the same room? How many fans do you need total?

If you are looking for cheap and need a bunch, Artic, and Antec both make reasonable fans that come in both DC and PWM versions that are cheap that are “decent” fans. They are pretty quiet fans too.

If it’s in the budget I would recommend Noctua, while they are along the lines of $20 a fan they are a nicer fan. As long as you don’t get their budget line, they will all come with splitters, extensions, and in your case importantly a low noise adapter in case you think they are too loud.

Also keep in mind you don’t need to just use the “built” in spots in the case for fans. You can always get creative and mount extras in there. I know in my NAS I wanted extra fans to help pull air through the HDDs and it also moves air across other things, so I mounted fans to the outside of the HDD cages:


1 Like

We live in a 5th wheel trailer, and the servers are in the “basement,” a storage compartment in the bottom of the trailer. Our bed is right above that.

I am not looking for silence. I am willing to have some noise, but not the super-loud screamers you often find in rack mounted servers.

My cases are rack mount cases, so I don’t have a lot of places to mount extra fans without case mods that involve cutting. Don’t really want to do that.

I don’t really have a good sense for what db levels mean to my ears. I know that it’s a logarithmic scale, but how “loud” is 40db vs 50db in a real experience? So looking at specs is difficult for me to parse.

At the end of the day, there is only so much you can do, because you obviously need to generate a certain amount of airflow to get enough cooling. How much that has to be, depends on your hardware.

Some general things to keep in mind:

The smaller the fan, the faster it has to spin in order to move the same amount of air as a larger one, and as a result the noise level will generally increase.

If you want it to be as quiet as possible go with Noctua, but don’t just look at the noise levels, but also at the amount of air it can move. If you, for example, are going to replace a 6,000m3/min fan with a 900m3/min fan, it will be whisper quite, but your server will most likely overheat when under load.

Also, a 40mm fan in a 1U case will most likely never be as quiet as an 80mm or 120mm fan in a larger case, when it has to move the same amount of air.

I understand all those things; I was hoping that someone had specific recommendations for a balance of flow and noise.

I guess I’ll look into what Noctua has.

1 Like