Extreme fan noise with an HP ProLiant ML110 G7

A little while back I posted some initial impressions of the Hewlett Packard ML110 G7, and noted:

“One review made mention of the ML110’s quiet operation and how it would not be noticed in an office environment. Well, unless your office happens to be on the factory floor of an air conditioning manufacturing plant, you’re going to notice this thing…”

Out of curiosity I decided to look into this a bit more. It turns out a whole bunch of other folks have encountered the same thing, and if you perform an online search for “HP ML110 G7 fan noise” you’ll find many forum posts with all manner of straw clutching – from running every firmware and BIOS update under the sun, to nuking warranties with third-party cooling hacks.

One thing I noted with my unit was the actual reported fan speeds via the LOM were in the order of 31%/13%/10% for the three fans respectively – which hardly accounts for what sounds like a system with its fans running absolutely full tilt (completely unsuitable for office operation).

Buried in one forum post was information apparently passed on from HP’s support personnel to an affected customer, advising them to reseat the front fan (referred to as the PCI fan in the service manual), as apparently it may become dislodged during shipping. Sounded rather odd to me as clearly the fan itself is functioning (a bit too well…), but as it turns out this totally nailed the problem. After disconnecting the fan’s motherboard connectors and physically removing the component, then letting the system boot, POST and shutdown with a fan error, then reconnecting everything and powering it back up, the server is now quiet.

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