Dealing with Noisy Gigabit Switches in Schools
We were asked recently to advise on the possible solutions for a noisy switch.
Physically the school was limited on space and for various reasons, the age of buildings (hence very thick walls) and an ‘interesting’ layout demanded that the network (both wired and wireless) had it’s own peculiarities including the placement of some of the hardware.
In this case, the noisy switch was located within a wiring cabinet in a classroom, dedicated for Special Needs teaching. This made the case even more urgent as the noise was significantly distracting the children making it very hard for the teachers to teach.
We examined a few options that could have solved the problem, but as always, budget was the foremost priority.
Option One was to move the wiring cabinet out of the classroom and relocating this elsewhere. This was ruled out as it would cost a a significant amount and disruption as well.
Option Two was to consider sound proofing the wiring cabinet. To do this would mean adding sound proofing material around the wiring cabinet that would eventually trap heat in, causing the cabinet temperature to rise.
This was ruled out as in the long term, it would then become a vicious circle as the fans in the switches would be throttled higher in order to cool the switches down and raising the noise level even more. In fact if the situation was prolonged, it could have potentially caused performance issues, fan failure or even an overheated and broken switch.
Option Three seemed to be our best bet. So we started to look at fan-less, silent or quiet switches to replace the 48 port gigabit switch housed in the wiring cabinet that was making the most noise.
In our search, we also learnt that quite a number of schools are facing the similar problems. We found people posting questions like “Silent (or quiet) 48 port Gigabit switch for classroom?”, “Looking for a quiet 48 port (or stackable 24 port) gigabit switch” on Tom’s hardware and edugeek forums.
Not many manufacturers offer low noise 48 port Gigabit switches. The switching matrix on such a high density switch in a small 1U package means that it requires active cooling, three fans on the side of one switch.
Without incurring any additional cost on cabling, re-cabling or moving the switch, we decided on a couple of 24 port fan-less Gigabit switches. The fan-less Gigabit switches have made such a big difference, the teachers have instantly noticed the change in behaviour and better concentration.
A parent even remarked that “you can now hear the ticking of the clock in the classroom and the soft hum of the teacher’s PC”.
Not only are the switches silent, they are also environment friendly and use less energy.
So if you are looking to replace that noisy 48 port Gigabit network switch in your cabinet, consider a silent or fan-less switch.
While you may not be able to get a 48-port fan less Gigabit switch, get two 24 port fan less Gigabit switch instead.
Other factors you may wish to consider is to look at switches from the same make as the ones currently on your network for compatibility.
You may also consider for cost reasons whether you would go with an unmanaged switch or smart switch or if budget permits, stackable managed switches.
Here Are Your Choices
For those in a similar position, here are the ones that we considered:
24-port Gigabit Unmanaged Switches
- D-Link 24-Port Rackmountable Gigabit Switch DGS-1024D
- HP ProCurve V1410-24G
- ZyXEL GS1100-24
- TP-Link TL-SG1024 24-Port Gigabit Rackmount Switch
24-port Gigabit Managed Switches (non-stackable)
- D-Link DGS-1100-24 EasySmart 24
- NetGear ProSafe GS724T Gigabit Smart Switch – we went with this
- HP Procurve 1810G-24 Switch
- ZyXEL GS1910-24 24 Port Gigabit Smart Managed Switch
24-port Gigabit Managed Stackable Switches
- NetGear ProSafe GS724TS Gigabit Stackable Smart Switch
- D-Link DGS-1500-38 Gigabit SmartPro Switch with smart fan
While we went with two NetGear ProSafe GS724T Gigabit Smart Switch because we are more familiar with NetGear ProSafe and was able to configure trunking between these and existing NetGear switches on the network, other switches in this list are equally capable. You may have a preference for some of these because you had a good experience with them, better customer services, best value for money or were recommended. Whatever your decision is, we would love to hear from you. Let us know what you have decided or if there were other Gigabit switches in the market which are silent and fan less.
If you have been similar situation and have a solution that now works well for you, please do share it with us here.
Author: Samuel J. Tan
To make sure you continue to receive interesting exciting articles at the forefront of learning with technology, remember subscribe to our updates below and follow @ColorMyLearning on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.
Don’t forget to Rate This Article
September 12, 2013 @ 10:14 pm
Changing to 24 port “silent” switches is a good strategy.
Another option is to replace the fans inside the 48 port switches. The standard fans on most Switches are pretty crap. I have changed most of my switches over to Noctua NF-A4x10 fans and the difference in noise levels is huge.
Noctua Cooling Fan and Noctua NF-A4X10
So for about US$50 and some tech time to fit them you can keep your existing switches and have far quieter operation. Mileage will of course vary, however in these days of tight IT budgets, it is definitely worth a look. 🙂
Colour My Learning
September 13, 2013 @ 8:06 am
Thanks for sharing. This is an excellent idea. We also looked at sound proofing for wiring cabinet, noise damping materials, and purpose built cabinet with active cooling, but your way may be the best for keep the cost down.