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Question Vostro 400 way too noisy ( DELL General Hardware )
Updated: 2008-06-16 06:38:13 (24)
Vostro 400 way too noisy

I bought a Vostro 400 over Christmas - seemed to be a viable offer and some forum contributions ascertained it was a quiet system. What a disappointment. This desktop is way too noisy, poorly engineered, loud fans and crippled BIOS.

Poorly engineered: HDDs are directly attached to the chassis without any kind of vibration decoupling possibilities. It would have been easy to incorporate vibration decoupling in the first place, yet Dell opted not to do so. In addition, the chassis is poorly designed such that it is thoroughly impossible to come up with after market noise attenuation means. Disappointing.

Loud: Fans are permanently hearable and a constant source of annoyance - simply too loud. In addition it is *not* possible to replace built in fans with otherwise off the shelf silent fans. Why? Because Dell chose to design their own motherboard incompatible to whatever else there might be out there. Bad design.

Crippled BIOS: The usual workaround getting systems less noisy is the implementation of some fan controlling software. Alas, impossible with the Dell Vostro 400. BIOS does not allow any control of the fans. Otherwise useful software, such as Speedfan etc., is thoroughly useless on this Vostro 400.

What a disappointment.


Answers: Vostro 400 way too noisy ( DELL General Hardware )
Vostro 400 way too noisy

I build, service and repair all types of computers. What I do with machinesthat havethis kind of annoyance is, first pull the hard drive (if it is vibrating or whining) and find an alternate place to mount it, by using a couple foam rubber strips a half inch or so thick, then use pureSilicon RTV compound and mount them to the bottom of thedrive and then somewhere to the computerchassis or other convenient area. When dry they are vibration free and very solid. Then for the fans I cut thered fan powerwireand solder in a 100 OHM half watt resistor orwhatevervalue that slows the noisyfans to about half speed or to a tolerable level. Then I give the machine a good workout to be sure there is no over heating or other unwantted noises. I actually have not seenanything overheatyet with this method, which proves loud fast fans are unnecessary, and in too many cases just plainoverkill.

5150Guy


 

Computer tech by night.
Dell 5150 Desktop, Intel P4 3.2GHz 640, 2 Gig DDR5400 RAM, GeForce 7600GT, 16x LightScribe DVD-RW, 16x DVD-ROM, Combo Floppy Drive Multimedia card reader, XP Pro.

5150Guy

Vostro 400 way too noisy

I believe there is a Bios update to deal with the loud fans. It does not say this in "release notes", but a

friend of mine complained of the same issue on his Vostro 400and the update cured it. Hope this is some help.

http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=gen&releaseid=R177869&SystemID=VOS_D_400&servicetag=&os=WLH&osl=en&deviceid=15741&devlib=0&typecnt=0&vercnt=5&catid=-1&impid=-1&formatcnt=1&libid=1&fileid=241956


dave5

Vostro 400 way too noisy

Thanks for the heads up - yet this BIOS update (from version 1.0.10 to 1.0.11) did not change anything with respect to the unspeakable fan behaviour of this Vostro. I may be trying the otherwise suggested resistance approach to tame those noisy fans - thanks for this tip.

Just wondering what made Dell engineers design such a badly thought out system.This is way noisier than cheap PC systemsfrom run of the mill consumer markets.

Considering the annoyance, futile investment into silent fans turning out to be incompatible, the futile time I spent on the phone with Dell Support - I don't think it's a system that may be recommended to customers.

Why doesn't Dell come up with some useful BIOS updates supporting fan control?

Message Edited by watermoon on 03-24-2008 04:28 AM

watermoon

Vostro 400 way too noisy

One other thing that may cause fan noise is dry bearings in the fan. I have had much success with removing the end cap on the fan center, under the label,and applying atiny drop of some good teflon oil. Seal it back up and many times it will last quite awhile.

5150Guy


 

Computer tech by night.
Dell 5150 Desktop, Intel P4 3.2GHz 640, 2 Gig DDR5400 RAM, GeForce 7600GT, 16x LightScribe DVD-RW, 16x DVD-ROM, Combo Floppy Drive Multimedia card reader, XP Pro.

5150Guy

Vostro 400 way too noisy

Thanks for your tips, 5150Guy. It's not a high pitched resonance issue that's nagging here. It's more the air stream thats unbelievable with this system; the fans turn up really high at times, with no load such as 3D graphics at all. Somehow this system looks weird. I have never ever had such a noisy system - can't believe some people call that silent. However I don't believe it's some sort of a singularly botched model either. Seems to be a series issue.

It would be good to have s.b. from Dell chime in here.
watermoon

Vostro 400 way too noisy

I have been using a new Vostro 400 for almost 2 months now.

The only time I have an increased fan speed is @ boot up. Lasts maybe 1-2 seconds.

Otherwise, fan noise is more than acceptable, only the slightest hint of back ground noise.

I have seen several other entries in this forum for "obscene" fan noise from this model

and have seen a few where the Bios update cured the problem, others that have not.

It's looking to me like it is an isolated problem with specific machines?

Maybe I just lucked out with mine, or maybe my time is coming.

Yes, the installation of the HDD is cheezy @ best.

Have also seen a few messages regarding "loos" fasteners, drives, memory modules, etc.

I have been a pretty strong proponent of Dell for the last few years but am seeing something a bit

disturbing with their products/service as of late eh?

Best of luck Watermoon


oldrust

Vostro 400 way too noisy

There is a strong possibility that the fan controller or the on motherboard temp sensormay have gone bad. If it's the fan (3 wire) it could simply be replaced, if it the sensing circuit on the motherboard then you are out of luck. In either case the resistor would stillbe the easiest and cheapestsolution.
 

Computer tech by night.
Dell 5150 Desktop, Intel P4 3.2GHz 640, 2 Gig DDR5400 RAM, GeForce 7600GT, 16x LightScribe DVD-RW, 16x DVD-ROM, Combo Floppy Drive Multimedia card reader, XP Pro.

5150Guy

Vostro 400 way too noisy

I can say from experience of owing the Vostro 400 for just over 2 months that you are absolutely correct- it is very poorly designed. Most people who buy it will accept the fan noise as normal. I have requested another machine from Dell and had the same issues. A tech has replaced the mother, CPU, CPU fan, back fan and heatsink twice. This second time eliminated the high-pitch whine, but the CPU fan comes on every time I open an application and this behavior has been with every replacement I have had.

I got a smoking deal on this machine- 2.66Ghz Duo Core, 8600GT Nvidia video, 2GB RAM, 250GB HD and a 22" flatscreen for $700 and I just don't want to return it, but maybe it's time to look at a Precision or Optiplex. I have both at the offfice and both run great, no loud issues. I will say, this Vostro runs great most of the time. The speed is great, but yeah, the design is pretty flawed.


captainjy

Vostro 400 way too noisy

My Vostro 400 isn't noisy at all. Mine has a Q6600, 8800GT and 2 hard drives, but it's very quiet apart from when I first boot it up and the fans spin up to full speed for a few seconds. When I'm gaming, the fans spin up to speed and it makes a fair bit of noise, but that's what I would expect. When it's idling, or I'm doing less resource intensive tasks, the fans can barely be heard and trust me, I detest noise from computers so it's not that I just don't know any better.

Thestockfanscanbechangedeasily.IswappedtherearcasefanforasilentNexus92mmfanwhichhasa3

pinconnector.IalsoswappedthestockcoolerforaZalmanCPNS9500AT,whichhasa4pinconnectorjust

likethestockcoolerfanthatcomesinthe400.YouwillhavenoBIOSerrorsonbootwiththeZalman,and

thefanspeediscontrolledautomatically.BeforeIfittedtheZalman,Iswappedthestockcoolerfanforan

80mmNexusfan,whichonlyhasa3pinconnectorbutdoesnotgiveaBIOSerroronboot.It'llrun

constantlyatfullspeedthough,asit'slackingthe4thpinforthefanautomaticfancontrol.ThePSUcan

alsobeswappedouttoo,soreallyallthatleavesissomesoundproofingontheharddrivesifyoufeelthat's

required.

Tobehonest,Iwastotallyhappywiththenoiselevelofmy400withthestockcomponentsfitted.Ionly

swappedthem,becauseIwantedabettercoolerandhigherratedPSU,plusIhadacoupleofNexusfans

lyingaroundanyway.

Message Edited by DJSigma on 05-01-2008 02:55 PM

DJSigma

Vostro 400 way too noisy

Seems you are lucky DJSigma. Unfortunately I can't get to second base here. The only workaround seems soldering some resistor ...

I wonder, though, how you managed to replace the CPU fan. Chassis fans may easily changed, they are standard. Yet the CPUcooling systemjust is not. I invested into a silentAC Freezer 7 Pro here, thatturned out to be incompatible with the Vostro 400 motherboard, though- money down the drain. The CPU heatsink uses a non standard fitting so you can???t replace it with the push/pull pin type mounting mechanisms that many LGA775 coolers use. What a shame.

I stick by my assessment -> Vostro 400 Systems are poorly engineered.


watermoon

Vostro 400 way too noisy

You can replace the CPU fan with any fan that has PWM and therefore has a 4 pin connector, for example, the ones on the bottom half of this page: -

http://www.nexustek.nl/NXS-silentcasefans.htm

Nexus fansare very quiet too.

Iknowof two coolers that will fit. The Zalman CNPS-9500ATistheone I useas itdoesn'tuse push pinsand ithasa 4 pin connector for the fan. A Thermalright Ultima 90 will just about fit and youcanuse a 92mm Nexus fan with that.

I wouldn'tsay that the Vostrosare poorly engineered, but the cases don'toffer thebest cooling. That'sreally my only criticism considering how much thecomputersells for (i.e. cheap!).

I hope you sort your noiseproblemoutanyway.


DJSigma

Vostro 400 way too noisy

DJSigma, thanks for your input here - particularly with respect to pointers to CPU coolers apparently compatible to the Vostro 400 Motherboard.


Ya' know, Dell Service assured me during a one hour phone call covering all and every aspect of this annoying noise stuff, that replacing the Vostro 400 CPU fan won't be easy, since Dell uses some proprietary design. Somehow I am increasingly under the impression that the Dell Service seems on the skids towards Call Center 'quality'. Why doesn't Dell provide their Service personell with relevant info about their own systems? If this Service person would have been in a position to point directly to compatible coolers, a lot of aggravation might have been saved here.

Poorly engineered refers to -> at least non-standard motherboard design, flimsy and annoyingly noise prone harddrive mountings as well as unnecessarily crippled BIOS, which stymies fan control via otherwise run-of-the-mill software such as Speedfan and siblings.

Because of all these annoyances, I decided to jettison the Vostro 400 in favor of a Vostro 1700 Notebook, which runs smoothly as a desktop replacement system here - virtually no fan noise at all and large HDD capacity due to 2 possible HDDs, particularly in view of those upcoming 500 GB Notebook drives. Now, if these desktop replacement notebooks only hadDVI support for external monitors...

Message Edited by watermoon on 06-01-2008 03:04 AM

watermoon

Vostro 400 way too noisy

[quote]Ya' know, Dell Service assured me during a one hour phone call covering all and every aspect of this annoying noise stuff, that replacing the Vostro 400 CPU fan won't be easy, since Dell uses some proprietary design.[/quote]

The fanisa standard size and is attachedto the cooler with 4 screws, so they'rewrong aboutthat. If they were talkingabouttheCPUcooler and notthe fan, then yeah- there's abackingplateattachedto the motherboardthatprevents you from using any cooler thatuses push pins.

Youcanstilluseaprogramlike Speedfan to control thefan speed BTW. As the fan speedis already automatically controlled, I don't useit personally.


DJSigma

Vostro 400 way too noisy


DJSigma wrote:

[quote]Youcanstilluseaprogramlike Speedfan to control thefan speed BTW. As the fan speedis already automatically controlled, I don't useit personally.


Hm, I tried Speedfan on this cited Vostro 400 - to no avail. Fans could not get controlled with this program. I gathered from many entries in a variety of forums that Dell likely disables a readout of those conrol settings to Windows type programs. It'll be interesting to hear, if anybody was able to control those fans via some Windows program -the Dell people could not point to any program.

Dell Support should validate their responses. It can't be too difficult to compile some FAQ. Virtually any SME seems better organized than Dell Support.


watermoon

Vostro 400 way too noisy

I bought a Vostro 400 over Christmas - seemed to be a viable offer and some forum contributions ascertained it was a quiet system. What a disappointment. This desktop is way too noisy, poorly engineered, loud fans and crippled BIOS.

Poorly engineered: HDDs are directly attached to the chassis without any kind of vibration decoupling possibilities. It would have been easy to incorporate vibration decoupling in the first place, yet Dell opted not to do so. In addition, the chassis is poorly designed such that it is thoroughly impossible to come up with after market noise attenuation means. Disappointing.

Loud: Fans are permanently hearable and a constant source of annoyance - simply too loud. In addition it is *not* possible to replace built in fans with otherwise off the shelf silent fans. Why? Because Dell chose to design their own motherboard incompatible to whatever else there might be out there. Bad design.

Crippled BIOS: The usual workaround getting systems less noisy is the implementation of some fan controlling software. Alas, impossible with the Dell Vostro 400. BIOS does not allow any control of the fans. Otherwise useful software, such as Speedfan etc., is thoroughly useless on this Vostro 400.

What a disappointment.


watermoon

Vostro 400 way too noisy

I build, service and repair all types of computers. What I do with machinesthat havethis kind of annoyance is, first pull the hard drive (if it is vibrating or whining) and find an alternate place to mount it, by using a couple foam rubber strips a half inch or so thick, then use pureSilicon RTV compound and mount them to the bottom of thedrive and then somewhere to the computerchassis or other convenient area. When dry they are vibration free and very solid. Then for the fans I cut thered fan powerwireand solder in a 100 OHM half watt resistor orwhatevervalue that slows the noisyfans to about half speed or to a tolerable level. Then I give the machine a good workout to be sure there is no over heating or other unwantted noises. I actually have not seenanything overheatyet with this method, which proves loud fast fans are unnecessary, and in too many cases just plainoverkill.

5150Guy


 

Computer tech by night.
Dell 5150 Desktop, Intel P4 3.2GHz 640, 2 Gig DDR5400 RAM, GeForce 7600GT, 16x LightScribe DVD-RW, 16x DVD-ROM, Combo Floppy Drive Multimedia card reader, XP Pro.

5150Guy

Vostro 400 way too noisy

I believe there is a Bios update to deal with the loud fans. It does not say this in "release notes", but a

friend of mine complained of the same issue on his Vostro 400and the update cured it. Hope this is some help.

http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=gen&releaseid=R177869&SystemID=VOS_D_400&servicetag=&os=WLH&osl=en&deviceid=15741&devlib=0&typecnt=0&vercnt=5&catid=-1&impid=-1&formatcnt=1&libid=1&fileid=241956


dave5

Vostro 400 way too noisy

Thanks for the heads up - yet this BIOS update (from version 1.0.10 to 1.0.11) did not change anything with respect to the unspeakable fan behaviour of this Vostro. I may be trying the otherwise suggested resistance approach to tame those noisy fans - thanks for this tip.

Just wondering what made Dell engineers design such a badly thought out system.This is way noisier than cheap PC systemsfrom run of the mill consumer markets.

Considering the annoyance, futile investment into silent fans turning out to be incompatible, the futile time I spent on the phone with Dell Support - I don't think it's a system that may be recommended to customers.

Why doesn't Dell come up with some useful BIOS updates supporting fan control?

Message Edited by watermoon on 03-24-2008 04:28 AM

watermoon

Vostro 400 way too noisy

One other thing that may cause fan noise is dry bearings in the fan. I have had much success with removing the end cap on the fan center, under the label,and applying atiny drop of some good teflon oil. Seal it back up and many times it will last quite awhile.

5150Guy


 

Computer tech by night.
Dell 5150 Desktop, Intel P4 3.2GHz 640, 2 Gig DDR5400 RAM, GeForce 7600GT, 16x LightScribe DVD-RW, 16x DVD-ROM, Combo Floppy Drive Multimedia card reader, XP Pro.

5150Guy

Vostro 400 way too noisy

Thanks for your tips, 5150Guy. It's not a high pitched resonance issue that's nagging here. It's more the air stream thats unbelievable with this system; the fans turn up really high at times, with no load such as 3D graphics at all. Somehow this system looks weird. I have never ever had such a noisy system - can't believe some people call that silent. However I don't believe it's some sort of a singularly botched model either. Seems to be a series issue.

It would be good to have s.b. from Dell chime in here.
watermoon

Vostro 400 way too noisy

I have been using a new Vostro 400 for almost 2 months now.

The only time I have an increased fan speed is @ boot up. Lasts maybe 1-2 seconds.

Otherwise, fan noise is more than acceptable, only the slightest hint of back ground noise.

I have seen several other entries in this forum for "obscene" fan noise from this model

and have seen a few where the Bios update cured the problem, others that have not.

It's looking to me like it is an isolated problem with specific machines?

Maybe I just lucked out with mine, or maybe my time is coming.

Yes, the installation of the HDD is cheezy @ best.

Have also seen a few messages regarding "loos" fasteners, drives, memory modules, etc.

I have been a pretty strong proponent of Dell for the last few years but am seeing something a bit

disturbing with their products/service as of late eh?

Best of luck Watermoon


oldrust

Vostro 400 way too noisy

There is a strong possibility that the fan controller or the on motherboard temp sensormay have gone bad. If it's the fan (3 wire) it could simply be replaced, if it the sensing circuit on the motherboard then you are out of luck. In either case the resistor would stillbe the easiest and cheapestsolution.
 

Computer tech by night.
Dell 5150 Desktop, Intel P4 3.2GHz 640, 2 Gig DDR5400 RAM, GeForce 7600GT, 16x LightScribe DVD-RW, 16x DVD-ROM, Combo Floppy Drive Multimedia card reader, XP Pro.

5150Guy

Vostro 400 way too noisy

I can say from experience of owing the Vostro 400 for just over 2 months that you are absolutely correct- it is very poorly designed. Most people who buy it will accept the fan noise as normal. I have requested another machine from Dell and had the same issues. A tech has replaced the mother, CPU, CPU fan, back fan and heatsink twice. This second time eliminated the high-pitch whine, but the CPU fan comes on every time I open an application and this behavior has been with every replacement I have had.

I got a smoking deal on this machine- 2.66Ghz Duo Core, 8600GT Nvidia video, 2GB RAM, 250GB HD and a 22" flatscreen for $700 and I just don't want to return it, but maybe it's time to look at a Precision or Optiplex. I have both at the offfice and both run great, no loud issues. I will say, this Vostro runs great most of the time. The speed is great, but yeah, the design is pretty flawed.


captainjy

Vostro 400 way too noisy

My Vostro 400 isn't noisy at all. Mine has a Q6600, 8800GT and 2 hard drives, but it's very quiet apart from when I first boot it up and the fans spin up to full speed for a few seconds. When I'm gaming, the fans spin up to speed and it makes a fair bit of noise, but that's what I would expect. When it's idling, or I'm doing less resource intensive tasks, the fans can barely be heard and trust me, I detest noise from computers so it's not that I just don't know any better.

Thestockfanscanbechangedeasily.IswappedtherearcasefanforasilentNexus92mmfanwhichhasa3

pinconnector.IalsoswappedthestockcoolerforaZalmanCPNS9500AT,whichhasa4pinconnectorjust

likethestockcoolerfanthatcomesinthe400.YouwillhavenoBIOSerrorsonbootwiththeZalman,and

thefanspeediscontrolledautomatically.BeforeIfittedtheZalman,Iswappedthestockcoolerfanforan

80mmNexusfan,whichonlyhasa3pinconnectorbutdoesnotgiveaBIOSerroronboot.It'llrun

constantlyatfullspeedthough,asit'slackingthe4thpinforthefanautomaticfancontrol.ThePSUcan

alsobeswappedouttoo,soreallyallthatleavesissomesoundproofingontheharddrivesifyoufeelthat's

required.

Tobehonest,Iwastotallyhappywiththenoiselevelofmy400withthestockcomponentsfitted.Ionly

swappedthem,becauseIwantedabettercoolerandhigherratedPSU,plusIhadacoupleofNexusfans

lyingaroundanyway.

Message Edited by DJSigma on 05-01-2008 02:55 PM

DJSigma

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