Hardware Controls in PFSense?

  • Hello everyone.

    So, after a few days of messing around, I managed to get PFsense running on an old Sonicwall ESA 200.  The device is perfect for PFsense and has a 2.8Ghz Celeron with a gig of RAM and two Gigabit NIC's in it.  The biggest problem is the fan.  It runs in my office and its rather loud.  I enabled ACPI and fan control in the motherboard's BIOS (its a Super Micro board that Sonicwall stuffed in it for its heard) and it slowed down a little bit, but it doesn't appear that PFSense is raising and lowering the fan speed at all.  I also enabled PowerD, because I thought that might make a difference, but it doesn't appear to have.  Anyone know how I can limit the fan speed on it?

  • Just replace that Celeron cooler with a passive cooler (aka heatsink). A Celeron shouldn't heat up that much (especially if CPU usage average is low). Just make sure there's enough natuaral outside airflow in the case and that's all.

    And of course don't place the thing on top of any heater device  :D

  • Cheat, instead of trying for internal control get a fan that has a built-in temperature sensor and stick the sensor to the base of the CPU cooler.

    Something like: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835220028

  • A passive cooler wouldn't really work, unfortunately, as this is an embedded case (Its, as I mentioned, a Sonicwall ESA200, which is a 1U design).  I might try out the CPU cooling fan with the thermal sensor but the problem with that option is that the fans are not CPU fans.  They are case fans that blow of all of the heatsinks in the case, similar to how the Xbox has 3 small fans with a tunneling cone that pushes the air in the direction it needs.  Is there no software based control options?

  • Messing with the hardware is often easier in my experience. For all 1U-boxes i've installed other software on, i use small resistors that you can buy from almost every computer store that lowers the voltage from 12 to 7 or 5 volt and lowers the sound alot.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Those fans may not be controllable at all. Are they, at least, 3 wire fans? Are there any fan control options in bios, usually a good clue as to how much control may be possible?
    If they are controllable it's likely to be via the SuperIO chip. What chip does that box have? Check the datasheet to see what fan control option it might have.


  • Oh I see. Cisco also puts very noisy fans in their equipment. 1U switches have usually at least 3 fans each as loud as a hair dryer.

    Look around for fans of the same size, but quiet models. And look not to screw them directly on the case, but use rubber feet to stick them on. Their vibration will not propagate to the case through rubber.

  • This is how I handled this problem on my Firebox:

    (excuse the dust, this was literally just pulled out of service an hour ago, it just happened to be still on my living room floor)

    My roommate had a random low-profile copper heat sink sitting around, so that plus some thermal epoxy (a heat sink clip tab was broken in the process of disassembling the thing) and a 120mm hole cut directly above it kept this idling at 47C constant.  The 60mm CPU fan and 3x 40mm rear fans were all removed, the 120 on top is the only fan in use.

    It went from screaming to silent as a result of this conversion.

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