Most workplaces these days have their own set of servers operating 24/7. While it is essential, it can be quite annoying for people.
Especially if it’s making A LOT of noise. Even if you have a separate server room or cabinet, the sound can still leak out.
Equipment noise from IT equipment OBLITERATES your concentration and productivity. All that constant whizzing and whirring is bound to tick someone off.
In this article, we’ll share with you different solutions on how to make a soundproof server rack.
How to Make a Soundproof Server Rack
Computer and server noise mostly comes from several fans that constantly keep them cool and prevent overheating.
You can’t really do much with the computer itself, BUT YOU CAN build a soundproof environment around them.
#1 Want a Quick, Easy, and INSTANT Solution? Use a Soundproofing Cabinet
A quick solution to soundproof server racks is to use a soundproofing cabinet. They’re available to buy online, BUT they do cost quite a lot.
We highly recommend the Sysracks 15 U 35-inch Depth Soundproof Server Cabinet Rack.
This soundproof cabinet is pretty compact. It’s available in different sizes, depending on how much equipment you’ll place inside.
Should you invest in this soundproof server cabinet? Well, this might convince you:
- Its foam-sealed front and back doors PULVERIZE noise by 36%.
- The cabinet is very durable and lasts for years. A worthy investment!
- Has a built-in AC fan mounted on the bottom to keep it from overheating.
It can be pricey, but it’s the best choice to go with if you don’t want to do all the manual labor for effective noise reduction.
#2 Not Willing to Spend a Lot of Green? Then… Do a DIY Soundproof Server Rack
If you’re not too keen on purchasing a pricey soundproof cabinet, you can resort to a DIY soundproof server rack! It will take a lot of time and effort, but it’ll definitely save you a lot of money.
This is a QUIET-PERFECT option for people who are just going to use it at home.
An ideal server rack must have:
- Space for proper cable management
- Proper airflow for temperature control
- Soundproofing built
While we aim to build a soundproof server rack, it should still be built to have ENOUGH ROOM to release more heat to avoid overheating.
Before you start, you need to determine the height of your servers.
The following measurements are for a 20U server rack with a 19-inch width. If you think a 20U depth is too much, you could always cut the plywoods to the size you need.
Just make sure you have enough space for your other computer parts like quiet hard drives and cables.
To start building your own server rack, you will need the following:
- Four 2x4s secondary wood
- 4×8 Plywood or OSB board
- Nails/Drywall screws
- Wood glue
- Pocket Screws
Make sure that you also have the following tools:
- Drill and Drill bit
- Pocket hole-jig
Step 1: Create the Cabinet Frame
For a 20U server rack, you will need to cut the wooden materials to the following sizes:
- Front and Back Pieces: Four 2×4 with a width of 19-3/4″ x 2
- Side Pieces: Four 2×4 with a depth of 27-5/8″ x 2
- Uprights: Four 2×4 with a depth of 42-1/4″ x 2
Secure these with wood glue and pocket hole joints. You should end up with a square frame that can fit your servers.
For more strength and durability, you can add more 2×4 boards on the sides. This will make the server rack frame more stable. If you want, you can add metal L brackets at the corners for additional support.
Step 2: Cut the Cabinet Panels
You need to cut the wooden boards to these dimensions:
- Upright: 4 pcs of 4×8 plywood measuring 42-1/8″
- Two of these four should have a width of 19-5/8″ for the front and back. The other two side panels should have 27-1/2″.
- Top and Bottom: 2 pcs of 4×8 plywood measuring 19-5/8″ x 27-1/2″
Step 3: Attach the Cabinet Panels
Smoothen out all the rough corners with a sharp chisel and set the bottom panel aside.
- Start with the upright 2×4 pieces and boards and mark the areas the rails will be positioned on. You should have holes every 6-8 inches.
- Use wood glue to attach the top and side pieces first.
- With the panel facing down, place the open frame upside down at the center. The plywood panel should be AT LEAST 5″ bigger than the open frame.
- Once you’ve positioned it properly, add the 2×4 side rails.
- Drill pilot holes and secure the three-panel parts to the open frame with screws.
- Grab the bottom panel you set aside earlier and put marks that are 6″ apart for drill holes.
- Place the bottom panel to the open frame. Drill the marked areas and secure them with a screw.
Attach the back panel the same way. You can have the last board serve as a cabinet door for easy access. You can fix the door using hinges, screws, and nails.
Step 4: Soundproofing the Server Rack
Now that you’re done with the main cabinet, the next step is to make it soundproof. There are a lot of options for soundproofing.
But the main problem is, the more you try to soundproof with different materials, the more heat will build up inside. As much as possible, we want to keep the IT equipment from overheating.
You can add cooling fans, but we’ll get into that later.
For now, here are different options you can do to soundproof your racks:
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)
Mass Loaded Vinyl is a high-density, soundproofing material with excellent flexibility. It’s mostly used as a sound barrier for walls, ceilings, and floors.
Mass-loaded vinyl comes in different sizes, and you can adjust it to fit in your server rack to reduce noise. It’s high-density, versatile, and flexible, so you can cut it into ANY SHAPE.
Here are a few things to note about Mass Loaded Vinyl:
- This vinyl material may be thin, but it’s a highly effective sound barrier!
- You can use glue to keep it in place.
- Make sure there are no air gaps! Air gaps will result in sound leaking.
- Apply it carefully! Even though the mass-loaded vinyl is strong, it can tear if it’s pulled too much.
Instead of installing mass-loaded vinyl to reduce noise, you can use rubberized undercoating like 3M Rubberized Undercoating. It’s an effortless and quick soundproofing solution. You can build a sound barrier with just a simple spray!
The material is paintable, sound deadening, waterproof, and protects the surface from any rust. Its rubber material makes it great for ABSORBING SOUND VIBRATIONS.
Here are a few things to note about Rubberized Undercoating:
- It has a strong smell on the first application and can take a good while to dry. You won’t be able to use the server rack for a few days if you choose to use rubberized undercoating.
- Another thing you have to watch out for is the insulating ability of this material. You have the option to add more soundproofing material, but it can trap heat inside the server rack. Though, you could always counter that with cooling fans.
Sound Deadening Mats
Sound-deadening mats such as the Noico 80 Mil Mat is a variation of the MLV material. These things were made for SOUND BLOCKING in cars, studios, and at home. You can use it for your server rack too!
It comes in different sizes, and you can adjust it by cutting just like MLVs. But compared to MLVs, sound-deadening mats are more durable and aren’t prone to tearing. It’s a worthy investment!
What about installation?
The application process is similar to MLV. Just make sure you use the correct adhesive products! You can choose to just have one layer, but some people add an extra one for more effective soundproofing.
If you’re looking for something lightweight, using acoustic foam is the option for you! You can line ALL SIDES of the rack with this.
These things are ideal for humming noises. But most of the time, they’re not as effective alone. That being said, it’s BEST to COMBINE it with other materials.
Unlike other soundproofing products, the acoustic foam doesn’t have additional heat.
So if you feel like your rack is crowded with heat and you need more soundproofing, you can opt to use acoustic foams.
When it comes to soundproofing, most people would immediately think of Green Glue. It’s a damping compound used to make soundproof wooden structures.
If you opted for a wooden server rack, this is the perfect choice!
Just put an ample amount in between the panels of the rack when you double them up, and you’re good to go.
#3 What If I Have a Ton of Equipment? In That Case…Have a Dedicated Server Room
A server rack is great if you ONLY have a few equipment to store. But for people who need several, having a dedicated server room is a great solution.
It’s one of the most important must-haves in an office space. Most of your IT equipment, computers, and servers should be stored here.
This might not be something feasible for most people, but it is one of the SAFEST WAYS if soundproofing your rack leads to overheating.
If you have the space, having a dedicated server room gives you more options for soundproofing without compromising better airflow.
If you have most of your equipment at home, this can be an ideal option. Cabinets tend to be more prone to overheat servers.
A space packed with tech equipment means you need to have:
- Neat cable management
- Proper airflow to avoid overheating
All tech equipment has built-in cooling fans, so equipment noise is inevitable. You can resort to DIY soundproofing the room’s walls and floors.
Some office spaces or homes might have extremely thin walls. The loud whirring of the fans might disturb people in the next room.
Using soundproof blankets is the easiest option you can do. You can easily buy it from any online store. The best part? JUST hang them up using curtain holders or adhesives.
You can also choose to layer the walls with any of the things mentioned above, like acoustic foams and MLVs.
Assuming the place is temperature-controlled, you shouldn’t have any problem combining two or more soundproofing techniques.
If your server rooms are placed above another room, you should soundproof the floors. An easy option for most people would be to use thick rugs and carpets.
Before you move the equipment in an enclosure, lay out the floor with rugs or carpets that are thick enough to block noise. You could also opt to use interlocking floor mats.
Another thing you can do is to use the soundproofing equipment mentioned above. You can layer the floor with MLVs and soundproof mats.
How to Control the Heat Level?
Whether you’re using a rack or a dedicated server room, technology equipment bunched up together will inevitably lead to an overheating problem.
Having high temperatures concentrated in one space will slow down your computer operations. It’s best to invest in cooling fans and install them in a targeted location for the best temperature control.
Most server racks already have built-in cooling fans. But if your rack doesn’t have one, you can buy a separate one and attach it inside.
These fans usually run quietly compared to the other ones used inside the server.
Spread them out so that the temperature level is maintained all over the area. To keep track of the room temperature, you could also install a thermometer you can check from time to time.
It’s impossible to have a completely silent computer, so your best bet would be to soundproof the area it’s stored in.
There are a lot of ways to create a soundproof environment for your servers. If purchasing a cabinet is too expensive for you, you could always opt to build your own.
REMEMBER: When soundproofing your rack, think: “How will the soundproofing material interact with the heat?”
ESPECIALLY IF you’re planning on combining two or more methods together.
The do-it-yourself option may be the cheapest choice. But the SAFEST METHOD is to have a dedicated server room. It’ll be easier to control the temperature of the storage.
Soundproofing can be a bit tricky. But if you plan it well, it’s going to be a breeze!
July 8, 2021 – removed product links, updated article links
June 14, 2021 – updated article links
June 4, 2021 – optimized content, updated article title