Network-Active

Fanless Network Switches – Would you need them?

We all know that Network Switches are a bit noisy. This noise mainly comes from the multiple fans that operate from within the network switch, in order to cool the various components of the switch from within. But, there are certain situations when we might prefer having a fanless (and hence silent) network switches.

Let us explore a bit more about fanless network switches in this article and look at some models of network switches from a few vendors that actually incorporate the fanless design.

Not all of us have a separate data center / server room where we can keep all the networking equipments, including network switches which form bulk of the active network components. Most of the sound coming from the network rack is due to network switches. More specifically, due to multiple fans operating within the network switches.

In many situations, operating fans from within the network switches are inevitable. That’s because, the switches emanate so much heat especially when running near to their full capacity. So, if one has multiple network switches locked up into a rack along with many other active devices, the environment might be pretty heated up as each of them generate considerable amount of heat. Fans help cool various components within the network switch, and hence they are important in such scenarios.

But, in certain situations where the network switches have to be kept near the computer/desk that one is working on (or) on the desk itself/ somewhere in the same room, etc. people get distracted (and become uncomfortable) due to the constant noise produced by the switches. In many small offices, there is only one switch that is kept within a rack / even outside the rack and constant noise coming from the fans running within this switch might be disturbing to everyone around the switch.

At home, one can expect most of the entry level switches/ switches made for home networks, to be (relatively) quiet. But for a few applications, the reliability, features and performance offered by an enterprise grade switches might be preferred. Especially because these switches are getting inexpensive every day. Fanless switches can be very useful at home because one needs a good amount of silence to listen to music/ watch videos/ play games over the network.

In such situations one might prefer fanless network switches. Apart from being quiet, these switches are more reliable (due to absence of moving parts – fans) and utilize less power than their fan-cooled counterparts. Of course, one needs to be aware of/ careful about overheating of such switches, but vendors normally have some form of protection built-in to prevent failure of these switches due to over-heating.

Some people try to dismantle the network switch and try to disconnect one or two fans in-order to reduce the noise made by them. With most vendors, this will make them ineligible for any warranty claims later on. Besides, it might damage some of the internal connections/ circuitry.

In some situations, fanless design might be purposefully incorporated into the switches to increase their reliability. Certain Industrial grade Ethernet switches for example, come with solid-state cooling apparatus (instead of fans) that help cool the various parts inside the switch and hence provides a higher degree of reliability (due to absence of fans).

Have a look at some network switch models which have fanless design incorporated into them.

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