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I'm interested in finding a fanless NAS with at least two drives for silence and reliable storage (RAID 1), but I haven't been able to find anything.

Do these exist? Or does having a CPU in the NAS necessitate a fan so the device doesn't fry?

I'd be interested in a DIY solution (maybe something with an ITX board?) if there's no off-the-shelf one. How could I build this myself? What would I need to consider?

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Shopping Recommendations are off topic at SU. Please see the FAQ for some clarification on what kinds of questions we like here, and how to ask them. –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Oct 3 '11 at 18:06
@techie007 I looked at the FAQ, and although I suppose this is a bit of a shopping recommendation question, it is also a question of whether it is possible to find a NAS without a fan. Which is maybe a broader question? –  Jason Sundram Oct 3 '11 at 18:08
@techie007 We rewrote the question to make it more general and less of a shopping recommendation. In this state I think it's fine to stay. –  slhck Oct 3 '11 at 18:42
@slchk - Looks better to me. My only last suggestion would be that this is really two questions. "Are there any?" and "How do I build my own"? But hey. ;) –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Oct 3 '11 at 18:47
Certainly there are fanless computers. However, it appears that most either use solid state drives or have at most one drive slot. Passively cooling multiple drives would require substantial heat sink surface. –  Daniel R Hicks Feb 8 '12 at 13:08

8 Answers 8

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I don't recommend considering a fanless NAS. It can build up enough heat so that either the drives or the actual circuit board will burn out. I have the D-Link DNS-323. It has a fan and it's quite quiet if you're concerned about fan noise.

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Since it's a NAS, why not just put it in a sound-isolated space? I.e. an attic, garage, a cool closet, in a TV cabinet behind a glass door, or even just the far side of the room or somewhere where the noise wouldn't be noticeable, such as the kitchen or behind a speaker box (away from any internal magnets of course). –  Lèse majesté Mar 14 '12 at 2:29

There are many articles on the internet which discuss passively and actively cooled computer solutions which often summarise by stating that seeking a completely passively cooled solution is unwise, given fans can be so quiet as to be inaudible, yet necessary in order to create just enough of that airflow to keep operating equipment within safe operation range.

I would basically say no is the answer to your question, but if quiet is what you seek, look for a NAS with silicon anti-vibration supports for the HDDs and as large a fan as you can find (larger means same airflow at fewer RPM, hence less dB).

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The Western Digital My Book World Edition II may not have a fan if memory serves me correctly - you'll want to verify this though.

You may find some other suggestions here: (filter by "Noise:Very Low")

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You are right -- the Western Digital My Book World Edition II (NAS) is fanless. And there are lots of complaints about slow transfers and failures due to overheating. So maybe @Kien is right. –  Jason Sundram Oct 3 '11 at 19:23

If you're willing to fork out more money for SSD's your heat issues will go away assuming the controller doesn't heat up, but I doubt it would. If you do need fans, you would be surprised by how quiet large slow fans are.

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Qnap HS-210 is a fanless NAS. Pared with SSD or WD Red hard drives it should be quite quiet. Qnap is a good NAS company so I dought they would but something on the market that would not hold up, and damage their reputation. At the moment that is the only fanless NAS I know of. If you get one, it would be nice if you could post your impressions here.

Qnap HS-210 fanless NAS

Review of Western Digital Red 3TB hard drives

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The TerraMaster F2-NAS describes itself as 'passively cooled with system fan redundancy'. I assume that means the fan is off during normal usage, and only kicks in to avoid your disks frying if you are working them hard. It has a thick aluminium case which I imagine acts as a large heat sink.

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If you don't mind having a huge fan hanging off the back, you can make a small off-the-shelf NAS virtually silent by removing the included fan and replacing it with conical size adapters and a much larger fan, from companies like Noctua that design for quiet. Bigger diameter blades allows for slower blade movement and less noise vs small diameter fans.

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This is a typical question where the answer changes based on time. The question has been asked in 2011, and by early 2014 sufficiently powerful x86 processors have arrived on the market that do not require active cooling.

You still need to worry about cooling the disks, which now can consume a lot more power than any other component (easily 10 W per disk, depending on the disk). This can be addressed with a good passive cooling solution, or by selecting disks that do not produce as much heat. If the case is not specially designed for passive cooling, heat will build up and if you have components producing as little as 20 W of heat, they will boil themselves to death.

There are 3 options:

  1. Buy an off-the-shelf solution, including disks, and be aware that you cannot swap the disks for any disks with a higher power draw. Nowadays "fanless NAS" produces quite a few good search results (and listing any model wouldn't do this answer any good a few years down the road)
  2. Go with external components that already have their own enclosure. Get a cheap and tiny PC (something like a ZBox PI320, ECS LIVA, or even a Raspberry Pi), and attach a couple external harddisks or RAID enclosures.
  3. Look for specs of the various components, such as maximum power draw, and assemble your own.
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