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.
I build, service and repair all types of computers. What I do with machines that have this 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 pure Silicon RTV compound and mount them to the bottom of the drive and then somewhere to the computer chassis or other convenient area. When dry they are vibration free and very solid. Then for the fans I cut the red fan power wire and solder in a 100 OHM half watt resistor or whatever value that slows the noisy fans 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 seen anything overheat yet with this method, which proves loud fast fans are unnecessary, and in too many cases just plain overkill.
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 400 and the update cured it. Hope this is some help.
XPS 410 Core2, 2.4 Ghz, 8Gb, Win7 64
Latitude D610 XP pro, Win7 RC
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 systems from 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?
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 a tiny drop of some good teflon oil. Seal it back up and many times it will last quite awhile.
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
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.
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.
The stock fans can be changed easily. I swapped the rear case fan for a silent Nexus 92mm fan which has a 3
pin connector. I also swapped the stock cooler for a Zalman CPNS 9500 AT, which has a 4 pin connector just
like the stock cooler fan that comes in the 400. You will have no BIOS errors on boot with the Zalman, and
the fan speed is controlled automatically. Before I fitted the Zalman, I swapped the stock cooler fan for an
80mm Nexus fan, which only has a 3 pin connector but does not give a BIOS error on boot. It'll run
constantly at full speed though, as it's lacking the 4th pin for the fan automatic fan control. The PSU can
also be swapped out too, so really all that leaves is some sound proofing on the hard drives if you feel that's
To be honest, I was totally happy with the noise level of my 400 with the stock components fitted. I only
swapped them, because I wanted a better cooler and higher rated PSU, plus I had a couple of Nexus fans
lying around anyway.
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 CPU cooling system just is not. I invested into a silent AC Freezer 7 Pro here, that turned 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.
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: -
Nexus fans are very quiet too.
I know of two coolers that will fit. The Zalman CNPS-9500AT is the one I use as it doesn't use push pins and it has a 4 pin connector for the fan. A Thermalright Ultima 90 will just about fit and you can use a 92mm Nexus fan with that.
I wouldn't say that the Vostros are poorly engineered, but the cases don't offer the best cooling. That's really my only criticism considering how much the computer sells for (i.e. cheap!).
I hope you sort your noise problem out anyway.
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 had DVI support for external monitors ...
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.
The fan is a standard size and is attached to the cooler with 4 screws, so they're wrong about that. If they were talking about the CPU cooler and not the fan, then yeah - there's a backing plate attached to the motherboard that prevents you from using any cooler that uses push pins.
You can still use a program like Speedfan to control the fan speed BTW. As the fan speed is already automatically controlled, I don't use it personally.
DJSigma wrote:[quote]You can still use a program like Speedfan to control the fan speed BTW. As the fan speed is already automatically controlled, I don't use it personally.
[quote]You can still use a program like Speedfan to control the fan speed BTW. As the fan speed is already automatically controlled, I don't use it 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.