Tag Archive for ‘Home Server’

Home Server Storage Upgrades

My current, primary home server has been humming along quite nicely since I upgraded to the 2018 Mac mini a few years ago. And I’m still using the OWC ThunderBay 6 that I bought in 2020 to house its storage.

The Mac mini that I ordered was just the base model with 128GB of storage. Rather than booting from the internal drive, I’ve been using an NVMe SSD that occupies the M.2 slot in the back of the ThunderBay. Up until just a few days ago, I was using a 1TB drive for this purpose. That size was chosen because it was the right price at the time and served my needs.

Since then, my needs have changed a bit, though. I started running a few virtual machines on the Mac mini, which I wanted to run on SSDs for performance reasons. But the 1TB boot drive just wasn’t going to be large enough. So I re-used a 2TB SATA SSD that I had lying around to store the virtual machines until I was ready to make an upgrade to the boot drive.

I was finally able to upgrade that drive a few days ago. I swapped the 1TB drive for a 4TB NVMe drive from Crucial.

The process was as simple as could be. I put the new drive in an external enclosure and ran SuperDuper! to clone the boot drive. Once the cloning process was complete, I moved the new drive into the back of the ThunderBay and booted from it. And that’s it. The whole thing, including copying the data, only took an hour or two.

I moved the virtual machine files to the boot drive and removed the 2TB SSD from the ThunderBay.

The ThunderBay now has a 4TB NVMe SSD that I’m booting the home server from, two 8TB Seagate hard drives that I’m using for media storage, and two 14TB Western Digital hard drives that I shucked and am using for local backups — the home server itself and every other computer in the house.

It’s about time I start thinking about upgrading those spinning disks too, though.

The two media drives are about 80% full, which is generally the threshold where I think about upgrading. I know how I am, so this whole process will likely end up taking a handful of months to complete.

My typical strategy when upgrading drives would be to buy two new drives that would be used as the new backup storage and then demote the old backup drives to media storage. This felt like the most cost effective way of increasing my available storage over time. But I don’t think I want to do that this time.

The 14TB drives that I shucked from their USB enclosure are a little loud. They’re fine for backups because I have a bit more control over when my backups take place. I have them all scheduled to run when I’m not in the office — I’m using TimeMachineEditor to accomplish this.

I sit about three feet away from the home server throughout my work day and the media drives are in nearly constant use during that time. If I used these louder 14TB drives to store our media, they’d drive me mad. I just don’t want to hear them all day long.

So I’m left thinking about upgrading all four drives in a fairly short period of time — probably over the course of a month or two.

At the moment I’m looking at 16+TB Western Digital Red drives. The company had a bit of a hit to their reputation a handful of years ago when it was discovered that they were selling drives that used shingled magnetic recording (SMR) without labeling them as such. But my understanding is that they’ve gotten better about labeling their drives and WD Red’s are quieter than Seagate Ironwolf drives.

Seagate Ironwolf drives are typically cheaper than WD Reds, though. And given the size of the drives that I’m looking to purchase, that can’t be ignored. I’ll have to do some more research to see just how much louder Ironwolf drives are and whether they would be something I could contend with. I suspect I may end up buying WD Reds that I use for media storage and then larger Ironwolf drives for backups.

Budget Home Server

Mac Mini 2014, Available from OWC

I’ve been running Mac-based home servers since 2011 when I purchased my first Mac Mini for that very purpose. It started as a way to record over-the-air television with an Elgato EyeTV and to store movies, television shows, and music in iTunes that I could stream to our Apple TVs and sync to our iPhones.

I’ve since upgraded to a 2018 Mac Mini, switched to Plex for my media management, and I’m now using an HDHomeRun as my over-the-air capture device. And while I’ve added quite a few services to my home server over the years, streaming media to all of my devices is still, by far, its primary use case.

Recently, while perusing OWC’s used Macs, I started thinking about what I would recommend to a friend or family member if they wanted to get started with their own home server.

I think a lot of people would think of starting with a mini PC. They have become very popular recently and are inexpensive. But I’m not too fond of using Windows unless I absolutely have to and I don’t think managing a Linux server is user-friendly enough for most people — it’s barely user-friendly enough for me.

So the Mac Mini, in my eyes, is the way to go. Of course, you could just buy whatever base-model Mac Mini Apple has available at the moment, attach an external drive for a bunch of storage and you’ll be mostly off to the races, but I think you get a lot more for your money if you go the used route.

I would recommend a 2014 Mac Mini with 8GB of memory, 2.6GHz Core i5 processor, and a 1TB solid state drive.

At the time of writing, you can pick one up from OWC for $195.

That will get you a pretty good amount of storage to start with on a machine that can run up to macOS Monterey. That’s not the most recent version of macOS, but it’s still receiving updates from Apple and should have software support for the apps you’ll want to run for at least a handful of years.

In addition to the Mac Mini itself, if you don’t plan to connect it to a display, you’ll want to get a display emulator dongle. I use this one from CompuLab, but you could also get a Newer Technology one that’s a couple of dollars cheaper.

The last bit of hardware I’d recommend is an optical drive. This will let you rip movies and TV shows from discs to store on the server. I’m using an external Blu-ray drive from Pioneer, but it’s a bit more expensive than I think I’d spend on one today. If you wanted to rip Blu-ray Discs, you should be fine with this one from OWC. And if you are just expecting to rip DVDs, there’s literally thousands of options that are available for $20-40.

I’m not sure if there’s really any meaningful difference between any of the DVD drives available, but I’d recommend getting one from a brand you recognize. You won’t spend much more than if you bought a no-name brand, but you’ll likely end up with something that’s more reliable.

As a bit of an aside, I first started ripping Blu-ray Discs when I was still using a 2011 Mac Mini. These older Macs — including the 2014 Mac Mini that I’m recommending — are going to take a long time to rip and convert Blu-rays. That doesn’t mean I would shy anyone away from doing so, but I think it’s worth setting expectations.

With hardware alone, we’re at about $306 before tax and shipping — if you opt for the Blu-ray drive. That’s not too shabby to get you in the door. And you could certainly use this hardware as a home server for a handful of years, paired with free software options, and you’ll get by just fine.

For free software, you could use:

Plex is perfectly serviceable for hosting your media without a Plex Pass and the pairing of Handbrake and MakeMKV will make ripping Blu-ray Discs and DVDs a breeze. And with MacOS’ built-in screen sharing features, you can run the Mac Mini without a display attached and administer it from another computer on your network.

If you wanted to take the software setup to the next level, I would recommend purchasing a lifetime Plex Pass — $120 — which will give you the ability to download media to the Plex mobile app, give you access to Plexamp, and a whole host of other features.

In addition, I’d recommend purchasing Screens 5 — $80 for a one-time purchase. This will make management of the server significantly easier. You can install Screens Connect on the server and Screens 5 on your Mac, iPhone, and/or iPad to connect and control the machine locally on your home network or remotely anywhere you have access to the web.

And lastly, I would suggest purchasing a MakeMKV license — $65. You can get by with the beta key referenced above, but it expires and sometimes it expires before a new beta key is available. To support the developer’s work and ensure you can always rip when you want to, I’d recommend just buying a license.

With these extra software purchases, we’re looking at around $571 total. That may seem like a lot. But this is a system that you’ll be able to run on your network and use for the next five years, easy. Serving up media that you likely already own — everyone has a box of CDs and DVDs somewhere in their house.

And perhaps, if you really want to commit, you can cancel a streaming service or two and redirect those funds toward physical media. You’d be surprised at how cheap DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and CDs can be acquired for these days. And after enough time of purchasing media, you’ll find that your own media library has more good content than any of the streaming services offer.

Umbrel Launches a Plug-and-Play Home Server ➝

Rick Findlay, writing for Reclaim the Net:

Umbrel, the company that develops umbrelOS, has announced a new home server, Umbrel Home, to provide users with more privacy and control over their data.

The $699 home server uses umbrelOS, which comes with self-hosted apps in the Umbrel App Store like Home Assistant, Plex, Bitcoin/Lightning node, and Nextcloud, which acts like a personal cloud solution for documents, photos, videos and more.

I like that they’re selling hardware, but I think the price is a bit too high. Especially considering how inexpensive mini PCs are these days. You can find many from Beelink, MinisForum, and others that would be perfect little home servers for half the price of this offering from Umbrel.

I have Umbrel running on a 2012 Mac Mini that I picked up from OWC paired with a 2TB SSD. That cost me around $300 total for a pretty capable little machine that looks at home next to the other Minis that I’m running as home servers.

Having operating system upgrades right within the Umbrel dashboard would be nice. With my setup — Umbrel running on Ubuntu — I have to SSH or VNC in to the machine for those. But my Mini is more than capable of handling everything I want to run on Umbrel and I’m happy to save $400 in exchange for a smidge of convenience.

➝ Source: reclaimthenet.org

Mac Mini

I’ve touched on this a number of times over the past few years — my current home server is due for an upgrade. The 2011 Mac Mini has served me well, storing our Time Machine backups, our Plex library, our local photo library, and performing various random Mac-specific tasks for the past decade. But it’s stuck on High Sierra and is quite a bit slower than any modern Mac.

I thought about upgrading when the 2018 Mac Mini was released, but the funds never quite lined up and at the point when they did, the Mini had been available for long enough that I didn’t want to order one shortly before a new model was released. Then the M1 Mac Mini came around and I had a bit of a dilemma — should I jump into the Apple Silicon world head first? Should I wait until the second iteration? It was a tough call, really.

Eventually I made a decision and not necessarily what you would expect. I recently ordered a base model 2018 Mac Mini. Yes, it’s older and slower than the M1, but there’s good reason to stick with the previous model for my next upgrade.

  1. It’s less costly than the M1 Mac Mini. The model I ordered cost just $499, brand new. The M1 starts at $699. But even if I ordered a refurbished one, we’re talking in the $600 range.
  2. It has more ports. I don’t expect to plug too much into the Mini at a time, but I do want to move everything to USB-C and Thunderbolt. The M1 Mini only comes with two Thunderbolt ports compared to the 2018 model’s four.
  3. It has upgradeable memory. With the M1 Mini, I need to order one with the amount of memory I need now and what I’ll need in a handful of years when I’m still using it. And that’s capped at 16GB. With the 2018 model, I can order the base configuration with 8GB to start and then upgrade to 16GB, 32GB, or even 64GB down the line when my needs change.
  4. It’s based on Intel, making it more versatile. Sure, there’s been some advancements in getting Linux running on M1 Macs. It will probably be working fully at some point in the future. And Microsoft may, at some point, let you purchase a license for a version of Windows that runs on ARM. But there’s no guarantee. And even though I don’t have any plans to run Windows or Linux on this machine, I’m going to own it for a decade or more — I’d rather leave my options open.
  5. It’s space gray. This is an incredibly minor point, but there is something sort-of cool about owning the only Mac Mini released that wasn’t silver.

There are downsides, of course. Buying an older model might put a shorter lifespan on its usage, especially with the transition to Apple Silicon. And it is slower than the M1. But I think the positives far outweigh the negatives, at least for my usage.

Speaking of usage, I’m pretty excited to get it all setup. It’ll be quite the process, though. I’m not going to be using Migration Assistant to move everything over, I’m going to do it manually. The current Mini’s macOS install is several years old at this point and I think it’s time for a fresh break and a clean install.

That means manually configuring my Time Machine shares and getting a new backup from all my machines, transitioning my Backblaze license, moving Plex’s database files, setting up VNC for remote access, and more. I’m also going to be booting from an external drive so I have a bit more breathing room — I’ll have to enable external booting and installing a fresh copy of macOS on the external drive.

There’s quite a bit to do, but it’ll be a lot of fun. This is exactly the sort of stuff that I enjoy most about computing. And there’s likely to be plenty of opportunities to write about what I learn and discover along the way.

My Backup Strategy

Time Machine Preference Pane

We all know backups are important, but they’re not as flashy and interesting as the next Apple Silicon Macs or nifty new piece of software. So they don’t really get discussed as often as they should. But in honor of World Backup Day, which I didn’t know existed and just happened to conveniently take place while I was already working on this piece, I thought I’d share my current backup strategy.

Macs

We have three Macs currently in use in our house — my work MacBook Pro, my wife’s MacBook Air, and our Mac Mini home server. The Mac Mini has an OWC ThunderBay 6 connected with a handful of drives inside — an SSD boot drive, a couple of 4TB drives for storing media, and a couple of 8TB drives for storing backups.

The Mac Mini shares the backup drives over the network as Time Machine destinations. And every Mac in the house backs up over Time Machine to these drives. So all of our local backups and media are stored in a single box — the ThunderBay.

We use TimeMachineEditor to have a bit more control over when our Time Machine backups take place. I have the Mac Mini setup to backup in the middle of the night and the MacBook Pro setup to backup at lunch time on weekdays.

The Mac Mini and my MacBook Pro are also setup with Backblaze to continuously backup all relevant data to the cloud. We will likely setup Backblaze on my wife’s MacBook Air too, but she only recently started using it again and we just finished the initial Time Machine backup.

iOS Devices

I pay for a 2TB iCloud storage plan that is shared with my wife. Our iPhones and iPads all backup to iCloud nightly. We store all of our documents on the service too.

We don’t use iCloud Photo Library, though. Instead, we use Google Photos — the primary reason being their excellent Partner Sharing feature. The feature automatically shares each photo and video to each other’s library. This means we don’t have to worry about who took a given picture or where the full version is stored — we both have access to all of the.

And seriously, Apple, get that feature figured out so I don’t have to maintain an additional service.

But Google Photos doesn’t give us the option to store local copies on the Mac, so a few times each year we manually backup photos from our iPhones and iPads to the Mac Mini server using the Photos app.

So every single photo we take and video we record is stored in six locations — the original device, Google Photos, the iCloud device backup, the Mac Mini’s media drive, backup drive, and Backblaze. It might seem like overkill, but our family photo library is almost certainly the most important data that we have and I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Overall

The pillars of my backup strategy are Time Machine, Backblaze, iCloud, and Google Photos. As I mentioned above, it would be nice if Apple finally introduced a solution for family photo libraries. Then we could eliminate Google Photos from our setup and we’d no longer need to manually backup photos to the Mac Mini, since the Photos app offers the option to store full size local copies of everything in your iCloud Photo Library.

But in terms of locally stored backups, I’m pretty happy with the setup. Since everything is stored inside the OWC ThunderBay 6, if there was ever an emergency, I could grab my iPhone and the ThunderBay. Those two items contain all of the important data in my life.

Plex Dash Released ➝

A nifty new app from the folks at Plex — Plex Dash. It lets you get a birds-eye view of your Plex server. You can see what’s currently playing, view graphs of server stats, search your libraries, and more. I was using Varys for this, but I’m going to give this app a try for a bit instead.

➝ Source: medium.com

Varys for Plex ➝

A nifty little utility app that lets you monitor your Plex server from your iPhone or iPad. It can display current activity, user stats, top played media, and more. It offers a lot of the same functionality as Tautulli without the clunky setup process. You simply install it from the App Store, authenticate with Plex, and you’re good to go.

Some features require a $3.99 in-app purchase, but I think it’s more than worth it.

➝ Source: itunes.apple.com

OWC ThunderBay 6

I’ve casually mentioned here and there that I’ve been looking to move away from streaming media in favor of primarily watching content that I actually own — hosting it on my home server using Plex. As a result of this, over the past few months, I’ve been acquiring content at a much more rapid pace than I was previously. And that additional content is filling up my hard drives fast.

Up until a few days ago, I had two OWC miniStacks connected to my Mac Mini. One with a 4TB drive, which contained all of my ripped DVDs, Blu-rays, music, recorded over-the-air content from Plex DVR, and iTunes content that I’ve removed the DRM from. And a second miniStack with an 8TB hard drive, which stores the Time Machine backups for the Mac Mini and my work-issued MacBook Air.

What has really put me over the edge in terms of outgrowing my storage setup has been the uptick in Blu-ray discs added to my collection, though. I only started purchasing Blu-rays last summer, after I bought a Blu-ray drive that I could use for ripping. With the settings I use in Handbrake, a DVD is usually in the neighborhood of 1GB, but Blu-ray discs are about six times that amount. Or quite a bit more, in some cases.

The size of DVDs aren’t too bad and the cost of iTunes movies kept me from acquiring too many by that method. And even when I bought movies or TV shows through iTunes, Apple only allows you to download files in 720p. That puts the average movie around 4GB. Those two factors did quite a bit to limit the amount of storage I needed and how quickly it was used.

But Blu-ray Discs are pretty cheap. I routinely find excellent films available in the format for around $5. Just a few days ago, Amazon was having a buy two get one free sale — I picked up six movies at an average of $10 each. That might seem like a lot, but three of the movies were Disney titles, which are notoriously expensive compared to the average.

Blu-ray discs are cheap, but as I mentioned above, they take up a lot more storage space — not to mention the amount of time required to rip Blu-rays. For a comparison, on my 2011 Mac Mini, I can rip and convert a DVD in about 1.5—2 hours, but a Blu-ray can take around 10 hours. It’s worth it, though. The quality is just so darn good. And I don’t have to pay a monthly fee in order to watch the film, like I would with Netflix or Hulu.

I’m still okay with 4TB of media storage at the moment, but it won’t be long before I need to upgrade. So I decided to lay the groundwork for that now. I had some options — I could have abandoned the idea of using a Mac Mini as my home server and purchased a network attached storage device, like a Synology. This would mean I’d end up with a single unit that stored all of my hard drives and was able to run most of the software I wanted to use.

That does sound appealing, but the key word there is “most”. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to rip DVDs or Blu-ray discs right on a Synology. I would need to move that task to another computer and then transfer the video files once they were converted. With Blu-rays taking so long to rip, I couldn’t tie up my work laptop with this process and I certainly didn’t want to maintain another computer to perform the task.

Beyond the inability to rip discs, a Synology would still be limited in what other software I could run on it. I still have occasional times where I need to run a specific piece of software on macOS. I use iOS as my primary platform, but I do have an always-on Mac Mini. So in instances where I need to use macOS, I can fire up Screens on my iPad and remotely access the machine to run whatever I need to. That isn’t really possible on a Synology.

And of course, when I retire the Synology as our home server — in about 10 years when it’s time to upgrade — I have an old Synology. Whereas if I stick with a Mac Mini, I’ll have a Mac that can be sold or repurposed for other tasks.

So because of all this, using a NAS was just out of the question. Instead, I started looking at drive enclosures that could serve my needs. After a bit of searching, I determined that OWC had the best selection. They offer enclosures with Thunderbolt 3 ports, which gives me some future proofing for when I eventually retire the 2011 Mac Mini and buy a new model. And they have a number of options for how many drives you want access to — including a six-drive enclosure, which is what I decided to order.

A few days ago, I received the ThunderBay 6 in the mail and I love it.

The enclosure is the exact same width as a Mac Mini, so just like I did with the miniStacks, I can set our home server on top of it — making a nice, clean setup. Drives are pretty easy to install. You turn the thumb screw on the drive tray, pull it out, use the included screws to attach a drive, slide it back in, and tighten the thumb screw.

I haven’t bought any additional drives to go with the ThunderBay 6 quite yet. Instead, I removed the 4TB and 8TB drives that I had in the miniStacks and installed them in the new enclosure. I plan on buying another set of those same two drives in the coming months to increase my storage capacity. At that point, I’ll likely setup two volumes — an 8TB RAID 0 array from the two 4TB drives for media and a 16TB RAID 0 array from the two 8TB drives for backups.

When I buy those new drives, I’ll only be using four of the available six drive bays, but that is by design. My thought is that I can, even further down the line, upgrade my storage again. When I do, I’ll buy two drives, setting them up in RAID 0 and inserting them into the two open slots. Once I migrate my data over, I can remove the two oldest drives and have those slots open for when I upgrade storage again.

You might be curious as to why I’m looking to use RAID 0, since it doesn’t offer any redundancy in case of a drive failure. There’s a few reasons:

  • Speed: I’m using spinning hard disks because they’re affordable and offer larger capacities than solid state drives. But that means read and write speeds are significantly slower. RAID 0 will ensure I have enough throughput to handle several simultaneous streams of high definition video while still being able to transfer files or perform backups without a hitch.
  • Affordability: There’s typically a sweet spot for hard drive pricing, where you get the best bang-for-your-buck. Go above or below that capacity and you end up spending more per gigabyte. Using a RAID 0, I can get larger volumes without paying the larger drive prices.
  • A single volume: For the backup drive specifically, Time Machine stores everything on a single volume. You can’t split it amongst multiple drives without the use of RAID. Since I’d like to use Time Machine for local backups and I need it to store quite a bit of data, RAID 0 is the best way to go.

Shifting focus back to the ThunderBay 6, I currently have it connected to my Mac Mini through a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter — although it’s connected to the Mini’s Thunderbolt 1 port. This is my first experience with earlier versions of Thunderbolt and it’s a great interface. I knew it was faster than USB 2, which is how the drives were previously connected. But I didn’t expect to get speed improvements on my existing drives just by changing what interface they were connected to.

Over USB 2, the drives gave me about 30MB/s of read and write speeds, but over Thunderbolt I’m seeing about 120MB/s.

Speaking of Thunderbolt, the ThunderBay 6 includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the back, which allows you to daisy chain multiple Thunderbolt 3 devices. So if my storage needs really grew out of control, I could purchase another ThunderBay or some other Thunderbolt 3 storage solution and connect it to my existing one — no need to take up an additional port on my computer.

A nifty little inclusion, hidden in the back of the ThunderBay 6, is an NVMe slot. It’s pitched by OWC as a way to add a super fast scratch disk to your machine — storing project data there while you’re working on it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever end up using the feature, but if I ever needed access to super fast storage, I’m certainly happy to have the option.

Overall, I’m very happy with the ThunderBay 6 and it’s the best solution on the market for my needs. But it’s not without flaws.

The fan on the back is a bit louder than I would prefer. I’m off of work on parental leave, so I’m not spending too much time in our home office. But whenever I walk into the room, the fan noise sticks out like a sore thumb. I’m hoping it will fade into the background when I’m in there working, but I’m worried it won’t.

So I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands. The ThunderBay 6’s fan is user replaceable, so I’ve gone ahead and ordered a 92mm Noctua fan, which is arriving tomorrow. This specific fan should be quieter than the built-in fan, but it also comes with a couple cables that let you run the fan at lower speeds — further reducing its noise output. I think I’ll be able to reduce the unit’s noise without sacrificing too much of its cooling capabilities.

Another downside with the ThunderBay 6 is that you need to use screws in order to install drives in the trays. I’m a little concerned that I might lose track of the included screws before I end up needing them. It’s not that big of a deal, I’m sure I could find replacement screws if necessary. But I know other companies offer drive trays that are entirely tool-less — they typically use a plastic rail that snaps in place to hold the drives. I’d love to see OWC integrate a similar system into their offering.

And lastly, the ThunderBay 6 is expensive. Without any drives, the enclosure is priced at $579.99. I mean, it’s definitely a premium piece of hardware. The entire enclosure is made out of metal — I was shocked at how heavy the box was when it arrived — and it includes exactly the features I want. As I mentioned above, I did quite a bit of looking before I decided on this unit. There are plenty of other options on the market, but none of them are as nice as the ThunderBay 6.

But I mean, the enclosure alone is almost the same price as an entry-level Mac Mini. I can’t say what the ThunderBay 6 should be priced at, I don’t know enough about the costs behind manufacturing, supporting, and developing it, but I can say that it’s current pricing is a tough pill to swallow.

But again, there isn’t anything on the market that offers what the ThunderBay 6 does — delightful materials, Thunderbolt 3 interface, six drive bays, and an NVMe slot. Because of that, even with its high price point, I think the ThunderBay 6 is an excellent product.

Update 1/25/20: I spent a little time last night installing the Noctua fan — it was an easy install. Just a couple of screws to take off the back plate and then eight screws to remove the fan and fan grills. The ThunderBay 6 uses a standard 3-pin connector to power the fan, so I didn’t run into issues connecting the new fan.

The Noctua came with a couple of adapters to run the fan at different speeds. I tried all of them and found the ultra low-noise one to be the best for my setup.

I used my Apple Watch to measure the amount noise coming from the ThunderBay 6 from the front of the unit. With the stock fan and no activity on the drives, it clocked in at about 49 dB. The Noctua in its default state was about the same, but the low-noise adapter (the middle option) dropped it to 42 dB and the ultra low-noise put it at 39 dB.

According to the specifications of each of the fans there isn’t too much of a difference in airflow. The Noctua at its ultra low-noise setting moves about 25.3 CFM. I had to search for the part number of the stock fan and found one that is similar enough that I believe it’s the same part. The specifications listed 28.4 CFM as the amount of air it moves.

So I gave up 3.1 CFM and reduced the noise by about 10 dB. In practice, I can still hear the fan from my desk, but it’s a very low hum. When I’m typing away and focused on tasks, I don’t think I’ll notice it at all.