Sanity Check on pfSense build - Concerning Temps

Hello all,

This isn’t my first rodeo building PCs, however this is my first attempt at building a small form factor PC. So I am in the beginning of a complete network overhaul. My end goal is to upgrade from an Asus RT-AC66U to managed switches and VLANs capable hardware with IDS/IPS capability.

To that end I followed user COZisBack’s build.

The differences between mine and his build is I have a Xeon E3-1260L, Intel B340 Quad Port NIC, a PCI-E riser cable and a different RAM.

My main issue is that when the Xeon is running with the top cover off it idles at an acceptable 45-47C. When I put the top cover on it shoots up to 55-58C. ARK has the max temp for the Xeon E3-1260L as 58.6C. It’s very concerning to me that it runs so hot. Did I pick a bad case for the CPU? I know that the Xeon is a 45W TDP CPU but I didn’t think it would run that hot with a covered case. I’m also not sure if having a hotter house due to an old AC that can’t really keep it cooler than 77 on a hot day is part of the problem. I know we’ll be shooting to replace the AC unit next year as Freon is banned beginning Jan 1 2020.

My question is it a combination of poor case choice and CPU the base reason for running so high on idle?

1 Like

Are you using the same CPU cooler as me?

Yes I am. I have the Noctuas mounted as exhaust too. I think the problem is that the cooler struggles to cool the Xeon in that case. I took it to work and me and a friend looked at it and noticed that when the lid is on the cooler spins way harder. We came to a conclusion that it’s likely poor airflow and he recommended drilling vent holes directly above the cooler and getting some electrical tape to tape off the vents on the back and the gap between the IO shield the holes around the Intel NIC. I got some Cobalt bits to drill the steel though I won’t be able to work on it until tomorrow.

We put the CPU on a worst-case scenario stress test loading 8 threads on the Xeon and it stayed at a steady 51C with the top off. We didn’t try the stress test with the top on.

If fixing the air flow doesn’t work I might go looking for a 2U case to replace it.

Edit: I ended up drilling holes above the CPU fan and that solved the problem. At the house (even at ambient 80F) it was idling between 44 and 46C. Also used electrical tape to tape off the gap between the IO shield and the holes around the NIC card and front port for the optional HDD bay in an attempt to create negative pressure to force the air in through the CPU fan. It’s ugly as sin right now, but I’m going to get some chamfer bits and deburr the case.