Laptops are still the workhorse of choice for the majority of users, despite the attractiveness of tablets and the affordability of the desktop. You just can’t beat a proper mobile workstation when you need to get real work done.
Today we’ll take a look at what you can do to make those fans work less.
Before We Begin
Laptops, touchscreen hybrids, and even some handheld games consoles ship with fans for one reason: to dissipate heat by circulating air. Most of the time when your fans fire up, it’s because they’re supposed to. Even an expensive machine like the latest MacBook Pro sounds like a drone taking off when under extreme load (or a cat).
If the environment is hot, your laptop will need to work harder to dissipate heat, which means more fan noise. If you’re covering the vents at all, which can often happen when using a laptop on soft furnishings (like a bed), the laptop will get hot. If you’re playing a 3D game, using webGL or other resource-heavy browser technologies such as Google Chrome Experiments10 Amazing Google Chrome Experiments You Need to Try10 Amazing Google Chrome Experiments You Need to TrySome Chrome Experiments are quite silly, but some are downright brilliant. We've dug into the catalog to find 10 of the best Chrome Experiments that you really have to check out.Read More, or rendering video then you’ll also experience heat buildup.
Note: If your fans suddenly sound different and are making a loud rattling or buzzing noise, it’s likely a bearing problem and the fan should be replaced. If your fans sound normal but are still running constantly, the fan unit itself is unlikely to be the issue.
1. Kill Your Processes
Fans that suddenly whirr up out of nowhere are responding to demands placed on the hardware, commonly the GPU. The best way to solve this is to eliminate the demand, by killing the process.
Laptop coolers used to be fairly innocuous-looking plates of metal with fans in the base, that would help maximize available airflow. These days they’re covered in LEDs, with variable wind speeds, temperature sensors, and in-built USB hubs.
Fortunately peripherals like the Havit Laptop Cooling Pad still perform their job of keeping your laptop cool. Coolers are ideal if you use your laptop on a desk or in another static position. They’re an especially compelling purchase for those looking to play demanding 3D games, render video, or put their machine under load for extended periods of time.
In addition to the cooling baseplates onto which you place the laptop, you can also now get clip-on vacuum fan coolers which literally suck the hot air straight out of your machine. The Opolar LC06 is one example designed with rapid cooling in mind. Most of the reviews are positive, but a few (like this one) warns that machines with rear vents may encounter problems — you specific laptop may dictate whether this will work for you.
Remember: External coolers offer a remedy to your heat problem, but they aren’t a great long-term solution if your machine is constantly hot. In that case, you might want to…
4. Clean Your Laptop
Loud fans are a sign of heat, and if your fans are always loud then that means your laptop is always hot. Dust and hair buildup is unavoidable, and only serves to reduce airflow. Reduced airflow means poor heat dissipation, so you’ll need to physically clean the machine to make things better.
Most laptops will allow you to control your fan speed using third party software. This allows you to control the volume of the laptop, at the cost of airflow. It should go without saying that reducing your fan speed is only going to make your laptop hotter, and reduce its lifespan in the longrun.
If you want to do the same and you use Linux, you’ll need to install the lm-sensors and fancontrol packages. Check out this StackExchange thread on Fan Management for more information.
Fans Still Running?
If nothing seems to be helping, you’ll probably want to take your machine to a service point and get a professional to look at it for you. Be prepared to be told that the issue is hardware-based, and that you’ll need to replace something (like the motherboard) to fix the issue. If it’s a big enough job, it might be cheaper to buy a new laptop.
If heat is a problem for your current laptop, you might want to consider this when it comes to buying a replacement. Mobile-focused hybrids like Microsoft’s Surface and the iPad Pro generate heat, but they use more efficient (and ultimately) less powerful mobile chips to cut down on the problem.