DIY Technology Explained

6 Things You Can Do to Silence a Noisy Laptop Fan

Christian Cawley Updated 09-12-2019

You can’t beat a laptop computer when it comes to getting work done in the surroundings of your choice. But portability comes at a cost. Heat buildup is often a problem, thanks to the cramped space inside and the high capacity batteries.

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As soon as things get hot, you’ll find your laptop fan starts getting loud. But how can you make your laptop fan quieter? Let’s find out.

What You Need to Know About Laptop Fan Noise

Laptops, touchscreen hybrids, and other devices 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. But it can be distracting and, in some cases, surprisingly loud. Even an expensive machine like the latest MacBook Pro sounds like a drone taking off when under extreme load.

If the environment is hot, your laptop will need to work harder to dissipate heat, which means more fan noise. Similarly, if the vents are covered (usually when using a laptop on soft furnishings), the laptop will get hot.

Meanwhile, if you’re playing a 3D game, using webGL, or rendering video then you’ll also experience heat buildup.

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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.

If your laptop is regularly overheating, take a look at our guide on how to fix an overheating laptop How to Fix an Overheating Laptop: 3 Key Tips and Solutions The greatest threat to your laptop is overheating. Here's how to cool down your laptop and prevent it from getting too hot. Read More . First, here are six ways to stop your laptop fan being so loud.

1. Kill Your Processes to Stop a Noisy Laptop Fan

Close your open processes to fix a noisy laptop fan

Fans that suddenly spin into action without warning 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.

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Mac users can isolate and kill unwanted processes using Activity Monitor How to Open the Task Manager on Your Mac Wondering how to open the task manager on your Mac? We show you ways to open macOS's task manager and what it can do. Read More , while Windows users can use Task Manager How to Handle Suspicious Windows Task Manager Processes CTRL + ALT + DEL aka three-finger salute is the quickest way to add to your confusion. Sorting through Task Manager Processes, you may notice something like svchost.exe using 99% of your CPU. So now... Read More . Linux users also have a number of options available to them for managing rogue processes How to Kill Programs and Check System Information in Linux In Windows, unresponsive programs can be closed by hitting CTRL+ALT+DEL and opening the task manager. But in Linux, things are different. Fortunately, it's still easy to monitor and close unresponsive programs... Read More .

If heat is a problem, it might be wise to prevent too many processes starting when your computer boots. Windows 10 users can edit the startup folder How to Use the Windows 10 Startup Folder: Everything You Need to Know The Windows 10 startup folder lets you manage which programs run at startup. Here's how to find the startup folder and manage its programs. Read More  while Mac users should can head to System Preferences > Users > Startup and remove anything unnecessary.

Linux startup processes How to Control Linux Start-Up Services and Daemons Linux runs many applications "in the background" that you might not even be aware of. Here's how to take control of them. Read More can also be tweaked for a quieter laptop fan.

2. Using a Mac? Reset SMC & PRAM

One quick tip for Mac users who are encountering constant fan noise is to reset the system management controller How to Do an SMC and PRAM/NVRAM Reset on Your Mac A reset of the SMC and PRAM/NVRAM can help any Mac, including MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, run smoothly again. Read More (SMC). The SMC is responsible for all sorts of everyday macOS things, and out-of-control fans are a classic symptom of a problem.

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You could also try resetting the PRAM.

3. Cool Your Noisy Laptop

Laptop coolers used to be 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.

havit HV-F2056 15.6"-17" Laptop Cooler Cooling Pad - Slim Portable USB Powered (3 Fans), Black/Blue havit HV-F2056 15.6"-17" Laptop Cooler Cooling Pad - Slim Portable USB Powered (3 Fans), Black/Blue Buy Now On Amazon $31.87

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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 LC05 is one example designed with rapid cooling in mind. Most reviews are positive, but your specific laptop model will dictate whether this device will work for you.

Opolar LC05 Laptop Cooler with Vacuum Fan Opolar LC05 Laptop Cooler with Vacuum Fan Buy Now On Amazon $26.99

Remember: External coolers offer a remedy to your heat problem but aren’t a long-term solution for constantly hot, noisy laptops. In that case, you might want to…

4. Laptop Fan Noisy? Clean Your Laptop!

Clean your noisy laptop fan
Image credit: Timo Kuusela/Flickr

Loud laptop fans mean heat; if your fans are always loud then that means your laptop is always hot. Dust and hair buildup are 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.

Warning: If your machine is still under warranty, opening it will void that warranty (including after-market extended warranties like AppleCare). Furthermore, if you don’t know what you’re doing you could damage components. Take care or consult a friend with a little more experience.

In order to clean your machine, you’ll need a can of compressed air, a screwdriver to open your laptop, and patience. You should also use an anti-static wristband and unplug your machine from the power (and if possible, remove the battery) to avoid damaging the internals or yourself with static electricity What Is Static Electricity? And How to Get Rid of It Concerned about static electricity? If you're building a PC, you should be. Learn how to get rid of static electricity today. Read More .

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Use the air in short bursts to remove dust and hair from the internal components, particularly around fans and heatsinks. Take the time to read our thorough laptop cleaning guide How to Clean Your Laptop Screen, Cover, Keyboard, and Fans Over time your laptop builds up dirt, dust, and grime. We show you how to clean every part of it, from the screen to the ports and more. Read More which covers ports, vents, and internals.

5. The Software Fix for a Noisy Laptop Fan

Most laptops will allow you to control your fan speed using third party software. Some even feature built-in controls.

These typically enable laptop fan speed adjustments or initialize a cleaning routine to expel dirt and dust. If you’re reducing the laptop fan speed, note that it will make your laptop hotter, reducing its lifespan long term.

Third party fan management apps are available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Download: SpeedFan for Windows

Download: smcFanControl for macOS

For Linux, you’ll need to install the lm-sensors and fancontrol packages. Check out this StackExchange thread on Fan Management for more information.

6. Get an Expert to Check the Loud Laptop Fan

An engineer may be required to fix your noisy laptop fan

If your laptop fan is still noisy, or you’re unwilling to open the device, speak to an expert.

Hopefully your computer is under warranty. An Apple laptop can be taken to an Apple store; other manufacturers have their own repair policies.

If you bought online, or your retailer is too far to visit, PC repair shops are also an option.

The best-case scenario here is that they’ll be able to clean the laptop, perhaps replacing the fan. However, be prepared for bad news. In some cases, the issue might require replacement of important hardware, like the motherboard.

You’ll typically be quoted a price for repair—if it’s expensive, it might be cheaper to buy a new laptop.

Success, You Fixed That Noisy Laptop Fan!

If your laptop has a noisy fan you can fix it with these six simple steps:

  1. Kill processes to keep the fan quiet
  2. Mac users: reset SMC and PRAM
  3. Keep your laptop cool
  4. Clean your laptop
  5. Use software to control your laptop fan speed
  6. Get an expert to check the noisy laptop fan

Thinking about buying a new laptop? Keep noisy fans and heat management in mind. Hybrids like Microsoft’s Surface range and the iPad Pro generate heat but use more efficient (and less powerful chips).

Here are more things to keep in mind when buying a new laptop 11 Features You Shouldn't Overlook When Buying a New Laptop Ready to buy that new laptop? Does it do what you want? Don't regret your purchase! Look for these important laptop features. Read More .

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Hardware Tips, Laptop, Troubleshooting.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Schreurs
    August 27, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    Ooooooor you should reapply thermal paste on your cpu

  2. #WindowsTea
    January 18, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    i thought they would say the solution was to buy a macbook at the end

  3. TheSquid
    January 5, 2018 at 12:48 am

    Here's an even easier solution: don't buy an HP

    • ep-silon
      April 26, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      and don't buy a Dell xps 15 :)

  4. Noelle
    November 14, 2017 at 4:05 am

    heres a sound and in class all it does is buzz and all my teachers thinks its on purpose i dont know what to do about it is so anoying