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Noisy CPU fan - reduce its RPM

EliasJonsson

Sep 13, 2020
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I have a noisy laptop fan. The connector has two red wires, two black and one blue. Is it possible to somehow reduce the fans RPM to a reasonable amount just through adding a resistor somewhere?
 

bertus

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Nov 8, 2019
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Hello,

I would first check for dust.
Dust can make the fan go faster to ensure the cooling.

Bertus
 

bertus

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Hello,

Wich brand and type of laptop do you have?
There might be settings in the bios.

Bertus
 

Alec_t

Jul 7, 2015
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Is it possible to somehow reduce the fans RPM to a reasonable amount
If you do there will, of course, be less cooling effect, so your CPU may overheat. The problem may lie with poor thermal coupling between the CPU and its heatsink, so the fan is just doing its best to stop the CPU frying.
 

dave9

Mar 5, 2017
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The question is whether it was always this loud, or has increased. It is not uncommon for laptop fan bearings to wear out or at least run out of lube, then there is not much you can do (unless you can relube it) besides replacement.

Slowing it down is not a good idea at all. Unless there is some other malfunction in the fan control circuit, it ramps up in speed based on CPU temperature so if it is spinning faster than normal it is because something is causing an elevated temperature, OR it could be as mentioned above, not spinning faster just beating around in the worn bearing trying to keep up and making noise doing that.

You should check CPU temp and if high, try to find the cause such as a viral or malware infection, or could just be a worn out fan can't keep up enough RPM assuming all air passages are free of dust.

Let's suppose none of the above applied, then yes in theory you can adjust the fans RPM down with a low ohm (tens of ohms at most) resistor in series. However the laptop should just keep trying to ramp fan speed higher from the result of higher CPU temp and that will only limit the maximum RPM the fan could have, which it should never be using unless the CPU is overheating, then it should be allowed to run as fast as it can trying to compensate, else you end up with a lot of heat buildup that can damage other things too.
 

EliasJonsson

Sep 13, 2020
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If you do there will, of course, be less cooling effect, so your CPU may overheat. The problem may lie with poor thermal coupling between the CPU and its heatsink, so the fan is just doing its best to stop the CPU frying.
The fan starts running ~65°C. The CPU temperature is ~45°C in about a few seconds. The problem, however, is that the fan never stops running despite low CPU temperature and no significant CPU load.

dave9,
The fan sound hasn't changed since I got the computer from the first time, it has always been this noisy.
It sounds more and more like limiting the maximum speed of the fan is indeed a bad idea.
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts upon the matter!
 

EliasJonsson

Sep 13, 2020
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I solved the issue by installing Manjaro Linux, then installing i8kutils from the AUR. That way I could override the Dell BIOS controlled fan. By playing around with the temperature thresholds I was finally able to make the fan spin just when it REALLY needed to, like when the CPU was under heavy load and produced lots of heat.

That is the history of how the computer was made as silent as it could be.
 

dave9

Mar 5, 2017
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Keep in mind that just because its primary purpose is cooling the CPU, it is possible to have a mismatched load on something else like GPU or IGP where the fan shouldn't be as low as possible to only keep the CPU temp where you want it. I have to wonder if Dell did not just spin the fan faster than it needed to be, creating more noise and fan wear for no reason, but rather it was to keep airflow good for the whole system.

A few years back, this caused a notorious problem for some Compaq laptops with nVidia GPUs. Part of it was their solder ball tech with lead free solder wasn't mature yet but the other part was that the fan ramped down too much and let the GPU run hot. Compaq replaced the board for customers that had failures, but it was the same board tech (no changes made, subject to same fault except I vaguely recall they did issue a new bios to make the fan spin faster), so eventually most of those will fail again.

I ended up slightly modifying that on one specimen, putting a copper slug and heatsink grease over the GPU instead of the silpad it came with, to improve conduction and keep it cooler. That seemed to work, temps for GPU read lower and AFAIK it still ran when the owner replaced it with something new.
 
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EliasJonsson

Sep 13, 2020
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Its cool. The CPU remains at around 36°C to 37°C without the fan going. no more cooling required.
 
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