Is there anything more frustrating than trying to focus on work, a movie, or a late-night study session when your laptop’s fan decides to join the conversation with a loud and annoying noise? If you’ve ever been there, you know how disruptive it can be. The incessant whirring or grinding can drive even the most patient among us to the brink of madness.
Noisy laptop fans are a common issue, and they can usually be tamed with a little bit of know-how and some elbow grease. In this guide, we will delve into the world of laptop fan noise, exploring the reasons behind the racket and offering practical solutions to silence that troublesome fan once and for all.
Why is my laptop fan so loud?
Your computer fan gets noisy because the insides of your computer get very hot. This can happen when your computer is working really hard, like when it’s using all of its storage space, using a lot of memory, has dust and dirt inside, or doesn’t have enough air coming in.
It’s normal for the fan to get loud from time to time. But if it keeps making a loud rattling noise for a while, you should find out why. All computers slow down as they get older. They might start having problems like videos not playing smoothly, tasks not running as well, and even crashing more often. But if your computer’s fan suddenly gets so loud that it sounds like a rattle, you should figure out the cause before it becomes a bigger problem.
Finding out why your computer fan is loud can help your computer work better right now and last longer. You can start by testing your hard drive to see if there are any issues and by removing unnecessary programs that might be slowing things down.
Ways on How to Fix a Noisy Laptop Fan
- Place your laptop on a firm, flat surface.
- Clear out any dust or dirt from the air vent.
- Close any programs running in the background.
- Remove any viruses and malware from your computer.
- Reset your system management controller (SMC) and parameter random access memory (PRAM).
- Make sure your drivers are up to date.
1. Remove the Dust
Dust is among the leading causes of noise in the fan. Since laptops are more complex to open, many users ignore this important maintenance step until it is too late.
Accumulated dust may obstruct your laptop’s fan blades. This obstruction will mean that the fan will have to work harder to do its job resulting in the increased noise. To ensure that your laptop stays in perfect condition, make a habit of cleaning the cooler. Ensure that the dust is blown out at least once every year. The good thing is that with just a screwdriver, you can open the laptop and prepare it for a thorough clean.
Below are the steps to follow to rid the cooler of dust.
- Switch off your laptop and disconnect it from the power supply.
- Flip the laptop to the back, remove the battery, and find the air vent on the outer edge of the computer.
- Unscrew the panel on the vent area. You should see the fan at this point.
- Use a fan or a blow-dryer to blow the dust out of the fan. This process should be completed outside as the fan accumulates a lot of dust in a year.
Be careful not to open a laptop under warranty as this will render it useless. If you have a noise problem, take the computer to the seller and let them handle the noise problem. Going forward, try to keep your laptop in a dust-free area.
2. Remove Malware
Malware can make your laptop’s fan louder because it can make your laptop run hotter and not respond correctly to commands. Having a reliable antivirus program is crucial for both security and keeping your computer in good shape. It’s important to always have antivirus software installed.
If you’re installing antivirus software for the first time because you suspect your computer might already have a virus, you can check by going to the ‘Process’ tab in your computer’s Task Manager (you can access this by pressing CTRL + Alt + Del). If you see strange letters, messy lists, or processes with odd names on the ‘Process’ tab, these are all signs that your computer might be infected with a virus or malware.
3. Stop Unnecessary Processes
Laptops often run programs and processes in the background while you’re using other applications. These unnecessary programs, along with any open windows, can slow down your computer. Here’s how to check if this is causing your issue:
To Kill background programs on Windows:
- Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete to open the Task Manager.
- Right-click the program you want to stop.
- Select “End Task.”
To stop background programs on a Mac:
- Press Cmd + Space to open Spotlight, then search for “activity monitor.”
- Look in the “Other” folder and click on the Activity Monitor icon.
- Double-click the program you want to stop. A popup window will appear; click “Quit.”
4. Lack of Sufficient Air Circulation
No matter how strong your laptop’s fan is, it won’t function correctly if it can’t get enough air. Since many modern laptops have fans on the bottom, it’s important to be mindful of where you place your laptop. For instance, if you use it on your lap or on soft surfaces like cushions, you’re likely blocking the airflow to the fan.
The best way to ensure proper air circulation is to keep your laptop on a hard, flat surface like a desk. If you need more mobility, you can use a laptop stand. Additionally, using a laptop cooler can be a smart choice to prevent the fan from working too hard.
5. Replace the Thermal Paste
Replacing thermal paste in a laptop is a common maintenance task that can help improve the laptop’s cooling performance and prevent overheating issues. Here are the steps to replace the thermal paste in a laptop:
Note: Before you start, make sure to turn off and unplug your laptop and work on a clean, static-free surface. You’ll also need some tools and materials:
Materials and Tools:
- New thermal paste (high-quality thermal compound is recommended).
- Screwdrivers (usually Phillips-head and sometimes Torx).
- Isopropyl alcohol (at least 90% concentration) and a lint-free cloth or cotton swabs.
- Thermal paste applicator or a plastic card (for spreading the paste, if needed).
- A laptop service manual (if available) or online tutorials for your specific laptop model.
- Prepare your workspace: Make sure you’re working on a clean, well-lit, and static-free surface. Consider wearing an anti-static wrist strap to prevent static discharge.
- Access the internals: Most laptops have a removable bottom panel or keyboard that gives you access to the internals. Consult your laptop’s service manual or search online for instructions specific to your laptop model.
- Remove the heatsink: Once you have access to the internals, locate the CPU and GPU heatsinks. These are typically held in place with screws or clips. Carefully remove the screws or clips to release the heatsink from the CPU and GPU.
- Clean the old thermal paste: Gently clean the old thermal paste from the CPU and GPU surfaces using isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth or cotton swabs. Ensure both surfaces are completely clean and free from any residue.
- Apply new thermal paste: Apply a small amount of new thermal paste to the center of the CPU and GPU. The exact amount may vary depending on the paste and your CPU/GPU size, but a small pea-sized dot is generally sufficient. You can use a thermal paste applicator or a plastic card to spread it evenly if needed.
- Reattach the heatsink: Carefully place the heatsink back onto the CPU and GPU, ensuring it lines up properly with the screw holes or clips. Tighten the screws or reattach the clips in a diagonal or crisscross pattern to ensure even pressure.
- Reassemble the laptop: Put the laptop’s internals back together by following the reverse of the disassembly instructions. Make sure to reattach all cables and components properly.
- Test your laptop: Power on your laptop and monitor its temperature using software like Core Temp or HWMonitor. Make sure the temperatures are within acceptable ranges, and the laptop is running smoothly.
Replacing thermal paste can significantly improve your laptop’s cooling performance, which can help prevent overheating and extend the life of your laptop. If you’re not comfortable performing this task yourself, consider seeking help from a professional technician.
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6. Reset PRAM & SMC for MAC users
If you own a MacBook, your system management controller (SMC) and parameter random access memory (PRAM) play a role in managing various features and components, including your laptop’s internal fan. Resetting these settings can help resolve fan issues. Here are the steps:
To reset PRAM:
- Shut down your laptop by clicking on the Apple menu and selecting Shut Down.
- After the laptop turns off, turn it back on and immediately press and hold the Option, Command, P, and R keys together.
- Release the keys after about 20 seconds, once the laptop restarts.
To reset SMC:
- Connect your laptop to the charger and power it off.
- Press and hold Shift, Option, Control, and the Power button all at once for 30 seconds.
- Press the Power button to turn your laptop back on.
7. Update Computer Drivers
Your laptop uses special files called drivers to connect with external devices such as printers and headphones. To ensure these drivers function correctly, your computer’s software must be kept current.
Check for updates on Windows:
- Click the Start button on the Windows taskbar.
- Select the Settings icon.
- Pick Updates & Security and then click on Windows Update. Afterward, select Check for updates.
To verify updates on Mac:
- Open the Apple menu located in the corner of your screen, and then select System Preferences.
- Choose Software Update. If new software is available, click Update Now to install it.
8. Laptop Fan Noisy? Use External Coolers
External laptop coolers are devices designed to help dissipate heat from a laptop, thereby preventing it from overheating and potentially improving its performance and lifespan. Laptops generate heat during operation, and if not properly cooled, this can lead to throttling, reduced performance, and even hardware damage over time. External laptop coolers address this issue by providing additional cooling support. Here are some key points to consider when it comes to external laptop coolers:
- Cooling Pads: These are flat, passive devices that you place your laptop on. They typically have one or more built-in fans that help draw heat away from the laptop. Active Cooling: These cooling pads come with built-in fans that actively blow air onto the laptop’s underside. They are generally more effective in cooling laptops. Passive Cooling: Passive cooling pads use materials like metal or plastic mesh to elevate the laptop, allowing better airflow. They don’t have built-in fans but can still help with cooling to some extent.
- Laptop Cooling Stands: These are similar to cooling pads but come with adjustable stands to lift the laptop off the surface, allowing for better airflow.
- External Cooling Fans: These are standalone fans that you can position near your laptop to increase airflow and cooling. They may be USB-powered and portable.
Remember that while external laptop coolers can help improve thermal performance and extend the lifespan of your laptop, they may not solve all overheating problems.
9. Replace the fan
If your laptop’s fans suddenly start making a loud rattling or buzzing noise, there’s a problem. The issue is probably with the fan’s parts called bearings. Fixing this usually means you need to get a new fan. Fixing jammed bearings can take a long time, so it’s easier to just buy a new fan and put it in.
Changing the fan isn’t too hard, but it’s not something you should try if you’re not experienced with laptop repairs. While the basic idea is the same for all laptops, different laptop models have different ways to do it.
The video below shows you how to change a noisy fan in an HP Pavilion 15 Notebook.
10. Contact a Professional
Are you still wondering why your laptop fan is making so much noise but don’t want to open it up yourself? It’s a good time to get help from a professional.
If your computer is still under warranty, you can take an Apple laptop to an Apple Store, and other brands have their own repair policies. If you bought your laptop online or your nearest retailer is too far away, you can also consider taking it to a PC repair shop.
The best outcome would be that they can clean your laptop and maybe replace the fan to fix the issue. However, be prepared for the possibility of bad news. Sometimes, the problem might be with essential parts like the motherboard, and they might quote you a repair cost. If it turns out to be too expensive, it could be more cost-effective to buy a new laptop.
Final thoughts on Noisy Laptop Fan
In conclusion, addressing a noisy laptop fan is essential not only for improving your computer’s performance but also for ensuring a peaceful computing experience. The first step in fixing a noisy laptop fan is identifying the root cause of the noise, which could range from dust accumulation to a failing fan unit.
Regular maintenance, such as cleaning the fan and ensuring proper ventilation, can go a long way in preventing excessive noise. If the noise persists, consider updating your laptop’s BIOS or checking for software issues that may be causing the fan to run at high speeds unnecessarily. If the problem remains unresolved, consulting a professional technician for a fan replacement or repair might be necessary to restore your laptop to its optimal, noise-free state.
Remember that addressing a noisy fan promptly not only prolongs the life of your laptop but also enhances your overall computing experience by reducing distractions and potential overheating issues. By following the steps outlined in this guide and maintaining a proactive approach to laptop fan care, you can enjoy a quieter and more efficient computing environment for years to come.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.