Is This Normal? Loud Macbook Fan

Get answers to those head-scratching “Is This Normal?” tech questions in this series.

The Scenario

You recently upgraded to a new MacBook Pro (with TouchBar!) because you love the performance and user experience that Apple is renowned for. But you were surprised that the fan was so loud and the laptop body was rapidly heating up. Is the hardware defective? Is it a software problem? In short, is this normal?

Don’t panic (aka run to the Apple Store for diagnostics or wipe the laptop and install the previous operating system). Your new top-of-the-line Macbook Pro is doing exactly what it was built to do.

A loud Macbook fan noise is a sign that your laptop is warm

Visualization Of The New, Improved iMac Pro’s Cooling Fan

The entire purpose of a laptop’s fan is to keep it cool. The more powerful, bigger, faster processors that everyone wants in their new computer generates more heat.  Graphic designers, gamers, and video editors use big processors and graphics cards to help them process a lot of visual data. Mega multi-taskers use that power to open 24 Chrome tabs, 3 PowerPoints, 1 Word document, 2 Excel spreadsheets, Photoshop, and Spotify – all at once.

But the fan will kick on even when only one program is open. That’s because programs are designed to take advantage of as much power a computer can give to it to perform its tasks faster. The more processing power applications use, the warmer the processor will get. So, it doesn’t take long for things to heat up. 

4 ways to keep computer heat (and fans) in check

Your laptop will use all of the power it has available since that’s what it was built for. But you can keep the heat in check with these 4 steps:

CPU Load vs Idle Load Show When Computer Is Heating Up

Watch Your Activity Monitor

Windows has “Task Manager” while Macs have “Activity Monitor.” They both display a list of every task and program that is using your computer’s resources in real-time. The CPU (Central Processing Unit) number represents the percentage of processing power each program is using. While the Idle number represents how much of the CPU is “at rest.” Low Idle load will cause the computer to heat and the fan to kick on

Don’t Use Too Many Programs At Once

Even programs that used comparatively little CPU can be a problem if you are running them all at the same time. Internet tabs are a sneaky culprit. Google Chrome (and other major browsers) are now so sophisticated that each tab runs independently (which is why your whole browser doesn’t crash when a single tab dies or freezes). This also means each tab uses its own set of memory and CPU resources.

Keep Your Programs Updated 

Developers are always finding bugs in their code that cause their programs to use unnecessary power. These are called memory or CPU leaks and it happens more frequently than not. When you update your programs, you might be installing a patch that makes your program run more efficiently.

Help Your Computer Breathe

Never use your laptop on a bed or other soft fabric surface. The fabric suffocates your laptop’s vents and blocks the hot air from leaving your computer. If you still want to do work on a couch or bed, put a hardcover book, lap desk or any other hard surface under your device.

A little care can go a long way in keeping the heat (and fan noise) down.

Check out our blog for more “Is This Normal?” posts!

Jason Hagens

Jason Hagens

Jason Hagens founded SWAT Systems in 1999 with a mission to provide local businesses with outsourced IT services.

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