Computer Fan slowdown issue

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White Coat Investor
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Computer Fan slowdown issue

Post by White Coat Investor »

When I hear the fan in my laptop go on, the computer seems to slow down significantly. Can someone explain this and/or suggest a fix?
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infecto
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Re: Computer Fan slowdown issue

Post by infecto »

EmergDoc wrote:When I hear the fan in my laptop go on, the computer seems to slow down significantly. Can someone explain this and/or suggest a fix?
Take it apart and clean it? This is a shot in the dark guess but I would say the CPU is overheating and clocking down automatically.
grberry
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Post by grberry »

If the fan is cycling on/off, it is cycling on because heat is building up. Some chips/motherboards/systems also throttle back the CPU and GPU (if any) when heat builds up. That could cause a perceptible slow down. So, find a way to avoid the heat buildup. Getting the laptop off of fabric surfaces so it can ventilate better will help. There are laptop trays that have USB powered fans in them , they might help.
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tyrion
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Post by tyrion »

Try buying a can of compressed air and aiming it where the fan exhaust comes out. Get all of that lint and dust out of there.

The heat sink on the processor and the fan combine to keep the processor cool so it can do it's job. If it gets too hot it will throttle itself and slow everything down. If it gets dirty and dusty in there it makes it harder for heat to dissipate.

I work in IT and when someone complains about fan sounds and slow performance the first thing I do is clean the processor fan and heatsink. It doesn't always solve the problem, but it doesn't hurt and you'd be surprised how well it works in some cases.
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Post by dayzero »

When the fan comes on, the processor clocks down, often by half. Open up the case and use a can of compressed air to clean out the dust. You will be disgusted by how much dust is in there. Then make sure your laptop has ventilation from all sides, including the bottom, by using either a store bought or makeshift laptop stand (think two slim pieces of wood).
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Post by infecto »

I would honestly pop it open to clean.
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Post by Tom_T »

This might help. There are similar guides on the Web.

http://forum.notebookreview.com/asus/14 ... g-fan.html
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Post by White Coat Investor »

Okay, I totally opened it up, blew it out, and put it back together. I'd done that a year or so ago so the buildup wasn't too bad. I guess I could get a laptop stand too, but it kind of defeats the point of a laptop.

The suggestions so far seem to focus on keeping the fan from coming on. Is there anything I can do to keep it from slowing down so much when the fan does come on (without hurting the computer?)
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Post by fluffyistaken »

Slowdown is most likely due to heat build-up which triggers automatic throttling of the CPU to slower speed (which generates less heat). Providing better ventilation to the laptop should help. Make sure intake/exhaust vents are not blocked by anything. If you are using it on the soft or uneven surface -- don't :) If you are already using it on a flat hard surface, consider elevating it by putting some kind of supports at the corners (yes, ugly and potentially uncomfortable to use but helps with ventilation).

In your next laptop look for a low-voltage CPU (like Intel's Core i M and QM series) and SSD hard drive.
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Post by White Coat Investor »

I haven't always had this problem, so I wonder if something is up. Now that I listen to the fan, it seems only the big left fan is running (the one by the processor) and the right one isn't. Perhaps that's why it slows down so badly. It's not like I'm running a lot of intensive programs or anything. All I have on right now is firefox, and the computer is sitting on my hardwood table.
Last edited by White Coat Investor on Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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infecto
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Post by infecto »

Fan on <> slow down. On a laptop the fan is going to be on and off while it runs. Now if its getting slower at these points always then of course its running too hot. If its not dirt its possible that for whatever reason there is a bad seating for the heatsink.

As for not putting it on cloth I have a small laptable that I always use with my laptop if I am in bed or what not.
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Post by infecto »

EmergDoc wrote:I haven't always had this problem, so I wonder if something is up. Now that I listen to the fan, it seems only the left fan is running (the one by the video card) and the right one isn't. Perhaps that's why it slows down so badly. It's not like I'm running a lot of intensive programs or anything. All I have on right now is firefox, and the computer is sitting on my hardwood table.
Correction to my previous post, I bet the fan is dead. Could be other things such as a loose connection or a bad reading on the CPU temp but my guess is fan.
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Post by rustymutt »

You're good for throttle up.
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Post by White Coat Investor »

Get this: The smaller fan on the right (that pushes air over the heat sink for the video card) wasn't even plugged in....and probably hasn't been for the last 4 years since I bought it. The plug was shoved UNDER the motherboard (the plug in is on the top of the board). I've been in there once before to replace the video card and don't recall noticing anything there. I've only had the computer worked on one other time by a technician and it was something on the other side of the motherboard. I don't know if they had the mother board completely out or what then, but hopefully that fixes the problem. We'll see in 5 or 10 minutes I guess when things heat up again.
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Post by White Coat Investor »

Wow, this works so much better. Amazing.
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Post by Scott S »

Glad to hear about it! I was about to ask if there were some programs running in the background that could go.

- Scott
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Post by White Coat Investor »

Scott S wrote:Glad to hear about it! I was about to ask if there were some programs running in the background that could go.

- Scott
Nah, I'm pretty careful about that stuff. Not much comes on at start-up with me. My wife thinks I'm crazy not to run an antivirus program and insists I keep one on the computer she uses. I can't remember the last time I got one. I run firefox and my email programs scan files I download.
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Post by Thetightfist »

get AVG, it is a free anti virus, does a decent job and does not slow the computer down.

Better yet, get a MAC and don't worry about it!

As for the fan, they are easy to replace and often get bad readings messing up their settings.
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Post by Bylo Selhi »

As others have said, clean the fan and related ducts/grilles. I don't like compressed air because the pressure might damage the fan or blades. Instead open up the notebook and use a vacuum cleaner. It also does a better, more thorough job.

Once that's done, remember to lubricate the motor bearings. See also Temporarily Fix Dying Laptop Fans by Lubricating Them.

If you have a ThinkPad notebook, look at TPFanControl. (Scroll past the list of donees to get to the good stuff.) This gives you more information and control over the fan and notebook temperatures. There may be similar software for other makes.
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Post by cjackson0 »

EmergDoc wrote:Wow, this works so much better. Amazing.
People and computers are alike in many ways. They both appreciate a nice cool breeze when it's getting warm.
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Post by DH287 »

Though it sounds as though you've found the problem, I suggest checking one other thing: is the BIOS up-to-date (check your manufacturer's support site to determine if an update is available)?

I have seen laptops from one manufacturer, in particular, that, over time, start running hot for no apparent reason. The root cause was/is related to an arcane BIOS parameter (which is not necessarily user-adjustable) controlling the amount of voltage delivered to the processor socket.

Upgrading the system BIOS to the newest release resolves the issue, and is a best practice.
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Post by sommerfeld »

EmergDoc wrote:All I have on right now is firefox, and the computer is sitting on my hardwood table.
I've run into web browser bugs (and/or bugs in website code -- usually flash) where the web browser will appear to be perfectly responsive but will also be looping, consuming all available CPU time rather than letting the CPU go idle when it has nothing better to do.

I run various flavors of unix and when I hear the cpu fan working harder than it should I generally use command-line tools like vmstat and mpstat to see whether the cpu is actually going idle.

I bet windows has an equivalent but I wouldn't know what it is.
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Post by Scott S »

sommerfeld wrote:
EmergDoc wrote:All I have on right now is firefox, and the computer is sitting on my hardwood table.
I've run into web browser bugs (and/or bugs in website code -- usually flash) where the web browser will appear to be perfectly responsive but will also be looping, consuming all available CPU time rather than letting the CPU go idle when it has nothing better to do.

I run various flavors of unix and when I hear the cpu fan working harder than it should I generally use command-line tools like vmstat and mpstat to see whether the cpu is actually going idle.

I bet windows has an equivalent but I wouldn't know what it is.
Task Manager can tell you how busy the CPU is and which tasks are to blame...

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Controlling PC fan speeds

Post by bobcat2 »

I have a small form Dell desktop PC. Dell didn't ventilate the unit properly and it was often overheating. This problem is noted at the Dell web site by many other owners of the same PC. While you would think you could adjust the fan speed to mitigate this problem with a Dell utility, or at least in the BIOS, you can't. At least you can't on this PC model. However, there is a neat free utility you can install that will regulate fan speed called SpeedFan - what a clever name. :)

Here is a link to the SpeedFan download page.
http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php

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Post by cjackson0 »

DH287 wrote:Though it sounds as though you've found the problem, I suggest checking one other thing: is the BIOS up-to-date (check your manufacturer's support site to determine if an update is available)?

I have seen laptops from one manufacturer, in particular, that, over time, start running hot for no apparent reason. The root cause was/is related to an arcane BIOS parameter (which is not necessarily user-adjustable) controlling the amount of voltage delivered to the processor socket.

Upgrading the system BIOS to the newest release resolves the issue, and is a best practice.
I usually take the opposite approach. Because of the risk (small as it may be) involved in flashing ones BIOS, I treat it as a last step and don't do it unless I have to.
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Post by paulsiu »

I think this is in the wrong forum :-). In any case, first figure out what the problem is. Download a temperature monitor utility. If you are lucky, your cpu will have a probe where you can determine what temperature your cpu is at. I recommend trying a product call speedfan, which also allow you to control the fan speed.

It is true that whenever there is a heat build up, your cpu may throttle to prevent overheating. Most cpu these days have a thermo shutoff, so if it hits a maximum temperature, it turns off your machine.

Dust often collect in your fan. Short of taking it apart, you can try cleaning it by blowing some compress air. You can buy a can from any computer store and blow the vents. Make sure you hold the can upright, if you hold it sideways or upside down you may get a liquid that may crack the cpu if it's hot.

Paul
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