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View Full Version : 13" MBA noticeably louder than 11.6" MBA?




Lone Deranger
Feb 11, 2011, 12:10 PM
I currently have both the 11.6" MBA Ultimate and the 13" MBA Ultimate sitting on my desk as I try to decide which one to go with. I've had the 11.6" since November but have been eyeing the larger SSD and higher screen resolution of the 13" for a while now. So having found a potential buyer for my initial purchase, I decided to pick up a 13" Ultimate, already convinced I would make the switch.

However, my first impression was how much louder the 13" is. It was immediately noticeable when running Migration Assistant. Then later, once all my data had been transferred, even running naught but a single Safari window with MacRumors, the fans did not settle down below 2300RPM (as reported by smcFanControl). Stress the CPU's but a little and they flare up to clearly audible levels. Watching some simple YouTube vids is all it takes to trigger this. The 11.6" has been much less prone to these flare ups and generally feels much cooler to the touch.
As I tend to run apps like ZBrush and Pixelmator (and yes, even Maya) on my machines, heat is always a concern.

I understand that the CPU in the 13" is of the (L)ow (V)oltage variety instead of the (U)ltra (L)ow (V)oltage CPU in the 11.6", and that their TDP's are 17W and 10W respectively, but I am surprised the difference in heat is so great. So surprised in fact that I proceeded to reset the System Management Controller because I thought something had gone awry there. It made no difference.

Does anybody else have both and noticed this? Should I take the 13" back to Apple for a replacement or is this completely normal?



teerexx52
Feb 11, 2011, 12:39 PM
I currently have both the 11.6" MBA Ultimate and the 13" MBA Ultimate sitting on my desk as I try to decide which one to go with. I've had the 11.6" since November but have been eyeing the larger SSD and higher screen resolution of the 13" for a while now. So having found a potential buyer for my initial purchase, I decided to pick up a 13" Ultimate, already convinced I would make the switch.

However, my first impression was how much louder the 13" is. It was immediately noticeable when running Migration Assistant. Then later, once all my data had been transferred, even running naught but a single Safari window with MacRumors, the fans did not settle down below 2300RPM (as reported by smcFanControl). Stress the CPU's but a little and they flare up to clearly audible levels. Watching some simple YouTube vids is all it takes to trigger this. The 11.6" has been much less prone to these flare ups and generally feels much cooler to the touch.
As I tend to run apps like ZBrush and Pixelmator (and yes, even Maya) on my machines, heat is always a concern.

I understand that the CPU in the 13" is of the (L)ow (V)oltage variety instead of the (U)ltra (L)ow (V)oltage CPU in the 11.6", and that their TDP's are 17W and 10W respectively, but I am surprised the difference in heat is so great. So surprised in fact that I proceeded to reset the System Management Controller because I thought something had gone awry there. It made no difference.

Does anybody else have both and noticed this? Should I take the 13" back to Apple for a replacement or is this completely normal?

I am sitting waiting at the Apple Store Genius Bar over the same type of issue you are having. My 13" ultimate will run hotter and fans ramp up using flash websites but my wife's 11.6" runs cooler and the fans stay at 2000 rpms. I get temps above 80* C and fans approaching 3600 rpms. Will post if I learn anything

vix2000
Feb 11, 2011, 01:24 PM
my 11.6" makes a right racket!!! its either silent or loud.

Insilin1i
Feb 11, 2011, 01:31 PM
When I set mine up through migrant assistant it didn't make much noise. Might be that the ultimates run hotter though because of their hardware.

teerexx52
Feb 11, 2011, 02:01 PM
Just got done with the Genius Bar. They couldn't find anything wrong with the machine but couldn't really explain the why it was happening. They took some notes on it and sent me home. They did take the time to knock flash and the demands it puts on the system. Of course I explained my wife's 11.6 didn't act this way but they still could not explain it. Good luck

neteng101
Feb 11, 2011, 02:04 PM
Just checking since it helps some - you did upgrade to the latest Flash version right?

impulse462
Feb 11, 2011, 02:40 PM
Since the 13" MBA is very thin, the air might be suffocated by the lack of free space, if you will.

I can't explain the 2300 RPM sitting at idle, but watching youtube has always resulting in very high CPU usage, until about 1-2 days ago when flash was updated to 10.2. Make sure you install that update as well.

teerexx52
Feb 11, 2011, 02:57 PM
Just checking since it helps some - you did upgrade to the latest Flash version right?

Yes, I did

Beaverman3001
Feb 11, 2011, 02:57 PM
My 13 idles at 1999 rpms usually, I don't understand the 2300 idle on yours. Unless SMC is using the wrong fan profile instead of default. My cpu stays at a nice 108 fahrenheit during most regular browsing and reading sessions.

Lone Deranger
Feb 12, 2011, 07:10 AM
Thanks for all the responses everybody.
So while using the 13" MBA today, it strangely seems to be a lot better. Using Safari now, the temperature remains in an acceptable 40-60C range most of the time with the fans not throttling up to extreme levels.
Sure, when I start sculpting inside ZBrush (remarkable performance the MBA puts in btw), the heat builds up and the fans inevitably rev up. But that's understandable and acceptable as ZBrush is so resource intensive with both cores constantly maxing out.

I'm suspecting the 'mds' and 'mdworker' processes from wreaking havoc the other day as they were awfully active for some reason.

I'll continue to test it over the weekend to decide which one goes and which one stays. :)

teerexx52
Feb 12, 2011, 07:27 AM
Thanks for all the responses everybody.
So while using the 13" MBA today, it strangely seems to be a lot better. Using Safari now, the temperature remains in an acceptable 40-60C range most of the time with the fans not throttling up to extreme levels.
Sure, when I start sculpting inside ZBrush (remarkable performance the MBA puts in btw), the heat builds up and the fans inevitably rev up. But that's understandable and acceptable as ZBrush is so resource intensive with both cores constantly maxing out.

I'm suspecting the 'mds' and 'mdworker' processes from wreaking havoc the other day as they were awfully active for some reason.

I'll continue to test it over the weekend to decide which one goes and which one stays. :)

It's a tough decision. I took back an 11.6" yesterday and kept my Ultimate 13" Miss the 11" already:(

dmelgar
Feb 12, 2011, 10:28 AM
I bought an 11" MBA. Took it back, thought the screen was too small.
Ordered a 13" MBA. As soon as I got it, I didn't like it. Not different enough from my 13" MBP. Didn't seem any more portable. I really missed the totally awesome portability of the 11".
Sent the 13" MBA back, bought another 11" MBA. Couldn't be happier. Its my main and only computer. Works great.

The 13" MBA seems like a nice enough machine, but not different enough from a 13" MBP for all the things you lose. I was surprised at how loud it is when taxing the CPU. Its even louder than the 13" MBP. Meanwhile I can barely ever hear the 11" MBA no matter what I do to it.

teerexx52
Feb 12, 2011, 11:15 AM
I bought an 11" MBA. Took it back, thought the screen was too small.
Ordered a 13" MBA. As soon as I got it, I didn't like it. Not different enough from my 13" MBP. Didn't seem any more portable. I really missed the totally awesome portability of the 11".
Sent the 13" MBA back, bought another 11" MBA. Couldn't be happier. Its my main and only computer. Works great.

The 13" MBA seems like a nice enough machine, but not different enough from a 13" MBP for all the things you lose. I was surprised at how loud it is when taxing the CPU. Its even louder than the 13" MBP. Meanwhile I can barely ever hear the 11" MBA no matter what I do to it.

Is the 11" your only computer? Did you get the 4gb version of each? It still disturbs me how noisy and hot mine is compared to the 11" I had a few days ago. Genius Bar said it was normal. Just don't understand it though. I was very close to getting rid of my 13" Ultimate for an 11 but can't quite seem to do it:)

2IS
Feb 12, 2011, 11:24 AM
I've got a 13" and a client of mine just got an 11" I've been working a lot on his 11" (installing windows and other things he needs) and I have not noticed any difference in acoustics. Both are silent unless I put my ear right up to the keyboard where I can hear the faint whisper of a fan on both machines.

I do have coolbook running on mine, but for general usage it makes no difference over having it disabled. It's only when the machine is under load that i've noticed coolbook helps a lot. In fact, I don't think the fan in my 13" has ever hit it's top speed since coolbook was installed. Ramps up to medium and stays there.

dmelgar
Feb 13, 2011, 09:03 AM
Is the 11" your only computer? Did you get the 4gb version of each? It still disturbs me how noisy and hot mine is compared to the 11" I had a few days ago. Genius Bar said it was normal. Just don't understand it though. I was very close to getting rid of my 13" Ultimate for an 11 but can't quite seem to do it:)

Both 11" that i bought were ultimate stocked in the store. I had to special order the 13" to get 4GB. I consider 4GB essential for my use.

I can't comprehend folks who can remotely compare the sound of the 11 and 13. The 11 is always very quiet, even when the fan is going full speed.

I used to say my 13" MBP sounded like a hair dryer when it's fan was maxed out, but the 13" MBA sounds like a jet engine, even louder when it's spun up.

It's certainly possible to use the 13 with the fan not spun up. Then it's pretty quiet. But when you get it going, it will certainly cause problems if you're trying to have a voice or video call.

Bakari45
Feb 13, 2011, 11:35 AM
I bought an 11" MBA. Took it back, thought the screen was too small.
Ordered a 13" MBA. As soon as I got it, I didn't like it. Not different enough from my 13" MBP. Didn't seem any more portable. I really missed the totally awesome portability of the 11".
Sent the 13" MBA back, bought another 11" MBA. Couldn't be happier. Its my main and only computer. Works great.

The 13" MBA seems like a nice enough machine, but not different enough from a 13" MBP for all the things you lose. I was surprised at how loud it is when taxing the CPU. Its even louder than the 13" MBP. Meanwhile I can barely ever hear the 11" MBA no matter what I do to it.

I agree. I was checking out the 13 at the Apple store, and while I like the larger screen size, it doesnt have the portable feel of the 11 when the lid is closed.

If the MBA were my only computer, Id definitely get the 13, but since its not, I like how unobtrusive the 11 is. It really feels like a netbook but without the small keys, trackpad or screen. Plus, its just way stylish, which is what I like the most.

However, I do have concerns about the fan being loud. I wrote about this in another thread. Sometimes when Im downloading videos or when I have my Air on my lap in bed, the fan will get really loud. I only have a few apps open. Typically, my Air can be icy cold when not used for a while, but theres times when it heats up a little that the fan starts getting annoying.

teerexx52
Feb 13, 2011, 11:39 AM
Both 11" that i bought were ultimate stocked in the store. I had to special order the 13" to get 4GB. I consider 4GB essential for my use.

I can't comprehend folks who can remotely compare the sound of the 11 and 13. The 11 is always very quiet, even when the fan is going full speed.

I used to say my 13" MBP sounded like a hair dryer when it's fan was maxed out, but the 13" MBA sounds like a jet engine, even louder when it's spun up.

It's certainly possible to use the 13 with the fan not spun up. Then it's pretty quiet. But when you get it going, it will certainly cause problems if you're trying to have a voice or video call.

I agree. Mine gets very loud but my wife's 11" doesn't. No idea if this is normal or not. Like I posted earlier the Genius Bar had no answers for me

BigPrince
Feb 13, 2011, 11:52 AM
I haven't really used the 11.6 MBA but my 13.3 inch ultimate MBA is quite silent and I can't imagine how it could be quieter...

halledise
Feb 13, 2011, 12:59 PM
I am sitting waiting at the Apple Store Genius Bar over the same type of issue you are having. My 13" ultimate will run hotter and fans ramp up using flash websites but my wife's 11.6" runs cooler and the fans stay at 2000 rpms. I get temps above 80* C and fans approaching 3600 rpms. Will post if I learn anything

Reset SMC - ****************EKE5
Reset PRAM - ****************0uiU9

fixes most things. :D

teerexx52
Feb 13, 2011, 01:03 PM
Reset SMC - ****************EKE5
Reset PRAM - ****************0uiU9

fixes most things. :D

Yes, the Apple Tech when I called in had me do those. Nothing changed.

magbarn
Feb 13, 2011, 01:27 PM
get coolbook. I know it's not free, but it's worth it, I was able to undervolt my MB 13 ultimates cpu down to the lowest voltage. The fan will only speed up now when using handbrake or cs5.

halledise
Feb 14, 2011, 07:58 PM
Yes, the Apple Tech when I called in had me do those. Nothing changed.

in that case run a hardware test (hold 'd' key as starting up from usb stick) but I'd say there's something wrong with the machine you have

take him back and ask for another

Scott6666
Feb 14, 2011, 08:14 PM
17W vs 10W makes a huge difference. The last gen MBA had the 17W processor and made tons of noise. The new MBA has a better heatsink but you can't get past the fact that it has 70% more heat.

I have the 11. I hate fan noise. I love my 11. Quiet almost all the time. Fans go up when gaming or videos but in day to day use it's silent.

And I program with Netbeans and Java, I have parallels, I have Office and it still does not get noisy.

Screen size is fine and I'm old.

Dump the 13.

iRun26.2
Feb 14, 2011, 09:45 PM
17W vs 10W makes a huge difference. The last gen MBA had the 17W processor and made tons of noise. The new MBA has a better heatsink but you can't get past the fact that it has 70% more heat.

I have the 11. I hate fan noise. I love my 11. Quiet almost all the time. Fans go up when gaming or videos but in day to day use it's silent.

And I program with Netbeans and Java, I have parallels, I have Office and it still does not get noisy.

Screen size is fine and I'm old.

Dump the 13.

I agree completely! At first I thought I'd have second thoughts and wish that I would have gotten the 13.3" model. Now...No way! The 11.6" runs so cool. I can have it on my bare chest or knees and not worry about it burning me. The battery life is more than reasonable.

The screen is very nice (but I do miss the BL keyboard of my Rev. A MBA)

magbarn
Feb 15, 2011, 02:02 AM
17W vs 10W makes a huge difference. The last gen MBA had the 17W processor and made tons of noise. The new MBA has a better heatsink but you can't get past the fact that it has 70% more heat.

I have the 11. I hate fan noise. I love my 11. Quiet almost all the time. Fans go up when gaming or videos but in day to day use it's silent.

And I program with Netbeans and Java, I have parallels, I have Office and it still does not get noisy.

Screen size is fine and I'm old.

Dump the 13.

I guess you haven't tried an undervolted MBP 13. Mine is super reliable and super quiet at the lowest voltage. Dump the MBP 13 ONLY if it's too big for you, not due to fan noise. The MBA 11 fanboys are also conveniently forgetting the crappy 16:9 ratio the 11 has along with the loss of SD card slot and battery life.

2IS
Feb 15, 2011, 02:07 AM
I guess you haven't tried an undervolted MBP 13. Mine is super reliable and super quiet at the lowest voltage. Dump the MBP 13 ONLY if it's too big for you, not due to fan noise. The MBA 11 fanboys are also conveniently forgetting the crappy 16:9 ratio the 11 has along with the loss of SD card slot and battery life.

I agree.

halledise
Feb 15, 2011, 02:13 AM
there is nothing wrong with the 13" MB Air. ;)

mine runs smoothly, runs fast and you rarely hear the fans.
(as does most I know with the 13" MBA)

could well be that the original poster has a faulty machine :eek: