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MacFreshNYC
Dec 15, 2009, 01:58 PM
I bought the Mac Air two weeks ago (the upgraded version with 2.13GHz, and the solid-state drive). I love the machine and am using it as my primary (and only) computer. It serves my needs fine. I am mostly doing email, web surfing, and some word and excel. I have loaded parallels and run outlook on my computer. When I am home I have the MBA connected to an external 20" display.

I am love with this machine, BUT, the fan noise is driving me crazy. I am not used to hearing any fan noise on my prior lap tops (which I also used as my only computer). It is often running at 6200RPM. When it does drop to below 4000RPM, I do no hear it. But I am not sure what it is I'm doing to reduce the RPM's.

I would like to know if I can expect to reduce fan speed if using as a primary computer, or if it is the price one must pay for such a sleek and beautiful machine.

I have read a bunch on various things to do to cool machine and lower fan noise (such as coolbook controller and thermal paste). Does this stuff really work? should I really go through all I'd rather not go through all that unless I'm really sure it's going to make a difference. Is there something wrong with my MBA? Do i need to exchnage it for a different one? Do i need to exchange for a clunkier MBP 13"?

While I welcome feedback from anyone, I mostly would like to hear from others who are using the MBA as their primary machine. I have several posts that mention that Scottsdale uses his as a primary.

i am new to the mac world and really appreciate any help you can give a newcomer.

Thanks.



MacModMachine
Dec 15, 2009, 02:11 PM
hi, welcome.

i would reset your smc, my macbook air , which i now run a 1.86 / 120gb hdd would run hotter then yours with the hdd runs at 1800rpm / 60c , under load my fans climb 3000+ but return below 2000 rpm in about 5 mins.

are you running parallels constantly ? if so that will cause your fans to ramp up and stay up for the period parallels is running.

ps. coolbook works to an extent, thermal paste i have had great results with.

Thunder82
Dec 15, 2009, 02:14 PM
Coolbook & Thermal paste do work, but you shouldn't really need it with a Rev C MBA. Before spending the time & money on those, try using a program called SMCFanControl to manually set your fans. Try setting them to always run at a reasonable level (maybe 4 to 4500rpm) so they're still relatively silent, but also keep the notebook cool.

I've found that the stock fan settings across all of the macbook lines let the computer get too hot, then jump the fans up to max for awhile to cool it down. If you run them at a relatively high rpm the whole time, you shouldn't have this issue.

jimboutilier
Dec 15, 2009, 02:18 PM
On any notebook this powerful and this thin, heat is going to build up quickly and need a lot of fan speed to dump it.

During most everyday use with Mail, Safari, Skype, Adium, Evernote, Mozy, and one or more Office 2008 applications running I am usually running in the 50-60 degree and 2500-3500rpm range.

When Safari is going a lot of flash, or Skype is on an audio or video call that creaps up a bit, and whenever I'm doing anything intensive I'm running in the close to 80 degree, 6200rpm range. Keeping its vents COMPLETELY clear by setting on a hard flat surface or notebook pad is critical. Any disruption in aorflow can result in a lot of excess fan speed.

I found ClickToFlash invaluable for keeping Safari tame. Carbonite used to keep my fans spinning but I switched to Mozy and not a twitch now. I minimize the number of menu items and startup items I keep running and instead put more applets in the Dashboard. I use Cocktail regularly and keep fancy effects turned off in the GUI. I keep all my apps XSLIMMER ed to reduce load times and space usage. I use SMARTSLEEP pref pane to save some space and speed up SLEEP/WAKE.

Right now I have all of these routine processes running and an external 24" 1920x1080 monitor on via a DVI adapter, my MBA is closed and on a little fanless notebook pad and im;s sitting at 55 degrees and 2500 rpm.

Some folks find Coolbook helps but I'm not going to mess there unless I'm very unhappy with my stock settings - which at the moment I'm not.

Hope you find something that works for you.

iBookG4user
Dec 15, 2009, 02:25 PM
Before spending the time & money on those, try using a program called SMCFanControl to manually set your fans. Try setting them to always run at a reasonable level (maybe 4 to 4500rpm) so they're still relatively silent, but also keep the notebook cool.

I think you're a little bit confused here. SMCFanControl lets you set the minimum speed of the fans, not the maximum speed. If the fan speed for the OP is usually at the maximum speed, then setting the fan speed in SMCFanControl will do little to no good.

Thunder82
Dec 15, 2009, 04:08 PM
I think you're a little bit confused here. SMCFanControl lets you set the minimum speed of the fans, not the maximum speed. If the fan speed for the OP is usually at the maximum speed, then setting the fan speed in SMCFanControl will do little to no good.

No confusion going on here. If the OP turns his air on and the fans instantly jump to 6k, then sure, he's got some other problem going on.

I've noticed that the fans sit at 2k until the notebook gets extremely hot, then the fans jump to 6k until it cools down. What I'm trying to say, is set the fans at 4k right at boot-up, in hopes that the notebook never gets hot enough to need a bump to 6k.

jrabbit
Dec 15, 2009, 05:08 PM
No confusion going on here. If the OP turns his air on and the fans instantly jump to 6k, then sure, he's got some other problem going on.

I've noticed that the fans sit at 2k until the notebook gets extremely hot, then the fans jump to 6k until it cools down. What I'm trying to say, is set the fans at 4k right at boot-up, in hopes that the notebook never gets hot enough to need a bump to 6k.

I agree with this approach; I have a reasonably well-behaved Rev. A, and the combo of using CoolBook to keep voltages as low as possible for each speed step along with smcFanControl to set minimum fan speeds higher than the default (1800rpm battery/3200rpm adapter is what I use) works well to keep the temps and fan speeds under control. It takes a bit of patience with CoolBook to find the optimal voltages, and the acceptable minimum fan speeds are a matter of personal preference (and hearing acuity).

It's easier to keep temps reasonable than it is to let them spike and make the system work hard to bring them back down. Of course nothing helps when watching Flash video...

MacFreshNYC
Dec 15, 2009, 05:13 PM
thanks jrabbit. Would you happen to have an easy explanation for using coolbook?

musicpenguy
Dec 15, 2009, 07:22 PM
Give this app a try - it is a terminal command for when your fans rev up to rev em down to 4000RPM - it will reset to normal fan speeds upon sleep or restart.

(SMCFanControl must be installed for this to work)

three
Dec 15, 2009, 10:47 PM
Give this app a try - it is a terminal command for when your fans rev up to rev em down to 4000RPM - it will reset to normal fan speeds upon sleep or restart.

(SMCFanControl must be installed for this to work)

That worked wonderfully. Thanks.

musicpenguy
Dec 16, 2009, 08:58 AM
Not a problem - I've noticed at 4000RPMs its not noisy and the passive cooling of the Air is actually pretty good.

Even when watching movies at 4000RPMs the max it gets to is about 90 degrees which is about 10-20 degrees under where it gets dangerous for the computer.

jrabbit
Dec 16, 2009, 09:44 AM
thanks jrabbit. Would you happen to have an easy explanation for using coolbook?

Each CPU core behaves in a unique way; the factory defaults are set with fairly generous tolerances. The key to using CoolBook effectively is:

Find the "magic" pairs: a. Lowest voltage for highest frequency the chip supports; b. Highest frequency for the lowest voltage the chip supports
Once you find the "magic" pairs, you can set a number of "in between" voltage/frequency pairs


Keep in mind that heat (power) is generated linearly with the frequency and with the square of the voltage, so that's why managing both is important; that's also why focusing on voltage is key. The formula is P = C x V^2 x F (Power/Capacitance/Voltage/Frequency).

For my system, this is what I found/use:

CoolBook settings:

MBA 1.8GHz 128GB SSD

Adapter:
800MHz 0.9000V
1200MHz 0.9000V
1400MHz 0.9000V
1600MHz 0.9000V
1800MHz 0.9625V

Battery:
600MHz 0.9000V
800MHz 0.9000V
1200MHz 0.9000V
1600MHz 0.9000V
1800MHz 0.9625V

Throttling level: High
Thermal limit: 85C

"Base" Pairs (found by testing):
1600MHz 0.9000V [highest frequency for lowest voltage]
1800MHz 0.9625V [lowest voltage for highest frequency]

I then set smcFanControl to keep the minimum fan speed at 1800rpm when on battery, and 3200rpm on A/C. Those exceed the default minimum speeds, but it's far easier for the system to stay cool than to get hot and cool back down. I chose those speeds because they are just barely audible (to me; your ears may be better or worse).

caonimadebi
Dec 16, 2009, 09:52 AM
I had a 2.13 MBA and used it as my primary mac, complete with the external display setup. The high fan speed literally drove me crazy; ANY amount of processing activities ramps up the fan to full speed: Skype, hulu video, handbrake encoding, VLC playback, and just driving an external display. Any 2 of the tasks listed above together will throttle the processor back and everything slows to a crawl. Oh, and forget about watching high-quality flash video (such as youtube HD and Hulu in 480p) on your external display. It just doesn't work.
I checked with Apple and they said it was normal. I traded in my MBA for a MBP, which is much more capable of handling heat.

MacFreshNYC
Dec 16, 2009, 10:35 AM
Hey Music guy.
I'm trying to download the fan control (I already have SMC fan control installed.), but am having a problem. I am getting an error message that says "the Action "Run Shell Script" encountered an error. Check the action;s properties and try running the workflow again". Here are teh steps I'm taking: When I unzip it, I get a dialogue box that says "Run Shell Script". That box contains two pull down menus: one named "Shell" and has /bin/bash as the defualt and the other is named "Pass input" and has to stdin as the default. and the scripts says: /Applications/smcFanControl.app/Contents/Resources/smc -k F0Mx -w 3e80

Do you or anyone know what i'm doing wrong?

Thanks.

Adley

musicpenguy
Dec 16, 2009, 02:55 PM
I don't the only thing I can think of is if smcFancontrol is not installed in the Applications folder - but everything you listed is how mine is setup and it works great - perhaps someone else with more knowledge can help you out - I created this after doing some digging on the forums here at macrumors

bossxii
Dec 16, 2009, 09:26 PM
I had a 2.13 MBA and used it as my primary mac, complete with the external display setup. The high fan speed literally drove me crazy; ANY amount of processing activities ramps up the fan to full speed: Skype, hulu video, handbrake encoding, VLC playback, and just driving an external display. Any 2 of the tasks listed above together will throttle the processor back and everything slows to a crawl. Oh, and forget about watching high-quality flash video (such as youtube HD and Hulu in 480p) on your external display. It just doesn't work.
I checked with Apple and they said it was normal. I traded in my MBA for a MBP, which is much more capable of handling heat.

Been there done that, I am not going to fight the cooling issues the MBA has. To the OP, just be honest with yourself about what you really plan on using the MBA for. I admit it, I got caught by the MBA and thought I could get by with it as a do all, everyday computer. It's not if you do any amount of streaming video. The 13" MBP blows it away for anything related to streaming video. The fan in the MBP rarely is even loud enough to hear running, runs Hulu, Netflix, Slingbox streams with ease.

I don't care how many times you tear your MBA apart to put thermal grease, new fan controls etc... it simply fails to be a all around computer when it comes to streaming video. Best of luck with your search for a "cooler" MBA.

MacFreshNYC
Dec 16, 2009, 10:26 PM
Hey musicpenguy, thanks so much. That was the problem. I had not dragged SMCfancontrol into my applications. As soon as I did and unzipped your script, the fan immediately dropped from 6200RPM's to 4000RPM's without any increase in heat.
The next thing for me to do is to attempt to follow jrabbits instruction on coolbook, and see what happens. (Although I have to admit it seems daunting).

I am deeply grateful for people taking the time to respond to my post. I hope to get coolmaker in place in the next day or so, and then see how the machine feels.

I have until January 9th to play with it, and if it still seems like too much noise, or too much work, then I, like bossxii and caonimadebi, will switch to the MBP.

To all a good night.