2011 13" MBP: abnormal fan noise at idle?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by somerley, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. somerley macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2011
    Hi there, first post after a long time browsing.

    I've had my MacBook Pro for about 3 days now and I'm noticing that its audibly loud at 2000 rpm when idling. The room I'm in is pretty quiet with some ambient noise (crickets chirping outside, etc.) and I can distinctly hear the fans going when the MBP is on the table in front of me. It's loud enough to be distracting. For some objective measurement, an iPhone decibel meter reported the sound to be about 50 - 55 dBs.

    Questions: Is this normal? From Google/MRoogle, people seem to be reporting that the MBP fans should pretty much be silent at 2000 rpm. Would a SMC reset help? It's still within the 14 day return/replacement period, but I'm a little reluctant to have to go that route since this is actually a replacement machine for the first one which turned out to be doa.
  2. mac1984user macrumors 6502a


    Dec 10, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Welcome to my world. I've had TWO DOA machines. So, you are within your rights to replace that one as well. Um...the fan should be quiet at 2000 RPM. My computer runs hot (new early-2011 13" MBP), so the fan is constantly getting into the 4000-6000 range and is thus quite loud. However, the fan should not be that loud at 2000 RPM. Take it back, my friend, unless you're like me and the Apple store is about an hour and a half on the train (without compensation for the journey). I've had to wait a week and a half for each replacement to be delivered from China!
  3. somerley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2011
    Thanks for the reply! I'm probably going in to see a service provider next week, but I'm still just unsure about whether or not this is actually normal:

    I'm going on the assumption that at 2000 rpm, the MBP is pretty much supposed to be dead silent. Is this true? How close should your ear have to be to the laptop to hear any noise?

    Because my situation right now is that sitting back at a table, I can definitely hear a slight constant hum which becomes pretty distinct if I just lean in without putting my head closer to the keyboard.
  4. -aggie- macrumors P6


    Jun 19, 2009
    Where bunnies are welcome.
    You shouldn’t be hearing it at 2000. I only hear mine if it goes above 6000.
  5. somerley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2011
    Just to make clear: by 'hear' do you mean able to noticed, or that even if you get close to the fans, that there isn't any sound?

    I also had another listen and it seems to be coming from both the hard drive (right side of the trackpad) and the fans (near the screen). I can't hear it over any music I'm playing, and typing covers up the sound some. But if the room is quiet, it's loud enough to be audible even if I stand about a metre away.

    My concern is if they can't actually diagnose a hardware problem because everything else seems to be running fine - it might just be a case of me getting a fan + hard drive that happens to run loud. Is the 14 day replacement period a no-questions-asked one? When I called Apple today, they seemed to imply that I needed to find a diagnosed fault before they could issue a replacement.
  6. iMackPro macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2011

    my best advice for you:

    1) Open iTunes
    2) Play music
    3) Relax and not care
  7. Macsavvytech macrumors 6502a


    May 25, 2010
    I can't HEAR anything under about ~3800RPM, its possible I ignore it when its ~3800RPM but at 2000RPM I can certainly HEAR nothing. I can also hear up to 2200Mhz Frequency so I don't think its my ears.
  8. somerley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2011
    Went to the service provider who ran some test on the MBP - nothing showed up as faulty. I'm starting to think though, that a lot of the sound is coming from the hard drive (on the right of the trackpad). The sound changes if I place my hand over it or press down. I looked at System Profiler and it seems like I have a Hitachi.

    s there any way to find out exactly whether its the hard drive or the fan causing the noise? Could there be some kind of problem with the hard drive that's causing it to spin loudly? And if I do arrange for a replacement, will it be any different or are these hard drives just loud?
  9. the_fellowship macrumors regular

    Aug 10, 2008
    London, UK
    Have you tried resetting the SMC?

    I noticed the fans were kicking in quite often on my 2011 MBP 13" (base model) when not doing much CPU intensive tasks...so I tried resetting the SMC and haven't noticed the fans kicking in as much now

    Maybe worth a try?
  10. iMackPro, Apr 15, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011

    iMackPro macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2011
    What kind of surface is the MBP resting on?

    Edit: what kind of Hard drive do you have in your MBP HDD or SSD ?
  11. somerley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2011
    Good news! Spoke to Apple and they're sending me a replacement. The advisor ran over some more tests. The one which seemed to determine that something was wrong was when he got me to boot up from the install disk and check if there was still noise (after the optical drive stopped spinning). There was, and that seemed to show that it was some kind of hardware error.

    But to answer the questions (and hopefully document this for anyone else with similar problems, hello Googlers):
    - This is a 5400rpm HDD
    - The MacBook Pro is resting on a desk, but the noise seems to be there regardless of what surface it's on.

    MacBook Pro no. 3 will hopefully be arriving sometime next week, except I'm quite wary now in case it turns out to have some other kind of problem.
  12. iMackPro macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2011
    Please save yourself from getting another HDD. just opt for a 128 OEM SSD. it'll make a world of difference. then after you get close to filling it up simply go with optibay or an external. you'll be thanking me and yourself everyday for the rest of your life
  13. CloudSE macrumors newbie

    Mar 29, 2011
    I have exactly the same problem! But I don't know how I will convince them to do anything about it.
  14. iViking macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2006
    I have the same problem, too. However, I purchased it from the retail store and do not want to go through the tedious process of bringing it in, having a Genius look at it, listen to it, possibly authorize an exchange, possibly not, and so on.

    The fan is driving me nuts though as it's running full-time and is clearly audible, even when the computer is idle. Additionally, the hard drive is making the "heads parking sound" about 3 times a minute. Not sure if that is normal.
  15. 8CoreWhore macrumors 68020


    Jan 17, 2008
    Big D
    It should be very quiet at that RPM. Something wrong with it.
  16. iMackPro macrumors 6502

    Mar 31, 2011
    thats weird all of you all are having problems like this, it sounds like a software problem rather than hardware, like something is telling your HDDs to be running, or telling your GPU to be doing something tedious therefore your fans are running. if an apple person doesnt let you exchange it i bet there will be an update soon for fixing this
  17. somerley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2011
    Read through https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2766458?start=0&tstart=0 this thread on Apple Discussions: definitely seems to be the hard drive then. Bad news is that it seems to be a hit and miss about getting a quiet one - a software problem seems quite likely as it seems like the hard drive never goes to sleep and just keeps spinning and making noise. Really hope for a software fix if it is a software problem.

    Is there anyone with a 2011 MBP with a quiet/silent hard drive (or I suppose just silent MBP in general)?
  18. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    Silent is subjective, but mine was fine. Of course I yanked the HD for an SSD anyways.

    I think people are getting used to iPads and such, and developing unrealistic expectations.
  19. iViking macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2006
    That assumes we have no memory of our previous 5-10 MBPs made out of aluminum, unibody and the ones before that, and how they functioned. I've had them all and none of them had a loud fan with the computer completely idle.
  20. iViking macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2006
    Which HD do you have? 5400 RPM, but which manufacturer?

    I have a Hitachi HTS545032B9A302. Maybe that's to blame for the loud fan noise.
  21. iViking macrumors 6502

    Oct 23, 2006
    That's exactly what it's like. It's the noise of the fan running as loud/fast as if I was rendering video or doing some other intensive task, even though the computer is completely idle and completely cool to the touch.
  22. somerley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 13, 2011
    Mine's the same Hitachi. If the replacement has the same noise with the same hard drive, then I'll probably just swap it out for a WD Scorpio Black (unless it turns out to be a software issue in which case this might not make a difference?) It's pretty annoying to be able to hear this constant noise regardless of whatever the system's doing. I was under the assumption that usually hard drives only spin up when being accessed and are otherwise asleep/silent.
  23. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    Meanwhile, I was replying to a post about hard drive noise...
  24. imaginex20 macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2009
    its definitely the HD. If you place your palm over the right side palm rest the noise will decrease a bit.

    I had the same noise and when I replaced the HDD with an SDD, my comp is dead silent now.
  25. chianc, Apr 17, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2011

    chianc macrumors newbie

    Feb 24, 2011
    Fan speed at 6000 rpm?

    guys, hi, just got a new MPB 13" base model. i used to be a ibook user, and i havent encounter this problem when i was using the ibook.

    now when i use this new mpb, just running colloquy, chrome and firefox, my fan speed will kick to 6000 rpm which is quite loud and inside the library =( any advice?

    Oh ya, its showing 32 degree

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