2012 Mac Mini - Fan Noise considered normal at idle?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by cksubs, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. cksubs macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2009
    Yesterday I found a great Mac Mini deal on Craigslist. It's the upgraded 2012 2.6 Quad Core.

    - 2012 Mac Mini
    - i7 Quad Core @ 2.6 GHz
    - 16 GB RAM
    - 512 GB SSD
    - 1 TB HDD

    I'm excited to have a real desktop Mac with a considerable amount of internal storage, both of which are firsts for me as a long time laptop user. But laptops are such a waste and inconvenience when 95% of the time I'm docked and connected to an external screen and monitor. Kind of ridiculous that I have to buy a 2012 computer to get these features, but you already know that.

    However, upon plugging in the Mac Mini it's loud. Constant fan noise at idle. The fans are relatively quiet, but definitely audible at all times.

    I'd describe my Retina MacBook Pro 13" as being completely silent at idle. The fans are audible only under load. Perhaps the "asymmetric fan blades" reduce fan noise to an imperceptible level.

    This Mac Mini seems to idle at about 40° or 50° celsius. The fans have stayed steady at 1800 RPM.

    Is this normal operation and noise level for the Mac Mini? Constant audible fan noise? Disappointing if so.

    I was expecting it to be silent at idle and light work, and kick up the fans like the rMBP upon load.

    Has anyone had any luck making the Mac Mini silent through fan software or some kind of aftermarket hardware base/fan/heatsink?
  2. Boyd01, Dec 21, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016

    Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I guess noise level can be subjective. I have the exact same machine but it only has a 256gb SSD and no hard drive. At idle, I can't hear any fan noise until I put my head about 6 inches away from the Mini and even then it's pretty minimal. Are you sure it's the fan you're hearing and not the hard drive? I also have base model 2012 and 2014 minis with the original 500gb hard drives and they are rather loud.

    I also have a 2013 MacBook Air, and yeah, I would describe that as silent at idle, even if I put my head up to it.
  3. Cordorb macrumors regular

    May 8, 2010
    I use smcFanControl 2.6 and keep the speed faster to get 38 C on my 2012 mini

    My fan in not loud even at over 5000 rpm

    You are may need to try blowing in compressed air and or open up the unit and check the fan.

    Mac fix it has a good take-a-part that I used when I added a SSD to both my 2011 and 2012 minis
  4. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    1800 rpm in the 2012 mini is a fan at idle speed, so that's as slow as it gets. You could use software that controls the fan speed to speed up the fan, then drop it back to minimum (just so you can be sure the noise you hear is the fan, and not something else.)
    You won't be able to make the fan quieter, unless you can find some method to turn it off (which would not be a good plan, IMHO)
  5. cksubs thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 14, 2009
    The noise isn't terrible, more just the fact that I can hear it at all is a rude awakening compared to the *complete silence* of my MacBook Pro.

    I do just have the Mini on top of my desk near the keyboard for initial testing. Will probably improve things if I mount it under the desk like I'm planning.

    It's also sitting on the previous owner's aftermarket bumper feet things to improve airflow. I wonder if that could make the fans more audible?

    I unmounted the HDD (which I would assume would make it stop making noise...?) and the noise I'm hearing continued, so I'm almost sure it's the fan.

    I'll try blowing out and cleaning the fan with compressed air next...
  6. treekram macrumors 65816

    Nov 9, 2015
    Honolulu HI
    I have the same-spec 2012 Mini, except with a 240GB SSD and like the other posters, there is no discernible noise even at close range except when I have CPU-intensive tasks (even with the original HDD inside). I used to have a fan-monitoring app but it stopped working with Yosemite and I haven't installed a replacement but I don't recall hearing anything unless it was about 70C+ degrees. Try the cleaning. Maybe it's a noisy fan? It's not cheap to replace ($55 at ifixit).
  7. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    Like the others said, check the fan to see if there is some kind of problem. My Mini is sitting on top of a DVCAM tape deck right next to my monitor at desk level. I really can't hear it from a seated position. I am in a quiet rural location but have done some room treatment such as carpeting and curtains on the walls to make it acoustically dead, so that probably helps.
  8. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    The fan is inaudible @Idle on the 2.3 i7 in that mini, so it could as well be caused by the higher-clocked CPU. If I remember, I'll check temps & fan speed at idle on mine when I return home later today.
  9. bopajuice Suspended


    Mar 22, 2016
    Dark side of the moon
    Unless the mini came configured that way as a server with an SSD and an extra HDD it is my guess that the seller opened her up to do the upgrades.

    Apple used to have a thermal sensor attached to the internal drive. If the wire was broken during upgrades, the fan would run continuously. Happened to me on a 2010.

    The 2012's do not appear to use thermal sensors but rather it is a firmware issue similar to what I found here:

    "This is due to Apple replacing the external Hard Drive temperature sensor with a proprietary firmware and using the drives internal sensor.
Replacement drives do not contain the firmware to deliver temperature data on the temperature sensor cable.
When the iMac does not receive a good signal from the hard drive it puts the fan at full speed to protect the drive.

    If you replace your drive, your iMac will initially seem fine, but soon the fan will begin to speed up to full speed. Resetting the SMC (System Management Controller) will have a temporary effect, but again the fan will speed up."

    If the SSD or the other drive was added afterwards my guess is that is the culprit. The comments I found were related to an iMac, but it seems to apply here as well, or at least it is one possible explanation.

    One of the fixes is to use a fan control software that uses the S.M.A.R.T. protocol.

    Here is where I got my info:

  10. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    Can't confirm that. Have had various SSD drives in a 2011 and 2012 mini and neither caused any fan-related problem (now TRIM is a different story, but that's also solved already).
  11. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    This is only a problem in iMacs. The Mac Minis do not need a proprietary firmware in the disks to read the disk temperature and control the fan.
  12. fricotin macrumors regular

    Sep 26, 2011
    Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico
    I only start hearing mine when it reaches 4000-5000 rpm at around 95 C.

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