How Noisy/Quiet Is Your High-End iMac 27"?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by buegelfrei, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. buegelfrei macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2011
    I'm a bit of a noise freak: one of the reasons I've stuck with Apple's "pro" towers for so long is so I could banish the CPU to a closet. But no more... I will be replacing my aging 2008 MacPro (and ancient, plastic Cinema HD display) with some form of souped-up 27" iMac this year.

    How's the noise?

    I expect to get one of the pure SSD options. The 3.5GHz processor upgrade is very likely. Graphics card upgrade is a possibility. Will my ears regret it?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    I have a 3.5 i7/32/512/780M setup and it's absolutely silent, even under heavy loads. Even when doing heavy loads, the loudest I hear is only a soft whir.
  3. Chippy99, Jul 24, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014

    Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    Just to add a bit of balance here, this is a much debated subject.

    No iMac is absolutely silent. This is a statement of fact, not opinion. The fan runs constantly at a minimum of 1200 rpm and perhaps you may have an internal hard disk too. Apple do not claim the iMac to be silent, because it isn't.

    Some people say "my iMac is absolutely silent". What they actually mean is "I can't hear my iMac" or "I am so used to the faint background whooshing sound that I don't even notice it."

    But working at home in an otherwise silent room, I do notice it. On ALL iMacs. Is it obtrusive? No, not in any way, and the quietness of the machine is impressive and a key strongpoint of the design.

    I hope this does not start a flame war from people who are somehow "offended". If you can't hear your iMac then great.

    Acoustic spec are towards the bottom of the page.

    EDIT, I might add - the environment you use it in is key I think. In an open office I doubt you would ever hear it. And at home if your home/office is large then again, perhaps you wouldn't. But if it's a small office as mine is, and if you have wall behind the iMac that reflects the sound (and you have normal hearing), you almost certainly will hear a faint background whooshing sound. It's certainly quiet and unobtrusive, but it is there.
  4. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    It's very quiet for what it is. Not absolutely silent but neither is a pin drop.

    Only when gaming does the fan ramp up for me but any audio play EASILY drowns out fan noise.

    If I turn the fan to max manually it's as loud as any PC is. However it's never automatically gone anywhere near that.
  5. benjalamelami macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2012
    I have it on my bedroom and I watch movies and play games. It does get a little noisy on some games and some instances, but it is very smooth and quiet for the horsepower it packs.
  6. Truthfulie macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    Anyone who tells you that their iMacs are silent is either not in a silent room or simply not noticing their iMacs. There is a fan in there like all computers and it can be heard as there are no sound dampening material inside of iMac. It isn't a noise that will annoy you as it is barely noticeable.

    Under load, the fan does kick in with quite a bit of noise. Most heavy usage I put on mine is encoding BD video into MKVs with Handbrake. I personally found the noise to be quite annoying.
  7. iMcLovin macrumors 68000


    Feb 11, 2009

    You forget som people have an ssd iMac. For me the only noise is the CPU fan, and unless it's under pressure it's nearly no sound. If course there's a fan moving but pretty much any other sound in a room will be higher (personally I have to move close to the machine to hear it) when the fan is above 2000rpm on the other hand I hear a smooth wind sound but it's very soft compared to other fans.

    If you have any connected hdd to an iMac it most likely makes a lot more noise than the iMac itself... Which is annoying, that no one makes a premium external hdd that makes "no" sound. When the machine itself is so silent.
  8. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012

    From what I noticed the fan even at 1200 RPM is multiple times louder then the HDD to the point where the HDD might as well be silent since it's drowned out by the fan. Keeping in mind the fan is very quiet like you described.

    I realize all HDD can be different this is just my experience.
  9. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    No I don't. That's why I said "you may have an internal hard disk too."

    My iMac is SSD only.

    It's pretty damned near silent and easily the quietest computer I have ever owned other than an iPad! ;-)

    The central heating in the house makes FAR more noise, as indeed does my laptop even when idling. It really is brilliant.

    It just grates a little when people say it's absolutely silent. I hear that said often and it simply is not correct.
  10. quagmire macrumors 603


    Apr 19, 2004
    27" iMac with the 4670, 780M, and 512 GB SSD. Mine is relatively silent when the fan is at 1200 RPM. But if there is no background noise( i.e. AC is not running, fridge, etc) I can hear the whirring of the fan. And as Chippy stated, that is completely normal. If there is no other kind of background noise, then you will hear the air being blown out by the fan.

    When I do force the fan to either 1900-2600 RPM when I play games, the game sound usually drowns out the fan as well, but it is obviously louder.
  11. Chippy99, Jul 24, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014

    Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    Yes, agreed.

    I am constantly tempted to move to 2.5" external disks because they are so much quieter. As it is, I unmount my external media when I am just working on proposals and stuff, so it powers down and is silent. Otherwise the external hard disks are WAAAAYYYY more noisy than the iMac.

    I am tempted with this:

    It's two 2GB 2.5" disks in a single enclosure running Raid0 (transparently - it just looks like a 4TB drive as far as OSX is concerned.) The Raid0 bit is concerning for reliability reasons (twice the risk of failure), but I figured I might buy two and run the pair in Raid1. So "mirrored stripes, aka Raid 0+1", which is reasonably reliable. They should be quiet too, and under my desk hopefully not audible.
  12. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    I have a late 2013 quad i7 with an Nvidia 780M and a 1TB fusion drive, the only time I hear the fans are when I use handbrake, otherwise its silent.
  13. Rumpot macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2012
    I have a maxed 27"
    If not doing any taxing it is fairly quite, however it gets quite loud when you put a workload on it, almost to the point of being unbearable.
  14. iMcLovin macrumors 68000


    Feb 11, 2009
    Hmm, then out iMacs has to have a different amount of fan noise. I think that can be likely though, because my 2008 imac makes a lot more fan noise than my 2012 iMac. And also my 2012 imac did make a sort of "flaff-flaff" propellar sound in the beginning, but it started running smooth after a couple of weeks. But, I sold my Lacie 2big HDD because the noise was so loud and I felt it ruined the whole iMac experience. I bought a Lacie fanless d2 thunderbolt instead. And even if its fanless, it still makes a LOT more noise from the HDD than the iMac (its night and day). So, im pretty picky when it comes to noise, once the HDD goes to sleep more its almost silent in the room. Sadly though, now I don´t know what external HDD I can buy, I don´t trust Lacie, if not I would consider the New 2big thunderbolt 2 Drive.

    You are right, there is some noise. But I also think it depends how lucky you been with the fan. just a slightly off balanced fan would make a lot more noise. Mine is almost silent, and once it start up the 2000 rpm hard working mode, its just clear brease, absolutely no fan flacking sound at all. But in general its barely audible. And, as I mentioned above, I´m very picky with noise, I tried multiple external HDD´s, and Im still on the lookout for a proper one. And I even sent back my Wacom tablet because I could hear a high pitched whining sound from one of the led lights :) So all in all the late 2012 iMac beats all the computers I´ve ever owned.


    Thanks for the tip, sadly though its a small storage. Im very curious about the new Lacie drive. They do market it as nearly silent. But I read that before from Lacie and then bought it and the noise level was horrible. So I wish there were a review were they focused on noise.

    If anyone here bought it, I´d love to hear their experience.

    This is the product Im referring to:
  15. Xavier macrumors 68030

    Mar 23, 2006
    Heavy Photoshop/Lightroom as well as Final Cut X projects and my 27" is just about silent. Like a pervious person said, the loudest is like a soft whisper. I don't have an SSD either.
  16. allymac macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2008
    Just taken delivery of a 27" iMac with a 1GB fusion drive. Amazed at how quiet it is, it isn't silent, but it's certainly one of the quietest machines I've ever owned, and that includes custom homebuilds with specialist quiet components.
  17. thedeske macrumors 6502a

    Feb 17, 2013
    My late 2012 with SSD only was super quiet to me, but I live in the city and have older ears ;)

    The only time the fans were audible was compiling a video. It was almost a shock to hear the fans at all. I did put my ear on the back once to confirm during the first few days for fun. Yep, they're in there.

    If I had 4 of the same Imac on the desk, there's a chance one of them would have fans I could hear. Get my drift?
  18. Tumbleweed666 macrumors 68000


    Mar 20, 2009
    Near London, UK.
    I cant hear anything at all from the iMac I'm typing this on, so according to those who say it does make some noise, it seems my ears are shot and I needn't spend good money on a high end HiFi system :D
  19. Kjos macrumors member

    Dec 4, 2013
    I went with the 2 GB Video Memory instead of the 4 GB because I was slightly worried about sound, but yeah I've never had an issue with sound with my 2 GB Video card and everything else maxed
  20. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 28, 2012
    I'm afraid that is the logical conclusion.


    I am not optimistic. I have a 4TB Lacie drive for Time Machine and it whines constantly so I power it off mainly. I think you are struggling to get any 7,200 rpm 3.5" drive to be really quiet and with multiple drives in an enclosure, and a fan, it's bound to be audible.

    My NAS is silent - since it's in another room ;-) - but then I have crappy Ethernet bandwidth limitations. I am definitely leaning towards multiple 2.5" disks as the way to go.

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