iMac Retina 5K disappointing: Heat and fan noise!

SmallDane

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 23, 2014
93
8
Denmark
I just received my brand new iMac Retina 5K and I am already considering returning it for a refund. It is the current top model:

4.0GHz QC i7 Turboboost 4.4GHz, 32GB (non-Apple), 1TB Flash Storage, AMD Radeon R9 M295X 4GB GDDR5

I am quite disappointed with it. Even fairly mild pressure from running World of Warcraft (on low settings) and watching some streams on twitch.tv causes the GPU to warm up to above 100 degrees Celcius. This causes the fan to speed up from the initial 1200 rpm to above 2300. It is very loud indeed and very distracting.

Heavy work like doing screen recordings or encoding videos with HandBrake heats up the CPU cores to about 100 degrees Celcius and the fan runs at 2700 rpm which seems to be the maximum. At this speed the fan sounds like a vacuum cleaner!

This does not seem reasonable to me. Apart from the noise which is very annoying, I am also worried about the lifetime of especially the GPU with these temperatures.

What do you think? Is this reasonable?

I am considering returning it and perhaps buying the current non-Retina iMac (top model) instead. Do you think that one is less noisy?
 
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Fatboy71

macrumors 65816
Dec 21, 2010
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Re the watching of some streams on Twitch. It seems very odd that it stressed the iMac enough to ramp the fans up to 2300 rpm or higher.

I have a Late 2012 iMac and when I watch similar on demand TV, the fan never goes above 1200 rpm, infact the fan rarely goes above 1200 rpm. I can’t comment on game use as I don’t game on mine, but if I do any encoding etc on FCP, the CPU temperature goes up to around 65 to 70 degrees but the fan speed doesn’t increase (but I live in the UK). I have only heard me iMac’s fan ramp up in speed once (and that was very briefly) and that was doing some video conversion with Handbrake.

Especially for the light demand the TV streaming would place on a powerful machine like yours, I would have it looked at.
 

hjalte

macrumors member
Dec 23, 2014
74
0
I just received my brand new iMac Retina 5K and I am already considering returning it for a refund. It is the current top model:

4.0GHz QC i7 Turboboost 4.4GHz, 32GB (non-Apple), 1TB Flash Storage, AMD Radeon R9 M295X 4GB GDDR5

I am quite disappointed with it. Even fairly mild pressure from running World of Warcraft (on low settings) and watching some streams on twitch.tv causes the GPU to warm up to above 100 degrees Celcius. This causes the fan to speed up from the initial 1200 rpm to above 2300. It is very loud indeed and very distracting.

Heavy work like doing screen recordings or encoding videos with HandBrake heats up the CPU cores to about 100 degrees Celcius and the fan runs at 2700 rpm which seems to be the maximum. At this speed the fan sounds like a vacuum cleaner!

This does not seem reasonable to me. Apart from the noise which is very annoying, I am also worried about the lifetime of especially the GPU with these temperatures.

What do you think? Is this reasonable?

I am considering returning it and perhaps buying the current non-Retina iMac (top model) instead. Do you think that one is less noisy?
@SmallDane (are you from DK?), that really sucks. I wonder if it's "normal" or if you have a defect model.

If possible, could you try and make a video of the fan noise?
I am very interested in hearing how loud it is.
 

fathergll

macrumors 65816
Sep 3, 2014
1,461
884
I've had a base model for a month now and I literally haven't heard the fan once. I haven't done anything too intensive like WOW. I did play Doom 3 in 5k(im sure the fan was audible in silence but i couldn't hear it over the stock speakers).

Personally the biggest reason I stayed away from the 295 was because of the temps. I don't care that Apple engineers 'designed' it to run at 100 C. Heat has always been an issue for iMacs and 295 runs much hotter than the 290. If you are going to have the 295 make sure you have Apple care and seriously consider selling it before the warranty is up. (You should have Apple care with either the 290 or 295)
 

AR86

macrumors member
Dec 7, 2014
66
1
I've had a base model for a month now and I literally haven't heard the fan once. I haven't done anything too intensive like WOW. I did play Doom 3 in 5k(im sure the fan was audible in silence but i couldn't hear it over the stock speakers).

Personally the biggest reason I stayed away from the 295 was because of the temps. I don't care that Apple engineers 'designed' it to run at 100 C. Heat has always been an issue for iMacs and 295 runs much hotter than the 290. If you are going to have the 295 make sure you have Apple care and seriously consider selling it before the warranty is up. (You should have Apple care with either the 290 or 295)
So you're saying upgrading the GPU means you run the risk of burnout because the graphics card makes the mac rum like a blazing hot inferno even on lighter tasks?
 

gmfeier

macrumors member
Jul 24, 2008
36
7
North Carolina
I've got one too...

...and, yes, it runs hot. Civilization V gets the GPU temp up to 95°C. The fan is barely audible at that temp. That's my most demanding app and it used to get the fans roaring on my 2006 Mac Pro with a Radeon 5770, at about 45°C. It's designed to run hot. I don't see any problem with this... yet. I really like the system for other reasons, so I'm hanging on to mine. If it burns up, then I'll be annoyed, but I assume it was tested and the GPU will throttle back if it gets to 105°C. Haven't managed that yet, though.
 

UniDoubleU

macrumors regular
Aug 14, 2014
160
1
Thailand
Pretty much all recent AMD GPUs run quite hot. R9 290x has been quite notorious for its temp and noise. Though overheating with those cards should only occur with stock fan failure. Most reported cases were from Cryptocurrency miners who likely bought the cheapest stock versions with crappy fans, then overclock them, and ran them 24/7. Very little complaints from gamers.

I think as R9 m295x is still an "exotic hardware" seeing as only the iMac 5K has them, therefore our drivers are hardly optimised in both OSX and Windows. Personally I only game in Bootcamp, recently I played Tomb Raider in 1440p in Ultra and the fans weren't annoying at all, probably around 2k at 90 degrees. Performance was fully smooth, though that was with a well-optimised game even with crappy stock GPU driver. Now with the new AMD driver I haven't done much gaming yet but it seemed to squeeze at little more performance from the card. I say give it time.
 

joema2

macrumors 68000
Sep 3, 2013
1,591
797
...I am considering returning it and perhaps buying the current non-Retina iMac (top model) instead. Do you think that one is less noisy?
I have a top spec 2013 iMac 27. While it's generally very quiet, Handbrake transcoding, Prime95 or any similar sustained multithreaded CPU-bound activity will cause the fan run at high speed. The noise is not unpleasant, but it is relatively loud. My overclocked Windows PC (which has 7 fans) is next to it, and the iMac at full blast is louder.

I doubt the retina iMac is much if any louder than the non-retina iMac when both are running Handbrake. For less stressful tasks, it is possible the retina iMac fan speed kicks up earlier than the non-retina iMac.
 

UniDoubleU

macrumors regular
Aug 14, 2014
160
1
Thailand
I have a top spec 2013 iMac 27. While it's generally very quiet, Handbrake transcoding, Prime95 or any similar sustained multithreaded CPU-bound activity will cause the fan run at high speed. The noise is not unpleasant, but it is relatively loud. My overclocked Windows PC (which has 7 fans) is next to it, and the iMac at full blast is louder.

I doubt the retina iMac is much if any louder than the non-retina iMac when both are running Handbrake. For less stressful tasks, it is possible the retina iMac fan speed kicks up earlier than the non-retina iMac.
Seeing as the iMac 5K's i7 4970k CPU is the fastest gaming CPU currently, also reportedly running hotter than iMac 2013's i7 4770k, combined with AMD R9 m295x, one of the newest top tier mobile GPU; which is also of the new Tonga architecture supposedly more energy efficient and cooler (for AMD), this high performance combination also generate noticeably more heat and tha heat has to get out somehow. I conclude that the fans should be louder.

Anyhow, way less annoying than my rMBP's crazy fans and also doesn't burn my fingers! :mad:
 

joema2

macrumors 68000
Sep 3, 2013
1,591
797
...this high performance combination also generate noticeably more heat and tha heat has to get out somehow. I conclude that the fans should be louder....
It would be louder if the retina iMac had the exact same fan and exact same interior aerodynamics, leaving the only option to spin the fan faster. I don't think we know enough details to conclude that.

Apple's specs say at full load the top retina iMac consumes 288 watts, vs 229 watts for the 2013 iMac 27, an approx. 25% increase. Since much of that is translated to heat, the total heat output is probably also about 25% greater: http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201918

However the retina iMac puts out 21% less heat than the 2010 iMac which was 365 watts. How loud were those?
 

Cape Dave

macrumors 68000
Nov 16, 2012
1,962
1,105
Northeast
I have the 295 with the i5. Wanted the i7 but was afraid ox extra heat. I do not game nor edit.

But I watch alot of videos and the fan has never increased in the 2 months I have had the machine. All temps are OK.

I had to increase it myself with istats just to make sure it was not broken :)

temps: https://www.dropbox.com/s/utaqwfbppxp9vtc/Screenshot 2014-12-24 14.19.37.png?dl=0

I find that a fresh install of OSX helps with many things. From now on I will never buy a Mac without doing a FRESH download and install of OSX. The I bring data over.

So, that would be really my only advice if you wanted to try something before returning it.
 

Mindinversion

macrumors 6502
Oct 9, 2008
357
129
This is why I got the base model, running mid 3k resolutions with settings split between good/ultra, I can keep FPS on WoW over 50, and without using SMC fan control, it doesn't get over 63c

If you're REALLY concerned about temps and fan noise, I'd exchange for the mid model [the M295x is rated 150w MORE than the M290]

i7 is up to you, but I'm fairly certain it won't ramp up the temps like the M295x will...
 

UniDoubleU

macrumors regular
Aug 14, 2014
160
1
Thailand
However the retina iMac puts out 21% less heat than the 2010 iMac which was 365 watts. How loud were those?
I had the 2009 model for some time, those thick iMacs can go pretty loud when doing intensive tasks.

Is looked that iFixit tear downs and 2013 and 5K looks the same on the inside. Might be some minor cooling differences?
 

WilliamG

macrumors G3
Mar 29, 2008
9,089
2,548
Seattle
I had the 2009 model for some time, those thick iMacs can go pretty loud when doing intensive tasks.

Is looked that iFixit tear downs and 2013 and 5K looks the same on the inside. Might be some minor cooling differences?
I don't believe there is a single difference in cooling method between the 2012/13 and the 2014 5K. The 2012/2103 iMacs ran very cool, so it's no surprise that Apple is pushing the thermal envelope here with the 5K iMac because it has the headroom to do so.

I usually hate fan noise but I find the 5K noise to be pleasant for a fan tone. It definitely runs hotter than my 2012 high-end did, though. And for gaming at least it's not much of an improvement. So it goes: the price we pay to have that delicious screen! I suspect the next refresh will really bring the GPU in line because quite frankly the 295X is not great at all. Apple should have brought more to the table here in late 2014.
 

Cape Dave

macrumors 68000
Nov 16, 2012
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I don't believe there is a single difference in cooling method between the 2012/13 and the 2014 5K. The 2012/2103 iMacs ran very cool, so it's no surprise that Apple is pushing the thermal envelope here with the 5K iMac because it has the headroom to do so.

I usually hate fan noise but I find the 5K noise to be pleasant for a fan tone. It definitely runs hotter than my 2012 high-end did, though. And for gaming at least it's not much of an improvement. So it goes: the price we pay to have that delicious screen! I suspect the next refresh will really bring the GPU in line because quite frankly the 295X is not great at all. Apple should have brought more to the table here in late 2014.
Agreed. They could have and should have done better. Not to mention AMD. Get your act together AMD. Heat is not our friend.
 

Mindinversion

macrumors 6502
Oct 9, 2008
357
129
Notebookcheck estimates the M295x at 125W, and the M290 at 100W.
Perhaps Apple is using a nerfed version of the m295x? My understanding is that the M295x is 250w, vs the M290x' 100w.
 

SmallDane

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 23, 2014
93
8
Denmark
Thanks for all the replies. I tried to make a video of the problem. But I'm not sure how useful it is since you really have to be in the room to experience how loud the fan noise is.


The sensors shown in he menu bar are as follows:
  1. Fan speed
  2. GPU Die
  3. CPU Core 1
  4. CPU Core 2
  5. CPU Core 3
  6. CPU Core 4

The machine is doing nothing other than showing this video stream. I should note that this is with Chrome using its own Flash plugin. Using the Flash plugin from Adobe (either by disabling the built-in one in Chrome or by using Safari) does improve performance somewhat. It is still pretty poor performance though.

I am still leaning mostly towards returning it. The only thing is that I don't know what to replace it with. I tend to want the biggest and fastest when buying new. But some of you have suggested that this may be a bad idea if I also want low noise. It just seems quite counter-intuitive getting a slower model in order to reduce noise. Wouldn't a slower GPU be pressured more and thus produce even more heat?
 

UniDoubleU

macrumors regular
Aug 14, 2014
160
1
Thailand
Thanks for all the replies. I tried to make a video of the problem. But I'm not sure how useful it is since you really have to be in the room to experience how loud the fan noise is.

The sensors shown in he menu bar are as follows:
  1. Fan speed
  2. GPU Die
  3. CPU Core 1
  4. CPU Core 2
  5. CPU Core 3
  6. CPU Core 4

The machine is doing nothing other than showing this video stream. I should note that this is with Chrome using its own Flash plugin. Using the Flash plugin from Adobe (either by disabling the built-in one in Chrome or by using Safari) does improve performance somewhat. It is still pretty poor performance though.

I am still leaning mostly towards returning it. The only thing is that I don't know what to replace it with. I tend to want the biggest and fastest when buying new. But some of you have suggested that this may be a bad idea if I also want low noise. It just seems quite counter-intuitive getting a slower model in order to reduce noise. Wouldn't a slower GPU be pressured more and thus produce even more heat?
OK, I'm at work at the moment and cannot watch the video.

Whoops saw a little bit in 360p so blurry but. What are the highest temp sensors and most resource intensive processes?
 

WilliamG

macrumors G3
Mar 29, 2008
9,089
2,548
Seattle
Thanks for all the replies. I tried to make a video of the problem. But I'm not sure how useful it is since you really have to be in the room to experience how loud the fan noise is.

YouTube: video

The sensors shown in he menu bar are as follows:
  1. Fan speed
  2. GPU Die
  3. CPU Core 1
  4. CPU Core 2
  5. CPU Core 3
  6. CPU Core 4

The machine is doing nothing other than showing this video stream. I should note that this is with Chrome using its own Flash plugin. Using the Flash plugin from Adobe (either by disabling the built-in one in Chrome or by using Safari) does improve performance somewhat. It is still pretty poor performance though.

I am still leaning mostly towards returning it. The only thing is that I don't know what to replace it with. I tend to want the biggest and fastest when buying new. But some of you have suggested that this may be a bad idea if I also want low noise. It just seems quite counter-intuitive getting a slower model in order to reduce noise. Wouldn't a slower GPU be pressured more and thus produce even more heat?
Can you send me a link to some video that causes "trouble" so I can test on my own 5K iMac? I too have an i7/295. I can then give some more feedback.
 

SmallDane

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 23, 2014
93
8
Denmark
Whoops saw a little bit in 360p so blurry but. What are the highest temp sensors and most resource intensive processes?
GPU is close to 100 degrees and the CPU cores are about 95. The most resource intensive process is Google Chrome Helper (essentially the Flash plugin, I think).

----------

Can you send me a link to some video that causes "trouble" so I can test on my own 5K iMac? I too have an i7/295. I can then give some more feedback.
Edit: I found a recorded version of the live stream that you can try: http://www.twitch.tv/nvidia/b/602943987 (set the quality to "Best")

It is a live stream from http://www.twitch.tv so you might not be able to find the specific one. But you can try http://www.twitch.tv/swifty. Make sure you choose "Source" quality in the lower right corner.

I should note that the Flash player from twitch.tv does seem to perform quite poorly in general. It also put pressure on my old 2011 iMac. But it didn't sound nearly as loud. I guess that's my biggest disappointment really. That my 3 year old iMac has a much better noise/performance ratio.
 
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hjalte

macrumors member
Dec 23, 2014
74
0
Thanks for all the replies. I tried to make a video of the problem. But I'm not sure how useful it is since you really have to be in the room to experience how loud the fan noise is.
Thank you for the video. It does sound like it's very high. Nothing like a old stationary pc, but high for a $3000 mac.

When I start that clip on my laptop (3 years old with a GT540M GPU) the fan starts as well. Much lower noise than on your iMac though (or at least it sounds that way).
 

SmallDane

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 23, 2014
93
8
Denmark
I watched your stream ( http://www.twitch.tv/nvidia/b/602943987 ) fullscreen with best quality (720) on my iMac 5k (i7 and 295, 16GB Ram, 512 SD) for a view minutes with

Safari with Adobe Flash: silent
Chrome with Adobe Flash: silent
Chrome with built-in Flash: silent
The 720p is also silent on mine. But that is not the best quality. You have to choose the option that's called "Best". I think that's 1080p or maybe higher.
 
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