Is Mac Pro Noisy? Compared to iMac 27" i7?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by KKramer, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. KKramer macrumors member


    Feb 9, 2010
    I switched from desktops 10 years ago mostly because they were noisy as hell.
    Went through piles of "silent fans" like Zalman and Thermaltake and still couldn't get acceptable silent desktop. And there was also factor of noisy harddrives.

    Now I am upgrading from iMac 24" and choosing between iMac 27" i7 and Mac Pro.

    I've been using MBP and iMacs for past 6 years and now I am reluctant to go Mac Pro for this particular reason, that it will be too noisy.

    iMac with i7 CPU will be noisy aswell?
    And since I buy custom config from Apple online will I be able to return it?
  2. chibamac macrumors 6502


    Jan 10, 2009
    Mine is quieter..
    The imac i7 heated up quite a bit and because it's in front of your face, your hear the fans. The Mac pro is off the side or on the floor away from your face.. My Mac pro is only 4 days old but I haven't heard the fans once..

  3. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2010
    Edinburgh, UK
    I can't hear the case fans at all - the only noise I am aware of is the 5870 fan which I am in the process of replacing.

    As for hard drives, I have a boot SSD and a Caviar Green drive for Time Machine so don't hear those. I am aware that the stock Caviar Black drive would be noisier but you often find those in iMacs too.
  4. mjsmke macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2010
    I find the Mac Pro's quieter than the iMacs. I still have the stock WD black for my working files and thats the loudest part.
  5. dsc888 macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2010
    Boston, MA USA
    I think noise is relative and can vary from person to person. I had an iMac 27 i7 and found that it was very quiet with the exception of the Seagate harddrive which was very loud. But I think Apple has changed over to the Western Digital drives more recently so it's not as loud or annoying. If you do the CTO i7 with the 256GB SSD than it should be near silent.

    I also am a new owner of the Mac Pro 2.8 QC. It is NOT silent and is louder than the iMac I had. It's on hardwood floor about 3 feet from my ears. There are a total of 6 fans in the case. And the case is perforated so sound will come out. If you place it on carpeting and have no walls nearby to reflect the fan noise, then it can be very quiet. But never silent. And yes the 1 TB Caviar Black drive is noisy. The fans on the Mac Pro is not annoying. It's like white noise that you can ignore quickly. I imagine you can put the Mac Pro further away and use extension cables for the monitor and keyboard to lessen the sound of the fans.

    I too am sensitive to noise so I can relate to your concerns. I got the Mac Pro due to upgradability and that is an amazing trade off.
  6. naid macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2008
    The iMac uses laptop components in a limited space, so it's harder to cool it down. That means that the fans will generally spin faster.

    The Mac Pro has much more airflow and bigger fans, so they don't have to spin as fast. Mine have been chugging along at 600-900 rpm for 2 years now. It's not completely silent but close.

    Overall, the Mac Pro might be a little louder than the iMac, but the difference will be small. I'd say go with the Mac Pro.

    Now a Macbook Pro, on the other hand, can get all kinds of loud :D
  7. ndraves macrumors member

    Jan 19, 2011
    I have a 2010 Mac Pro and when I first got it there was little noise. I have since put in a second 5770 and it now is a little louder but nothing to major.

    My flatmate has a 27" iMac and even from day one with my MP his has always been quieter on the fans.

    So if noise is an issue then go with the iMac.

    One point to note is that the iMac will get hotter quicker and when it does then the fans do spin up, this makes it louder than a MP, but for normal use with a reasonable amount of processor use then the iMac is quieter.
  8. dsc888 macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2010
    Boston, MA USA
    ndraves nailed it. If you are not encoding video or doing anything that will heat up the iMac too much, it is definitely the quieter machine. But under load, the Mac Pro wins. My MP idles at about 28 degrees C whereas my previous iMac will idle up at around 50-57 degrees C in the same room. That's close to my MacBook Pro which is quiet until I encode video at which point it sounds like a jet turbine.

  9. mrt209 macrumors 6502

    Nov 21, 2010
    I had 2 iMacs i7s before I got the Mac Pro and my MP is significantly quieter than the iMacs.

    Both iMacs, however, had really loud hard drives.
  10. rmitchell248 macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2010
    Liebsthal, Germany
    I had an imac i5 27 and the 1 tb wd HDD was very loud. That was really the only noise it made. My MP out of the box had the same HDD and it was just as loud. I have since replaced it with a pair of 3TB Hitachi drives and 2 SSDs and it is VERY quiet. Just the low hum of the fans which is barely audible.
  11. DeeEss macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2011
    My 2010 MP is usually whisper quiet. So much so that I wonder if it's even on.

    Some times it emits a very low pulse reverberation that is hardly noticed.

    Though when I first got it it made a few noises and vibrations that it doesn't now.

    I replaced the disk also with 2x SSD's and 4x Hitachi 3tb's and they are much quieter than the the one caviar black that came with it that made a racket. If I eject the Hitachis and just have the SSD's running it's almost silent except for a barely noticeable whisper of the fans.
  12. BobD2 macrumors member

    Aug 9, 2008
    Don't know about the iMac, but my 2010 Mac Pro (3.3 GHz 6-core, 2x1TB WD Caviar Black plus 2x1TB Caviar RE3 internal drives) is very quiet. Don't usually hear it at all. But at the moment, I'm not pushing it particularly hard.
  13. cjoy macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2008
    good to hear other ppl are happy with the noise level on their 2010 MPs.

    mine is certainly the loudest machine (idle) that I've had in a while - the MBP is a lot less noisy even though it sits on the table. the custom build pc is 99% silent, the iMac is relatively quite.

    Without further comment on the dvd drive that sounds like a hair-dryer, the HDD noise and also the front fan are very audible.. and I do have to have music running to not be annoyed. Guess I'll have to get rid of the internal HDDs and replace the fans with better quality to make up for the lack of isolation of the tower housing.


    apart from that noise issue... it's by far the best mac I've had so far ;)
  14. Garamond macrumors regular

    Oct 17, 2004
    My Mac Pro is waay more noisy than my former iMac 27", I can't understand people who complains about iMacs and say that Mac Pro's are virtually silent? It's far from the truth, but in the favour of the Mac Pro I can say that the fans seldom spins up like they sometime can do on an iMac. But with regular use, the Mac Pro is much more noisy - no question about it.
  15. dsc888 macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2010
    Boston, MA USA
    Yup. I have the random reverb sometimes too but they do go away quickly. There is no rhyme or reason but you do have to listen for it. I wonder if it has anything to do with the aluminum case expansion as the unit heats up a bit after starting up. Otherwise, my MP is quiet but NOT silent.

  16. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Not likely. :eek:

    Blade balance (in this case, lack thereof) would be far more likely the cause... ;)
  17. avro707 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2010
    Really quiet compared with the i7 iMac 27" I have at work. And it's really quiet compared with the PC I used to have:

    Intel i7 920 2.66ghz / 6gb / 1TB / GTX295 1792mb.

    That old PC had large, slow running fans and it was still noisy. Mac Pro is so much nicer. :)
  18. dsc888 macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2010
    Boston, MA USA
    Very interesting theory. You might be right. I wonder why it comes at random, lasts a few seconds to minutes and then disappear never to be heard again until the next startup. Just plain weird. But again, you have to be listening for it.

  19. akadmon Suspended

    Aug 30, 2006
    New England
    Never had any issues with the noise level of my MP (1,1), except when running Win7 under Bootcamp. For whatever reason, there is some process that's constantly accessing the HD and it's driving me nuts, to the point I prefer to do all my Windows work in a Fusion VM.
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The 2010's have had issues with the front fan assembly, and has been covered in other threads (this one goes in depth; there's others too, and will come up in a search if you're interested). ;)

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