New Mac mini Noise Considerations

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by kaibob, Oct 31, 2018.

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  1. kaibob macrumors regular

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    #1
    I have a 2012 base Mac mini that I use for internet and email and in six years of use I have never heard any fan or other noise coming from this computer. I'm now going to purchase a new mini and I want it to be equally silent--everything else is of secondary importance.

    In configuring my new mini, are there any choices I should make to guarantee a quiet machine. I ask this question primarily in deciding on a 4-core or 6-core processor. The 4-core processor easily meets my needs but I'll pay for the more expensive processor if necessary to insure a quiet machine.

    Just as an aside, I looked at the specs on Apple for the new mini and it shows the following. So I suspect that all of the mini's will be very quiet:

    "Typical acoustical performance: Sound pressure level (operator position): 4 dBA at idle"

    Any recommendations or thoughts would be appreciated.
     
  2. chrfr macrumors 604

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    #2
    If everything else is truly secondary, keep your 2012. The fan in the 2012 is not really very quiet when you push the computer hard, and if you've never heard it, you're not even getting maximum performance out of that computer.
     
  3. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #3
    "At idle" is the key phrase here. Pretty much every computer is silent, or very nearly so, when it idles - think of a car engine at idle, that's as quiet as it ever gets when it's running.

    The noise from a computer most typically comes when it's under a load - games, videos, compiling code, etc. Browsing websites generally doesn't put any stress on the machine, so it's pretty much going to idle its way through that. If you want to hear how loud a machine gets, play a long video or a game. It'll ramp up pretty quickly.
     
  4. Cape Dave macrumors 68000

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    #4
    We think alike. If it is not quiet, then nothing else matters. I am so amazed at the computer in my sig. It is the first computer I can call SILENT. As opposed to quiet. I could sleep with my head right next to it if I wanted. I have had to open it up to make sure the fan is even spinning.

    So it will be very intriguing to hear what the new mini is like.
     
  5. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

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    #5
    The only accurate option is waiting for real world reports. Recent iMacs have complaints on i7 running the fan to much. Most likely the i5 will be fine.
     
  6. kaibob thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    I've read those reports, and they are a small concern. My processor choice is between the I3 and I5; SSD is set at 256GB. You're right that I should wait, but I've been waiting for a new mini for so long that it's tough.
     
  7. now i see it macrumors 68040

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    #7
    The 3.6 gHz quad core i3 CPU for the 2018 mini will run the coolest. You'll likely never hear the fan.

    image.jpeg
     
  8. kaibob thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    I read all the early reviews and thus far it appears that the I3 mini is pretty much silent and the I7 is quiet at idle but can get a fair amount of fan noise when under load. I haven't found a review yet of the I5.

    Hopefully those who get their mini today will let us know what they find (my I5 arrives on Friday).
     
  9. bigfatipod macrumors regular

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    Sep 22, 2011
    #9
    What kind of hard drive is in your 2012 mini - a mechanical spinning drive or an ssd?
    As another person mentioned, if you've never heard the fan come up than what's driving you to upgrade?

    If you have a spinning drive that you've filled up, then you could probably get quite a bit more life of the mini by converting it to ssd.

    I have a 2012 quad mini. when I swapped both internal drives to ssd, the fans came on noticeably less.
     
  10. kaibob thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    I need a second computer in the house and that job has been assigned to the 2012 mini. Plus, it's a base model and is a bit on the slow side for some stuff.
     
  11. marc_b macrumors member

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    #11
    Really looking forward to what you'll be reporting. The i5 should run much cooler than the i7 which would be ideal.
    I also wonder how heavy the work load needs to be for the i7 to spin up audibly.
     
  12. StellarVixen macrumors 68000

    StellarVixen

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    #12
    Mac Mini’s fan at max speed is equal in loudness to the 2018 MBP fan at max speed.

    I do not know how loud is that, but I do not see people complain that their MBPs are too loud. They complain about other thing, but not about that.

    EDIT:

    Source: https://marco.org/2018/11/06/mac-mini-2018-review
     
  13. marc_b macrumors member

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    #13
    I read and watched Marco's review. My point is that I'd like it to be completely silent.

    I suppose I can live with the i7 spinning up when it's actually doing encoding or other heavy work loads but my tolerance is limited. Which is why I'm considering the i5.
     
  14. Hamish Lang macrumors newbie

    Hamish Lang

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    #14
    I'm really interest in the noise differences between the i5 and i7 models!

    Coming from a rMBP 15" 2015 (4700k or whatever) this thing is one hot monster! I'm sick to death of fan noise but know that the i7s can be much worth for this. Does the i7 in the new mac mini use more power than the i5?

    Also is it possible that the mac mini 2018 would be quieter than the 27" iMacs?

    Dumb question, does RAM amount and SSD capacity effect heat - I would of though not but this seems like the place to ask!

    (considering 32gb & 512GB - for music production)
     
  15. th0masp macrumors 6502

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    #15
    The 2012 i5 model (is that the base you are referring to?) is indeed very silent but also a bit sluggish for my taste. You can experience that even when you are not stressing it - e.g. Spotlight indexing can noticeably slow it down. Hence I think the upgrade is justified.
    Personally I just switched it out for a trashcan mac (same price as a loaded new mini) and boy is it a difference in overall responsiveness (while still barely audible).

    My take is that the new i7 model will sound like my MBP: as soon as its under load you can definitely hear it revving up. When it goes into full-on fan overdrive it's just too annoying to use.
     
  16. nyoungman macrumors newbie

    nyoungman

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    #16
    Tom's Guide and ZDNet both say the i3 is quiet, whereas Marco's review and video demonstrate the i7 getting a bit loud, but not as loud or harsh as his 13" MacBook Pro (2018, i7).

    My work laptop is the same maxed out i7 as Marco's and I find the fan spins up to audible levels without really pushing it. When Arq backups kick off or having Node.js servers recompiling, the CPU will sometimes hit 70ºC (ambient is 23ºC) and the fan ramps up to audible levels. This wasn't noticeable on my previous dual-core 2016 MacBook Pro (i5).

    Back to the mini. The i3 doesn't have turbo boost. Even though all 3 chips are rated for 65W, the i3 stays well within that TDP because of no turbo boost. The other two chips do have turbo boost. I too am very interested in the i5 6-core model but I couldn't find any reviews of that one.

    The i7 in Marco's video doesn't sound as bad as the MacBook Pro, and I'm not sure which tasks push it to audible levels. Maybe I would find it acceptable if it's rarely spinning up that loud. It would be interesting to find out more about the tasks that push it to audible levels, as well as how the real-world performance of the 3 chips compare.
     
  17. strawbale macrumors 6502

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    #17
    From Marco:

    "It’s silent at idle. The i7’s fan noise does become clearly audible when it’s under heavy load: it’s in the ballpark of a modern MacBook Pro, but quieter. Interestingly, I disabled Turbo Boost to simulate the base i3 model’s thermals, and couldn’t get the fan to spin up audibly, no matter what I did. Those who prioritize silence under heavy loads should probably stick with the i3." (my bold)
     
  18. marc_b macrumors member

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    #18
    The i5's temperatures in general look much more like an i3 based on CPU reviews. I don't know if it's the lack of multithreading but under load the i5 runs a good 15-20°C cooler than an i7 and only 1-2 degrees warmer than an i3.
    I doubt it'll act much differently in the Mac mini so I'm counting on the i5 to hit the sweet spot for me.
     
  19. trifid macrumors 68000

    trifid

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    #19
    Everything I've seen so far makes the mini very promising with regards to quietness, I can't wait to see more reviews and analysis also with regards to throttling.
     
  20. strawbale macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Wouldn't it depend on the the size of the case and the fan: case A + fan A could be sufficient to keep an i5 (very) close to an i3, but not an i7; case B + fan B can only keep an i3 really quiet. case C + fan C can keep them all silent.

    PS: which CPU are you referring to? in SFF PCs?
     
  21. marc_b macrumors member

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    #21
    The reviews are usually done with the stock cooler so that should be comparable.
    It's hard to find decent reviews of the i5 8500 but we have good data for the 8400 which is only 2% slower. The stress tests I've seen comparing various coffee lake CPUs see the i7 8700 around 15°C hotter than the i5 8400 with the i3 8100 being another 5 degrees cooler.
     
  22. nyoungman macrumors newbie

    nyoungman

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    #22
    Interesting -- I haven't looked into the CPU reviews yet. I hope it works out well for you. If the i5 runs cooler with less audible fan noise, and still performing well enough... that'd be great. And it doesn't hurt to save a bit of money.

    I just sent a Tweet to Marco asking if he could disable Hyper-Threading from Instruments on the i7 to simulate the i5 behaviour. It wouldn't be exactly the same, but could give an general idea of fan noise and performance. We'll see if he's (or anyone else) is up for it. Very curious.
     
  23. StellarVixen macrumors 68000

    StellarVixen

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    #23
    Those who prioritize silence and power shall build ATX case with liquid cooling.

    i7 Mac Mini has to be loud under heavy loads, it is only way for it to cool itself in such tiny case.
     
  24. ilikewhey macrumors 6502a

    ilikewhey

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    #24
    darn it i was planning on getting the i7 since i want 6 core, but i also value noise level alot.

    would it be any more quiet if i use a egpu with it? or is the fan spinning purely from the cpu itself
     
  25. Shaddix-be macrumors newbie

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    Nov 2, 2018
    #25
    This might be going off-topic but it's a myth that liquid cooling is the most silent option because you still need fans to cool your liquid.
     

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