Retina vs. non-retina iMac vs. MBP fan noise

Discussion in 'iMac' started by thundersteele, Dec 13, 2014.

  1. thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #1
    Hi all. I've read through a few threads here about the new iMac's performance, and also consulted a few benchmarks (e.g. barefeats). The overall picture I get is that the performance of the M295X is fine, but that it is louder than the 2013 iMac with 780M GPU. It would be nice if some people could:

    - confirm that the M295X iMac is noisy in situations (e.g. gaming) where the 780M would remain mostly silent
    - compare the fan noise of the M295X with that of a MBP (e.g. 15'' retina or non-retina) while gaming

    My personal preferences/use: I've been using MBPs for the last 7 years at least, for work but also for some casual gaming. The MBPs produce significant fan noise when gaming - this is one thing I really would be happy to get rid of. I often sit in a room with my wife, so just wearing headphones doesn't help.
    I don't care for extreme graphics performance (e.g. 4k/5k gaming), but decent fps at 1080p or 1440p would be nice. If I can get comparable performance with much less noise with the 780M I would value that highly. I like the retina screen on my 13'' rMBP but I don't consider it necessary on a desktop. Anyways the screen is something I can compare in the store, but the noise I can't. Any kind of input is appreciated.
     
  2. cynics macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #2
    I can't really help you too much but I've only had my 2013 imac with 780m increase from its default fan speed of 1200 rpm a couple times while playing ESO. If I didn't have RPM displayed I probably wouldn't even have noticed. I keep graphics set pretty much to the max.

    That said I'm sure the newer machines performance is probably better though?

    I have no other games to test out.
     
  3. thundersteele thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #3
    Thanks. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any reviews that give noise level measurements for iMacs.
     
  4. Mindinversion macrumors 6502

    Mindinversion

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    #4
    Programs use power. Power produces waste in the form of heat. Excessive heat can lead to things such as lowered life expectancy of components [premature degradation] and in severe cases even permanent damage.

    Fans combat this by pulling air across the heat sync [mounted on your processor and graphics card] to remove heat to keep computer equipment nice and cool.

    --With me so far?

    Games use exponentially more processor and graphics processing than a computer sitting at idle. The more power they require, the more heat they will generate. You can lower the resolution and settings as low as you want, but you're not going to manage "silent" gaming without a very specifically tuned custom built PC.

    I have the i5 m290x, not the 295x, but I traded in a 2 week old 15" macbook pro for it. I manually set my fan profile a little aggressive [2000 RPM] and they were about the same volume level, though the iMac fan sound is somewhat lower pitched. Ran both Diablo 3 at low 3kish resolution and WoW at 2560 x 1440 [MBP] and low 3kish resolution [RiMac] with a mixed bag of ultra and fair settings [mostly dropping AA, shadows, and draw distance] MBP topped out in the 74c range, and with my aggressive fan profile SMC is reading 58-60c.


    Consider that a baseline. the M295x draws significantly more power and will generate more waste heat, as will an i7 processor. 99% of the time, the system will be beyond whisper quiet, but the minute you fire up all but the most casual of games, expect audible fan noise.
     
  5. thundersteele thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #5
    Hi Mindinversion,

    thanks for your input. I'm not expecting noise-free gaming. I'm used to the noise level of my 2011 MBP (15'') and my 2013 rMBP (13''). I also have a 21'' iMac at work (2012 model with 650M GPU).

    Subjectively the iMac produces much less noise under load than my MacBooks. Not a big surprise since it is comparable hardware in a much larger body. The fans are clearly audible at 2k rpm (is this the maximum for iMacs?) but less noticeable than my MBPs when they reach 5k-6k rpm under load.

    I guess what I'm mostly interested in is the noise level of the retina iMac under load, compared to that of a MBP. Thanks for providing one data point for that!
     
  6. leenak macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #6
    Hi,

    I have a '12 rMBP and a RiMac. I will say the noise on my rMBP is quite annoying when playing games. on my RiMac (295/i7), it is barely noticeable.So I will say you will experience a much improved noise level.
     
  7. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    #7
    Yes, the Retina iMac is an improvement over a 15'' rMBP, although while playing games either one can get hot.
     
  8. leenak macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #8
    I haven't noticed that on my iMac, I touch the back during intense activities and it is quite cool
     
  9. thundersteele thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #9
    thanks for all the replies. I guess a 5k iMac will find its way into my house sometime soon :)
     
  10. rainydays macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    #10
    The temperature of the casing is not a good indication of the inside temperature. The newer iMacs do not get hot to the touch like the old ones did. This is because of a more efficient air flow.
     
  11. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #11
    I have a Retina iMac with the 295X and playing Diablo 3 the fan kicks in as soon as the game starts and stays at the same low, but audible, level throughout the game.

    On my 2013 iMac with the 775 I never hear the fans while playing the game. The only time I have ever heard my fans on the 2013 is when doing a Handbrake encode (and the noise is similar to the 295X playing a game).

    I have a 15" rMBP arriving tomorrow so I shall see how the fans work when playing D3 on it.
     
  12. thundersteele thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #12
    I just saw in a different thread that you are running D3 in 5120x2880 resolution - so you are pushing 4x the pixels ;)

    Will be interesting to hear how you experience the rMBP.
     
  13. Mindinversion, Dec 16, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014

    Mindinversion macrumors 6502

    Mindinversion

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    #13
    Most manufacturers [I'm looking @ YOU, Razer] go so far as to use the aluminum chassis as a giant passive heat sync. How Apple manages to get away with the smaller form factor and NOT heat up their cases [and I don't care WHICH Mac you're talking about at this point, Desktop or notebook] is beyond me.

    Love to see his video options screen >.>

    I apologize if I came off kind of harsh... lately it seems like there is a growing group of users that do not understand the correlation between power usage and fan noise.

    By way of apology, here is a short vid showing fan noise at idle and at 2000 RPM. It'd probably run quieter if I didn't manually set the profile, but at this point it's force of habit :D

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwPvlQUY_sY&feature=youtu.be

    [PS: Sorry about the focus, phone cam]
     
  14. thundersteele thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #14
    No worries. Thanks a lot for the video!
     
  15. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #15
    The fans kick in at the same level when playing the game at 2560x1440 with the Display set for "Best for Retina", as well.
     
  16. leenak macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #16
    I have a rMBP and my case does get very hot to the touch when playing games.
     
  17. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #17
    The fans fire up on her, as well, about the same as the riMac (at 2880x1800).
     
  18. leenak macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2011
    #18
    You think your RiMac is as loud as a rMBP ? I have to say my RiMac playing games, the fan when playing games is kind of a soft sound of air while on my rMBP, it is very loud.
     
  19. cynics macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #19
    Its not beyond you, its just an minute amount and its very well distributed. I used a thermal camera from work on my house then had some fun with it on my Mac and other various stuff.

    Around the fan was obviously notably warmer. Under a load (handbrake) the entire iMac warms up well over ambient but still under skin temp. So the entire thing feels cool.

    Other machines tend to have noticeable hotspots so while the temps are similar there is a large contrast versus a portion of it being ambient temp and another portion being a few degrees warmer. So if you were to touch it it would give the perception its heating up more. Other devices do just heat up more.

    The iMac was the most impressive thing I checked just because it was so even. Other apple products not so much (Airport extreme, ATV, fanless stuff like iPads while gaming).
     
  20. powerslave65, Dec 19, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014

    powerslave65 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Location:
    Studio City CA
    #20
    My 2010 iMac fan came on all the time. My loaded Late 2013 iMac has yet to make any noise (kinda creepy actually) and i am constantly using FCP, AE, Compressor, Safari, Mail, etc all at the same time. I run out of memory doing a render in FCP every once in a blue moon, but get into safari surf for 30 and come back and it's back to normal. This thing rocks!

    :apple:
     
  21. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #21
    Well I am only playing one game, so I only have one source of reference.

    What I found really strange was when downloading the game, the fans really spooled up and the noise was quite loud. Actual game play is far, far quieter.
     
  22. thundersteele thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2011
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #22
    I ended up going for a 5k (i5, M295X, SSD). Very happy so far.

    With normal use, I don't hear the fan. This includes web browsing, watching all sorts of streams (youtube, twitch, online TV), copying large files, etc. High load on the CPU does not lead to an increased fan speed.
    I live in the city, so the environment is not completely noise-free, but there is no AC or a similar source of noise in the room.

    The fans come up when gaming. But the noise level is not anywhere near what my MBPs would do. Game voice is easily understandable without having to increase the volume very much.
    I tried one of the browser GPU benchmarks, and the GPU stabilised around 100C with fans running at 2000-2200 rpm. When gaming the fans will spin down somewhat in less busy/demanding areas, so there is a little bit of headroom at least in the games I am playing.

    Some random performance stats:
    GW2 in 3200x1800 (OSX client) - gets FPS drops in busy areas, but looks great and is very playable
    TESO (2560x1440, everything massed, OSX client) - very fluid, FPS solid above 40
    Civ 5 (OSX): 5k resolution, very fluid, no issues

    For my casual gaming needs, this is perfect.
     

Share This Page