SSD Mini vs MacBook Air noise levels

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by RoryO, Dec 15, 2013.

  1. RoryO macrumors member

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    Aug 24, 2013
    #1
    Does anybody own a MacBook Air and an SSD Mac mini who can compare the relative noise levels for me?

    I'm trying to match my MacBook Air's silence in a desktop setup. I've found some information on acoustic performance on the apple site but they never quote Mac mini levels for SSD configurations only HDD.

    My air (2010) is quoted as 8db and is silent for me at normal working distance.
    I have an SSD 2013 27” iMac and can clearly hear the fan so I'm considering returning it, this is quoted at about 13db for the HDD version, which is similar to the Mac mini HDD numbers.

    Thanks
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    Boston
    #2
    My mini (with an SSD) is silent, I don't hear any news coming from it. I've never measured these sound output but generally speaking its quiet :)
     
  3. RoryO thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 24, 2013
    #3
    At what distance does it become silent? It's got fans in running at 1800 rpm like the Air, so you should be able to hear it at some distance. I can hear my air at about 12 inches but at working distance, 3 feet, it's silent.
     
  4. COrocket macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #4
    You can pretty much expect the same from the mini. Mini's also run at 1800 RPM base and I can't hear mine sitting on the desk next to my monitor.
     
  5. ajaan macrumors member

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    Dec 15, 2013
    #5
    I have both: i7 2.3 2012 MM with Apple BTO SSD & a 2013 i5 13-inch Air.

    The Air is clearly quieter. The MM is currently 26 inches away from me on the desk. I can hear the fan at idle. If the Air is sitting on my chest I'm not aware of any noise.

    But only when I unplug the external USB 3.0 HD I have plugged into it for Time Machine. The external is much noisier. So the MM is very quiet -- it's almost, not quite silent.

    The Air has spoilt us in terms of expectations of everyday speed (not under heavy load) and silence.

    That said, the MM is much quieter than than the 21.5-inch 2012 iMac I had sitting in the same position -- that was one noisy machine, couldn't bear it when I needed silence for concentrating.

    I suspect the problem is the higher idle for the i7 on the MM. I had a Ivy Bridge i5 Macbook Pro with Apple BTO SSD. Even sitting in front of me it was silent.

    Personally I would have gone for a i5 MM with BTO Apple SSD but it's not offered, and the reasons why I didn't get one and install it myself are not relevant to this discussion.
     
  6. RoryO thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 24, 2013
    #6
    Thank you for your response. Extremely useful to me.

    ----------

    Do you have a thunderbolt display by any chance, I was thinking of going mac mini + thunderbolt display, but then noticed the display has a fan as well.?
     
  7. ajaan macrumors member

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    Dec 15, 2013
    #7
    No Thunderbolt display. I'm using a Dell Ultrasharp (latest gen) 23.5 IPS display. It has no fan and is completely silent.
     
  8. opinio macrumors 65816

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    Mar 23, 2013
    #8
    I am assuming you want a comparison when the fans are running at max?

    If I run Handbrake and fully push the CPU to 100% in my 2012 mini 2.6GHZ and do the same in my MBA 2012 then obviously the fan runs full and hard in both. The mini rpm max is 5500 while the Air is 6500 I think. But the mini is a touch noisier. The fan in the mini is about twice the size (thickness) so it is a touch noisier. Just a touch I think.

    But generally fairly similar as the air intake on the mini is larger (smoother flow). Also the Airs can get noisier over time because the heatsink vents block after only about 6-12 months usage. The heatsink vents in the Air are only about 2mm square, while in the mini they are 6-7mm square so they do not block. I clean my MBA heat sink (vents) every 10 months or so. I do not live in a dusty environment but the vents are chocked solid after that time.
     
  9. RoryO thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 24, 2013
    #9
    Thanks again for the details. 'Silence' is so subjective, it really helps to have someone who can directly compare different models.

    Also 'Spoiled' is definitely the right word. The Air is so quiet, it's like going from an HDD to an SSD, it's hard to go back again.

    My 27” SSD 2013 iMac is so superb in every way except for the fan noise. Which is actually not fan noise but just the noise of the air rushing through the tiny grill at the back. It's a real shame they couldn't vent the air differently through a bigger area or more passively out of the top, which would potentially make the iMac 'Air' silent.

    My dilemma at the moment is weather it's worth chasing a perfectly silent machine. Or if I'll just end up with a mess of components that cost a similar amount and don't end up silent anyway. E.g, an 2013 Air with a Thunderbolt Display, I've read reports that some airs ramp up the fan when driving the display, plus who knows what the fan in the thunderbolt display is like, it may be identical to the iMac anyway. Also the air has so few ports as we'll if you use the thunderbolt port for the display and can't daisy chain off of an alternative brand monitor you are going to have to fill up all the USB ports with backup and external drives etc. which might be a real mess of cables everywhere.
     
  10. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #10
    I am using a Mac Mini i7 2.0 with an SSD. Presently it is 124 F, 2306rpm and about 18" from me and it is silent. However, if I were to play a movie full screen or use a very intensive app, the temp and revs go up and I certainly can hear my Mini trying to cool down.
     
  11. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #11
    My mini is about 12" away and I don't hear anything.
     
  12. olegunnar macrumors member

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    Oct 29, 2013
    #12
    I'm guessing the TBD fan is similar to the ACD 27" fan. I have the ACD and it's completely silent. I may be deaf but I can't hear any noise coming from it what so ever.

    I can hear my mini, though.
     
  13. RoryO thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 24, 2013
    #13
    Thanks, it was actually the noise at idle I was interested in, which is what a lot of machines probably spend most of their time at. Unless you are encoding video or watching flash (I wish flash would die already, my 2008 MacBook Pro died from flash this year). I tend not to mind occasional noise that is for a purpose. It's the monotonous idle noise that bugs me most. After working all day, if you switch the machine off and feel a sense of relief, then it was too noisy.
     
  14. ajaan macrumors member

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    Dec 15, 2013
    #14
    On that last point. I don't experience a sense of relief when I turn it off, because it's really no trouble when at idle. When I unplug the external Toshiba USB 3.0 HD I do experience some relief because it's noisy.

    Today I installed a 8GB RAM stick along side the 2GB stock RAM supplied, bumping it up to 10GB RAM.

    The machine is quieter. I'm sure it is. Whether that is because Swap isn't happening now, or the Intel 4000 GPU has got more memory available, I really couldn't say.

    I really can't here my machine, and it's night here, so things are pretty quiet.
     
  15. opinio macrumors 65816

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    Mar 23, 2013
    #15
    Cool.

    In that case, the MBA is virtually silent while the mini (with SSD) is exceptionally quiet (1800rpm). A standard USB enclosed desktop hard drive would be noisier or similar. The late 2012 mini fan is quieter and idles slower than the 2011 model. It is also slower to kick in so the mini remains at low rpm right up until the temp hits around 80 or so.
     
  16. RoryO thread starter macrumors member

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    Aug 24, 2013
    #16
    I expect when the mini gets a Haswell update it might even be even quieter still. Especially if it has the quieter asymmetric fans that the notebooks all have now.

    I've been experimenting today with the iMac and found I can reduce the noise significantly just by putting a pillow between it and the wall behind it, so it seems a lot of the noise is reflected back from the wall. I guess a benefit of the mini in that regard is that you have a lot more options for moving it around to reduce the noise or even put it away in a cupboard. The iMac has to be right in front of your nose.

    Thanks for your feedback.
     

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