Technology

7 Ways to Curb Laptop Fan Noise

Oleksandr Yuchynskyi/Shutterstock.com

Whether gaming, browsing the web, or doing serious work, there’s a laptop with enough processing muscle to handle almost anything. Unfortunately, it may get very loud while doing it. But there are ways to curb that noise.

1. Clean the Vents and Fans, and Use Hard Surfaces

If your laptop is now louder than it was in the past running the same software, there’s a chance that your fans and vents are clogged with dust. This means the computer is pushing up fan speeds to compensate. The answer is to clean the dust out of your laptop.

If your vents aren’t clogged by dust, you may be blocking them some other way. Make sure you only use your laptop on a hard surface such as a laptop desk.

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2. Change Your Fan Settings

MSI Dragon Center interface on a laptop screen.
MSI

The fastest way to reduce fan noise is to turn down the fans. That’s easy to say, but it’s not always obvious how you’re supposed to do that.

There are three places to look for fan controls on your laptop. First, look at your keyboard to see if there are any physical fan controls. Usually, you’ll have to hold the “Fn” key on your keyboard and then press a function key that toggles between different fan modes. One of which may be a more quiet mode with lower maximum performance.

The second place to check is with any utilities that came installed on your laptop. This is more common with gaming laptops with manufacturer utilities that let you control RGB lighting and fan profiles. If your laptop doesn’t have an official fan control utility, you can use a third-party app such as SpeedFan, but you do so at your own risk.

Finally, you can check your BIOS/UEFI menu, where some laptops have fan profile settings that can be tweaked. Consult your laptop’s manual to determine how to access the BIOS/UEFI menu and whether there are settings that affect fan profiles there in the first place.

3. Change Your Power Settings

Most operating systems allow you to customize your laptop’s power plan to find the right balance of performance, noise, and battery life. If you’re happy to live with a little less performance than your laptop is capable of in exchange for less noise, you can change that power plan to something that generates less heat and therefore needs less cooling.

In Windows, you can right-click on the battery icon in the notification area and select “Power and Sleep Settings”

Laptop Power Mode Options

Then change “Power Mode” to “Best Power Efficiency”, which should cut fan noise in the bargain.

4. Use GPU Features That Cut Fan Noise

Nvidia Whisper Mode toggle

In laptops with dedicated GPUs, the GPU has its own cooling fan, contributing to the overall noise level. Major GPU manufacturers offer special features within their utility software to limit fan noise. This comes at the cost of performance, but the GPU often works to produce a performance that you don’t actually need.

For NVIDIA users, the feature is known as Whisper Mode and can be activated from the GeForce Experience. The feature for AMD users is known as Radeon Chill, configured from Radeon Software.

With these modes activated, your GPU will only render up to a specified frame rate limit, keeping temperatures and noise down in less demanding games. These special modes go beyond simple frame rate limits by managing the GPU with lower power targets and aggressively treading the line between maximum safe temperatures and fan speed.

5. Use Frame Limiters in Games

Maximum frame rate settings in the game "Stray."

Many modern video games allow you to set a maximum frame rate in the display or graphics settings menu. Lowering that frame rate to 30fps would significantly reduce the amount of heat and fan noise during gameplay.

You can also limit the game frame rate by switching on Vsync in the game menu, which only limits frame rates to the display’s refresh rate. Most laptop displays don’t go lower than 60Hz, so this is a crude type of frame rate limit method.

6. Move Your Laptop Further Away

If you’re using your laptop as a desktop system connected to an external display, one effective way to reduce fan noise is to move the laptop further away from you. Sound intensity is subject to the inverse square law, which means that sound drops off dramatically in intensity with increased distance.

For example, you can use a wireless mouse and keyboard combined with a long display cable and have the noise-making vents of your laptop further away from your ears. This simple fix makes it much less noisy without compromising on performance or temperature.

7. Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones

If you’re using headphones with your laptop anyway, you can completely eliminate fan noise by using a good quality noise-canceling headphone set.

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Sony WH-1000XM4

The Sony WH-1000XM4’s have ANC technology, sound quality, and comfort incredibly.

Even budget models are eminently capable of canceling monotonous droning noises, such as fan noise. This is definitely one of the most effective solutions, albeit one that needs you to spend some money.



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