If your laptop sounds like an airplane taking off within minutes of being turned on, you might be asking why your laptop fan is so loud? Luckily, the reasons are fairly simple, and I’ve found there are a few different solutions to try.
The most likely reason why your laptop fan is so loud is that it’s not getting enough air to do its job properly. Aside from blockages, other common reasons include age and potential malware. Luckily, these are all fairly easy issues to fix.
In this article, I’ll look at the main reasons why your laptop fan is so loud, along with some of the best options for resolving the problem. However, if none of these options make a difference then you might want to consider replacing the laptop entirely.
Reasons for a laptop fan to be loud or noisy
Here are 5 reasons why a laptop fan can be too loud:
- Fan becomes loud when working too hard
- Warm environment
- Vent Blockages
- Dust and Debris
- Too many processes running
- Soft surfaces
- Age of the laptop
Although we’re probably all familiar with the basic functions of technology, it’s worth covering them here so we’re all on the same page. Let’s start with the basics: why laptops have fans in the first place.
Any electronic device produces heat as a byproduct of its processes. In the early days of computing technology, this was arguably one of the most limiting factors. After all, you can’t get much done if your machine constantly overheats.
Introducing a fan helps to circulate cool air around the laptop to reduce the overall temperature. This is combined with other components, such as air vents and heat sinks, in an attempt to keep the temperature low.
Although desktop computers also contain fans, the issue of noise is much more common in laptops. This is simply because there’s less space inside a laptop, meaning there’s less room for cool air to circulate in the first place.
Also, the components in a laptop are often smaller for exactly the same reason. Turning a powerful desktop computer into a portable device does come with some sacrifices, and heat dissipation is one of the biggest.
Similarly, desktop computers have the ability to use liquid cooling, which is particularly common in overclocked computers. Overclocking essentially boils down to making the components work harder than they’re meant to, which requires more efficient cooling systems.
However, this isn’t really possible in a laptop, again because there isn’t the space. Therefore we’re left with a fan as the only real cooling option, even though it’s by no means the most efficient choice.
Laptop fans can end up being very loud because they have to work so hard. Also, the fact that they’re small means they need to spin faster to do the same job as a bigger fan, which is what often causes the noise.
In addition to this, using your laptop in a warm environment or blocking the air vents can result in the fan working harder than it needs to. The harder the fan works, the louder it usually is. This will be useful later when we look at the best ways to make it quieter.
Other factors that cause the fan to be too loud
Aside from warm rooms and vent blockages, there are a number of other factors that can make a laptop fan louder than it should be. These include:
- Malware. Malware can cause your fan to fail processes, among other things, which forces it to work harder.
- Dust and debris. Clear air vents are vital to prevent overheating, but some buildup of dust in the vents is unavoidable.
- Too many processes running. When was the last time you properly shut your laptop down? The longer it’s left on, the more likely it is to have too many processes running.
- Soft surfaces. We’re probably all guilty of taking our laptop to bed with us, but this is one of the worst things we can do.
- Age. Like all technology, laptops become outdated fairly fast. Also the components can simply become tired and not work as efficiently as before.
There are a surprising number of factors – both internal and external – that affect how much noise a laptop fan makes. Luckily, it’s possible to solve most of them yourself, even if your technology knowledge isn’t brilliant.
Of course, the most obvious option you have is to replace the fan itself, but this isn’t always possible. MacBooks, for example, are almost impossible to get open yourself, and doing so will often void the warranty on it too.
Instead, we’ll look at practical options that’ll work for all kinds of laptops, and don’t really need any technical skill to achieve.
How to make your laptop fan quieter
Below are my top suggestions for making a laptop fan quieter. However, if your laptop fan has started making a rattling or buzzing noise, this could be a sign of a bigger problem. I’d recommend getting this checked out before you start trying to cover it up.
1. Get rid of the dust
Probably one of the best places to start is to clear the dust out of the air vents. This should be done on a regular basis, but if you’ve never done it before then this could be the source of most of your problems.
Some buildup of dust is inevitable, even in the cleanest environments, simply because your laptop is constantly sucking in air. Not only does dust mean less air is getting in through the vents, but it can also cause the fan blades to get stuck.
The best way to clean dust out of your laptop is with compressed air (Amazon). This is most commonly available as a can with a narrow nozzle that can be blown into the vents. Alternatively, you can buy an air duster, which is simply a reverse vacuum cleaner.
Whichever option you choose, spray the air into the vents in short bursts. This should dislodge most of the dust, but you can clean up the remnants with a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol.
If you need to do a more thorough job and feel confident doing so, it can help to remove the laptop’s back panel so you can access the fan directly. Importantly, this will mean you can actually remove the dust rather than blowing it elsewhere.
Of course you must ensure your laptop is turned off before you try this. It also helps for it to be cool, as the internal components can become very hot if the laptop has been in use for a while.
Try the following for best results:
- Turn the laptop off and disconnect it from any power source.
- Flip it over and remove the battery (if possible).
- Locate the air vent, which is usually on the back or sides.
- There should be a panel on the bottom of the laptop directly over the fan, locate this.
- Unscrew the panel to expose the air vents and fan.
- Clean this with compressed air and a cotton bud, being careful not to damage any fragile parts.
- Put everything back together again.
As you can see, it’s actually a fairly simple process. However, if your laptop is still under warranty, you’ll most likely void it by doing this. If this is the case, then the best thing you can do is take it to a professional and have them clean it. While this might be more expensive, it’s beneficial in the future.
Hopefully, this should make a big difference to your laptop’s noise levels, and its performance. However, if this doesn’t have the effect you were looking for, it might be a sign of a bigger problem.
2. Buy a laptop stand
The best thing to do is to elevate your laptop off a solid surface, as fans are most often located on the bottom. While this is a major flaw in laptop design, it’s one we’re unfortunately stuck with for now.
So, aside from holding it, what can you do? Well, there’s quite a market for laptop stands (see them on Amazon) for this very reason, some of which have built-in cooling systems. This is arguably one of the best ways to solve the problem, but it might be a bit expensive.
If you don’t want to shell out for a laptop stand, cooling or not, then the next best option is to build your own. This is entirely possible with a few household items and can save you quite a bit of money.
This DIY laptop stand, for example, can be built for under $10. All you need is some metal and a few tools and you’ve got yourself a professional-looking laptop stand. The builder was inspired by a $50 laptop stand, so by building your own you save up to 80% of the cost.
Just bear in mind that something made out of recycled junk might not be as effective as other designs. However, if your goal is to improve air circulation around the bottom of your laptop then these will get the job done.
3. Only use it on hard surfaces
This is almost a no-brainer, but you should only ever use your laptop on a hard surface. Keeping it on a soft surface (such as a bed or sofa) not only insulates any heat it’s trying to lose but also clogs up the air vents faster.
If you’re not keen to buy or make a laptop stand, then at the very minimum you should only use the laptop on hard surfaces, such as a table. I’d avoid putting it on a hard surface in bed, as this doesn’t really solve the problem.
However, if you do want to use your laptop in bed, then consider buying one of the cooling pads discussed above. These will at least provide a bit of extra cooling, but be conscious that it won’t solve the problem of a noisy laptop fan.
Within this point on good laptop etiquette, avoid placing it on the floor, as this will likely clog up the air vents faster. Also, try to use it in cool rooms if possible because the ambient temperature can have a big impact on a laptop’s performance.
4. Check you haven’t got malware
I’d like to hope that we all regularly screen our computers for malware and viruses, but I know this isn’t always the case. Malware can have a big impact on your laptop’s performance, which in turn can cause the fan to work harder than it needs to.
The ways in which malware can affect your laptop are numerous enough to deserve their own article, which you can read here, but this information can be reduced to 2 fairly simple points.
First, malware often causes a computer to attempt and fail commands. Second, malware can slow down your laptop’s performance massively just by being present. This is because much malware intentionally takes up a large amount of disk space.
How does this cause the fan to be louder? In short, malware makes your laptop work harder. This, in turn, means it’ll get hotter as it tries to keep up. This is when the fan starts working too hard, creating too much noise.
If you don’t already have anti-virus software on your laptop, download some immediately. Here is a list of the best ones available, both paid and free. You really don’t need to pay, but most free anti-malware has limited functionality.
Another option is to open your processes menu and see if there’s anything you don’t recognize. If this is the case, don’t close it, as many computer processes seem quite random. Instead, try googling it and see what comes up.
You’ll find that removing malware from your computer will make a massive difference to performance, which in turn will make the fan much quieter. Once you’ve done this, scan your laptop on a weekly basis to ensure you catch any problems.
5. Close some processes on your laptop
While closing some excess processes on your laptop is only a temporary fix, it can be enough to make a difference to the noise levels of your fan. More processes mean more memory is being used, which affects overall performance.
Open your Task Manager if you’re working on Windows or Activity Monitor if you’re on a Mac. This will show you the programs with the most processor usage, which will often be things like Google Chrome or Spotify.
If you can get away with closing them, then do. However, don’t just start randomly closing programs because some of these are vital for the laptop to function properly.
If you’re unsure about a memory-heavy program, Google it. You should be able to work out whether it’s necessary or not, and if it isn’t, kill it. Closing even a few programs will make a surprising difference to your laptop’s performance.
Can you soundproof your laptop fan?
If your laptop fan is very loud then you might have asked yourself, “Is it possible for me to soundproof my laptop?” I can tell you that the answer is most definitely no.
The main reason you can’t soundproof a laptop (other than cutting off access to the screen) is that doing so will cause it to overheat. After all, soundproofing solutions are unintentionally very good thermal insulators, which is the last thing you need here.
One situation in which soundproofing a laptop would be useful is in audio recording situations. If you’re using a laptop as your mixer then the last thing you want is to have the whirring of a fan in the background.
If you don’t think you have another option, then consider building one of these sound dampening boxes. The instructions are for a PC stack, but the design can be easily modified for a laptop.
The most important modification would be to add some cooling. For example, consider one of the cooling mats mentioned above, as one of these in the bottom should do the job. Combine this with some strategically placed air vents and hopefully overheating won’t be a problem.
The major drawback is that you won’t be able to see the screen, which I’d consider being a severely limiting factor. However, if your aim is to record some clear audio, then you should be able to adapt your processes to avoid using the screen while recording.
The main advice I can give for building one of these dampening boxes is to do so with caution. Ensure that there is enough ventilation and cooling, to the point where you should add more than you think is necessary. After all, there’s a reason these aren’t really commercially available.
Some final thoughts
There are many reasons why your laptop fan is being so loud, but luckily I’ve found these are relatively easy to fix. However, remember that tinkering with your laptop can void the warranty, so if in doubt, take it to an expert.