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Heat and Fan noise on new 2011 Air?

21139 Views 35 Replies Latest reply: Mar 25, 2013 9:28 AM by kurrre RSS
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zoidness Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Jul 27, 2011 9:01 PM

I have both the 2010 and 2011 11" Macbook Air's. Love the 2010 model!! 2GB ram. I just got the new 11" with 4GB ram and the newer processor. Definitely faster! But my 2010 Air never got hot and I never heard the fan noise. Now with my 2011 it gets hot and the fan comes on and stays on making an audible noise. Is anyone else experiencing heat and fan noise in the 2011 11" Air? Or do I have a defect?

MacBook Air, Mac OS X (10.7)
  • Chas Hulme Level 4 Level 4 (1,130 points)
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    Jul 27, 2011 9:25 PM (in response to zoidness)

    There's an extensive thread on this subject here:


    Re: Has anyone else noticed a remarkable increase in use of the fan for Os X Lion on the MacBook Air?


    Somehow I doubt a failure. Keep in mind it's a new processor line being employed, so the fan noise and cooling profile will be different. Even so, I have a new 13" i7 and have noticed at times the fans really get going. It may be that fan behavior will need to be modified in f/w at some point...

  • Mac FX Level 1 Level 1 (20 points)
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    Jul 27, 2011 9:58 PM (in response to zoidness)



    This also happens to my air and Macbook Pro. It seems to be normal when you play something ram-extensive.

    I suggest you go buy a laptop cooler, that did the trick for me.

    Also to reduce heat after playing a ram-extensive game or using a ram-extensive app, quit the app/game first, then put your macbook air to sleep. Wait for awhile and you won't hear the fan noise. Then open back up the macbook air, it should be fixed.


    If you are not doing anything ram-extensive, or so you think, you can try checking at Activity Monitor and see which apps are taking a lot of RAM.




    -Mac FX

  • DockZock Calculating status...
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    Jul 28, 2011 4:11 AM (in response to zoidness)

    I also bought the new 13" 2011 Air (with the 1,7Ghz i5) and it also is not hotter than expected but way more noisy!

    Some people are reporting no issues but with browsing non flash content I often hit the 55-60°C marks wit the fan around 2000rpm, the real killer is any kind of HD web video (flash but also html5), it slowly cranks up the fan to at least 5500 rpm  stabilizing the CPU temp at around 70°C.


    That is almost the exact same behavoir I get from my old MacBook (white unibody 1 1/2 years old, SL), which also peaks at 70°C and 5500+ rpm.


    I'm just unsure what/if something is wrong due to the several different posts of people reporting no high rpm issues with several concurrent flash videos running, while others are reporting general temperature and rpm increase with lion.


    Good thing i have an AppleCare Protection Plan and an authirized service provider around the corner where I might take this Air soon if there are no signs of this issue being mitigated by software fixes.

  • SuperJennBlogs Calculating status...
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    Jul 30, 2011 11:34 PM (in response to zoidness)

    I just bought my first Mac ... the 2011 MBAir 13" and I'm on here looking for an answer to that same question.  Right out of the box this thing runs HOT... even when it is on a tabletop or my lap where it has circulation, the cord also gets very hot when it is charging.  The fan kicks in and is VERY noisy and I was wondering the same thing... if it is defective or if this is going to be an ongoing issue.


    So far its not looking promising as it seems to be a general issue with this new line/OS ... hopefully they will get a fix in soon as some have suggested.



  • crh24 Level 3 Level 3 (920 points)
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    Jul 31, 2011 1:58 AM (in response to zoidness)

    Just another data point...


    I have a 2011 13" i7 256GB and I've heard the fan exactly one time in normal usage. My MBA has never gotten more than slightly warm on the bottom.


    Currently I use it primarily for surfing the web, email, some photo editing, and watching movies streamed from my iMac using iTunes.


    This leads me to believe that either I am extremely lucky or overheating isn't generic to all of the 2011 units.

    MacBook Air, Mac OS X (10.7), 13" i7 256GB
  • rhodd Calculating status...
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    Jul 31, 2011 4:49 AM (in response to zoidness)

    I have the exact same issue. I have the '10 MBA 11" and it never made a sound. Got the '11 MBA 11" and it has been noisy and hot since the start and I only use it for surfing, email, etc. This is really ridiculous. I'm seriously considering returning it.


    Terminal shows that "kernel task" is running at 20-25% of the CPU at all times. I think this has to do with it. Either way, very unhappy customer here and I have pretty much everything Apple sells.

  • jbhmacpro Calculating status...
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    Jul 31, 2011 8:19 AM (in response to zoidness)

    2011 13" Core i5 1.7GHZ 128


    My new MBA doesn't get hot and I do not hear the fans while using it for web and email use. I have heard the fans crank up a little while doing two tasks however, 1) watching any Flash based video content and 2) While importing 100s of photos into either Aperture or Lightroom.


    It can't be helped. If the cpu is being utilized at anything other than idle it will generate heat. Even though these are mobile processors they are in a very confined space. They need fans to cool.


    If you are not playing any flash based content (including ads on web pages) or anything else that raises cpu utilization and the fans are spinning loudly you got a problem.


    Try disabling the flash plugin in your browser and see if that helps alleviate the problem. Flash has always performed poorly on Mac OS. On Windows 7 playing flash content barely registers but a few percent of cpu utilization. As I type this in Safari, my %idle is 98%. 99 if I stop typing. That's with Safari and Activity Monitor running. Remember in Activity Monitor for the list of "processes" the total available percent is based on 400% since it lists four CPUs. The summary on the CPU tab below is based on 100%.

  • Olwyn Calculating status...
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    Aug 3, 2011 9:04 AM (in response to rhodd)

    Me too! When my new Lion MBA runs besides my husband's Snow Leopard MBA (December 2010) and we watch exactly the same streaming content, with just Safari open, my fans run full blast and the heat goes over 64 C.   His MBA is quiet and cool to the touch.  What to do what to do?  This is so very, pardon the pun, uncool.


    And depressing.


    Also, a lengthy backup to Time Machine causes the same problem, as does any transfer of data from a USB hard drive over 500 mb.  This is going to make Cloud computing a real misery.

  • amirstep Calculating status...
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    Aug 3, 2011 12:48 PM (in response to Olwyn)

    I have a new MBA 2011 with 1.7 Ghz i5 processor.  I'm new to MBA so can't comment on noise level of the fan but I have no complaints.  The fan speed seems to hover in the 2000 rpm range but I can barely hear it. 


    Yesterday, I did some movie editing (a small movie) with iMovie and the CPU temp skyrocketed to 95 degrees during the render process!  The computer did not feel hot and the heat sink remained around 37-40 and the aluminium case did not feel terribly warm to touch.  My main question is - is this CPU temp normal?  I'm afraid of doing any major CPU intensive movie editing on this thing any more.

  • tsnubbs Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Aug 3, 2011 10:20 PM (in response to zoidness)

    I rarely hear the fans on my 2011 13" i7 MBA. The only time I've really seen them crank up was when I was testing some games on it. For normal use, they haven't made a peep and my MBA has remained quite cool. I'm not sure of the particular CPU temps, but by touch it gets merely warm and is barely noticeable on my lap.

  • meclizine50mg Calculating status...
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    Aug 9, 2011 11:28 PM (in response to zoidness)

    Just confirming that this IS a new problem with Lion. I have the original Air (1.8 Ghz 2GB with SSD), and yes, moderately pushing this "old" notebook while running Snow Leopard would heat it up and kick on the fans...But with Lion, I'm hardly doing anything and it runs hot and loud, kernel_task jams the CPU so much that even the cursor stutters and renders the machine pretty much useless to get any work done. For those who are not experiencing this and think the rest of us have Flash or some other intensive process running, we don't. It got so bad that I was just about to order a new Air, but I am still researching if a lot of people with the new Airs are experiencing the same thing. Or if Apple acknowledges that it's fixable with an update?

  • rcalderoni Calculating status...
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    Aug 12, 2011 8:18 AM (in response to DockZock)

    50-60 C marks? Wow, my 2011 MBA 11" is up around 85-91 C and the only app I am running currently is the WoW Launcher, all it's doing is downloading files! This is crazy.

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