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MacBook Air i5 fan & Thunderbolt Display

15523 Views 65 Replies Latest reply: Nov 11, 2013 11:55 PM by Jo Hauser RSS
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aRock10 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Oct 1, 2011 11:42 AM

The fan on my new 11" MBAir is almost constantly running while connected to the new Thunderbolt Display even while nothing cpu intense is happening.  I've never heard the fan run when not connected.  Software is all up to date including the Thunderbolt firmware update.  Anyone else with MBA fan issues?

MacBook Air, Mac OS X (10.7.1), Thunderbolt Display
  • jeffkempster Calculating status...
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    Oct 1, 2011 6:25 PM (in response to aRock10)

    I can't exactly help, but your comments are interesting. I bought and returned a Mac book pro and thunderbolt display for basically the same reasons. As shoon as I would do anything, the fans would speed up. I couldn't handle the loud noise and took them back.


    Now I am interested in a MBA and thunderbolt display because my current MBA never gets too loud even under a load. But I never thout that the connection to the thunderbolt display might be the problem. 


    I wish you could test this stuff, but it's simply too loud in the apple store to tell if anything is loud or not.

  • posthocergopropterhoc Calculating status...
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    Oct 2, 2011 1:04 PM (in response to jeffkempster)

    I'm noticing the same thing.  have an 11" MBA and when it's attached to the thunderbolt display it is "cooling" all the time.  Even when I tell it to sleep.


    Between this and the weird USB keyboard issues (when USB KB attached to the Thunderbolt), I expect a firmware update sometime soon.

  • xmlsnocat Calculating status...
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    Oct 2, 2011 11:45 PM (in response to aRock10)

    I just recently got a MBA 13" i7 and a thunderbolt. Having the same issue here and is driving me crazy. Without the thunderbolt display you don't hear the fan running at all.


    Hope there's a fix soon.

  • insats22 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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    Oct 2, 2011 11:57 PM (in response to xmlsnocat)

    I seem to be having the same problem on 11" with i7.


    The CPU load is 2%-5%, but the CPU temp is 80° C. Fan is constantly on when connected to thunderbolt.

    I especially noticed this last night when I lay in bed (not connected to thunderbird), watching YouTube clips, and the fan wasn't noticeable at all. I can't be sure that it's due to the thunderbolt display, but I've been having this issue ever since I replaced my 27" Cinema Display with the 27" Thunderbolt display.

  • cbanzhof Calculating status...
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    Oct 5, 2011 5:08 AM (in response to aRock10)

    I have MBA 13"/ i7 have exact same issue. If I reset the SMC the problem goes away. However I have to do this everytime i dock / undock from the thunderbolt display. Very annoying!

  • colinscroggins Calculating status...
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    Oct 8, 2011 9:46 AM (in response to aRock10)

    I have a current gen MacBook Air 11" i7 and use an Apple USB keyboard attached to the Thunderbolt display. I am experiencing both the fan issue and regular keystroke loss from the USB keyboard, which is getting very annoying!

  • cbanzhof Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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    Nov 11, 2011 1:28 PM (in response to cbanzhof)

    Just an update and additional info on this problem.


    After experimenting  I've found a couple of other things that alleviate the heat/fan noise. In my case, I believe it is caused by operating the MB Air in clamshell mode (lid closed) with the Thunderbolt display attached. If you feel the Thunderbolt connector and surrounding area operating in this mode it is fairly warm. iStat reports approximately 103-107 degrees (f) for the enclosure base which presumably is enough heat to rev the exhaust fans to 6500rpm.


    Here is what I did to resolve.


    1. Make sure the MB Air is well ventilated. I have placed mine on a elevated laptop stand so that the heat dissapates easier.


    2. I leave the lid open just enough (less than an inch) so that the heat can dissapate from the enclosure base more easily. This still allows the MB air to drive the screen output to the thunderbolt display only instead of using mirroring or dual display mode.


    Ive been running in this mode for the 2nd day in a row and fans / temp have been normal. Fan speed around 2k RPM and enclosure bases around 97 degrees (f)



    Hope this helps. And Apple is listening...

  • karlpedal Calculating status...
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    Nov 17, 2011 4:10 AM (in response to aRock10)

    Having the same problem..

    Macbook air 11" i5 mid 2011 and Thunderbolt display. Fan over 6000rpm while CPU usage around 1%. The latest update took away the problem for a few days but than it came back.

  • bradbecker Calculating status...
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    Nov 17, 2011 8:12 AM (in response to aRock10)

    I have the same problem as of today (11/17/11) and confirm that the problem occurs with the MBA open all the time. In fact, it may be worse since in this case, the graphics chip is driving the internal display AND the thunderbolt display. I don't have an external keyboard so it's hard to operate with the laptop closed for comparison. I have a new top of the line MBA 11".



  • DWMaloney Calculating status...
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    Nov 18, 2011 10:16 AM (in response to aRock10)

    I'm having the same problem. I use an Apple wireless keyboard and trackpad with the MBA when connected with the Tbolt display.


    Common problems when the MBA is attached with lid closed:

    - On screen movements become choppy or slow significantly (i.e. moving windows around, opening new windows, etc.)

    - iTunes video play becomes too choppy to watch

    - Fan turns on (a lot)

    - Once overheated so much that the MBA automatically shut down and couldn't be rebooted until it cooled.


    I took both into the Genius Bar and they asked that I leave the MBA with them so they could run diagnostics. I won't be able to do this until mid-December.


    A solution I found is to leave the cover open on the MBA. This allows enough ventiliation to cool it, but is ultimately inferior since closing the MBA was one of the features that attracted me to the Tbolt display.

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