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  • magillo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Not really same issue, but just to report a similar case using i7 1.8Ghz.

    I'm using a 13'' MBA with i7 1.8 (2011) and Thundebolt display, docked and lid closed most of the time.

    Sometimes I experienced similar problems and that's really annoying, I was tempted to return both to store...

    BUT the fan is not running all the time in my case, most of the time it spins about 2000rpm and I can't even heard it.

    As soon as I open a streaming video, I mean any kind of it (flash, html5, skype with webcam, etc..), cpu go from 60C to 97C and fan spins at 6000rpm, really noisy.

    The strange thing is if I open an HD 1080p video, even from a network share, fan and cpu still seat without even noticing it, no noise at all (...quite same job, play a video and network activity, heavier to decode than a crappy 360p flash clip).

    I thought it was something flash related, but it happens same thing with skype or by using youtube in html5 mode.

    As final test, I tried download one of these video as .flv, playing it with VLC or Quicktime and again, no noise and no heat.

    Since I read there's similar problem with MacBook Pro 13'' (not on 15''), and since they share the same cheap CPU integrated video card, I suspect there's something weird happening while streaming video run on these macs.

    As a proof of this, if I simply hide the streaming video by switching browser tab or desktop, the fan and heat disappear, even if video is still running (so decoding it's not the problem, I can hear video audio as well even in background).


    This *****, my "old" 2008 15'' macbook pro core duo plays well same videos.

    I hope a real fix will come out, upgrading last firmware,etc didn't change anything...

  • Dougfresh92 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Same problem here. In fact, just yesterday I exchanged a 12 day old Thunderboly display for a brand new one. The reason was that the TBD wouldn't charge my MBA. New one on my desk adn fans are crazy loud, just running screen saver from Iphoto library. also, 5- minutes into and video they go off. Big Apple fan for years but the kind of problmes described  regarding teh TB display seem very "unApple" to me. Giving it back!

  • spettit Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Same issue here, however, a new wrinkle.  I found an update for the Thunderbolt display here:


    and it says it fixes a fan noise issue, but #1 I get the impression its talking about fans on the monitor, and #2 it threw an error on install and said I didn't need this update.


    Hoping for a fix soon - brand new MBA and TB display and not able to enjoy them fully due to the noise..

  • Gary.Thomlinson Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I've located a work around, though its poor. If I have the air in hibernate, say I close the air lid and leave the office. The following day I get into the office, connect the air to the thunderbolt display and boot, the fans whirr up at anything more than 20% cpu usage.



    If I then reboot, or, if I boot after actually shutting the air down/off at the end of the evening the day before, no fans are heard unless you run a game etc, as per normal.


    So in essence, there seems to be an issue with the fans needing to cool something after you return from hibernate with the thunderbolt display attached. Simply booting the air from an OFF state and you don't get this problem.

  • SammyJ826 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)



    I think this is because the Air doesn't have a dedicated GPU, rather it's onboard the CPU. My theory is that the graphics usage doesn't get reported, so even while the CPU usage is low, the fact that its powering a large, high res display is causing it to warm up. 


    For me, this usually happens right when I run some flash video.  This morning, however, for some reason, it was hovering around 160 deg F and the fan was at full blast.  I shut down all of my applications, with my CPU usage right around 1-2% and still it wasn't cooling.  Even tried opening the lid, same deal.


    As soon as I disconnected the Thunderbolt, the CPU temp started dropping and the fan went back down to around 2k.


    I'll try the SMC reset, but I don't think that's going to help.



    I'd be curious to know, for those using the latest (2011) i5 Air (mine is 13") with Snow Leopard and a Thunderbolt display, do you guys have the same problems?

  • Adi Ahmad Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I have pretty much the same problem..To be honest, I think it's more of a software issue rather than the hardware. I can watch pretty much a blueray quality movie (full screen) without my 13" i5 MBP breaking a sweat, the fan pretty much remains below 2k, but once I play youtube or skype on FULLSCREEN, it rev up until almost 7k.....which kind of crappy....everything else is perfect but not for streaming...just saying, buyers out there if Apple somehow fails to sort out this issue, there is no point of having a MBP + Thunderbolt....better off with normal LED, at least your MBP fan would not rev up like crazy making a sound similar to aircraft about to take off (literally)...


    (and yup...all firmwares and whatever updates I need to do...are updated!)

  • aRock10 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I finally had a chance to bring my MBAir to the Genius bar just to make sure I didn't have a faulty logic board or whatever.  The guy basically broke it down to be the ventilation on such a small computer isn't  enough to keep the machanism inside the Thunderbolt Cable connector cool with out the fans going into hurricane mode.  He suggested some sort of stand that keeps the vent off my desk and open. 


    I broke down and bought the a BookArc but it cost 40 bones. It looks nice and frees up space on my desk but best of all it pretty much solves the fan issue (aside from when a fan should actually turn on).

  • grnfrog55 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Sure this has nothing to do with the fact that when new the OS has to index everything for Spotlight searching? This is usually pretty disk intensive and generates heat.. I noticed this in the beginning then after a day it settled down.      

  • aRock10 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Def sure it's not Spotlight.  I've had the computer and display for a few months now and it still has consistant fans.

  • Pepito Spe Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Ok guys let’s face the truth: The MBA doesn’t have the power to be used with a thunderbolt display while beeing quiet. Mine even sounds like an aircraft when I have 8 windows open in chrome. So I had my thunderbolt display for ten days and i will return it. As aRock10 mentioned it may be the thunderbolt controller inside the machine that has to work too hard when too much video/grafic information is sent to the display. It could also be the GPU that just can’t handle that much or it is the Thunderbolt controller AND the GPU in combination. What we know is: It doesn’t work (quietly).  I think the next question to aks is what is more important to you, the display or the MBA. Keep what’s more important and switch what’s less important. I’ll keep the MBA – I want a computer I can carry arround – and therefore I’ll switch the display. I’m going for a smaller LED display without the high resolution of the thunderbolt and will connect it via an adapter. NEXT question is of course: Does reducing the display size and resolution allow the MBA to work without the fans going off while performing normal-day tasks. Or does the thunderbolt controller inside the MBA also get too hot if used with whatever accessory? I’ll let you know.....

  • e28 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Same problem here. Connecting the MBA to the thunderbolt display after hibernation initially causes the cpu temp to jump even though cpu is idling and the fans run full speed all day. However, if I restart the MBA while thunderbolt is still connected, the cpu temp drops and fans go off.


    So, every morning when I connect my MBA to thunderbolt, I first restart the machine. That solves the fan noise, but still a pain.

  • aRock10 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hey cbanzhof,


    I was wondering if your setup has still been working for you and if so, what elevated stand are you using?



  • magillo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Just an update on my first reply.

    First of all, thanks A LOT aRock10, you almost solved my fan issue.

    I bought BookArc too, and I can confirm the fan noise stopped. BookArc is just an example, probably every stand that avoids contact of MBA with the desk will work.

    CPU temp is still quite high when watching flash videos,etc , but overall temp is fine.


    I didn't like the idea to simply ventilate more my MBA, in my mind this is not a real fix: I think if one product (MBA) is publicized in bundle with another (Thunderbolt Display) the setup MUST work. I'm very disappointed that Apple simply ignores this issue, this is not the way to handle the problem.

    Apple claims MBA and TD are fully compatible, one of the main features of new MBA with thunderbolt port is new displays support.

    I mean, here with a description and a huge image of MBA and TD working togheter

    here with another huge image of both

    and in apple stores, where Apple guys confirm you can use them together without any problem.


    This is not true and even if someone is lucky enough and has a very cold desk or office, Apple should help and find a fix or official workaround.

    Fans start in unpredictable way: you can have 30 apps running without problems, but open a single flash streaming video, skype video call, etc when connected to TD and your fans will start spinning at 6500RPM

    I don't care if this is not a SW fixable issue, Apple should address it as they did with antenna  problems on iPhone4 and f.e. they should give a stand for free with any MBA and TD sold together or at least they should say on KB this is a known issue and they are working on it.

  • cbanzhof Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Hey aRock10,


    Interesting to see all the comments on this thread. Seems like more people are having this issue.


    So my setup seems to be working fairly well. Rarely do I find my self rebooting because of the fan when re-connecting to the thunderbolt display.


    Im using an old griffin stand that I bought in 2007 with my Macbook Pro. Seems to work fine.


  • OSXlion Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    The connection to the Thunderbolt display is a huge bump to the screen resolution which is a Graphic Intensive Task... The fans WILL BLOW LOUD. But what you can do is, Your desk should be clean, There should be nothing near MBA that blocks the fan passage.