Question about Fan noise under load

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro 2' started by aer0, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. aer0

    aer0 New Member

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    Hi. First time on the forum.

    My 13" laptop is getting old at the moment so I'm currently trying to find a replacement.
    The Surface Pro 2 seems to be in the unique position of being a laptop replacement tablet, and I am looking towards it as the replacement.

    So my question is regarding to the Fan noise.
    How noticeable will it become under load and full throttle?

    Here are couple of situations it'll face:
    1) General day to day work (anything from spreadsheets to code editing)
    2) Audio and Video editing (encoding, edits, etc.)
    3) Light gaming (F2P games such as Warframe, minimum spec required at https://warframe.com/faq )

    I have very sensitive hearing, so I am quite agitated when it comes to audible fan noises.


    Thank you for the input!:big smile:
     
  2. jrapdx

    jrapdx Member

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    I'm not the greatest expert, having owned an SP2 for just over a month. Actually I've had 2 machines, the first got bit by the Dec 10 firmware fiasco, but you've probably already read about that. Three days ago I exchanged that SP2 for another, untainted sample, and AFAICT so far the new SP2 is not showing the "bad behaviors" of my former SP2.

    Fan noise wasn't noticeable even when my original SP2 had been abnormally revving up the CPU and the tablet becoming very warm. Unfortunately my hearing isn't as sensitive as it used to be, so I may not be the best critic in that respect. However, I did make an effort to get very close and listen carefully, and I didn't catch a hint of noise. (My wife hasn't complained of it either.)

    Furthermore, in the default "Balanced" power mode, the CPU is usually clocked pretty low, usually hanging out at < 1.0 GHz, becoming higher under load depending on what's running. For example, when Hyper-V is enabled, CPU frequency tops out at a constant 2.65 GHz, but I suppose that's to be expected.

    Running an editor, compiler, etc. does not seem to be especially taxing, at least with the 8 GB ram SP2. I also was doing some image editing (converting RAW photographic files, etc.) which the SP2 also seemed to take in stride. However, I don't have a lot of experience with these apps on the SP2, so just able to give my initial impressions.

    Using the pen for image editing is a feature I'm hoping proves useful. I've tried it out a few times, and it's different vs. graphics tablet on a desktop workstation. Maybe it's getting used to the direct-to-image stylus manipulation, and small screen size, but my initial attempts were only marginally satisfactory. My comments here are quite preliminary, and I can't really offer much guidance.

    I will say the MS photo viewer included with the SP2 (well, Windows 8.1), works very well with the tablet form-factor. The app has some editing capabilities, and if the program were "fleshed out" with a richer set of editing features (layers, area selection tools, etc.), it would likely be very effective.

    Don't know how much help my comments provide, but I do think the platform has terrific potential. It's already quite nice, and as its quirks are rectified, I anticipate the experience will become even better.
     
  3. DragonGamer

    DragonGamer New Member

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    During CPU-only tasks which include video editing and such, the fan will barely spin up, if at all. The passive cooling system seems to be quite strong, even keeping a full 100% CPU load around 74°C.
    However when you start using the graphic unit like in a game, the temperature increases quickly and the fans turns slowly on.
    Anyways even at full fan speed the SP 2 is definitely more quiet than very most laptops...
     
  4. mennogreg

    mennogreg Active Member

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    Agree with other posts. It's pretty much gaming that causes the fan to kick in and heat up the Surface, and even then it depends on your power profile. Just yesterday I was playing Medieval Total War II on the High Performance profile, very high settings, and by the half hour point the fan was on full blast and the Surface was considerably warm. This did not affect performance in any way, though the fan was audible, the sound it makes is more of a wheezing sound than a typical fan and thus drowned out by the game audio. After I was done I opened up Task Manager, and the CPU was maxed out between 2.47 and 2.58Ghz. I have my Maximum Processor State in High Performance when plugged in to be set at 100%, so that wasn't unexpected. What I was surprised about is that the fan eventually died down, and the Surface began cooling at a rapid clip, despite CPU hovering around full throttle. I opened up a few apps (Photoshop, IE, etc) to utilize the CPU, to see if it would kick in again; at a little under 50% utilization, it maintained full speed without turning the fans on or warming appreciably. So I think its the internal GPU that really triggers the fan to reach a higher level moreso than moderately utilization of the CPU, even at full speed.
     
  5. the_new_normal

    the_new_normal Member

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    I agree with the above. Only time I've noticed fans spin up is playing CivilisationV which needs all the GPU it can get.

    To start with the fans are very quiet, but when using maximum GPU for any period of time the fans hit high gear. Hard to quantify, but they're quite noticeable at this point. Nothing close to a desktop GPU sounds, perhaps closer to the sound a DVD drive might make? Sorry, hard to think of an analogy.
     
  6. aer0

    aer0 New Member

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    Thanks for the replies.

    To summarize, CPU intensive processes will get low to moderate fan noises.
    But any gaming over a duration of say 30 minutes will give you a very audible fan noise.

    My desktops make barely any sounds because I always opt for passive or air cooled vid cards that are known to be nearly silent when put into the right case.

    I have yet to have a laptop that makes less noise than my desktop when on load :(


    I may have to go to a local microsoft store, download a game and linger for 30 minutes or so, to check how audible to noise is...
     
  7. mennogreg

    mennogreg Active Member

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    The 30 mins isn't a hard coded thing, it can happen as soon as minutes depending upon the game. I was playing Fallout, the original, on my Surface and the fan doesn't kick in at all, because its an old game that doesn't push the hardware in the least.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
  8. macmee

    macmee Active Member

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    If I didn't know it had a fan, I would say it didn't, because I've never heard it before in my Surface.
     
  9. jrapdx

    jrapdx Member

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    That's been my impression too. From the comments here I gather that whether or not "fan noise" is audible reflects the kind of load put on the system.

    In my case, running compilers, virtual machines under Hyper-V, etc.--these are highly CPU intensive, but the fan is seldom activated. But heavy GPU loads are associated with need for extra cooling by the fan at high RPM, when it becomes audible.

    Yet another way YMMV. And raises questions re: optimizing configurations to accommodate different SP2 usage.
     
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  10. Korlon

    Korlon Member

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    I bought my sp2 last week and I always try to push the limits of any new machine at first. (may as well take advantage of the extended warranty while I can).

    Anyways I ran it through the paces using stata, matlab and a few other related programs. Not overly cpu/gpu intensive but it turns out the sp2 barely flinched. Fans did not come on at all after an hour.

    So, for the next act I decided to really push it and what better way than to use bitcoin mining software >:)

    On power saver mode I got about 8Mh/s (just a processing rate) and it took approximately 30 minutes for the first set of fans to kick in. (First time I heard them).
    after a few hours of my machine being turned off (so I could retry with a cool fresh start) I put it on Balanced Mode I got about 12Mh/s, and it took about 20 minutes for the first set of fans to kick in, then another 10 minutes for the second set.. about 10 minutes after that another set kicked in or both sets sped up.. I don't know which but the fans were noticeable. As for how loud they were, I can tell you my previous laptop would have been screaming compared to this loud 'sigh'.

    Finally, the next day I decided to ramp it up. I set the power setting to performance mode, and let it rip. in about 15 minutes of full on mining (approximately 18Mh/s) all three (if there are three sets, otherwise the max fan setting from previous attempt) came on, and stayed on for about 10 minutes after closing the software.

    To conclude, the fans at max speed (assuming there wasn't another fan setting beyond what I pushed it to) were noticeable, but they were hardly distracting. In fact I found the cooling system to be quite efficient. The case itself was warm in the back after the fans stopped, but that's just the material heat capacity.

    In case you were wondering, in about 2 hours of bitcoin mining I am set to receive 0.00000006 btc. Wouldn't even cover the replacement deductible :)
     
  11. aer0

    aer0 New Member

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    Can't find a single place that has the 256GB in stock :/

    What's with the stock levels?

    Did the December firmware update f' up the stock?
    Or does this have to do with the clandestine hardware update that they did for the processor?

    I wish the Surface Pro 2 had better integrated graphics than 4400 :(
    Hoping at least the Iris makes into the newer 3s when they're released...
     
  12. odinsravens

    odinsravens New Member

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    They are there, they just happen to sellout quickly after of a store lists the product as back in stock. You kind of have to babysit and be prepared to buy when they come back. There is a link floating around that checks a lot of retail sites but I don't have it on me. It seems like the MS store gets them faster.

    Staples had the 256 in stock this past Monday but it looks like they are out of them now though.
     

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