Laptops forum

General discussion

Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

I have a 6-year-old Dell Vostro 1510 laptop with Windows Vista (Intel Core 2 Duo T5870, 2.0GHz, 800MHz FSB, 2M L2 Cache), but lately the fan runs constantly. It will cut on, then off; on, then off; etc. I removed the plate covering the fan last week and blew out a lot of dust. Again my laptop is over 6 years old; could my laptop's fan be going out?

There is a computer repair shop here locally who has offered to check it out for me for a flat-fee diagnostic charge of $40.00 but if he determines if my laptop's problem is more serious he told me over the phone last week that he will advise me not to get my laptop repaired but to instead buy a new one. About this fan noise: I assume it's fan noise; it just whined real loud then shut off. Now it's whining again; now it's off.

Does that sound like a fan problem or could it be something else? If I decide to buy a new laptop which new MS OS is the best? I see some retailers including Dell are still selling new machines with Windows 7 and Windows 7 Pro. Is Windows 8 or 8.1 any good? How's Windows 10 doing since it was first released? A lot of complaints from computer owners who have Windows 10? Finally, are laptops with Celeron processors any good or not? All I do on this 6-year-old Dell is surf the web and send email; that's it.

Is the processor in my laptop better than the Celeron processors on the market today? Any downside to a laptop having a Celeron processor? Another member in the CNET discussion board said to not buy a Chromebook because I would not be happy with it, and to stay with a laptop if I decide to buy another one. He said most Chromebooks don't work like most laptops, whatever that meant. Thanks for any help.

--Submitted by Steve B.
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
Wait a minute!

In reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

Six years old means the deep clean and new thermal paste.
Dafydd.

Collapse -
Or two...

In reply to: Wait a minute!

I agree with Dafydd, plus a drop of oil on the fan bearings or new fan. If You have to replace the hard drive then get an SSD, it gives new life to an old computer. Concidering that the laptop has to be opened to do these things, the $40 sound very reasonable. Also, if the laptop hasn't been cleaned before, there may be a mat of dust on the cooling fins preventing airflow. Compressed air blown 'the wrong way' removes that.

Collapse -
SSD

In reply to: Or two...

I put an SSD in my laptop and it was the best performance move I could have made. The laptop boots in about a third of the time it use to. The over all performance was substantially improved.

Collapse -
that tech sounds honest

In reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

If you can't clean this yourself, use him.

Collapse -
Canned air and new thermal paste might help.

In reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

How is on the web.
Dafydd.

Collapse -
Old laptop fan problem

In reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

Most likely you need to clean the fan and it's air way, and your problem will go away at least for a while. On the question of the processors on the low cost machines, in my opinion they are about the same as the old Centrino core2duos in performance for most tasks. Windows 10 is OK, but personally I did not like 8 or 8.1 and won't recommend them. Windows 7 is also good, but support will end fairly soon in comparison to Windows 10.

Collapse -
Support

In reply to: Old laptop fan problem

Microsoft won't end security updates for Windows 7 PCs until Jan. 14, 2020. Mainstream support has already ended (You missed the boat on that.) Mainstream support refers to free phone and online support, as well as non-security updates, offered for five years after the release of an OS or two years after its successor hits the market.
Mainstream support for Windows 8.1 is set to end July 29, 2017. Windows 10 will be supported for 5 years, or until they release yet another OS, in which case mainstream support will end 2 years later.
That said, after being on Vista, Windows 7 would not be any great change for you, and is a better release. 8, and 8.1 are basically outmoded by 10, and basically there is no reason to install them, as Microsoft itself wants all Windows 8 users to upgrade to 10.
You're going to get refurbs and old hardware that come pre-loaded with Windows 7. Windows 10 units will be new.
Another idea is to buy the best hardware you can for the purpose you want. Lower end hardware is fine for basic email and social media for instance. Even an Android tablet will do that for you.
If you're storing a lot of files, the tablet won't be a great idea though, nor a Chromebook.
You could still get the best hardware for the price you have, and disregard the OS entirely and put on a Linux distribution (depending on the software you need to run.) Generally you'll get more "bang for the buck" running Linux on most tasks, as it doesn't need as good a processor to do basic tasks, and you can even run an office suite (goodbye Microsoft, of course, it will be something like LibreOffice.)

Collapse -
Bang?

In reply to: Support

He may be getting plenty of "bang" right now (noise) Happy By the way, I heard that Windows 10 will be the last Windows version (no Win 11) and all future "features' and patches will come through Windows Update. I'm not on Win 10 myself so I can't be too sure about that.

Collapse -
Linux is the way to go

In reply to: Support

A deep cleaning is severally needed, maybe a new fan, but this is what I would do with this, a personal opinion.
I would tear it down step by step, all the way down below the motherboard, watch some videos on youtube for your laptop model, clean out all dust and everything (deep clean), clean off old paste and reinstall new paste on the cpu and the gpu heatsinks, replace the fan, replace hdd with ssd when putting it all back together, finally install Linux, don't bother with Windows, my Linux preference is Kubuntu 14.04.3, but that is your decision to make. I am writing this using an old 2006 or so HP dv7 1245dx laptop that came with Vista, has Win7 and Kubuntu dualbooting, upgraded with an ssd. I really like how this laptop responds with the ssd and Linux. Basically, this laptop is not dead, a lot can be done for cheap to turn it into something useful, just my opinion.

Collapse -
Here Comes the Anti Windows crowd.

In reply to: Linux is the way to go

I have owned Notebooks for over 16 years and every one of them have fans running at all times. Cleaning helps by removing clogged inputs/outputs. I also use Cooling fans under each of my three to assist in cooling and also have to clean the output as it blows directly on to the bottom of the Notebook. Desktops also have cooling fans and require the same care. Some units have thermostats that speed up the fan when the drive works hard. Changing OS is not going to do away with the fan.

Collapse -
@bigbear639

In reply to: Here Comes the Anti Windows crowd.

Yes, it's true that, "Changing OS is not going to do away with the fan."

HOWEVER, having to do away with the Hard Drive ALWAYS does away with the OS ...unless one has the installation disks for that OS/Computer. period.

Most folks don't see any reason to make installation disks from a brand new computer and even if they do most of those don't bother to keep those disks around where they can lay their hands on them at a moment's notice. Then when something goes wrong, instead of fixing the problem, they have no choice but to buy another computer. Or so they think! This is where another option of OS comes in.

No one here is "Anti Windows" as you put it. What folks here are trying to put across is that one does NOT necessarily HAVE to go out and spend all kinds of money just because they don't have the installation disks for their existing computer. Linux IS an extremely viable option for many reasons. Only two of which are A. It is free vs. the exorbitant price of Windows. B. It allows one to re-cycle [at least] MOST of the parts of a computer by enabling them an extended life rather than sending perfectly good parts to the landfill or having to pay a 'recycler' to recycle the thing for them. Again, making it cheaper to achieve a desired result. That result? - Have a computer to do everyday tasks on such as surfing the internet and e-mail ...which the Asker of this question has stated is all he does.

As far as "Anti" Anything goes, it seems that the Anti Linux crowd is Anti Recycling. Wink

Collapse -
Not really anit windows

In reply to: @bigbear639

I agree there is no anti Windows feeling here. janesman2005 said he has windows and Kubuntu both installed as dual boot. So he is able to compare the two on an identical set up and he comes out in favour of Kubuntu over Win7. This is useful advice if you are prepared to step outside the square. Most people may not be comfortably trying something new. Kubuntu is a light version of Linux and helps to keep an older computer running. I have been using Ubuntu for some years on a cheap netbook and it works well but is a bit slow on this little thing. I'm going to try Kubuntu on it next to prolong it's life.

Collapse -
@matthew carter

In reply to: Not really anit windows

Thank you, that is right on the spot, I am not anti-windows, I prefer to use what works for me and doesn't cost me anything but time learning a new system. I've been playing with Linux since 2006, can't even say how many different distros I have tried, but all were Debian based. I was using Ubuntu up until Unity came out, I do not like Unity at all, I would also install Cairo Dock just to get away from Unity, thats when I went with Kubuntu, looks and feels like Win7 to me. I have 2 gaming desktops, both dualboot Win7 and Kubuntu, my bedroom laptop dualboots Win7 and Kubuntu, my office laptop has Kubuntu only. The whole point of my post was to show that even older equipment can have extended life.

Collapse -
To go a bit off topic here...

In reply to: Not really anit windows

To go a bit off topic here, I have found K/Ubuntu to be rather heavy on resources as compared to PCLinuxOS which is Red Hat based. PCLinuxOS comes with one of several GUIs. The KDE GUI on ANY Linux distro looks and feels more Windows-like than the other GUIs that are available. At present, I'm running PCLinuxOS on the laptop I described elsewhere in these answers to the original asker's question. I wonder if PCLinuxOS might be a good thing for you to try out on your netbook, matthew Carter? It may just run better with that than K/Ubuntu.

Collapse -
Get iPad or tablet

In reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

If surfing n emailing, surmailing, is all you want, forget PCs. Pads are far more convenient & trouble free.

Collapse -
Could be the hard drive

In reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

The two components that can make a high pitched whine are the fan and the hard drive. Since you've already seen it open, you have some idea where those two components are located. If the sound continues when you pick it up, then you might be able to listen for where the sound comes from out of the bottom of the laptop, and figure out which it probably is.

The fan is a little cheaper to replace. But not by that much. If you do end up replacing the hard drive, you can get a sub-1 TB drive for not much money. (I joke that they're giving them away in cereal boxes, these days.) And that should be plenty of space for your needs.

Just a personal preference, but if I were replacing a laptop today, I'd probably go for a released-six-months-ago refurbished computer with Win 7. My current laptop is a refurbished unit I bought through Newegg about four years ago, and it's still running fine. And, I have one machine running WIn 10, and while it's not horrible, I just prefer Win 7. As janitorman suggests, if you go Win 10, you'll be getting slightly newer hardware. But, not very much newer, and you're not pushing your hardware as it is, so you probably won't notice the difference. Totally personal preference, just my minuscule opinion, your mileage may vary, etc.

Drake Christensen

Collapse -
Just cleaned mine out

In reply to: Could be the hard drive

Coincidentally, my laptop has been spontaneously shutting down about once a day for the last week or so. I suspected a clogged heat sink, so I opened it up. Would you believe, 29 screws to get at the heat sink? That's unconscionable design.

Anyway, so much dust had accumulated against the heat sink that it looked like a felt pad. Wish I could post a picture. I pulled that out in one piece, and then a quick spritz with canned air, and it's running fine, again.

Collapse -
It's time to replace the unit

In reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

Repairing a 6 year old laptop would be a waste. Try blowing compressed air into the fan outlet, to dislodge possible lint or a tissue fragment hitting the fan intermittently.

Looking at the kind of questions you are asking, you need a simple answer: Get a cheap new or refurbished laptop. As others have said, the kind of processor will vary according to your need. Staples has some good sales sometimes.

For computers, I do not like wasting money on brand new junk. I have been happy with a refurbished Dell 5721 that I purchased from Arrow Computers last year for about $350. Later I replaced the HD with SSD and it works well for my needs at home.

I searched for you and here is what I recommend:
http://joy-systems.shop.rakuten.com/p/dell-latitude-e6520-core-i7-quad-2-2-2nd-gen-2720qm-8g-750-dvdrw-15-6/279113660.html

I would get this one for myself except that, I like a 17" to sit on my desk (with an external keyboard).

Collapse -
Windows 10 is fine

In reply to: It's time to replace the unit

I have upgraded some of my computers at the office to Windows 10 and I am very happy with the upgrade. There may be software compatibility issues with a fresh install, but at the office I only upgraded the existing Windows 7. This preserved all the settings as they are. I did not encounter any issues and the system appears to be much more stable.

I prefer the Windows 7 menu style. At home, on one laptop, I have upgraded a windows 8 laptop to Windows 10. Installed classic shell (http://www.classicshell.net/) and it appears that I have the best of both worlds.

Collapse -
It's time to upgrade!

In reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

Good Day Steve,

I’m going to tell you what I tell my clients. “Upgrading to last year’s technology, just doesn’t make sense.” You have an old laptop, running an old operating system, and it’s starting to act up. It’s time to upgrade. Spending money on that old machine is like throwing good money after bad.

My rule of thumb is to buy the best computer for what you need it for. If all you do on your computer is surf the web, and send emails, then you can pick yourself up a very good, brand new Windows 10 computer, for around $400.00. It will be as slow as molasses if you get into gaming, but you didn’t mention gaming in your post.

As for Windows 10, I think the majority of users agree that it’s the best operating system that Microsoft has ever released. I have it on most of my computers, and never had an issue yet. I was also in the Windows Insiders Group, so I got to see Windows 10 evolve, or as I like to say grow up.

So do some homework, check the sales, and the big box retailers, and you should be able to get yourself a nice little Windows 10 laptop with a good processer, a couple of gigs of ram, and a decent hard drive for the $400.00 I mentioned before. I hope this helps you.

Regards,
Mr. Windows

Collapse -
Fan Noise? A Symptom rather than a Cause.

In reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

Hi Steve,
Yes, the noise could indicate that your fan is approaching end of life, I have a 10 year old IBM T43 with a fan that is sometimes almost silent and at other times, sounds like a chainsaw! I have a replacement fan assembly for it but actually replacing it is a right pain in the proverbial! I’m basing my guess on the state of your fan on the way it keeps starting and stopping – you might expect it to run a long time to get the temperature down and then have some time off.

But more importantly, a constantly running fan is usually a symptom, not a cause – the cause is your laptop is overheating. If your Dell doesn’t have any monitors, there are free ones on the web – I use Speedfan www.almico.com/speedfan.php, which will confirm what temperatures you are running (if there is a little flame beside it, you are too hot!).

As others have suggested, I think a deep clean is in order, the whole system, if you can get at it – lots of canned air and vacuuming. Renewing the thermal paste, if you can get the heatsink off the CPU (and GPU if it has a heat sink) would be a good idea as Dafydd suggests.

I think your repair shop guy is being very realistic – if you can do it yourself, it’s economically viable, if not he’s probably right, a replacement would be a better long term solution.

If you decide on a replacement, the major vendors are still offering new and refurbished machines with Windows 8.1 Pro, with downgrade rights to Windows 7 Pro. In some cases they will carry out the downgrade for you. Look in the business sections for these deals, consumer versions of Windows 7 are not supposed to be marketed anymore and the downgrade rights are for Pro versions of 8.x only.

If you are running Vista at present 7 will be more familiar but if you go to 8.1 or 10 and don’t like it, you can always install ClassicShell (free) or Start8 or Start10, as appropriate, from Stardock ($5 each). With any of these, you can replace the tiles with a Win 7 or Vista start menu.

Without going into detail on a public forum, Celeron or Pentium processors will do the job for light usage, Web surfing, Email, Office productivity but personally, I would avoid them – if you can run to a Core i3, you would be much better off. Or an AMD processor would be cheaper. Intel are just rolling out the 6th generation Core i processors, which means that you should be able to find previous versions at attractive prices. The 4th generation (4xxx) is an excellent processor, which you might still find direct from the vendors or their agents.

Chromebooks are not PCs. They don’t run Windows and have minimal local storage. They run Google’s Chrome operating system which is cloud based – think of them more as running a browser and any applications you might want under the browser, Gmail, Google Apps, etc. If you can live with those restrictions, they are good value but as a long term investment (you’ve had your Dell 6 years!) I think you’d be better off with a PC. Go and play with one at your local computer shop before you go down that route.

As a final option, if cash is really tight and you know what you are doing, you might take a look at the second user market. Be very very careful but to give you an idea of what can be achieved, earlier this year, I bought an ex-lease Lenovo T500, through a local online auction house, it was 4 years old, in pristine condition. I installed OpenSuSE Linux and I’m delighted with it. Cost? $39 Australian!

Your mileage may vary, of course. Good Luck!

Collapse -
Zouch has the very BEST answer here, so far! n/t

In reply to: Fan Noise? A Symptom rather than a Cause.

n/t

Collapse -
Re: Fan noise? A symptom rather than a Cause.

In reply to: Fan Noise? A Symptom rather than a Cause.

Zouch:

Thanks for that very informative post; it contained lots of helpful information.


Big Steve
12/18/15

Collapse -
IBM T42

In reply to: Fan Noise? A Symptom rather than a Cause.

Hi Zouch,
I apologize if this is out of C|net procedure, but seeing that you had an IBM T43, I got excited and somewhat desperate. Is there any way I can contact you for help with an IBM T42 I am trying to at least get it to operate wireless, and get IE 8 installed on to it. I can hard wire to internet but not wireless with Verizon Fios.

Thanks
Corbette

Collapse -
I can't agee with Zouch more.

In reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

I was going to suggest some of the same things including the possibility of simply giving the thing a good cleaning and installing Linux on it if the hard drive does needs replacing. I just bought a new hard drive for my older Dell Latitude D630 (about 6 years old, too) and it didn't cost all that much. I can't recall the exact number, but it was an excellent value. And I got it at MicroCenter at that! But, Linux would be the cheapest way to go in the way of an OS as most of the versions of it are absolutely free. If you're that apprehensive about "upgrading" to a newer version of Windows (say, over Win 7) that you'll have to re-learn how to navigate all over again, anyway, it just may(?) be worth investigating and trying out some of the versions of Linux that you see mentioned in various places. You can do that with Live CDs that will by-bass your hard drive altogether. Find one you like and install it!

***On a side note, I have invested just over a total of $300+/- into my Dell laptop including what I paid for it to begin with as a used unit. I upgraded the memory with some used memory sticks and replaced and upgraded the battery in addition to the hard drive. I then installed PCLinuxOS on it. However, the caveat there is that I'm in the process of switching away from Windows (the newer versions, anyway) and migrating to Linux, too. So, that sort of justifies that rather higher figure that I spent. But, I have an EXCELLENT machine ( for my purposes) that should last me a good while. So, putting a bit of money into your laptop, Steve, just may be a better value than buying a brand new one? Especially, if you do find that it needs a new hard drive which will force you to upgrade or otherwise change your current OS. The choice is ultimately up to you as to what you'd find more useful.

Good luck with what ever you decide to do! Grin

Collapse -
I Agree With Most Posters on This One

In reply to: Laptop fan runs continuously. Fan problem or something else?

First, find out what the noise really is. Some people would think it is the (a) fan - there may be more than one. However, it could be the hard drive. Either way, the laptop shutting down could be thermal issues. What I would do first (right after a shutdown, if possible) is to boot the computer back up and check the event log (usually under the system tab). I don't know much about Vista but on XP you go to administrator tools and the event log viewer is in there. Pay attention to the time the laptop shut itself off in the log and see what you can find.
As others have suggested, try to see if the noise is near the air outlet or somewhere else such as the HDD.
VERY IMPORTANT! --> Backup your data files immediately! As for your programs, on a new laptop you will be best served by re-installing but watch version compatibility. You may need new versions of some of your software.
For me, the $40 diagnostic sounds good so I would go with it (or I would open up the laptop to see what is going on myself, but that is me and not necessarily for someone else.) depending on what your uses are and your budget, you may want to consider tablets, notebooks and desktops. Either way, make sure your DATA is backed up. If the noise sounds like a grinding noise, it could easily be the HDD. Sounds good having the system 6 years but there may be 6 years of dust and junk in there that needs cleaning. Some laptops can be sensitive to heat. Be careful if you go in there yourself. You may want to buy a (cheap) static strap in case you touch something.

Collapse -
Re: I Agree With Most Posters on This One

In reply to: I Agree With Most Posters on This One

This summer I removed the plate covering the fan for the first time in 6 years and there was a lot of dust; I cleaned it out good but I didn't mess with anything else. The noise quit for several months after that then it started again so about 2 weeks ago I removed the plate covering the fan again; it was dusty again but not as bad as before but the noise seems to be coming from the fan.

I can put my hand on the left side of the laptop where there is a vent and it does get warm at times plus I can feel warm air coming out sometimes. The fan is no longer sold on Dell under their parts but Ebay has them everywhere but I'm not comfortable with doing business on Ebay so after Christmas I think I'll take it to that computer shop which my dentist recommended and let that guy check it out but if it runs into serious $$$$ it'll be a new one for me.


Big Steve
12/12/15

Collapse -
Sounds Like a Plan

In reply to: Re: I Agree With Most Posters on This One

I should have added that just cleaning out that one fan may not be enough. There can be a whole MAT of dust and junk lying all over the motherboard. So, as others have suggested, it may mean that the case has to be opened and clean out everything ("deep clean"). Also, if heat is a problem, redoing the thermal paste may be a good idea. Does the $40 include a thorough testing of everything or just a diagnosis of the noise issue? Since a fan blows air out, air also has to be "sucked in" from somewhere. You may want to look at where you use the laptop to see that it is reasonably clean. Running it on the floor is not a great idea, for example.
Getting a new one may be the best idea yet as it will probably be a major improvement over the old one (which can be wiped with good software before sending off to a charity).

Collapse -
Re: Sounds Like a Plan

In reply to: Sounds Like a Plan

I didn't get into all of the details as to what the $40.00 fee will cover because the guy who owns the shop and who my dentist recommended that I call because he has used the computer guy for years to maintain all of the computers at his dental practice; the day I called the guy told me just bring my computer in after the holidays and he'd be glad to check it out but he was too busy to talk on the phone so I thanked him and I told him I'd see him after Christmas.


Big Steve
12/13/15

Collapse -
A overheated Fan cost me money.

In reply to: I Agree With Most Posters on This One

Several Years ago during the summer months my unit kept shutting down from overheating, despite having fans and even had some blowing directly on to the Laptop. My AC was not cycling down and not really cooling properly and I wound up with a $565.00 bill despite being on budget billing. I replaced the AC which actually cost less than that Bill and cools my entire 1st floor. No more having to blow extra fans.

Popular Forums

icon
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
icon
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
icon
Laptops 21,181 discussions
icon
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
icon
Phones 17,137 discussions
icon
Security 31,287 discussions
icon
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
icon
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
icon
Windows 10 2,657 discussions

DEALS, DEALS, DEALS!

Best Black Friday Deals

CNET editors are busy culling the list and highlighting what we think are the best deals out there this holiday season.