I have:

  • Windows Vista Home 32-Bit SP1
  • Intel Celeron CPU 3.06 GHz
  • 2 GB RAM

I installed the operating system about a year ago, has been working fine.

However about 3 months ago, the CPU fan has started to intermittently race at a high-pitched tone, especially during or after viewing Youtube videos, or being on a web site with Flash, or running a virtual machine. Also Thunderbird and Tweetdeck seem to kick the fan into high-speed mode as well.

However, sometimes I can run these applications with no CPU-fan racing, it seems to vary.

Vacuuming the fan to clear all the dust actually improves the situation but it seems it is just getting worse and even after a vacuum and a reboot, it isn't but 10 minutes of computer use that the fan starts screaming again:

Just as an example, I started a youtube video and a virtual machine at the same time, but the fan remained quiet:

alt text

However, after this, I started Thunderbird and the fan started racing again:

alt text

It is not a 1-to-1 cause-and-effect, it just starts racing about every 10 minutes. It never used to do this.

What can I do to improve this situation other than a full reinstall of the operating system?

  • get 4 GB of RAM?
  • install windows 7?
  • new video card?
  • is there some way I can monitor my CPU fan with software?

Anyone have experience with this?

  • My macbook fan goes nuts when I watch digital video, but doesn't seem to react when I do some other CPU intensive operations. I'm curious if it's related.
    – evizaer
    Jul 15, 2009 at 19:12

5 Answers 5


I'd have a go with Speedfan to see if the fan speed has anything to do with the temperature of the CPU. If your CPU is getting too hot, then it's natural for the fan speed to increase.

If so, then getting a new high performance or low noise fan might be your best option.

If you're feeling adventurous, you could also give your fan's bearings an oiling, although that's a slightly harder option.

  • Ahh, didn't think about that, assumed he'd already checked that. Jul 15, 2009 at 12:29
  • Yeah... he probably has, but it's best to check :)
    – Ant
    Jul 15, 2009 at 12:30
  • If your fans are already starting to sound awful, it is probably too late for oiling them to make much difference. Jul 15, 2009 at 17:31
  • Mmm you're probably right - and especially with reasonable fans being fairly cheap, it's probably not worth it :)
    – Ant
    Jul 15, 2009 at 21:14

I would be leaning towards what everyone else is saying your CPU is proberbly getting hot.

1) Try doing the same, but with the case open.
2) If the fan is broken, replacing it is most likely the only solution. You can get realy good fans that have a much lower noice then what computers normaly ship with ( But make sure there is room in your case).

  • 1
    +1 Besides the fan, the actual CPU heat sink may be crooked. Poor contact with the CPU can slow thermal transfer, and cause even a good heat sink with a good fan to run fast.
    – kmarsh
    Oct 20, 2010 at 13:04

Update the BIOS on your motherboard if possible, it may simply be that there's an error in the code for controlling the fan depending on temperature.


I would try just getting a new fan. It could be that it was always racing at high CPU load, but you just started noticing (hearing) it now because the bearings are starting to go bad.


Are you sure it's your CPU fan?

The fans on graphics cards can also be very noisy, they are traditionally small, cheap and naff. I've had more noisy graphics cards than I've had CPU fans.

The graphics card driver is usually responsible for managing the fan speed, when the graphics card is idling it will be slow, but when you start watching a video or stress the graphics the graphics card gets hot and it will increase the speed which sounds much like what you are noticing.

It's very possible theirs dust/damage to that fan, it's also possible that a recent Windows update caused the driver to be changed and the way it controls the fan may have changed with it being on more or something which might account for the recent change you are experiencing. A windows update for my nvidea Gforce 9 caused movies to play stuttery and place more load on the graphics card – it was noticeable that the fan was on more often (I updated to the latest driver which fixed that).

If it is your graphics card fan try using an air duster (when it's cool) to remove the dust but I don't think you can replace the fan. I've had graphics cards before where the fan would squeal at times and just tinkering with it and the angle of the graphics card would make all the difference.

However if it's your CPU theirs a good chance you could buy another 40/60/80mm fan and replace the old one as they are fairly standard or if you are feeling brave (and know what your doing) replace the whole heat sink + fan.

Not a suggestion but when I have a noisy fan I find something to gently press against the centre of the fan to slow it down which helps to find out which can is making the noise – be careful as it hurts (trust me on this) if that something is your finger and you miss the centre of the fan!!!

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