Written by Ivan Belcic
Published on December 18, 2020
Reviewed by Sandro Villinger

Why is my computer fan so loud?

A loud computer fan happens when your computer is generating a lot of heat, which causes your computer’s fans to leap into action, forcing the hot air out of your PC so that cooler air can cycle in. Loud computer fans can also be caused by dust building up in your PC, which negatively impacts its performance.

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    Inside your computer is a lot of sophisticated hardware — your CPU, graphics card, power supply, and more. These all generate a ton of heat. And the sensitive electrical components inside your PC are vulnerable to high temperatures. To keep heat levels down, the fans inside your computer start spinning to push the hot air out and cool down your PC.

    When putting your computer through intensive tasks — such as while playing online video games, editing large multimedia files, or performing a CPU stress test — it’s normal to have loud computer fans. So long as they calm down when you’re done, this isn’t necessarily something to worry about. But if you’re experiencing lots of desktop or laptop fan noise under normal circumstances, read on to see what the problem might be.

    Why is my computer fan running so much?

    Your computer fan might be running in overdrive for a few reasons:

    • Your fans are dirty. Dust builds up inside your computer, especially if you’ve got a bulky desktop PC. As dust collects on your computer fans, they no longer work effectively. Dust and other debris are a common cause of noisy computer fans.

    • Your computer can’t ventilate heat. The word “laptop” is misleading — when you place it on your actual lap, your legs both transmit heat to your laptop and also prevent cool air from cycling in to cool it down. Desktop PCs also need access to cool air.

    • Your fans aren’t working properly. Moving parts wear down over time and eventually break. Desktop and laptop fans that are running loud might be loose. There might also be something wrong with the firmware for the hardware component running the wonky fan.

    • Your CPU is working too hard. Sometimes, it’s not a fan problem at all. If there’s a program eating up way more than its fair share of your CPU’s resources, that can easily cause your computer to heat up fast. A computer fan making noise out of nowhere can indicate a high CPU usage issue.

    Is it bad if my computer fan is loud?

    Loud computer fans and loud laptop fans can indicate problems, especially if the noise persists for a long period of time. A computer fan’s job is to keep your computer cool, and excessive fan noise means they’re working harder than they normally need to.

    If your fans can’t sufficiently reduce the heat levels inside your computer, you may start to experience a range of issues. Your CPU will self-regulate its performance to try and lower heat output, meaning that you’ll see a noticeable drop in speed and performance.

    When your PC’s internal temperatures get too high, your CPU will shut itself down to avoid permanent damage. That’s why your computer crashes and gives you the notorious blue screen of death. You might also experience problems while starting up your computer, such as a black startup screen or an endless series of reboots.

    How can I make my computer fan quieter?

    There are several ways to address desktop or laptop fan noise to quiet your computer.
    Each of the following tips should help clean up and boost your computer’s performance considerably. Try them in order — if one doesn’t work, move onto the next.

    1. Make sure cool air can reach your computer

    Before we get to your computer’s internals, make sure you’ve placed your computer in a location that helps it cool down.

    Place your desktop (or laptop) computer on a smooth, flat surface, such as a desk or even the floor. Don’t put it on a carpeted surface, and don’t keep it inside a drawer or cabinet — you want cool air to be able to circulate around your computer. You need to give the hot air inside your PC somewhere to go as your fans spin to remove it.

    Two laptop computers placed on a smooth glass tableTwo laptops sitting on a smooth glass surface.

    The same principle applies to your laptop. Use a laptop on a desk or a table, and if you must put it on your lap, try and limit the time it sits there. You can also use a laptop cooling platform, which should have a built-in fan to blow cool air up toward your laptop. Cooling pads also let you use your laptop on your lap without worrying about overheating. Just don’t leave your laptop out in the sun for too long, because that will make it heat up fast!

    two laptop computers placed outside on a tableTwo laptops placed on a table outside.

    Your laptop or PC casing should have little rubber “feet” on the bottom, which allow for a bit of space between the casing and the surface your PC is sitting on. That gap is essential for allowing your computer to dissipate heat, so if the feet have worn down or fallen off, replace them.

    2. Clean your fans and vents

    A loud computer fan is often a dusty computer fan. As dust builds up, it prevents the fans from cooling your computer’s sensitive internal components as effectively as they should. Regularly remove dust from the fans and vents to allow your computer to cool itself efficiently.

    Before cleaning your computer, turn it off and unplug all cables and connections, especially the power cable.

    Pick up a compressed air duster — also known as canned air — and spray it toward your computer’s vents at an angle. Your goal is to blow the dust away, and not back inside your computer’s housing.

    The inside of a PC case, showing the cooling fans as well as other hardware.Cooling fans and other hardware inside a PC case.

    If you can, open up your computer to directly clean your CPU fan. If you have a desktop, you may find other fans inside as well, such as for your RAM or GPU. To remove any dust build-up, spray the fans in short bursts with your canned air, then wipe down the fans with a microfiber cloth to finish the job. If your desktop computer has a dust filter inside, clean this out as well.

    While you’re at it, clean your power supply fan with the same combo of compressed air and a microfiber cloth. Power supply fans also get loud if they’re too dusty to work properly. Do not open your power supply, but clean it as best you can from the outside.

    Finally, inspect the thermal paste on your CPU and any other units that have some. Thermal paste helps your CPU and GPU transfer heat to their heat sinks, and this paste can wear down over time, becoming less effective. If you notice any aging or worn down thermal paste, replace it.

    Before closing up your computer, double-check that you’ve plugged all your fans back into the motherboard — otherwise, they won’t work at all.

    3. Check that your fans are working properly (or replace them)

    Now that your computer fans are nice and clean, put everything back together and turn on your computer. You’re looking to see whether the fans start up and spin normally. If so, then you’ve done a great job — just be sure to monitor your CPU and GPU temperatures for a while to make sure everything’s working normally.

    But, if your computer fans are still making noise, or if they don’t work at all, it may be time to replace them. Check and confirm your fans’ dimensions before ordering new ones, or else you may be stuck with shiny new fans that don’t fit inside your PC.

    While you can replace most fans individually, if your power supply fan doesn’t work, replace the entire power supply unit. Cracking open the power supply can be dangerous. Also, an overheating power supply may be unable to sufficiently power all the components in your computer. So rather than replace the fan, upgrade to a more powerful power supply instead.

    How to keep your computer from getting so hot

    Your fans can only do so much to manage your computer’s heat levels. If your desktop or laptop fans are still running loud after you’ve cleaned them, they may simply be overworked. Software issues may also be responsible for making your computer fans so loud — either something’s not working as it should, or your hardware isn’t powerful enough to run the software you’re using.

    Older and less-powerful computers may struggle to keep up with modern video games — such as GTA V, Dark Souls, and Ark: Survival Evolved — as well as other complex applications, like multimedia editing software. Meanwhile, many types of malware can overstress your CPU.

    A dedicated performance optimization tool will ensure that your computer’s resources are properly allocated at all times. AVG TuneUp will identify and deactivate unneeded programs so that you don’t waste CPU power on software you’re not using. 

    AVG TuneUp will also keep your hard drive clean and tidy by removing junk files, temporary data, unwanted bloatware, and other pointless files. An efficient computer is a cool computer, and a cool computer is a quiet computer.

    Check Task Manager for resource-hungry programs

    Task Manager will show you which programs are using which of your computer’s resources, and how much. It’s an easy way to identify resource-hogging apps that might be overheating your computer and causing all that desktop or laptop fan noise.

    After you identify the programs responsible for hogging your CPU and disk space, you can uninstall or update them as needed.

    1. Right-click your taskbar and select Task Manager.

      Opening the Task Manager from the taskbar in Windows 10
    2. Click the CPU tab to sort all active processes by the percentage of your CPU they’re consuming. This will place the most resource-demanding programs right at the top.

      Sorting programs by CPU usage in Task Manager for Windows 10

      It’s normal to see some programs taking up large amounts of your CPU for a split second or two. But if you notice certain programs consistently sitting at the top and consuming double-digit CPU resources, make a note and conduct further research. 

      Updating or reinstalling the troublesome program might help calm things down and reduce your fan noise. This especially applies to your graphics driver. If your GPU fan is making a lot of noise, update your drivers and see if the fans quiet down.

      AVG Driver Updater makes updating your drivers incredibly easy by scanning your computer and automatically updating any outdated or malfunctioning drivers.

    3. Switch to the Disk tab. This will show you which programs are taking up the most storage space.

      Sorting programs by disk usage in Task Manager for Windows 10

    Having your computer sit at 100% disk usage is a common cause of loud fan noise and other performance issues. Disk usage problems can often be resolved by updating Windows, removing malware, disabling the Windows Superfetch service, or clearing out junk files with a performance optimizer like AVG TuneUp.

    If you’re seeing consistently high disk usage, run the CHKDSK system tool to diagnose any hard drive errors.

    Remove and prevent malware infections

    Many types of malware eat up large portions of your computer’s resources and storage. Viruses and worms will hog both as they replicate and store copies of themselves in your computer. Adware will chew through CPU usage as it showers you in pop-up ads, while cryptominers — malicious programs or browser scripts that force your computer to mine cryptocurrencies for a hacker’s benefit — can cause serious overheating issues.

    malware detection and removal tool from a reputable provider is your strongest ally in the fight against resource-hogging malware. AVG AntiVirus FREE automatically scans, detects, and removes all types of malware, while also keeping you protected against future infections.

    Without malware gobbling up your CPU power and disk space, your fans will have a much easier job.

    Optimize your computer’s performance with AVG TuneUp

    AVG TuneUp is a specialized performance booster that ensures your computer always uses its resources as efficiently as possible. Here’s how to use it to sharpen your computer’s performance. First download and install AVG TuneUp.

    Use Sleep Mode to deactivate unneeded programs

    AVG TuneUp’s patented Sleep Mode feature detects programs that chew through system resources by running in the background when you don’t need them. It’ll hibernate these programs, and then wake them back up as soon as you need to use them again.

    That saves CPU power and RAM for what you really need and helps keep your CPU temperatures down, which, in turn, makes your computer fan’s job a whole lot easier.

    Using Sleep Mode in AVG TuneUp to hibernate unneeded programs in Windows 10

    Automatically clean out junk files

    Windows is constantly creating temporary files in your system as it works. If left alone, these junk files can take up a lot of space on your drive. Deleting this junk may fix those nasty 100% disk usage alerts and can help reduce the strain on your computer fans.

    AVG TuneUp’s Disk Cleaner removes all sorts of junk files — not only temporary files, but also crash reports, cache files, thumbnails, unneeded install files, “recently used files” lists, and more.

    Using the Disk Cleaner in AVG TuneUp for Windows 10 to delete unneeded files

    Get rid of bloatware and other unwanted programs

    Bloatware refers to programs you don’t want or need, but are on your computer anyway. These programs and other similar software can cause fan problems for two reasons: they can suck up valuable CPU processing power and occupy precious hard drive space.

    A shortage of CPU power or storage space can force your computer to work harder than it normally should, which means — you guessed it — loud fan noise. You can easily remove these apps from your computer with AVG TuneUp’s bloatware removal tool.

    Removing unnecessary programs with AVG TuneUp for Windows 10

    Optimize your PC’s performance with AVG TuneUp

    If you’re overwhelming your computer with too many resource-hungry programs and loads of junk files, it’s no wonder your fans are loud and going haywire. AVG TuneUp is a comprehensive PC optimization suite with an array of tools specially designed to boost your computer’s performance.

    AVG TuneUp will remove all the junk files, bloatware, and other unneeded data that’s preventing your computer from performing at its best. And the built-in Sleep Mode will identify resource-hungry apps and send them into hibernation until you really need them. With a more efficient PC, your computer fans will be much happier — and quieter.

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    Ivan Belcic