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This entry is to help you deal with fan noise. Many find the included fan to be objectionably loud. Another common complaint is that the fan control implemented in the BIOS does not seem to turn the fan off again once it has turned on. Software which allows you to control the fan speed will be discussed here. There is also the radical solution of disconnecting the fan, which you might want to do if your fan is defective, or you are sure that it is not needed.
I got one of the first Eees, one of the 7A serial number models. I was disappointed when the fan came on. It seemed disproportionately loud compared to its size, and I've gotten spoiled with my Macbook which is silent most of the time. As I perused the forum, I came across a very interesting post, “The Test” http://forum.eeeuser.com/viewtopic.php?id=3510. It was initiated by NoeeePC4MeWellMaybe…, whose knowledge and thoughtfulness have impressed me in his numerous postings. NoeeePC4MeWellMaybe…'s postings are the basis for this entry. He argues, to my mind convincingly, for the safety of disconnecting your fan. Another thoughtful poster, imabuddha, argued against disconnecting the fan.
(some from imabuddha, another member with consistently thoughtful and useful posts
-Asus designed it with a fan and they know what they are doing.
-Even if the cpu is ok at higher temperatures, perhaps other components are not ok.
-There might be long-term damage to components even if it seems to run ok in the short term
-This information posted by kubel, several months after this article was originally written, is a strong argument AGAINST disconnecting your fan:
It's mounted below the motherboard (below the cpu), so the fan doesn't have a direct impact on CPU temperatures. The fan acts more as a system cooler, not a processor cooler. Basing whether or not the fan comes on with the temperature of the processor is a very bad idea (although this is how the stock BIOS handles it). HP got into a bunch of trouble on its first generation Pavilion DV6000 series because the fan would remain off since the CPU was cool, meanwhile, the wireless card was cooking. They had to offer a free extended warranty as an alternative to a massive recall, and they had to release a BIOS update that kept the fan on continually.
In the Eee, the CPU is a ULV 5W TDP core. It actually runs cooler than the northbridge, and the northbridge actually runs cooler than the southbridge. Normally, it seems like this is reversed. Take off the keyboard and feel the plate. The left bracketted area is where the CPU core is. It should be only warm to the touch. The middle is the northbridge. It will be hot. The right is the southbridge. It will probably burn your finger if you leave it on there too long.
The CPU, NB, and SB are cooled by a single keyboard rest plate (they make contact with it). The fan does not directly blow on this plate (it blows underneath the motherboard, and whatever remaining air flows through the crevices to cool the above-motherboard areas). Instead, a lot of the cooling for these three chips is done passively through the keyboard. So when you turn the fan off you have to remember that the CPU temperature is the least cool chip. If it's 60C, the two other chips could be 70C and 80C. And who knows what the temperature is on the SSD chips, the wireless card, and other components.
So just a word of advice: be careful when you turn your fan off. The CPU may report 70C and it can handle that just fine (in fact, the max limit is 100C before it fails), but the other components are likely to be much hotter.
-Disconnecting your fan likely violates your warranty, although it is easily reconnected.
-Disconnecting your fan and overclocking (ie, running your Eee at the rated 900 mhz) is not something I'd do, although some posters are doing so
-Using your Eee with a disconnected fan with a Brando or PDAir case may be inadvisable, as one reviewer (on www.blogeee.net) felt that the Eee runs hotter with a Brando case. Others have found that the increase in temperature is just a couple of degrees with the case, and some of the cases apparently have more cooling holes than the one reviewed. Here's a reassuring perspective from NoeeePC4MeWellMaybe…: “Since the bottom of the Brando case appears to be rigid, and runs the entire length and width of the eeePC, I fail to see how an airflow issue would arise if a fanless eeePC is being used in such a case. Ambient air should still be able to flow underneath in the same manner as it would if the device was placed on a desk.”
these are almost all from NoeeePC4MeWellMaybe…'s postings, in The Test and elsewhere):
-The Eee is running underclocked, at 630 mhz, although it is presented as being able to run at 900 mhz. Perhaps the fan was intended for use at the higher speed.
-The cpu core temperature of the Eee running fanless for considerable times under load is well within the cpu's safe range, and only 6 or so degrees C above the temperature with a fan.
-Similarly configured systems from other manufacturers do not have fans.
-The fan doesn't appear to provide a whole lot of cooling in any event.
-The Eee doesn't feel any hotter without a fan.
-Some people have reported that their fans never turn on. If they are correct, they are running fan-free Eees, apparently without problem.
-Quoting NoeeePC4MeWellMaybe… “I completely understand the “fear” surrounding passively cooling a device that was sold with active cooling, but the reality is that if Asus had decided to omit the fan it appears as though we (the non-overclocking silent pc seekers) would be using our eeePC's without issue, and without any complaint about it being fanless. There are many passively cooled PCs and terminals with 3W-10W TDP VIA processors on PCBs similar in size to that of our eeePC. I wouldn't be surprised if most people on this forum would call me insane for running a desktop A64 X2 based system with a fanless powersupply, fanless 7600gs, and only two fans running at 1100 RPM to cool the entire system, but it works fine.”
“Also, we should not forget that the 66 degree reported maximum temperature when passively cooled is the core temperature of the CPU, and not the temperature of the ambient air inside of the case. None of the other components on the PCB have to dissipate 5W of heat when pushed to their limit, so I am sure that the likely 5-10 degree increase of the ambient air when passively cooled is nothing to worry about. Another thing to consider is that the CPU fan's ability to drastically cool any of the Intel chips on the top of PCB is significantly reduced due to the fan being located on the back of the PCB, directly underneath the CPU socket. The difference in temp between being passively cooled when relatively idle and actively cooled when relatively idle is only 9 degrees. The difference in temp between being passively cooled when the CPU load is maxed and actively cooled when the CPU load is maxed is only 7 degrees.”
-Your fan doesn't come on (as some have reported)
-You can't hear your fan (maybe you got one of the quiet ones, or have a relatively noisy environment)
-You don't mind the noise of your fan if you can hear it.
If you are running XP, in my view the best way to control fan noise now is with eeectl. See http://www.cpp.in/dev/eeectl/ . This will let you turn your fan off, and change the temperature threshholds at which it activates and the speed at which the fan runs. Moreover, you can easily adjust the speed of your eee (overclocking) and make the backlight on the screen really bright. It's a great piece of software.
There is software for Linux that performs at least part of what eeectl does. See http://forum.eeeuser.com/viewtopic.php?id=9797.
The forum post claims that disabling the fan module in /etc/modules will cause the fan to stop working. This doesn't seem to work for most people, but is included here for completeness (maybee works only with specific BIOS version?)
### I (richardkemp) have found that my /etc/modules fan entry as described below was already commented out, and my fan regularly runs. This is consistent with comments here http://forum.eeeuser.com/viewtopic.php?pid=106342#p106342. Is the information below correct? If anyone finds that their fan runs when 'fan' is uncommented and does not run when it is commented, please report it in the forums for discussion. Otherwise, it seems likely this information below is, at best, misleading. This addition made 21/02/08 ###
I noticed that the fan on my Eee PC never operated and a check showed that the entry for the “fan” kernel module had been commented out.
Check /etc/modules … if “fan” has been commented out you can enable the fan by removing the leading # symbol on the appropriate line and then re-booting. Conversely, you can disable the fan by inserting a # before the “fan” entry and re-booting (by which I mean shutting down completely and then starting up again).
Note that you must be “root” to make changes … open a terminal window (CTRL-ALT-T) and either enter “su -” if you have set a root password or “sudo vi /etc/modules” or “sudo nano /etc/modules”
Given that the module was not being loaded, one can assume that Asus believes the Eee PC can operate fanless although I prefer the extra cooling.
However, one should also consider why it was commented out by Asus. Was it just to maximise battery life or could there be something wrong with the fan or the kernel module?
All of the above is, of course, for the default Xandros OS … I have no information on anything equivalent for an Eee PC running XP.
Ralphe Neill (Melbourne, Australia)
This is one the easiest hardware mods you'll ever find. I've got to wonder if the designers intentionally set it up to be easy to disconnect. Here's what you do (these steps have been elicited from The Test thread):
1. Disconnect the power adapter and remove the battery.
2. Release the keyboard.
Depress the three little tabs along the top of the keyboard; these hold the keyboard on. I used the edge of a little knife. The picture below, from ta2cba's excellent guide on disassembling the Eee at http://forum.eeeuser.com/viewtopic.php?id=6036 shows the right-most tab. There is one in the middle and one on the left. I'll emphasize that this is incredibly easy–you just push the spring-loaded tabs in and the keyboard pops up a bit and can be lifted upward. You may need to play with it a bit to get all three tabs free at the same time. See the photo below for location of the right most tab, from ta2cba's guide. NOTE THAT THE KEYBOARD STAYS CONNECTED AT THE BOTTOM. THERE IS NO NEED TO DETACH IT. JUST LIFT UP THE TOP AS IF IT WERE HINGED AT THE BOTTOM. IT WON'T BE UP FOR VERY LONG.
3. Disconnect the fan connector.
In the photo below, posted by Daijoubu in The Test thread (who says it is from notebookreview), you'll see what is under the keyboard when you flip it up. You can see the RIGHT MOST connector in the photo below. ALL YOU NEED DO HERE IS GENTLY PUSH WHITE PART OF THE RIGHT MOST CONNECTOR TO THE LEFT until it disengages. You don't have to push it very far, and the less far you push it to the left the easier it will likely be to reconnect if you should decide to do so.
4. Close the keyboard.
Making sure the keyboard is engaged at the bottom, push it back down at the top, being sure that each of the three spring-loaded tabs engages to hold the keyboard in place.
5. Reconnect battery and adapter, as you wish. Use your fan free Eee!
And note the following, by NoeeePC4MeWellMaybe… “The only issue with a fanless eeePC is that after a few hours the surface that it has been placed on will get very warm, which in turn will increase the temperature of the case and the ambient air outside and inside of the eeePC. Moving to a cooler surface for a minute or two will cool it down.
I have used mine on just about all non-optimal surfaces (comforter, couch, carpeted floor, and on my lap) and although the CPU and case temperatures were higher than when used on a desk/table, my eeePC still ran fine. In the rare circumstance that you ever find that [it] feels 'too hot to handle', you can just pop up the keyboard, and push the fan back into its connector using the cap from a typical plastic ball point pen.
A 'googled' pic of the pen cap that I speak of:”
More battery life under XP and keeping the temperature down (again thanks to NoeeePC4MeWellMaybe…)
Excerpted from the thread http://forum.eeeuser.com/viewtopic.php?id=6636 “When I posted the battery life results earlier today [after a hotfix in XP and using a tray app to disable the webcam], my eeePC was idling around 55 degrees C after 5+hrs of light-average WiFi use. In the past, having the fanless eeePC on for 4-5 hrs straight, never moving it a cooler surface, would result in an idle temp of about 62 degrees C and the case would feel very very warm.”
I've followed the instructions in the thread, and it seems to work fine. Note that if you use the tray app to disable the webcam, you'll need to do so from an admin account, or follow the instructions toward the end of the thread on how to do it from a limited account.
I found NoeeePC4MeWellMaybe…'s position to be persuasive, and disconnected my fan. He has considerable experience with hardware and software, much more than do I. His reasons for supporting turning off the fan are quite specific, and are based on experiments with preventing the fan from operating and determining that there are no apparent adverse effects. On the other hand, the objections from others to disabling the fan are more general and are not based on the results of experiments with the Eee. Also, this particular mod is easy to reverse. If I damage the Eee by disconnecting the fan, I can afford the consequences.
I love it! I hated the noisy fan, and it makes more of a difference to me than I would have thought for it to be silent. It gets warm/hot, but no more so subjectively than it did with the fan. I also installed an XP hotfix that apparently reduces the temperature (see below).
Other users report fan free temperatures under load as follows: 63C fanless at 630 mhz, 73C fanless at 900 mhz.
samo@altern: i have disconnected my fan near 2 months already (all the sw ways do not really work), and so far i had the eee die only twice, once at home after staying on my lap with most ventilation holes blocked, and another one at midday in singapore (where i was for 3 weeks) at 35'C, with direct sun on it for quite long. Which IMO means this machine is very well engineered, heat-wise.
Although there are risks, one can reasonably decide to disconnect the fan in the Eee and easily do so. It also is easy to reconnect. XP users can save battery life and reduce operating temperatures, which makes sense if fanless although is not necessary, by following the instructions provided.