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CurbedLarry
2 Iron

E5440 Fan Speed and Noise

Every other machine has a thread complaining about fan noise so I thought I'd create one for the E5440 too emoticon.Smile.title

I've had my E5440 for about 3 months and generally happy with it.  Most annoying aspect however is fan control and noise in casual use.

I've used some software to track temps and the fan speed.  I can see by default the fan is completely off while temps rise over ~12 minutes.  Then the fan cuts in at 3000rpm and drones on for ~12 minutes.  All temperatures fall back to their baseline after ~6 minutes but the fan keeps going for no obvious reason.

Fan off:

Fan on:

Considering this machine has a 4th generation i5 rated at only 15W I didn't expect the fan to be running half the time at a minimum of 3000rpm!  Especially when the CPU is idling.

My old 2008 HP machine has an old Core 2 Duo chip rated at a huge 65W and yet in casual use the fan spins constantly and quietly at ~1000rpm and rarely ramps up at all.

It seems that the calibration for casual use is off.  The HP method of keeping the fan spinning slowly at all times is much more desirable than alternating between 12 minutes silence and 12 minutes of droning noise.

Note: I updated to the latest BIOS A07 last week with no notiable improvement in fan control. The BIOS seems to have no fan control options.

I was hoping to use SpeedFan software to control the fan myself but although it can monitor fan speed it can't gain control.

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73 Replies
CurbedLarry
2 Iron

RE: E5440 Fan Speed and Noise

Also worth noting from the graphs:

It only takes ~2 minutes of fan running to reduce all the temps to with 2/3 degrees of their baseline.  The additional 10 minutes (!) of fan only reduces temps by that final couple of degrees.

It seems rather pointless to reach those lower levels as within a minute of the fan switching off the CPU temps are all back up 2/3 degrees.

Also, within 4/5 minutes the temps are all within ~5 degrees of peak, where the BIOS is happy to leave them.  Even a simple switch to 2 minutes of fan alternating with 10 minutes of silence would be a vast improvement without making the chassis much hotter.

I understand Dell engineers have to be quite cautious in calibrating things but making a business machine quiet in casual use in a 20C room should be the number one scenario to target.  I can't imagine using the built-in microphone for Skype teleconferencing as I would be shouting over the fan noise half the time!

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CurbedLarry
2 Iron

RE: E5440 Fan Speed and Noise

Anyone at Dell care to comment on this and/or pass it onto the engineering team to look at?

I've disabled TurboBoost on the CPU to make a slight improvement but still when the fan decides to cut in it's at a minimum of 3,000rpm and drones/whines on for a minimum of 10 minutes.

THIS IS INCREDIBLY ANNOYING AND TOTALLY UNNECESSARY!

It would be nice if I could at least override the fan speed control with SpeedFan but the BIOS keeps returning the speed to 3,000 rpm.

Does anyone at Dell remotely care what their machines are like to use in the real world? Do you seriously expect customer loyalty and repeat business if customers hate their machines? emoticon.Sad.title

EDIT: I note other machines have suffered even worse fan control and this was resolved by a BIOS update but the E5440 hasn't had any BIOS updates since July:

en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/19532897

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Bennorsson
1 Nickel

RE: E5440 Fan Speed and Noise

I have the same issues. Just to let you know you're not alone.

CurbedLarry
2 Iron

RE: E5440 Fan Speed and Noise

Thanks BENNORSSON, good to know!  Have you seen the thread for the previous generation E5430:

http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/19480918

Seems it was even worse on that model (almost impossible to stop the fan) as there were a lot more complaints.  Here's more info I posted there...

I ran the HWiNFO monitoring tool over 6 hours of light use (see below) and using the average fan speed I can calculate the fan was running for 62% of the time!

Used an equivalent Core i5 Toshiba machine for a few hours recently and it was so much quieter and pleasant to use.  The fan only came on at a low speed occasionally and rarely ramped up.  Dell's ON/OFF fan control is from the stone age in comparison, even Acer can do better!

Having a engineering background I've looked at the internal design and the fan doesn't seem to draw much (if any) air through the chassis, just push air from the intake through heatsink:

http://blog.parts-people.com/2014/09/22/dell-latitude-e5440-cpu-fan-removal-and-installation/

My latest "fix" is to block the central third of the fan outlet with a piece of tape, this cuts down the fan noise a lot.  Ridiculous but worth a try!

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Bennorsson
1 Nickel

RE: E5440 Fan Speed and Noise

I hadn't seen that thread.
Although we have many E5430s I personally never used one of them so I can't tell for that model.
I actually just changed from a E7240 to the E5440 because of the same issue. I figured that because of the small form factor of the E7240 cooling would be a greater challenge and thus making the fan spin all the time. But it's the same for the E5440, just with a little less noise because of a bigger fan.
Seems like Dell has a general problem in that area.

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CurbedLarry
2 Iron

RE: E5440 Fan Speed and Noise

I guess your E5430s are used in an office, probably with ambient noise such as air conditioning?  If I was doing the same I'm sure I wouldn't notice so much but being home-based I have to listen to it for hours every day.

I'm expecting the heatsink and fan will clog with dust more quickly by having the fan running at an elevated speed all the time.  The E5440 is very tightly packed inside and heatsink/fan are a total pain to access.

My old 15.6" HP was too big/heavy but I could remove the heatsink/fan in 2 minutes.  That sucked air direct from the insides of the machine and pushed it through the heatsink.  Dell seem to use a totally different method, mostly taking air from outside and under the keyboard, drawing very little through the entire machine.

Alledgedly it's an ambient temp sensor somewhere that needs to drop enough to stop the fan but it seems the fan has little chance of directly reducing the temperature at that location.  The threshold for that temp is so low it can often never actually achieve it.  I do wonder how much real world testing Dell actually do...

I'm now experimenting with blocking off part of the fan intake on the bottom to reduce noise and so more air is drawn through the machine... No luck so far.

Clearly if you're supporting a large number of machines you don't want to be fixing engineering flaws with tape!

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Bennorsson
1 Nickel

RE: E5440 Fan Speed and Noise

Yes, the machines are used in offices or out in the field and I've also never had any complaints on that topic. Although it needs to be kept in mind that the level at which things like that are considered annoying vary from user to user.
What I did notice though is the dust issue you mentioned. Almost every E5430 I'm getting back from users has clogged up dust intakes on the bottom, even after only about half a year. That seems like a design fault to me.
Off topic though.

An alternative "fix" is to take out the heatsink and remove the standard paste between the CPU and the heatsink, clean everything up and replace it with some proper silver or copper paste. That helped both my former E7240 and E6520 before that to cool down and therefore get a little less noisy. But that's obviously also only an improvised fix. The machines should come ready for use. 🙂
On that note it's really a pain having to take apart the whole machine to get to the heatsink and CPU. Which also varies from model to model. The E65xx models I know of where a joy on that part, E7240 or E5440 are a real pain though.

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CurbedLarry
2 Iron

RE: E5440 Fan Speed and Noise

Seems like the fans on your E5430s must be spinning an awful lot to clog that fast. The fan blades on mine have a crusty layer of dust building up after 9 months.

I see the successor model E5450 is out and they reverted to a more normal cooling system. The fan sucks from the internal cavity of the machine and the CPU has a huge grille below it:

http://www.notebookcheck.net/Dell-Latitude-14-E5450-Notebook-Review.130555.0.html

Sounds like you're volunteering to try replacing the thermal paste 😉  My impression is if the CPU was just a couple of degrees cooler it might be enough to kill the fan after 3-4 minutes instead of 10+.

At the weekend I tried to install the Intel "Extreme Tuning Utility" so I could try reducing temperatures but it says not supported.  Couldn't even install the generic GPU drivers because the proprietary Dell one is so hard to bypass.

I've lost hope of getting a response here so I've formally raised the fan thresholds with Dell Technical Support, along with a couple of other driver/BIOS issues I wanted to raise. My 7 year old HP is on it's last legs but still has less issues than this piece of...

Was considering cutting my losses and selling but the resale value is pityful, a third of what they're still selling it for new!

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CurbedLarry
2 Iron

RE: E5440 Fan Speed and Noise

Hi Bennorsson,

Can you take a look at my other issue, CPU spikes when idle:

http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/19612898

I'm really interested to know if your E5440 does the same thing?

Thanks, Lawrence

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