Technology

8 Signs You Need a Laptop Fan Replacement

6 Mins read

Believe it or not, some computer components can generate internal temperatures of up to 110° C (230° F). That’s a staggering 10° C (or 18° F) hotter than water’s boiling point!

Unless you have one of these AMD Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), those temps can kill your laptop. At the very least, they can impair your laptop’s speed and performance.

Such heat-related issues and damages can occur when a laptop fan is not working properly. As such, it’s vital you know how to tell if you need a laptop fan replacement. Otherwise, extreme heat can fry your motherboard and all its sensitive parts.

On that note, we created this guide listing the top symptoms associated with a broken laptop fan. Read on to discover what they are and what to do if you suspect a faulty fan, plus tips on how to avoid overheating.

1. Hot Enough to Fry an Egg on It

Laptop CPUs have optimal operating temperature limits referred to as “Maximum Operating Temperature.” This is the maximum temperature for the safe use of a laptop.

Internal laptop fans deliver active cooling to prevent CPUs from exceeding their MOT. They draw cooler external air into the device’s chassis and then blow it all over the internal parts. They also expel warm air from within the laptop’s case via vents or grilles.

The MOT depends on the CPU manufacturer and specific CPU model, but the standard is 100° C (212° F). For instance, the Intel Core 2 Duo processor specifies a max temperature junction or TJ of 100° C.

Although the cap is 100° C, you don’t want your laptop’s CPU to reach that range. Chronic exposure to high heat levels can lower laptop components’ electrical resistance. If this happens a lot, it won’t take long for the electronic components to get all fried up.

As such, the best temp range for a laptop CPU with a 100° C max TJ is about 70° C (158° F). If your laptop fan is in perfect condition, it can keep things at 50° C (122° F) or cooler.

So, if your computer gets too hot that it reaches water’s boiling point, you likely have a broken laptop fan. Shut down your device as soon as you can to let it cool off. Then, take your laptop to a pro to have its internal fans inspected and, if needed, replaced.

2. It’s as Hot as It’s Clean

Physical (as in dirt and debris) and digital contamination (as in malware) can overheat a laptop.

Filth can accumulate on and in air vents, clogging your laptop’s vents and grilles. A thick residue build-up can choke your laptop, and its fan won’t have a way to suck in cool air and expel warm air. As a result, no cooling occurs from within, so you end up with an overheating laptop.

So, always make sure you clean not only your laptop’s external case but its vents, too.

Malware can also overheat your laptop, as these malicious programs are often CPU-intensive. Malware attacks have dropped, but more than 3 billion of them still occurred in the first half of 2020 alone. As such, it’s in your best interest to keep your antimalware active at all times.

However, if your overheating laptop is as clean on the inside as it is outside, a broken fan may be to blame.

3. More Frequent Freezing or Lagging Issues

When the inside of your laptop gets too hot, its motherboard will direct the hardware to slow down. For example, the motherboard can instruct the processor to reduce the speed at which it runs apps. The motherboard can also force the hard drive to read and load stored files at a slower speed.

If you still demand a lot from your overheating laptop, though, it can already result in frozen apps. Some of your apps may also fail and force quit on their own. Your motherboard can also trigger automatic software shutdown.

If any of these happens, you might lose valuable data that you haven’t saved yet. This is especially true if the heat has already impaired your hard drive functions.

Do note that freezing and lagging is just as common in laptops with an overtaxed RAM or CPU. However, if your laptop also generates a lot of heat, then the root cause may be a faulty fan. In any case, you should take your laptop to a repair specialist to confirm if you need a new fan.

4. Frequent Automatic Shutdowns

According to Lenovo.com, overheating triggers automatic CPU shutdowns. These occur whenever a laptop’s heat sensors detect excessive temperatures. It’s a fail-safe feature that protects CPU components from heat damages.

So, every time your laptop overheats due to a broken fan, it will shut down on its own, forcing you to lose unsaved data. Data loss is prevalent, with two in three consumers affected by such incidents in 2019. Unless you have your data backed up somewhere, you won’t be able to recover those you lost due to shutdowns.

To save yourself from such headaches, have your laptop fan inspected. It may only need cleaning, but if you’ve experienced multiple shutdowns, you likely need a new fan.

5. Internal Temperature Monitor Registers High Heat Levels

Neither Windows nor Mac laptops come with built-in tools that measure internal temps. However, third-party temperature monitoring apps can confirm if your laptop has faulty fans. HWMonitor and MSI Afterburner are two examples; they will tell you how hot your laptop is within.

If you have a broken laptop fan, these apps will likely show temps of 90° C (194° F) or higher. If the fan no longer runs, no active cooling occurs within the laptop, hence the high internal heat. In this case, it’s best you take your device to a service center to get its fan repaired or replaced.

6. You Keep Getting Fan-Related Error Messages

CPU fan error messages usually appear during start-up or reboots. Laptops often display them right after an automatic shut-down caused by overheating. The exact contents (and number) of the error message vary from brand to brand, but they may look like any of these:

  • “The system has detected a problem with the cooling fan”
  • “System fan speed failure”
  • “CPU fan error”
  • “No CPU fan detected”

If you’ve seen any of these errors multiple times and your laptop does overheat, you likely have a broken fan. If you’re not comfortable with a DIY replacement, take it to an authorized service center.

7. Your Laptop Makes Weird Mechanical Noises

There are two possible sources of such odd sounds: a malfunctioning fan or a faulty hard disk drive (HDD). If you have a solid-state drive (SSD), grinding or clicking noises are most likely due to a broken fan.

SSDs, aside from being four times faster than HDDs, don’t have movable parts. As such, they’re unlikely to be the source of such weird mechanical sounds.

Grinding noises can be due to worn fan bearings, fan blade obstructions, or damaged fan blades. Buzzing sounds can result from filth build-up on the blades or within the fan’s hub (middle section). Clicking can occur if a foreign object bumps against any part of a whirring fan and causes dents on the blades.

You may find these sounds tolerable, but keep in mind that they all indicate fan impairment. This can ultimately reduce the fan’s speed and active cooling power. From there, your laptop will become more prone to overheating.

Before any of these happens, have a pro inspect and then either clean, repair, or replace your fan.

8. No Fan Sounds Even With Multiple Active CPU-Intensive Apps

The more CPU- or GPU-intensive the task you do on your laptop, the more heat it generates. To avoid overheating, your device’s fan must respond accordingly by spinning faster. As such, the faster it spins, the more audible your fan gets.

You should be able to hear some buzzing whenever you run multiple intensive tasks. These include playing a graphics-heavy videogame or using high-resolution video editing apps. If you don’t hear any fan sound at all, even while demanding a lot from your laptop, your fan may not be spinning.

It won’t take long for your entire laptop to get so hot that it shuts down on its own. Don’t wait for permanent damage to occur; power off your laptop right away and take it to a technician. Otherwise, you may end up having to get a new laptop altogether instead of just a fan replacement.

Get a Laptop Fan Replacement Before Heat Kills Your Device

The earlier you get a necessary laptop fan replacement, the less heat stress your device has to deal with. As such, always pay attention to the heat and the sounds your laptop’s fan generates. If your computer shows any of the signs in this guide, have a technician inspect it ASAP for a possible fan change.

Interested in more guides that can help make you tech-savvier? Feel free to check out our other blog posts then!

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