Does the Mac mini have a fan - yes. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 01-25-2005, 01:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Quick post:

I have seen a couple comments of folks asking/commenting on the existance of a fan inside the Mac mini.

In short the answer is: Yes, the Mac mini does have a fan designed to cool the unit. Air is drawn in from vents around the bottom edge of the unit and the fan pushes air out the exhaust vents in the rear of the unit (above the connectors in the rear). How do I know this? I took one apart.

Long answer:

The fan is variable speed. Based on the ambient temperature inside the case (not sure exactly where the sensor is) the fan will speed up to cool a hard working Mac mini or slow down to reduce noise levels for a Mac mini that is not working as hard (aka generating heating).

Don't believe it has a fan? Run a DVD, a high bit rate QuickTime file, copy a bunch of multi-GB files, play the Chess application (computer vs. computer) for a while then put your hand a few centimeters from the rear exhaust vents. You'll feel a slight warm breeze - that is the near silent fan doing its thing.

I am pretty darn sure (like 98%) that the fan never stop spinning even if the unit is quite cool (which is different than say a PowerBook where then fan does turn off). Its just that it is so quiet that most folks who have a unit can't tell the fan is even operating. Sound levels range from low twenties (in decibels, of course) to the hardest working Mac mini sounding in at low thirties. Keep in mind, these sound levels are very very low with low twenty decibels near silent at 1-2 feet (certainly from Home Theatre viewing distances). Who ever engineered this thing deserves an honarary metal of valor in heat/sound/size. Amazing, really for the price.

As for the fan, that is all I know. Thought you might want to know.

That is all for now.
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post #2 of 10 Old 01-25-2005, 06:45 AM
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Hmm... Maybe I've got a defective mM, but I can hear the fan 9' away and believe it would be audible during quiet passages when it kicks on while rendering HD images...


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post #3 of 10 Old 01-25-2005, 07:00 AM
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The fan from the POS gateway tower under my desk drowns out the fan in the mini which is *on* my desk :)

TM

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post #4 of 10 Old 01-25-2005, 07:03 AM
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I'm not saying its louder than my XP box either--just that it may be loud in an HT setting.


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post #5 of 10 Old 01-25-2005, 07:34 AM
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I dont have one yet but here is a quote from one review:

"On the other hand, under the heaviest extended loads—ripping a number of CDs in a row while performing other processor-intenstive tasks, for example—the fan ramps up to a surprising volume. Nothing compared to the wind tunnel levels of a crashed Power Mac G5, to be sure, but louder than I expected"
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post #6 of 10 Old 01-25-2005, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
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edesilva,

Interesting additional information. I would say the following.

You mention you can hear the fan while 'rendering HD images'. I am guessing you mean, playing back 1080i or 720p transport stream MPEG2 files from the local harddrive. This pushes not only the GPU but the system bus, harddrive, CPU (which is likely pegged) and more (I am sure). The internal temp has to be nice and toasty and you likely have the variable speed fan running at full tilt while you are viewing long HDTV passages.

Combine that with a quiet room and I can see how you can hear the fan. Top fan noise puts the Mac mini in the low to mid thirty decibel range which is quiet but not silent. If any hardcore sound measurment guys read this, chime in and comment since I am by no means very sound level expert.

Might be interesting for you to briefly describe your setup from the standpoint of devices creating noise and the duration and content you are playing back. If you want to go for bonus marks, maybe even try to search out a freeware software tool to see if you can have it report the internal temps of the mini.

Regards,
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post #7 of 10 Old 01-25-2005, 12:58 PM
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You are right--the fan only kicks in when the mM is totally taxed. I did watch a DVD recently, and if the fan kicked in, it didn't kick in at full tilt boogie the way it did when the box is really pushed. The times I did notice were when playing a 720p .avi using the 3ivx plug in and QT and when playing a 1080i .ts file using VLC. It was also before I had audio out working, so the room was quiet when I was doing this stuff.

My mM is part of my main stereo/video rig, and the rest of the components and the area are pretty quiet. Right now, I've got the mM feeding a Waveterminal U24 for audio--the coax digital out is run into a dCS Purcell/dCS Delius combo for upsampling/DAC and then into an Audio Research LS-16 Mk II tube preamp. I've split the balanced outputs of the LS-16 to feed a pair of Audio Research VT-100 Mk III tube amps, with one amp for each hi/lo input of a pair of ProAc 3.8 speakers. Other audio inputs include a Theta David, used as a CD transport, going to the dCS stack, and an SA8250 HD with the analog audio outs going directly into the LS-16.

On the video side, the mM goes directly into a Panny TH-42PWD6UY 42" EDTV plasma via DVI, and I have the SA8250HD, an XBox, and the Theta David wired up through an AA 1154 component switchbox to the component ins.

Pretty much everything runs off a PS Audio Power Director for AC control. Rest of room is pretty quiet--normal heater forced air noise when that kicks on... road noise from outside when people drive by, etc. I believe there are fans in the 8250 (?), the Panny itself, the dCS boxes, and the two big ARC tube amps. The ARC and dCS gear is built for audiophiles and those companies put a premium on quiet operation. Rest of the stuff doesn't seem audible from my listening position.

I think I've got a ratshack spl meter around somewhere. I could try to see if I can take a reading and see the difference when the fan kicks on while playing one of the streams. Don't know how sensitive the RS meter is tho'...

I don't wanna make a mountain out of a molehill. I'm more of an audiophile than a videophile, so I may be more sensitized to noise than normal people with well-adjusted personalities.


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post #8 of 10 Old 01-25-2005, 06:12 PM
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Sorry, the RS db meter only goes down to 60 db. Can't give you concrete figures on noise levels.


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post #9 of 10 Old 01-27-2005, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
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edesilva,

Good description of your setup - as I might expect from an avsforum member, you gots one nice audio video setup (and a Mac mini kicked in as a bonus).

Quote:
I don't wanna make a mountain out of a molehill. I'm more of an audiophile than a videophile, so I may be more sensitized to noise than normal people with well-adjusted personalities.
Based on your equipment list, I would say you likely fit into the top 2 precent of descerning ears in terms of many of the folks that will likely be buying Mac minis. That does not mean the mini does not make noise because if anyone is going to hear it, its going to be you (someone who clearly pays attention to that).

Two items slightly off topic for this thread (maybe a new thread started by you might be worth while):

1. I'd love to see a photo of your setup. Most specifically, the mini hooked up to the PDP (a similar model to what I want to get) and a shot of your equipment rack and how the mini integrates.

2. Also, I am curious about the Waveterminal U24. Care to reply or post with some info (and photos of the unit) would be most interesting. I see this as a higher end unit to what the M-Audio gear does. Any info here would be great.

Regards,
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post #10 of 10 Old 01-28-2005, 10:45 AM
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Right now the rack is kind of a mess, but I've been thinking of shooting some pics at some point for audiogon anyway, so mebbe that will come in the new "official mac pics" thread. Just seems like its never quite "done"... As far as mini Mac integration, it actually kind of stands out. Except for the ugly SA82509, all of my stereo gear is black. The equipment racks/shelves are black. The Panny plasma frame is black. The mM is, er, *white*. What I really need is the special U2 edition of the miniMac.

The Waveterminal is pretty sweet. In various systems, I've used the Stereolink, the Sonica, the Transit, the Edirol UA-1D, and now the Waveterminal. Head-fi has a huge amount of info on computers as sources. That said, I didn't like the Sonica/Transit (they are basically the same) as much as they did. I always thought the Edirol sounded better, even though the M-Audio stuff preserves 44.1 kHz sampling rates and the Edirol relies on some software conversion to 48 kHz. The Waveterminal sounds better than the Edirol to my ear (U24 also preserves 44.1 kHz). Its pretty subtle as a distinction, tho', and I'll caveat my remarks by noting that the Sonica/Transit family apparently respond well to power supply upgrades and the use of better components in the signal path. The other thing is that the U24 has a 2 channel DAC built in, but that won't help with DTS/Dolby 5.1. Can't vouch for the sound of that part of it tho'--I just use the coax PCM output.

The U24 also is in/out, unlike the Sonica. I think the Transit may allow digital inputs. Guess that might be fun for some who want to record analog sources to the Mac. It is a well built unit, that I will say. Got some heft to it for its size. Does not share any aesthetics with the Mac family, but its easy enough to stuff behind another component on the rack.


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