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Solution to the noisy fans on a Core 2 Duo Intel Mac Mini

April 20, 2009 22 comments

mac_mini_intel_core

As those who’ve been reading my blog may know, I started my conversion to the other side (Mac) on the 28th of Feb, 2005 with the purchase of a 1.42 GHz Mac Mini after gushing over my now wife’s 12″ Power Book.

I was taken by its size, it’s sleek lines, OS X and last but not least, its comparative silence next to my air moving PC.

I kept this machine for 3 years before handing it over to my brother in a vain attempt at getting him to move into the digital world (he is an artist of insane calibre, but with zero digital knowhow).

To replace it, I bought an Intel Mac Mini when the Core 2 Duo models were released.

Since then, I’ve been enjoying trouble free compting, but have had only one issue with my machine.

It’s an issue that started the moment I upgraded the RAM from its inital 1Gb to 2Gb and Continued after a further upgrade to 3 and then 4Gb.

That issue is a fan that revs up as soon as the system comes under even minor stress, drowning out the sound of my beige box Windows 3GHz P4 system with 4 hard disks!

I’m not talking about a fan that revs up and gets loud shortly after booting and stays loud constantly, I’m talking about a fan that revs up as soon as the system shows even a modicum of activity.

With the supplied 1Gb stick of RAM, this issue did not occur, but add a second stick and the fan goes berserk at any opportunity. The fan revs up so much that the CPU, GPU and HDD actually cool down below their respective idling temperatures!

Anyway, there is a Really Simple Solution (TM).

Step 1: Download and install SMC Fan Control.

Step 2: Open a terminal window

Step 3: type the following:

/Applications/smcFanControl.app/Contents/Resources/smc -k F0Mx -w 3e80

And your fan will become a much more sedate affair.

Why? Because this limits your fan to about 4000 RPM rather than the ear numbing 5500 RPM it is usually capable of.

A 20% or so reduction doesn’t sound much, but remember that fan noise often has sometimes a squared or cubed relation to rotational speed, and that ignores a system working at its mechanical limits, so even a minor reduction can give big gains!

Try it and see.

For the curious, the 4 digit number after the -w is:

HEX (Base 16) : Fan Speed x 4

If you set the speed too low, I recommend installing ANOTHER FAVE OF MINE, Temperature Monitor to keep an eye on your newly silenced computer, especially in summer.

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The Microsoft Office 2008 disaster (Office:mac 2008 buggy as hell)

September 20, 2008 9 comments

What is it about Microsoft that makes them incapable of releasing software packed to the rafters with show stopping bugs?

What I mean to say is that Office 2008 is as buggy as Hell! Come on Microsoft, this is your flagship suite on the Mac, often the only exposure to your company diehard Mac users ever get. And what do you give them? Shit on a plate.

We’ve got this project on at the moment, and I’ve been trying to get it done, but Office:mac 2008 just doesn’t seem to want to let me.

Let’s start with the good stuff:

  • Excel 2008 on my Intel Mac Mini scrolls noticably faster than Office 2004 on the same machine. So although my 2.4GHz iMac 24″ is fast enough to handle the Rosetta translation from PPC to Intel without noticable performance issues, my Mac Mini clearly struggles with 2004. Exel 2008 is, once up and running, smoother on this limited machine.
  • Entourage 2008 is better than 2004. It’s faster, cleaner and stalls less often when syncing my Hotmail. Enough said. Way to go Microsoft.

OK, that’s the good stuff out of the way, now the bad stuff.

  • No Visual Basic. WTF?

Excuse me? But HTF am I supposed to run my spreadsheets without Visual Basic? Don’t give me some cock and bull story about “Applescript is the standard script on the Mac, so we changed to Applescript.”

Since when have you ever cared about standards, Microsoft?

Put VB back in and we’ll talk some more.

  • Less stable than Naomi Campbell

Excel crashed twice last night, in three hours. That’s just a joke. It would stall for a second and vanish without a trace. And not just last night, but often.

  • It’s fat, flabby and slow

Why is it that my copy of Office 2004 running in emulation on an Intel Mac is faster than Office 2008 running native (bar the aforementioned scrolling) on the same machine?

Excel 2004 takes less than 10 seconds to boot, Excel 2008 takes almost twice as long! Come on! This is not acceptable. This is native code and it’s being trounced by emulated code!

Now, it may run faster, but what am I doing that needs the speed? It’s not like I’m running any cunning VB scripts… ’cause they removed it! And who in their right mind is going to develop ultracomplex Applescript macros when Microsoft themselves said they’re going to put VB back in in the next release…

Sounds like they used the same programmers that made Vista.

  • Bugs

There are just too many. Really. I’m not going to bore you with any but these two which have cost me considerable productivity time.

I saved a file as an XLSX (Excel XML format) and was completely unable to open it in office 2004 and Office 2003 on the PC, even with the Version 11.5 update and the Compatibility pack installed! I had to connect to my iMac at home, resave the file as an Excel 97~2003 file and try again. Strange though, only a couple of files have showed this bug… But then, that’s the nature of bugs, isn’t it.

Display issues is currently a real annoyance.

Check out these screenshots:

View a sheet at 100% and all is well. 

Zoom in to 125% and everything turns into hashes.

It doesn’t matter if you expand a column out, the hashes just multiply to fill the gap!

It’s only when you SHRINK the column that the hashes disappear and text appears.

Twiddle the width of the column a little and the text comes back.

Come ON Microsoft, this is NOT production quality software.

Solution

  • There is no solution at present.

I recommend sticking with 2004, which while being a foible laden application suite is stable, predictable and reliable; three concepts I’ve started to take more seriously the older I’ve got.

I’m going to wait for a couple of service packs and try it again later. In the meantime and for the first time ever, I’ve reinstalled an earlier version of Office!

Intel Mac Mini C2D Fans are too fast, too loud and too aggressive.

January 22, 2008 3 comments

Mac Mini

My new Intel Mac Mini C2D 1.83 is just too loud!

 Here’s what I’m using.

Leopard 10.5 server
Mac Mini 1.83Ghz C2D model
Upgraded to 3Gb RAM.

Monitoring software:
smcfancontrol
Temperature Monitor 4.2

I’m using the machine in a cool room (about 15 degrees right now).
Idle temperature is:
HDD 35
AMB 36
CPUA HS 35
CPU C1 38
CPU C2 40
CPUA TD 40
NB P1 40
NB P2 40

Fan Speed ~1500 (minimum allowed).

This is perfectly reasonable at idling, I believe.

With CPU duty cycle of about 10% generated by server tasks (including short peak demands), the fan tends to increase to about 2500 for short periods and is not really a problem.

However, I’ve located specific stimuli which trigger the ridiculously increased fan activity.

It does not appear to be directly CPU related, but rather certain GPU related activities which cause the problem.

For example, I open any *long* page in Safari, scroll to the bottom and back to the top using the right hand handle. I do this ten times and my fan is running at over 4000 rpm!

Artificially scrolling is one thing, but even when I use the scroll ball of an Apple mouse to scroll slowly through a page and the fan rams up to hairdrier mode.

This is the most annoying thing, rendering it almost unusable for me since I really like to use this for surfing and the noise is up and down like a yoyo every time I scroll 8one tends to do that a lot when surfing).

As soon as I stop, it starts returning to normal at about 100 rpm per second, so after about 30 seconds it’s back down to around 2000.

Spectrum screen saver for example pushes the fan imediately to 5500 in 15 seconds, but all temperatures is quite stable.

Yet no temperatures ever went above 50!

In fact, stop the activity and the continued fan activity pushed my whole computer down to about 10 degrees below idling temp!!!!

I’m now running Rember with the screensaver on, both cores are pegged at 100%
my HDD is going down from 40 to about 25 degrees!
CPU A Heatsink is at 34, CPU cores are at 47 and 49 and appear stable!!! NB1 and 2 are at 40 and 39.

My fan is now running at 4200 and is quite annoying.

Now, I cut out the screen saver, reducing CPU usage to one thread yet the fan has not slowed. (CPU coores temp dropped about 45 and 48 degrees – CPU HS NB1 and NB2 are now at 34/35 and 36 respectively).

At first, I assumed it was my RAM swap, having forgotten the little HDD sensor, but the fan is not pegged all of the time so I don’t think it’s that.

It suffices to say that this is not an overheating problem…

I think, first, I’ll check for any small sensors unplugged by the swap.
Then I should replace the RAM with original 512×2
If this does not work, I’ll backup 10.5 Server and put 10.5 Client back on and see what happens.

Any ideas?

Cheers.

Categories: Mac, Technology Tags: ,

Aperture 1.5.4 on PPC Mac Mini G4

August 25, 2007 Leave a comment

I have Aperture 1.5 running nicely on a Macbook but wanted to get it working on my Mini for times when the laptop is being used. I had it working before, but recently updated to 1.5.4 which broke it. After fishing around and with a bit of trial and error I found out how to get Aperture 1.5.4 working on a Mac Mini G4 with 64MB Radeon 9200 graphics and 1Gb of RAM.

  1. Install Aperture and Upgrade/Update to 1.5.4.
  2. Download 0xED HEX Editor from Apple (0xED page) and install
  3. Run 0xED and use File | Open menu to Navigate to /Applications/Aperture/Contents/MacOS andd open Aperture
  4. Make sure 0xED is in Overwrite mode by pressing Shift+Command+O
  5. Use the “Go to Offset” field to jump to BFC8
  6. Change the next four bytes from 40 9E 00 88 -> 48 00 00 80
  7. Do the same for C064 and you’re done

This works for my setup. If you are using an older machine or one with less RAM, you may want to edit the Info.plist from /Applications/Aperture/Contents to change AELMinimumRAMSize, RKG4LaptopMinimumCPUSpeedMHz or RKG5DesktopMinimumCPUSpeedMHz parameters.

Thanks tothe minimum.cx site for setting me off in the right direction!

Categories: Mac, Tech Tips, Technology Tags: , ,