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I am using Kubuntu with Ubuntu 14.04 and KDE 4.13.3 on a Lenovo Thinkpad (more specific spec below). Since some time now I am getting extreme surges in fan speed that drop off immediately after.

Most of the time theses peaks in fan speed arise every couple of minutes. This even happens when completely idle. When under heavy load the intervals narrow, but the CPU fan speed is still pulsing up and down. I captured some data on this using Psensor which might illustrate the problem:

Idle behavior

Fan speed (green), CPU temp (blue): Idle behavior

Heavy load

Six Cores running on 100% running infinite loops in python; Fan speed (green), CPU temp (blue). Heavy load interval is marked with a red circle: Behavior under heavy load

This overshoots in the fan speed create a really unpleasant soundscape. Is there a way to prevent these peaks from happening? I would prefer a solution that works without any additional software, but I am up for anything.

Edit:

I tried changing the Adaptive Thermal Management Scheme to Balanced, as suggested in this similar question, but this did not solve my problem. The fan speed still behaves as shown above.

Hardware:

Firmware:

  • UEFI BIOS Version GMET69WW (2.17) (Newest version is 2.23, but none of the newer version mentions any changes to fan behavior in the changelogs)

Software:

  • Ubuntu 14.04
  • KDE 4.13.3

Problem persists with

  • Ubuntu 16.04
  • KDE 5.5.5
  • Have you tried updating to the latest BIOS? – Steve Roome Jun 5 '16 at 18:38
  • Not so far, I use version GMET69WW (2.17). I looked through the changes mentioned here and the 2.19 version lists an update to the diagnostics-module. Maybe this helps. Because of a deadline tomorrow I will try this later this week. – m00am Jun 7 '16 at 9:48
  • I have read the release notes of all BIOS releases since 2.17 and nothing in them will sort the fan issue. I mentioned it because this was a notorious problem with the IBM T40 series and was only solved after years of nagging by users resulted in a BIOS release that fixed it. – Steve Roome Jun 7 '16 at 13:13
  • Last several times I've had this happen, it's because the vents/heat sink in the laptop were gunked with dust. Try taking an air duster (or your choice of compressed air) and shooting it through the fans. I'd highly recommend having the laptop powered off during this. – Tim S. Jun 7 '16 at 16:30
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Windows users also complain about this. This laptop uses the Intel Q87 express chipset which does not have PWM outputs so the only way of controlling the fan speed is via the BIOS. You could try changing the power management profile to balanced.

I do not recommend removing dust by using an air duster to blow the dust into the laptop. It is much safer to use a domestic vacuum cleaner to suck dust out, although this is nothing like as effective at cleaning the fan as disassembly and using something like a glass cleaning wipe on the fan blades.

  • Thank you for your feedback. Unfortunately changing the Thermal Management Scheme did not work. I have not tried to clean the fans yet though. – m00am Jul 4 '16 at 10:04

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