Macbook Pro Fan Clicking: Possible Solution

** Update – 12th September 2013 – In the interests of full disclosure I should say that though this solution cleared up my clicking fan problem for a few months, I eventually took the laptop to get the fan replaced. The ball bearings were shot somehow and no amount of fan revving was going to fix it. It was under Apple-Care and was handled with no fuss.**

Those of you that follow this blog regularly (ha, I have delusions of grandeur) will probably have no interest in this post. Yes I know I haven’t written anything for months, but life has been rather busy. When I next get angry about something digital culture related I’ll get back to it.

For now this is just a note that I hope might save some people some time and stress.

This morning I found the left fan in my new Macbook Pro (specifically mid-2010 unibody, but may work for other models) was making a low clicking noise. The feeling of dread kicked in as I expected to be driving over to the local service shop and losing my laptop to the bowels of their workshop for a week. I realise that a clicking fan isn’t that big a deal for some, but when a computer is new (and as overpriced as Apple’s are) you expect a degree of perfection.

Anyway, a quick Google search brought about some DIY answers.

1. Blasting the fan vents with compressed air. I’ve never used compressed air before due to horror stories of the pressurising liquid in some cans spraying out all over your nice shiny silicon. Also one individual who tried this found that during the blasting their laptop made a distinct cracking noise…. not good. Keep away.

2. Open up your Macbook (doesn’t void warranty as long as you’re careful, you’re allowed to open it for harddrive and RAM replacements) and clean and re-grease the fan. I’m not averse to cracking open laptops, done it plenty of times before, but I was hesitant that I should be the one cracking open a brand new laptop and I wasn’t too confident that I wouldn’t end up accidentally greasing up more than the fan. Guide is here if interested.

3. So my SOLUTION which WORKED, for those of you screaming ‘Save me from the clicking!’ is this. I grabbed smcFanControl and used it to force the fans up to full speed, left it running for 30 seconds and then let the speed drop again, result, clicking is gone, leaving me to conclude that it was probably a hair or bit of dust gunking up the fan blades. Laptop is redeemed, my laptop hygiene standards are not.

This may not work for you but try it before submitting to the service shop where time stands still.

Disclaimer: Obviously you do this at your own risk. Also don’t feed the laptop after midnight.