Macs, like other computers, are also prone to the issue of thermal throttling. Thermal throttling refers to the process where your computer reduces its performance when the system’s internal temperature increases by a long shot. However, most Macs come with something to avoid this scenario: fans and ventilation.
Ventilation elements ensure that hot air has a way to get off your Mac’s internals. To complement, the fans do a critical job in pushing the air out. Therefore, in an ideal situation, these two components will prevent a Mac from becoming a piece of hot brick. But, ideal is not something we see every day.
Though you cannot do anything about the ventilation design, this is not the case with fans. You can ensure that your Mac fans are working as they should. Even better, you can enable manual Mac fans control to put the best fan speed and noise for your purpose.
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Understanding the fans on Macs
As we said, most Mac models come with a fan. Of course, there are exceptions, like the M2 MacBook Air, which only comes with a heat sink because of the design. But it has been suggested after many performance tests that Macs should always have a fan that can push out the air from the system. These fans help in the following ways.
- When the internal temperature gets high, your Mac’s fans will push the hot air out. It will make sure that your Mac’s components are working in the best condition.
- Fans are also designed to prevent overheating, which essentially leads to thermal throttling. If your system detects a higher temperature inside, it will reduce performance to avoid long-term damage to hardware.
- At the end of the day, a well-functioning fan can impact the overall speed and performance you get out of your Mac.
One might think that the built-in fan control options on your Mac are sufficient. Well, in most cases, they are. But, then, there are times when you need to control fan speed on your Mac for maximum performance.
Signs that you need to adjust your Mac’s fan settings
Here are a couple of signs you need a manual override for your Mac’s fan settings.
- Your Mac is overheating and there are serious impacts on the performance. You will see these issues more likely when using resource-intensive tasks, such as video rendering or multitasking.
- When the Mac fans are not at the ideal running speed, you may also come across system crashes. Of course, it would also mean that you have a different situation with the functionality.
- On the other end of the spectrum, your Mac fans may also create a lot of noise if they are running at times they are not required. Therefore, you should watch out for such noises.
In short, intelligent fan control can help you take a load off your Mac’s internal components.
In this comprehensive guide, we shall talk about enabling manual control over fan speed and noise for your Mac. Do not worry; we have covered solutions to enable fan control for M1, M2, and M3 Mac models.
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How to adjust Mac fan speed
As you can guess, macOS does not have an option for manual fan control. So, even if you have a MacBook or iMac with a fan, you cannot find a Settings page where you can adjust the speed. It means you need third-party utilities to monitor fan speed and fan control software to manipulate it.
These fan control software solutions are mostly easy to master. They even come with presets that help you with ideal situations. We will check out some of the most popular options here.
To show you how to control fan speed on your Mac, we use TG Pro, which has been one of the most trusted utilities for the task.
TG Pro from Tunabelly Software is a comprehensive Mac fan control and temperature monitoring utility. It is not a common system-info tool, either. Instead, you can use it to maximize performance on your Mac and minimize heat.
To get started, you have to download TG Pro and install it on your Mac. After you have provided the essential permissions, TG Pro will show the temperature from different parts of your Mac and fan control options on the bottom side.
At the basic level, you can choose between three options for fan control: System, Max, and Auto Max.
- The System mode will run the fans as per your Mac’s automatic recommendations
- The Max mode will override the controls and run the fans at the maximum speed, which is close to 4500 RPM on our Mac mini.
- The Auto Max mode will use TG Pro’s intelligence to understand the demand and run the fan at the best speed, including the maximum speed.
As you can see, the control options are great. But you can also set up advanced combinations based on the Mac’s internal temperature levels.
To enable these options, you can go to Settings, where you can set up various triggers based on temperature levels.
It is important to note that TG Pro is available for both Intel and Apple Silicon-based Mac models. So, if your Mac has a fan, this tool will help you control its speed and noise.
Now that you know the basics of enabling Mac fan control, we will check out some related resources.
The high power mode on MacBook Pro models
Apple itself has highlighted the importance of ventilation and fan speed when it comes to the performance of MacBook models. So, you can use the High Power Mode on the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook models and the fans will be running at a relatively higher speed.
You can enable this mode by going to Settings > Battery > On battery. From the available options, you have to select ‘High Power’.
You should keep in mind that the fans may create a louder noise when this mode is enabled. But you do not have to worry about anything at this point. Because it is a built-in mode, you can expect macOS to take care of things even in case of overheating.
Then, again, these options are available only if you have a MacBook Pro with M1/M2/M3 Max chips. So, with any other Mac model, you need to follow the other methods we have mentioned.
Best fan control apps for your Mac
We will take a brief look at the most popular fan control apps for your Mac.
#1 TG Pro
TG Pro (we’ve mentioned above) is a small yet powerful Mac app that lets you monitor the temperature of your Mac and control fans. It is something we can recommend confidently since we have been using it for years. From a safety standpoint, the tool can offer the best of both worlds. It offers full support for Intel and M1/M2/M3 Mac models and can adapt itself according to the model. Because it runs silently in the back, you can always rely on up-to-date information.
We should also appreciate the other features it comes with. For instance, you can use the tool for advanced diagnostics and in-depth automation. For instance, you can set up the fan to run at the maximum speed when a particular sensor detects a high temperature within your Mac. Likewise, the control options from TG Pro are simply great.
TG Pro retails for $10, but you can get the free trial for a week.
#2 Macs Fan Control
Macs Fan Control is another impressive option you have for fan control. Even though it is not as advanced as our first pick, Macs Fan Control makes it easy to deal with overheating problems. You can use the app on both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs as well. More importantly, you do not have to pay anything to use this tool for fan control on Mac. We must, however, note that it faces some compatibility issues with M3 chips.
Even though the UI designs are somewhat similar, you might need some time to get used to the fan control options on this tool. But on the bright side, you can set up controls based on the minimum, maximum and current temperature. There are also options to create presets. For instance, you can create a preset called gaming during which the fans would be running at the maximum speed so that there is no thermal throttling.
Macs Fan Control is free to use, but a Pro version is available.
#3 iStat Menus
You might know of iStat Menus as a system information tool, which is essential. This system monitor has all it takes to completely monitor your Mac’s sensors. From temperature to CPU load, from network traffic to the battery status, almost everything is accessible. Included in this package is an option to adjust the Mac fan speed as well.
With this tool, you can enable close inspection of the temperature sensors of your Mac and understand how much load your system is taking. So it will be easier for you to adjust the fan speed and get the maximum performance without spending a lot of time. You can access all these features from the convenience of your Mac’s menu bar.
iStat Menus is a premium tool, but you can use the free trial option.
Why are my Mac fans randomly spinning?
It could happen due to a resource-intensive task on your Mac. For instance, Spotlight Indexing or a particular app may trigger the random spinning of the Mac. However, it will be a good idea to restart your Mac and do an SMC reset if the issue persists.
Is it okay to use Mac fan control?
Yes, it is completely safe and secure to use Mac fan control. As you have seen, you get multiple options to ensure the maximum efficiency of your Mac. And you can choose between paid and free options as you wish. However, you should ensure that the Mac fans are not unhinged.
How do I reduce fan noise on Mac?
If you feel that your Mac is producing a lot of noise, you may use a manual fan control option. However, we would not recommend this solution for obvious reasons. For instance, if your Mac is already running the fans at full speed, it means the internal temperature is high.
How hot is too hot for MacBook Pro?
Apple recommends a range of temperatures for its MacBook lineup, but the numbers need a lot of context. It, therefore, makes sense to use a system monitoring app that will show you the best results and understand whether your device is overheating.
Is manual fan control safe?
While manual fan control offers performance tweaks and quieter operation, it comes with risks. Overriding Apple’s automatic cooling can lead to overheating and damage if not done cautiously. Use 3rd party apps above with temperature monitoring and avoid pushing speeds to extremes. Remember, your Mac prioritizes its own health, so manual control should be a guided, not forced, optimization.
Mastering fan control
We believe this guide helped you master the craft of fan control on Mac, which enables you to adjust the fan speed and noise for maximum convenience and performance. We tested all these tools on our M1 Mac Mini and the results have been wonderful, as you can see from the screenshots.
However, we should end with a note of caution.
While these tools give you maximum control over the fan, you should never take it for granted. For instance, leaving the fan speed at a lower manual rate is not recommended because your Mac may not be able to increase the fan speed even when there is a resource-intensive task.
So be mindful of when you use these tools and make sure that you have moved the fan speed to automatic once you have done with the customization part.