Since the Retina 15” MacBook Pro still uses high-wattage mobile CPUs and a high-powered discrete GPU, I had some concerns about heat and fan noise. I had hoped that it would use lower-wattage CPUs or drop the high-powered GPU to reduce heat and noise, but Apple didn’t do either, opting for maximum-performance components instead.
The asymmetrical fan blades are an interesting trick to attempt to address this problem in a different way: rather than reducing the cooling load, they made the fan noise more pleasant.
Jason Snell graciously indulged my extreme nerdiness and let me test the fan noise on Macworld’s review unit last night. I couldn’t monitor temperatures or RPMs, but I could hear the noise and feel the heat. The results were promising but unsurprising:
- At idle speed, the fan is very quiet and will be inaudible in most rooms, just like the previous model.
- With all cores maxed out, the fan slowly ramps up to full speed over a few minutes, similar to the previous model.
- At full speed, the fan noise is about the same volume as the previous model, but it does sound different. The asymmetrical-blade design works as described, making it sound more like white noise or whooshing air.
- When the heavy CPU load stops, the fan ramps back down to low speed more quickly than the previous model.
- Most of the heat is concentrated near the middle of the screen hinge, since that’s roughly where the CPU is. It didn’t seem to get as hot as the previous model, but the difference didn’t feel very significant.
Effectively, heat and fan volume are the same as the previous model, but the fan noise has a less irritating tone. If the previous 15” MacBook Pro design was too hot or loud for your preferences, the Retina model probably will be, too.