Check Your PC Fan using HWiNFO and smcFanControl

Laptop fans. Small, but very important.
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Even though there are fan-less systems nowadays, fans still play a major role in the life of many PCs. That heat is responsible for many things going wrong in your system, such as frequent blue screen, sudden death, performance hiccups, or even degradation of your components. Heatsink, those thin metal fins, may help dissipating your heat, but they're not as effective as spinning fans.

Seriously, though, fans are important. A few days ago, I just noticed that my laptop fans are dead. Oh wait, fan. My Dell Inspiron 5447 only has one fan. How did I notice? Simple: it's gone silent, and it got unusually hot. Very hot. Seriously, though, I was afraid, and I didn't know what to do. To be honest, I didn't want to take it to the service center, since it's out of warranty, and I'm afraid about the price I would have to pay. Fortunately, I was able to open my laptop's access panel and blew away the dust. I was able to spin it manually. However, I want to know if the fans really recovered. So, how did I check the fan? Simple, by using a small tool called HWiNFO for PC, and smcFanControl for Mac. Head past the break to find out about these helpful little apps.

What's The Difference?

Oh yeah, I forgot. Those two apps, though both are able to read fans, they're completely different. smcFanControl is only available for Macs, and as its name states, it only controls your Macs' fans. As for HWiNFO, it's only compatible for Windows, and is able to detect most (if not all) hardware installed in your system, including your fans. The latter is more versatile, and can even monitor the temperature of individual components, provided they have temperature sensor. You can download smcFanControl from here and HWiNFO here. Be mindful for the HWiNFO, though, as you are recommended to download the version according to your OS' architecture (32 bit or 64 bit).

Cool, I've Downloaded Them. What's Next?

Fire them up. I'm going to talk about smcFanControl first, as it's easier to operate. Open the zip you've just downloaded, then open the application. It's up to you whether you want to copy the application into your Applications folder or not. Once it's open, you should notice an addition to your Mac's top menubar. This little addition lets you know the overall temperature of your Mac and how fast the fan is spinning.

Notice something besides Dropbox?
Too small? Click image to zoom in.
From the menubar, you can choose a different fan setting or open the preferences. Additionally, you can also quit, read the docs, or donate something to the developer. Opening the preferences will give you the following window.

smcFanControl preferences
The control names speak for themselves. You may try increasing the fan speed, but do that at your own risk, as you may break one (or both) of your fans. I intend this tool to only tell me whether my fans are working or not, as I understand that Apple should know their hardware and software the best. As long as it doesn't get too hot, you shouldn't need to change the fan speed. Oh, and one more thing. If the application reads 0 RPM and your Mac is getting uncomfortably hotter than usual, there's a good chance that your fans are dead.

For your information, I tested smcFanControl on my Mid 2012 15" MacBook Pro. To be more precise, the non-retina model. smcFanControl should be compatible with recent Macs as well, except those crazy-thin MacBooks, which don't have fans at all.

Okay, moving on to Windows. HWiNFO, as I already stated above, is much more versatile than smcFanControl, as it is able to identify most (if not all) of your hardware and measure your CPU performance. Think of it as a more powerful third-party "Device Manager". Anyway, once you've finished downloading and installing it, open it and click "Run". It'll take a few seconds to identify your hardware. Once it's finished, the window below will appear.

HWiNFO is a more powerful and versatile Device Manager
Unfortunately, none of the information in this window is related to your fans. To get more detailed information and temperature of your hardware, go to "Monitoring" on the application's menubar, then click "Sensors". Again, it will take another few seconds to read your system's sensors before the application can serve you the following window. Scroll down to view the information about your fans.

Sensor status. Brought to you by HWiNFO.
As you can see from the window above, my fans are running fine at ~1,300-1,400++ RPM. A few days ago, when I noticed that my laptop fans are dead, it only read 0 RPM. Unfortunately, I was too much in a panic to snap a screenshot of it. Now you know (and can be certain) about your laptop fans.

My Fans Read at 0 RPM. What Should I Do?

There are numerous factors to this. First of all, this application is a software and therefore, only reads the information provided by your hardware sensors. If you have a very recent hardware, there's a chance it might not be compatible yet. If the application reads 0 RPM but you can hear your fans spinning, you're fine.

Secondly, if it reads 0 RPM and your fans aren't spinning, try to see if there's dust clogging them. Usually, dust is the main reason why fans stop working. You may either take your PC to a professional to get it cleaned, or do it yourself. Of course, the choice is up to you.

Usually, your fans aren't broken. It's just clogged
with dust.
Third and lastly, if it reads 0 RPM and your fans aren't spinning while your system is still new, take it to the nearest service center. There's obviously something wrong with your system. Oh, and one more thing before you take it to the service center: check if your system has any fans at all. You don't want them to laugh at you, do you? How do you know if they have fans? Well, Google is your best friend. Usually, ultra-thin laptops such as ASUS ZenBook and Apple MacBook don't have one. Also, tablets such as ASUS Transformer and Acer Iconia don't have one, too.

The Apple MacBook. Impossibly thin.
No fans are thin enough to fit in this ultraportable device.
Well, I guess that's all for now, Folks. I hope this information can be useful to you, as bringing your laptop to the service center may incure unnecessary "service" fees. As usual, thanks for visiting and reading, and I'm looking forward to your next visit :d


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