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Intel NUC Fan

Intel NUC

Intel NUC

The cooling fan on my Intel NUC minicomputer suddenly went berserk. Sounded like it threw a bearing. A coffee grinder making espresso grind would have been quieter.

I did some Internet research (Intel NUC fan noise) and it seems like the fan has been a problem for these machines. The noisy fan is not an unusual problem.

There is a three-year warranty on the components, so it can be covered by warranty. Two options it seems. Intel can send a fan and you change it yourself, or in my case (pun intended) since I have one of the “kit” version built up by a vendor, I can strip out all the non-kit parts like my 32 gig of RAM, 2 TB hard drive, 500 Gig SS drive and even remove the WIN10 pro sticker since the OS is also an option.

What Intel is likely to do is return either a rebuilt or a new NUC chassis (and fan) minus all these add-ins including the OS. With all that work, I may as well change the fan myself.

It’s definitely a bearing problem and not just wind noise. Tapping on the case would change the speed and quiet it down for a few seconds. I could watch the temp and speed changes from the F2 set-up program. I have changed enough computer fans to know the sound.

However, the fan has begun to behave itself again, at least for now. It’s not behaving perfect, but it does seem to have “worn in” past the total and loud buzz bomb racket. I can still hear it dragging a tiny bit, so I expect the severe noise will return.

I am not in immediate danger of going out of warranty. I am about 4 months past the build date, so the three-year warranty is not close to expiration. I am going to see if the fan smooths out (not a great expectation) or gets worse. I am afraid of changing out the fan with another that isn’t an improvement.

In my other computers, I always replace failed fans with higher grade (not more cfm) fans with ball bearings. It’s the sleeve bearing types that usually have the “dry bearing” problem. I have no way of knowing what fan Intel will supply. If I can delay a bit, and the problem is a major issue, the repair fan may be an improved replacement part. Well, I can hope, can’t I?

Update: 9/3/18

Took my NUC all apart and removed the fan. It is at the very top of the computer, but access is from the bottom up. I had to remove every component piece by piece to get to it. The design puts the only moving part other then the hard drive in the worse possible access location.

A lot of very small screws and tiny plug-in wiring connectors to take apart. The smallest are the wi-fi antenna connectors. Micro snap-in round (axial) coax connectors. Whew! The small design of the NUC is very compact.

Played with the fan housing a lot. Removed it totally from the computer. Internet suggestions were to check out rubbing of the blower blades on the blower housing case. This seemed to be at least some of the problem. The tiny motor was getting very hot as it could not come up to synchronous speed. Sticker said it was a “fluid” drive motor. Carefully pried on the blade to space it away from it mounting bracket (wiring end). It has helped but I don’t pretend it is full cure.

As I have said, it is all under warranty for three years, but that solution is a PITA. Strip it out and send the bare bones to Intel. I’d rather just buy a fan and stick it in. I found a parts source and ordered a replacement. Different brand so if it is a genetic issue, I will have broken the link. Now that I know how to service the fan, I’ll have one ready to swap.

I still love the little computer, just totally dislike the weak fan design. It’s the fastest and most advanced computer I own. Just not the coolest one…

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