Continuing the discussion from Peek Performance:
The iMac Pro
- Typical acoustical performance: Sound pressure level (operator position): 13 dBA at idle
If yours is generally noisy, you might want to run iStat Menus and check the CPU temperature and fan RPMs. It may be getting dusty inside.
The Mac Studio is speced at 15 dBA.
For the curious:
Although our ears are very sensitive and precise, we cannot hear all sounds. Some are too quiet to perceive or make out. Barely audible sounds like the sound of a person breathing or a leaf resting range from 0 to 10 decibels.
Sounds from 10 to 20 dB are very quiet and safe for your ears. These sounds are slightly louder than the sound of your breath, which is 10 dB, or the equivalent of a quiet whisper or of wind blowing over a leaf.
Soft sounds, as the name suggests, are very mild and range from 20 to 40 dB. They are safe for your hearing, and you can be exposed to these noise levels for an indefinite amount of time.
Examples of soft sounds include:
· a quiet room;
· a person whispering;
· the sound of rustling leaves;
· a silent library.
One of the interesting things for me is that the cooling is designed to help the power supply, making me think the fans will be on a lot of the time (especially here in Thailand).
If I get one, it might go under the desk, Front facing ports and all.
Thanks for writing this up! Informative. Appreciate your efforts to clarify a messy topic.
Idle fan RPMs haven’t changed in the 4+ years that I’ve had this iMac Pro so I don’t think that it’s a dust issue big enough to cause heating problems. If this were a MBP I would take it apart and clean the fans. But… They’re pretty buried in an iMac Pro. I’m not tired enough of the machine to try getting to them anyway and the external cleaning options that I’ve seen (involving vacuums and compressed air) don’t seem either particularly safe or likely to be effective. Maybe I’m wrong there.
The sound meter that I have isn’t sensitive enough to see if the sound level has actually increased. What I can say is that the character has changed and it’s more audible and annoying to me. I’ve heard this same complaint from others.
The character of the sound is part of what’s concerning me about the fans in the Mac Studio. It’s only marginally louder but it uses small fans in a tight enclosure. That’s usually been a bad experience for me (I freely admit that I have a thing about idle fan noise). The 15 dB figure also makes assumptions about the position of the Mac Studio relative to the user. An iMac with exhaust out the back shielded by a large screen is a very different configuration and I’m not clear on how they compare in a real world setting. So I’d really like to hear feedback from people using Mac Studios in quiet environments before committing to one myself.
I wouldn’t be concerned about this if the Mac Studio were as quiet as other M1 Macs at idle, but that’s not the direction that Apple went with this one. I guess that we’ll see soon (some of a lot sooner than others).
I wonder if the Ultra is louder than the Max. I confess to being a little worried about this. But it will (in my situation) be able to be located at a slight distance from my actual desktop. I do not need frequent access to the ports.
- Configuration tested: Apple M1 Ultra, 20-core CPU / 48-core GPU, 64GB memory, 1TB storage.
I’ll be recording podcasts from my Mac Mini Max - when it arrives. I expect to have zero noise reduction to do for such a task. Certainly it should be much quieter than either the 2015 MBP I used to record on and the 2016 MBP I record on now.