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Sunday, November 25, 2012

How to Fix the Lenovo Yoga Fan Noise & Upgrade SSD // RAM

~~Update - 1/13/2013~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After using the Yoga for almost two months, I am pleased to report that I am still enjoying it immensely. If you can afford a new laptop, definitely get this one. Also, make sure to do the hotfix listed below, and consider getting a spare mSata drive and SD card, to double (or more) your storage, and a Stand Mode Support Brace to eliminate screen wobbling while in stand mode. Here's a link to an 8GB DDR3 module, if you want to upgrade that, too.
Finally, also disable CPU throttling while in stand/tablet mode by uninstalling Intel Thermal Framework.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I first saw the Lenovo Yoga in person at CES Las Vegas in January, 2012. For a Windows 7 machine, I dismissed it as a viable candidate for best ultrabook due to its relatively larger form factor, slow SATA II interface, and increased weight. I decided 2012's best ultrabook was the 13" Samsung Series 9.

Now that Windows 8 is here (and bug-free), it's time to rethink what attributes are most important on an ultrabook. A good touchscreen is the obvious newcomer, and this alone knocks the list of contenders down to only a handful.

Next up is device orientation flexibility/variability. A touchscreen is somewhat awkward to use when a device resembles a traditional laptop (i.e. keyboard rests in front of the screen, separating you from the touch input)- the reason many hybrid tablets detach from their keyboard counterpart.

Enter the Yoga. While a perfectly respectable ultrabook in its own right, it transcends the typical capability of a laptop (or a tablet, for that matter) with its 360 degree rotating screen and thus usurps the title 'best ultrabook' by rendering its competition feeble, inadequate, and probably ashamed.





For an overly lengthy look at the Yoga compared to Windows Surface RT and the Samsung Series 9, see my video below. 

Here are the key takeaways about the Yoga:

-10 finger multitouch, Full HDMI out, USB3.0, good power plug port (it resembles a USB port), 13.3" 1600x900 IPS panel, 4-8GB RAM (1 slot, upgradeable), 6+ hr battery, .69" thick, 3.4 pounds, amazing leather feel that's comfortable for extended use, EXTRA, EMPTY SSD slot (so you can put a second SSD in)! $999 at BestBuy for the i5-3317U version.

So, I bought one from BestBuy to replace my 15" Samsung Series 9 with 16gB RAM due to the reasons mentioned above. (If you don't plan to switch to Windows 8 and want the best Windows 7 // 15" ultrabook on the market, lmk. I'll be posting it on eBay soon.)

So far, it has exceeded my expectations, and I find I use its various modes quite frequently, depending on the task (Tent Mode for watching a video or docked use, Stand Mode for browsing Netflix or reading certain websites/articles, Tablet Mode for games etc.).

A few issues to note:
-Firstly, you'll have to reconfigure the partitioning to make better use of the SSD, as Recovery + Lenovo take up ~40gB. This takes only a few seconds (lenovo has their own hotfix) but seems to have a lot of people in outrage on the interwebs.
-Next up, the battery life is not as good as I'm used to with the Samsung Series 9. Expect closer to 5-6 hours. Not much one can do about this. The CPU is reportedly unlocked so perhaps undervolting might help?
-Only 1 DDR3 RAM slot, meaning the max this guy can take is 8GB. On the bright side, it's not soldered RAM so it is indeed upgradeable.
-Sata II with ~200mB/s read/write speeds.
-And lastly, some Yogas are afflicted with a minor or severe grinding, buzzing, whirring fan noise. (Hear video below). Mine exhibited this problem, and my attempts to mediate it by smacking it only seemed to exacerbate the problem, if anything :)
video

With no word regarding a fix or cause for the fan noise anywhere online, I decided to attempt a diagnosis and hopefully a fix.



After removing all the bottom T4 (or T5?) torx screws, the next step is to remove the keyboard. This part was tricky. I gently pried up the top left (with metal tweezers, but one should use plastic just to be safe), then worked around the edges before pulling upwards (towards hinge) about 1/8 of an inch. Be sure to remove the ribbon cable before setting aside.


Next is to remove the palm rest after unscrewing the
marked M2 screws.


Now you can access all the Yoga's internals, including RAM, spare PCIe slot (which can take another mSata SSD), SSD, and of course, the fans.

Empty PCIe Slot
mSata SSD

To get to the fans, start by removing the black tape attaching them to the black heatsink. Next, unplug the little adapter to the left and unscrew the screws holding the fans to the chassis. Then, lift the fan module up slightly (from the side furthest from the heatsink) and wiggle free from the second strip of tape you can't see yet.

At this point it was time to narrow down the problem. Flicking each along with a fingertip, I determined the noise was specific to the left-side fan, which sits essentially in the middle of the Yoga (and sadly is the more frequently-used fan). Look at the variance in gaps between the fan's blades and the housing:
Fan is touching housing!
Plenty of space
 So, as I suspected, the problem is that the fan is hitting the metal housing! The ideal solutions are 1. replace the fan with a higher quality // better designed one or 2. replace the metal housing with a re-cut version that prevents this, or 3. add a spacer next to the fan that keeps the metal housing far enough away. Without the tools/parts/motivation to achieve 1, 2, or 3, I went for option 4: pry the gap a little wider with a screwdriver until you can spin the fan with your finger and it no longer makes any noise. Be careful not to hurt the fan blades, they are quite soft feeling.

For the record, here's a close-up of the evidence confirming the source of the noise (to open the housing first remove the second strip of black tape then unscrew the tiny screws):











So, if you want to upgrade the SSD//RAM or fix the fan noise, you should have enough info to do it. I spent about 15 minutes, which is probably less time than it would take to make an exchange at BestBuy. I'll report if the fan noise returns; if it does, I suspect Lenovo might have to do a recall // upgrade.

Hope this helps someone.

55 comments:

  1. Really great info, pics and article. Thanks!!

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  2. Will the housing bend down again over time or is the metal plate attached to the palm rest rigid enough to prevent this? Personally I'd have my doubts judging by the amount of keyboard flex. I orginally posted this question over on the Lenovo forum (mainly to put some more pressure on them to come up with an official fix) but see that you'd prefer posts related to the fan problems to go here. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be honest, I was surprised bending it worked at all. But it did, and I've been relatively abusive without the fan noise returning. Because the keyboard doesn't hit the fan's metal housing directly, but rather a metal plate that sits on top, perhaps it will stay fixed. Time will tell, I suppose.

      Delete
  3. Dear Will, thank you for the deep information.
    Does your fan work all the time like mine?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's on most of the time yes if that's what you're asking

      Delete
  4. Hi Will, I am about to order a Yoga (i7, 8 GB RAM, 256 SSD) and was wondering if you would share your general experience after having used the machine for a couple of months.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. added an update- sorry for the delay! (yes, but it)

      Delete
  5. Hi Will, I am about to remove the keyboard ribbon but I am afraid I might break it. Do you have any tips on how I should proceed with this?
    Thanks and a informative post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. there should be a white switch that locks/releases the ribbon (around where the ribbon connects) - flip it up with a fingernail first and the ribbon should come loose upon gentle wriggling thereafter

      Delete
    2. Hi thanks. Just want to correct, the key board clip is actually white color while the touchpad ribbon clip is black.
      I have forgotten to remove the touchpad ribbon while I struggle to remove the palmrest. The touchpad riboon ripped out from the connector, but luckily it did not break.
      Now my 256GB msata is installed together with 8GB of RAM. Once again, thanks for your help.

      Delete
  6. Bloo has chimed in and there is a fix on the way.

    tl;dr

    I've approved an update that contains a new thermal map that spins the fans up later and to a lower RPM. We plan to release an update to apply this new thermal map, along with a package that will restore the old thermal map in case anyone wants to backlevel.


    http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/IdeaPad-IdeaTab-Slate-Tablets/Yoga-13-Fan-Noise/m-p/1013769#M17682

    ReplyDelete
  7. I want to know if this problem ( fan noise ) its in the software or hardware ? and all people have this problem ? and about Lenovo it can to fix it by the update ? I must to wait the update or I must to return my yoga and take new one ? and thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. if it's due to the fan hitting the metal housing, you need to do my fix or replace it. if it's just that you don't like hearing the fans on all the time, there's an update coming to turn the fans off more

      Delete
  8. Thank you for an excellent post. Lenovo ignored the fan issue in the x61's, of which I own 2 with multiple fan replacements and DIY repairs between the two. Now an owner of the Yoga, I do hope they step up if the fans become an issue on this as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, Al!

      it's a great machine but definitely has a few issues. TBH the fan noise doesn't bother me as much as the wobble in stand mode (the 2nd most useful mode). I made a solution but it's still too bad. (check out the support brace i made on http://techneesh.com)

      Delete
  9. Which "gap" shall I pry a Little bit wider?

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  10. the one whose current nonexistence is causing the noise (bc fan is hitting the metal housing) - basically, create a gap so the fan no longer hits the housing while spinning

    ReplyDelete
  11. Will, do you have new problems with fans?

    ReplyDelete
  12. nope, just with my desktop's fans:
    http://uselesspuzzles.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-wall-mount-your-desktop-for-0.html
    also with the trackpad/keyboard disabling when it shouldnt. hotfix i made for that:
    http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/IdeaPad-IdeaTab-Slate-Tablets/Yoga-Keyboard-and-touch-pad-stop-working/td-p/924875/page/3

    ReplyDelete
  13. I dont have this sound you posted in the youtubevideo. I think my fans dont hit the housing but my yoga is really loud too. When it boots up its quiet - I dont hear anything. When I login I still dont hear anything. But when I start and app or software the fan starts and wont stop until I turn off the yoga.
    Is this normal?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, that is normal. see the thread posted a few comments above

      Delete
  14. What are the screws behind the keyboard you have to remove and how many are there?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. they all say M something (m2.5 or m5.5) and there are 4? 5? I don't remember sorry

      Delete
  15. Hey Will - thanks for all the good info. I read somewhere recently that there is another keyboard of the same size for a thinkpad that is backlit. If you're interested, would love to know if this is true and the how-to on the swap.

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    Replies
    1. hey, Andrew-
      Neat idea, I planned on just using some glow stickers
      http://www.amazon.com/Funky-29011-Funkeyboard-Glowing-Stickers/dp/B001D12JEA

      If you can find me the right keyboard & a place to buy it I'll try it - I just searched for a while and the y400 keyboards appear to be the only ones that will fit but they aren't backlit...

      Delete
  16. Hey bro, just returned my 2 day old Yoga 13 i7 because it started showing me dead/stuck pixels lready o_O!!! Mine it was noisy but without that metallic noise that you had. It was more like some sort of breeze, like that fans were always on. I dunno, do you have a white xbox? Kinda the same thing. It was annoying because when I am in quite room I hear it all the time, I am afraid that when I get my new Yoga (Tuesday, getting a replacement) I am gonna have the same noise!! Its ok if you use headphones, and actually its ok without them too... but for so much money, I'd prefer to get what I am paying for instead of looking for solutions.

    Anyways, my questions is after you fixed yours how noisy its? What noise do you hear when you are in your room? Could you upload it?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it's really quiet now. i've gone through two yogas now (returned the bestbuy one to have the lenovo warranty) and the lenovo one seems to make less noise than the bestbuy one.

      so quiet i dont think you could hear anything if i took a video

      the breeze is probably normal, i remember hearing that a decent amount. maybe i tweaked mine so much it stopped kicking in the second fan as often... (balanced power settings, removed bloat, etc)

      Delete
  17. Dangit I can't find it now - it was in the comments section of one of the review sites when I was shopping for this device - I read so many that I can't find it now, and I am not a tech so I don't know what to look for as far as parts.

    My yoga i7/256/8GB is on its way to me though :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it needs to be the 86 key one with no visible screw holes - i can't find a backlit one that looks like the same style/size keyboard and i looked for a while :(

      all the people on the forums must be smoking something none of the models they reference are correct (z500 for ex)

      what's wrong with my $6 solution i linked you!?

      i've previously tried installing a backlight into a keyboard that didn't have one (the cr-48 chromebook) - it's tricky, uses extra power, and there's no good way to control the lumination level...

      would be nice in theory, tho!!

      Delete
    2. Nothing is wrong with the stickers - it just bugs me that I didn't bookmark the page when I read it. I was still shopping at the time and hadn't decided to buy.

      Thanks again for all your work - will check back.

      Delete
    3. Reading the user comments for the stickers, it seems to not be a solution (they don't glow and they are not durable). Someone just posted on 3 Mar that his brand new keyboard was "very reflective" (my words) and was fine with only the screen reflection. This does not seem to be the case with Yoga's at the Microsoft store.

      Delete
  18. Do you possibly know if this is aluminum heatsink or it's copper. Hard to believe but I guess it's aluminum, since they need two noisy fans on an 17W CPU under no load.

    I had crappy HP with 35W CPU and 50W GPU and it was causing less fan noise. In fact, the fan is off if not under the load.

    T420 with 35W CPU starts the fan only under the heavy load. And even then, there is no fan noise. Just a mild air hum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately I don't know - my new Yoga that I ordered on the Lenovo website doesn't seem to have fan issues - just ymc.exe issues

      Delete
  19. Hi all!

    I also own Lenovo Yoga 13. Everything is nice except loud cpu fans. I am very picky so I have decided to turn them of. Check the video below, how it is done.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C8eM1GkU3o&feature=youtu.be

    The cpu fans are not working and the laptop is totally silent. Overheating is not a problem for now, because the laptop is cooling through the metal.
    Normal working temperature is now around 52°C (before that it was around 47°C).

    Please share your opinion and comment.

    ReplyDelete
  20. What is the empty PCI slot useful for? Accessories that fit that form factor?

    ReplyDelete
  21. hi, this might sound like a stupid question...but i have keyboard/touchscreen problems. in the middle of writing, using the keyboard and touchpad in any way, the keyboard and touchpad stop working and i can only use the touchscreen even though the computer is in the 'position which should not block the keyboard'. is there anywhere i could block the touchscreen or unblock the keyboard?
    thanks for any helpful comments!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hey, Mari. Sorry for the delay! Yes I have this problem and I fixed it :)

      Here's how:
      1. create 2 files, ymcstop.bat & ymcstart.bat
      2. open with text editor and type 'net stop ymc' and 'net start ymc', respectively (without quotes), then save
      3. place a shortcut in C:\Users\Will\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs to each file (replace Will with your username)
      4. right click and change the icon to something you like
      5. press start and type 'ymc' - now right click on each (start and stop) and 'Pin to Start'

      If the keyboard/mouse ever stop working, simply press the windows icon (or slide from the right) to get to the start screen and press the ymcstop you created. If you want to re-enable the service (which disables the keyboard for tablet use), simply do the same but click the ymcstart you created.

      see my post:
      http://uselesspuzzles.blogspot.com/2013/05/i-cant-believe-lenovo-yoga-is-still.html

      Hope this helps!

      Delete
  22. I had the same problem...the noise became suddenly VERY loud, clearly the fan was hitting the metallic support. I could open the keyboard (no tools, just with fingers), access the fan, again with my nail lift up the metallic cover around the edge f the left fan....and now it works like a charm! i realized it ALWAYS hit the metallic part, even when it was new. Now, my fan is much quieter than the day i bought it....thanks for the description, sincerely.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Will,

    Great posts on the yoga 13!

    I cam from a Macbook and when I am working at home I would plug my Macbook into the 27" Thunderbolt display and it is crisp and give me more real-estate to play with.

    I just purchased a new Samsung 32" 1080p Smart TV (UN32F5500AF) and plugged the yoga using the HDMI. It's using the 1920x1080 but it looks like crap. Not crisp at all! Is this normal?

    Thanks a bunch

    willj

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hmm no it should work fine! try changing the display settings as much as possible, including the advanced nvidia graphics settings. if there's something for overscan or zoom - could be that. is it blurry/fuzzy or what?

      Delete
  24. Wanted to say that there is a small application called Notebook Fan Control which together with a little configuration file, deals completely with the problem of fan noise from the Lenovo Yoga 13. I found a link in the Lenovo forums but can't seem to track it down, but its certain to be there.

    Andre

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  25. Will, do you know if it's possible to manually remove the Realtek Bluetooth mini-PCIe from within and swap it with let's say some sort of PCIe firewire adapter? This looks like a long shot, but heck, may as well ask... for someone that does lots of video editing it'll be nice to have firewire :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. pretty sure bluetooth & wifi card are the same?

      Delete
  26. Im looking for more storage and I need a better graphics card for my lenovo ideapad yoga 13, do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. other than installing a second ssd + sd card, dockbox from http://techneesh.com for storage + extra hdmi out, not much you can do to increase graphics card

      Delete
  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  28. Did you have any boot issues after you added second SSD? Did you tweak BIOS settings? If so, which ones? Thanks!

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    1. Nah, no boot issues - don't remember if I tweaked BIOS at all - don't think anything is needed for second SSD - UEFI will ensure Windows drive remains boot drive

      Delete
  29. Hi there
    Did you have a solution for the fan running all the time?
    Thanks!
    Liz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mine never really had the issue, or maybe it went away due to the bios // driver updates they released that I installed

      Delete
  30. Hey I'm just looking for a good way to clean up some of my memory, as it stands I only have 10 gigs left and i can't really find where all my memory has gone. The fan is also a little noisy, and potentially has gotten noisier with time. Still love my lenovo, got it in January of 2013 but I need to free up some space! Any advice would be great

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  31. Finally, also disable CPU throttling while in stand/tablet mode by uninstalling ... tabletkeyboard.blogspot.com

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  32. hi i have lenovo yoga 13 with 500gb harddisk plus 8gb ssd,so can i replcae 8gb ssd any higher

    ReplyDelete