iMac 2017 fan noise

Community Beginner ,
Mar 23, 2018

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Hi all,

I've just bought a new 2017 iMac with a Retina 5K 27" display. It has a 4,2 GHz i7 processor and 8 GB RAM. When I'm running Lightroom Classic CC 7.2, the fan of the iMac blows very loud. No clicking noise, but just loud blowing, impossible to ignore. Mostly or maybe only when I'm in the Develop mode, and only with Lightroom. I didn't have this issue with my other iMac which was aprox. 8 years older. Does anyone have the same problem and does anyone know what's causing this problem? Is there a fix? Would upgrading my RAM solve anything?

Thanks in advance!

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Community Beginner ,
Mar 27, 2018

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Nobody else has this problem? It's driving me nuts...

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LEGEND ,
Mar 27, 2018

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The thermal design of the newer iMac is bad. To thin a case, not enough air flow, equals fans spinning at MAX RPM to Try, I say TRY, and keep it cooled down.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Mar 27, 2018

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Most apps use only a tiny fraction of your processor's capacity. A frequent complaint about LR is that it is too slow, so Adobe has worked hard to have LR use as much of the CPU and graphics processor as possible. That consumes a lot more power, which generates a lot more heat, which requires fans to dissipate. That is all by design. Complaints about excessive fan noise should be directed to Apple.

LR may be running some background activities increasing the CPU load:

- It may be building a lot of previews (especially if you've just moved to a new computer).  This can take a long time for large catalogs.

- If you have Sync with the LR CC enabled, LR 7.2 introduced a new background activity that computes a  one-time hash for every synced photo. This can take a while if you have lots of photos synced, but once it's done, you shouldn't notice it again.  You can either wait overnight for it to complete or disable sync and restart LR.

- Face detection may be running.

You can see which of these background activities (previews, sync, face detection) is running by clicking on the nameplate in the upper-left corner:

Finally, there have be a few intermittent reports of LR consuming a lot of CPU when supposedly no foreground or background activities are occurring. You can check that by running Activity Monitor.  When doing absolutely nothing, LR should consume no more than 5-10% CPU.

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Explorer ,
Mar 27, 2018

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What do you mean by "one time hash"?

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Mar 27, 2018

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What do you mean by "one time hash"?

See this post by Adobe employee Simon Chen: Lightroom Classic 7.2: Long update waits when editing metadata on more than a few photos | Photoshop...

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Explorer ,
Mar 27, 2018

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I just got a new 27 inch iMac and love it. However, I don't hear the fan sound you're speaking of. Although, I have the 3.4 i5. Instead of their fusion drive, I customized it to order with the 1TB SSD. The machine runs fine as is, but I'll be upgrading the RAM soon. I just didn't want to pay the Apple premium to do so, obviously.

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LEGEND ,
Mar 27, 2018

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Looty81  wrote

I just got a new 27 inch iMac and love it. However, I don't hear the fan sound you're speaking of. Although, I have the 3.4 i5. Instead of their fusion drive, I customized it to order with the 1TB SSD. The machine runs fine as is, but I'll be upgrading the RAM soon. I just didn't want to pay the Apple premium to do so, obviously.

Not to derail this discussion but are you sure YOU can upgrade the RAM. I thought all new iMac computers were sealed. No removable panel to get at anything inside of them.

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Explorer ,
Mar 27, 2018

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You can't upgrade the 21.5's, but you can upgrade the 27's. 🙂

https://9to5mac.com/2017/06/21/how-to-upgrade-ram-2017-5k-imac-video/

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New Here ,
Mar 27, 2018

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I also got my 4.2 GHz i7 processor and 40GB RAM. When using Lightroom Classic, the fan kicks in whenever I am dealing with RAW files, either browsing or editing. It will quiet down again but then will engage on and off again. Jpeg files have no such issues. Also, when watching 8K videos on YouTube, the fan will be in full blast without stopping until the video is finished. Yes, annoying.

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Explorer ,
Mar 30, 2018

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Very interesting. I wonder if it's something with the i7's and the configuration as I don't experience this with my 3.4GHz i5 with 8 gigs of ram. Eventually I'll be upgrading the ram, but haven't yet. I'm also running a 1TB SSD.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 04, 2018

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Thanks for all your replies. I guess it will have something to do with i7 processor or maybe just something in the configuration of the fans. Definitely not a complaint to Lightroom. I hope Apple will be able to fix this soon with a software update, because it's not much fun working at a machine which makes this much noise...

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 04, 2018

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Same problem here. I also have a late 2017 iMac with an i7 4.2GHZ, top of the line graphic card and 40 GB of RAM, and the fans will kick at full speed every time I'm working in LR, even with 1:1 previews and smart previews built beforehand. Strangely, that issue disappeared with LR 7.2 to return in 7.3. So, I believe it's an Adobe problem and not a heat issue with the iMac. That doesn't happen with any other software.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Apr 04, 2018

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I believe it's an Adobe problem and not a heat issue with the iMac. That doesn't happen with any other software.

Most apps use only a small fraction of the CPU and almost none use the full capabilities of the graphics processor (GPU).  Thus, it's not surprising that many observe LR starting up the fans but not other apps.

There have be a few intermittent reports of LR consuming a lot of CPU when supposedly no foreground or background activities are occurring. After verifying that LR isn't running any background tasks, run Activity Monitor.  When doing absolutely nothing, LR should consume no more than 5-10% CPU.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 26, 2018

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johnrellis Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 14.49.07.jpg

My Lr is always at 125% of the CPU speed as you can see in the attached screenshot, which I find very strange. How can a software use 25% more CPU power than it's own processing capacity? All background tasks are paused, as usual. One thing is for sure. Lr is much slower especially in Develop mode and the fans are kicking at full speed since the update to version 7.3.

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Apr 26, 2018

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My Lr is always at 125% of the CPU speed as you can see in the attached screenshot,

Double-check that Sync and face detection aren't running in background. LR 7.2 and 7.3 introduced changes that can cause them to run for a long time.

Both Mac and Windows have the convention in their detailed process listings that "100%" means 100% of one virtual processor. So if your computer has 4 physical cores and two "threads" per core (in Intel's lingo), there is a total of 8 virtual processors, and thus a process could use up to 800% of a CPU (if it's using all 8 virtual processors, which LR can do).

But in the summary at the bottom of Activity Monitor, the three percentages System, User, and Idle are expressed with a maximum of 100%, where 100% means all virtual processors are being used.  If just one virtual processor is being used, that summary will show just 12.5% total.  Confusing?

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 26, 2018

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I have always Sync, Face Detection and Address Lookup paused, so no issue there. I understand what you mean with the CPU percentage, so yes, that's very logical that Lr uses 125%. I simply didn't relate to the number of virtual processors but now I know it can reach higher percentage values.

I just tried to move the exposure slider and the CPU percentage went up to 605% and the fans just fired up at full speed. That's what I think it's not normal and it was an issue that I've only had in version 7.0, 7.1 and now in 7.3. Version 7.2 was the only one that seemed to fix the issues, the one where Intel helped Adobe.

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 16.05.22.jpg

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Apr 26, 2018

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I just tried to move the exposure slider and the CPU percentage went up to 605% and the fans just fired up at full speed.

I observe the same behavior on my MacBook Pro with a Retina display.  Here's the total CPU usage resulting from moving the exposure slider back and forth for about 5 seconds:

But I think this CPU usage is by design and desirable.  The number one complaint about LR and Camera Raw over the years has been that it is too slow. Adobe has worked hard in the last couple of years to make it faster, by using more of the available processors and the GPU (using the GPU effectively can require using more of the processors).   Camera Raw's non-destructive editing model, especially with all the newer adjustments Adobe has added in the later process versions, is much more CPU-intensive than the simpler pixel-editing model of Photoshop et al.   (Adobe has also increased the use of processors for Library and export activities as well.)

Very few apps stretch the CPU in this way, and the compute power of our computers far exceeds the needs of most of our apps. That's why people are surprised to hear the fans turn on when they run LR, and naturally they assume something is wrong. 

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Apr 26, 2018

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Also, note that GPUs consume a lot of power -- they've got a huge number of transistors!  So LR using 500% of the CPU and the GPU is generating a lot more heat than a workload using 500% CPU and no GPU.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 26, 2018

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The i7 4.2 GHz Kaby Lake processor used in the iMac has a maximum Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 91 Watts. Imagine squeezing a 100 Watt conventional tungsten light bulb inside the thin iMac enclosure and keep it cool. Having said that it appears some units may have incorrect control settings and/or assembly defects in the heatsink cooling assembly.Some suggestions here:

Constant fan noise on 2017 iMac even at r… - Apple Community

New MBP2017 15" / Fans going crazy when browsing photos

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 26, 2018

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Thank you for the links, trshaner. Yes, from what I saw in other forum threads and speaking with other photographers, it's a well-known issue with the i7 4.2 Kaby Lake processor used in the iMac. I believe something was not well designed by the Apple team to ensure the heat was dissipated correctly.

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Community Beginner ,
Apr 26, 2018

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I understand that Lr needs a lot of processing power and that produces more heat because of all the transistors of the CPU and GPU, especially on the retina iMac and Macbook Pro and that Adobe spent the last years trying to make it faster and addressing all the user concerns. But if the latest Apple computers use even more powerful graphics cards, more powerful processors and faster RAM, shouldn't Lr be faster and use all that power to run smoothly? How come a lower spec 2015 retina iMac runs faster and without issues than a late 2017 top of the line iMac with 64GB of faster RAM? And how did all those issues disappear in version 7.2 to reappear in version 7.3?

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Most Valuable Participant ,
Apr 26, 2018

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But if the latest Apple computers use even more powerful graphics cards, more powerful processors and faster RAM, shouldn't Lr be faster and use all that power to run smoothly? How come a lower spec 2015 retina iMac runs faster and without issues than a late 2017 top of the line iMac with 64GB of faster RAM? And how did all those issues disappear in version 7.2 to reappear in version 7.3?

From all the reports on the forums for the past few years, Adobe has clearly been struggling with this performance engineering. While on average for most users, they've made significant improvements in performance, especially with the newer 4K and 5K displays, each release brings out some reports of bad performance in the latest version.

Adobe has particularly struggled with higher-end machines (more than 4 physical cores / 8 virtual processors).  As they constantly change and try to improve performance, they encounter (or introduce) new problems. 

Utilizing multiple processors in conjunction with a GPU for interactive image processing requires hard engineering, well beyond the abilities of the average software engineer. Making it more difficult, the GPU manufacturers' drivers can be pretty buggy and only partially hide their variety and complicated performance characteristics from the programmer.

In Silicon Valley, Adobe doesn't have a great reputation for attracting and retaining top engineering talent. I know there are definitely some very talented senior engineers working on LR and Camera Raw, but I think it's pretty clear that overall the quality and depth of the engineering team is limited.

My only suggestion is to keep posting feedback on the official Adobe feedback forum: Lightroom Classic CC | Photoshop Family Customer Community . Product developers read every post there (and infrequently reply) but are rarely seen in this forum.  The feedback there definitely influences Adobe, though the feedback cycle tends to be measured in quarters and years, not days or weeks.

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New Here ,
Apr 25, 2018

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I noticed the same thing with my iMac 27 5K i/ 4.2 GHz. Also it seems like the performance i develop mode got worse after updating to 7.3.. Very frustrated as it doesn't happened in photoshop even tho I'm editing huge multiple files.

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Explorer ,
Apr 25, 2018

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Roll it back to Version 7.0.

It runs like a pig on the latest Mac's.

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