The Disappearing Hum of Fans

These days I work in a big, open plan office with no assigned desks. So I’ve sat next to a lot of people. But more importantly I’ve set next to a lot of computers.

And I realised today that I’m yet to hear a single computer fan. Either because the laptop is an entirely fanless MacBook or a modern Windows one that has a quiet or rarely spun-up fan. It’s all so quiet out there. No more soft hums as a computer starts to work up a sweat. No more jet engine-like screeches as it hits high load. The only noise my office features these days is the clickity clack of keyboards, the chittity chat of people and the croaky coughs of winter flu.

Though there is one person still flying high the flag of the fan. And that’s me. I have a Intel based MacBook Pro with a fan that spins up often. But I feel like a bit of a dinosaur having a fan – it feels like coming into work with a typewriter.

I knew fans were officially finished when I had two people sat next to me ask “what’s that noise?!” with a confused look on their face when they heard my laptop. The sound of a fan was such a distant memory to them that they couldn’t even recognise it any more.

And fans should be a distance memory. A computer without a fan is quieter, cooler and simpler. But there will always be a part of me that’s nostalgic for them. I quite like hearing them whir up as a CPU load increases. There’s a pleasant mechanical quality to it (the constant spinning akin to the constant ticking of a mechanical watch). It’s an audible link to how hard your computer is working. And I will miss that sound when I eventually upgrade to a modern MacBook.