Surface Pro 3 - Excessively loud fan, constant overheating during idle and light tasks (now on my second, third, fourth Surface Pro 3 i7)

Yea, there's definitely a problem. I'm on my second third fourth Surface Pro 3 after replacing what I suspected to be a defective unit and this one is exhibiting the same issues as the one returned. Not very happy at the moment as you can guess. I'm assuming that, with a working unit, you're not supposed to even hear the fan under normal usage

.

Right out of the box, before & after all updates and firmware are installed: the back of the unit becomes uncomfortably hot and its fan spins very loudly on idle and while performing minor tasks such as web browsing (even sites without flash or heavy ad use).

I was surprised to hear it the first time, as it sounds like white noise coming from the right speaker. Even under its idle state, my Surface Pro 3 is currently the loudest thing in my office (and that's including my PC running 3 video cards SLI). At its peak (IE: high octane tasks like browsing slashdot.com and reading OneNote entries), the fan noise is ear-piercing and the heat produced is immensely hot. I mean, it's not something you'd want to hold, immense.


Here are some other notes:

  • Surface Pro 3 i7 512MB
  • My Order/replacement sources:
    • SP3 #3: Replacement from the Aventura Mall Microsoft Store on 8/4 - Lot No/Date: 1429
    • SP3 #4: Advance replacement directly from Surface support on 8/7 - Lot No/Date: 1430 (See 8/16 update below)
  • Occurrence examples:
    • Instantly after resuming from stand-by via pen double-tap.
    • Browsing "light-weight" sites like answers.microsoft.com
    • Watching a Youtube video.
    • Shutting down & rebooting the machine.
  • The highest I've seen the CPU was around 34%, mainly due to One Drive Sync process.
  • Screen brightness set to about 30%
  • My office room temperature is about 73º F
  • Doesn't matter if keyboard is attached or not. No case used.
  • Doesn't matter if plugged in (surge protector or not).
  • CPU and graphic temperatures after 5 minutes
  • Fan whilst idle (video)

After dropping over $2k on a product, this isn't what I expect to see after 3 minutes of light web browsing:

8/20 - Temp warnings continue...


Got the temperature warning for the first time with my fourth unit. This time while applying the 8/19/2014 firmware update. A reboot during a firmware flash doesn't seem like a safe thing for a device to do. :(

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8/16 - Yeah...

Just powered up Sudoku. Played it for a bit and left it running

  • After about 2 mins, the fan is at a volume of what I'd describe low and it's warm but not uncomfortably so.
  • After about 5 mins, the fan is definitely louder and while it's considerably less noisier than my first unit (which to me, was like a very high-pitch whistle), it's hot to the point where I wouldn't want to hold on to it for very long.

This unit has not given me the temperature warning as yet, but I have to admit that it's still quite discouraging to hear the fan kick in with game as light as Sudoku. Especially since my previous Surface Pro 2 and Yoga laptop, which this SP3 should be replacing, runs much cooler and quieter. 


I really want this thing to work like a tablet when doing tablet tasks, and if the fan kicks in once and awhile for doing heavy laptop tasks like 
3D gaming or video encoding then I wouldn't mind much. But I've gone through four Surface Pro 3's and it leaves me to wonder why they get as hot as they do when doing something unsubstantial like web surfing while an iPad can run much heavier duty 3D gaming and not feel like you're baking chocolate chip lava cookies on metal sheet you're holding with your bare hands.

I'm waiting on MS's public response to these issues, but honestly I can't help but feel a bit duped. Don't get me wrong, I'm in love with the aesthetics, speed and weight of the SP3, but  what happened to the device Panos Panay was talking about (video)

? What happened to not even noticing there's a fan? Why do people have to resort to using alternative cooling methods to get laptop performance out of a device marketed to replace them (video)
?

I hope something can be done. And I hope that that something isn't waiting for the Surface Pro 4.

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8/9 - Fourth one's the charm? Cautiously optimistic...

So I received my advance replacement directly from Surface support. While the fan did come on at a somewhat reasonable volume, I was able to do a full update (37 of them initially) including firmware, install Visual Studio 2013, and Office 2013 without the unit overheating and displaying the temp warning. One thing I noticed is that, while the unit was plugged in, the fan stayed on throughout the entire update/firmware process. The fan hasn't gotten as loud as my last few units.

Unfortunately, the advance shipment didn't come in the original packaging so I don't know its batch/lot number.   Lot number is 1430 (located on the outside of the return box) But I'm going to do some further testing between the two that I have to see if there are any obvious differences before sending the 3rd one back.

I was also given word that the Surface team is currently investigating the issue, so keep your fingers crossed.



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8/6 - So far, it seems we have the following scenarios:

  • There is a manufacturing issue with these particular batches due to a bad CPU yield, heat-sink, or fan. (need more info to validate)
  • There could be a software/firmware issue causing the temps to rise and thus the fans to run blast even during idle/light processes. Although, I'm less certain this is the case, the low CPU usage and high temps seem to suggest otherwise.
  • This could be tied to disk activity. I don't think it's the SSD hardware, given its placement being in the lower left quadrant of the device.  However, this would also explain the low CPU usage and high temps given in the many cases where software is being installing, there is background indexing, or updates are being applied.
  • If some people in the same batch aren't having issues, then maybe:
    • They haven't discovered the issue because the temperature hasn't risen to the point of a nuclear reactor and/or there device hasn't given them the overheat warning.
    • Or there is a problem but they're comfortable with the heat/noise generated and the device hasn't given them an overheat warning.
    • Or they simply have a perfectly running device that never goes above 75-85C and is whisper quiet at all times during normal usage.
  • If  people in different batches are having issues, then maybe:
    • The issue isn't tied to the batch/lot at all and the problem may widespread or be due to a general assembly problem (poorly set heat-sink for ex.)
    • All Surfaces manufactured so far could potentially run hot as hot as 90C (highly doubted)

But there's definitely an issue. You're only supposed to get that overheat warning (thermometer symbol) in cases due to external factors like:

  • You've left the device on inside of your backpack with screen at full brightness for an extended period
  • You attempt to use the device after it's been heated from direct sunlight, perhaps from being in your car, etc.
  • The unlikely case that you've modified the way your device performs (overclocking, fan, etc)

In any case, I think we still need a larger sample size to discover & validate the issue and determine how widespread it is. I only expect MS to recognize there is a problem if it proves to be more common than not.

--------------------------

 8/4 Aventura In-Store Replacement
Just got yet another replacement from the Aventura store. They only had stock from the 1429 batch, but I decided to swap it out anyway. Same issues: Gets piping hot, loud fan w/minor activity & idle. Intel stress test peaks out at 92°C. Temp icon/shutdown while applying windows updates. Going to hold off awhile before replacing. :'(

--------------------------

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If you're lurking, taking the time to help us out by posting your model, batch #, and any notes or comments you have would be quite helpful, whether or not your device is affected.

If you're getting a replacement, save the hassle and point them to this thread to help expedite your exchange.

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Users with similar issues:  If you have similar issues, reply with your model & lot number (located just above your serial number on the box; starts with 14)

Date - User Model Has Issue? - Lot # Notes
8/2 - Jarem  i7 512GB Yes - 1429
8/2 - Jarem i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1428
8/4 - Jarem i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1429 Peak CPU temp: 92°C
8/4 - SurfacePro3User i7-256GB Yes - 1428
8/4 - MV010 i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "When running only chrome and skype, with a 7% CPU usage and 34% RAM usage, it emits very high fan noise thus disturbing my skype call. "
8/4 - AnthonyKageals  i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "It then wanted to install some updates and while installing the updates it started to get VERY hot.  It eventually shut down with the temperature sign being displayed as you pictured above."
8/4 - Nick Hymes ??? No - ??? "I experienced some heat and a lot of fan usage on the first day of use after installing programs and files (possibly caused by indexing), however I am not observing heat or fan operation now."
8/4 - RobertHacker777 i7-256GB No - 1429 "I hear the fan plenty but so far no overheat symbol and shutdown"
8/4 - khairy72 i7-256GB Yes - 1428 "I was casually browsing on the surface about 10 minutes ago and the fan went on full blast and the surface was HOT."
8/4 - rinconmike i7-256GB No - 1429 "I hear the fan plenty but so far no overheat symbol and shutdown."
8/6 - Scott Hanselman  i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "Just got a temp and shutdown. Averaging between 65-80C."
8/6 - khairy72 ??? Yes - ??? "I  have gone through 2 surface pro i7 models so far"
8/6 - RobertHacker777 i7-512GB No - ??? "I bought the i7 512GB version for my wife. No issues whatsoever! "
8/6 - Sahas Katta i7-512GB Yes - 1428 "Before the updates succeeded, my fans blazed at full speeds (louder than my desktop) and everything froze."
8/6 - JonathanSharkey i7-256GB No - 1428 "I've had no issues whatsoever"
8/6 - Klankins i5-256GB No - 1423 "The back gets hot but it seems like it is working like it should."
8/6 - RobertHacker777  i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1430

"...(my replacement batch) seems to be working just fine!!!!! YES!!!! HAPPY NOW!!!!"

Update 8/7:  "has the SAME ISSUE! I have already processed a refund and purchased an i5, 256"

8/6 - Your_Mom i5-256GB Yes - 1423 "got so hot with light browsing I couldn't hold it"
8/6 - Your_Mom i5-256GB (replacement) Yes - 1426 "it gets excessively hot as well"
8/6 - LaRae White i7-256GB Maybe - 1428 "I don't want to say definitively that I'm having issues, but it does get quite hot and loud at seemingly simple tasks"
8/6 - BellevueSteve  i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "two shutdowns with temp icon, preceded by loud and sustained fan noise during initial Windows Update OOB installs, then another sustained fan period (no shutdown but lower right back got hot) during install of Visual Studio update 3."
8/6 - adrianbli  i5-128GB No - ??? "haven't noticed any issues. it gets warm while charging, but really not very hot at all"
8/7 - Antares Light i5-128GB Yes - 1424 "Having the same heating issue with some simple game apps such as MS mahjong and MS treasure hunt (always); web browsing and one note (some times)"
8/7 - GlennDoren  i7-256GB Yes - 1428 "whenever I have my real-time stock trading website up (in explorer or chrome--doesn't matter), the fan kicks in."
8/7 - HL Brooklyn  i7-256GB No - 1428 "so far everything appears to be normal"
8/7 - noteventhrice   i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "Getting the same issues, can't say how many times I've seen that thermometer symbol after windows crashing, but it's been terrible"
8/8 - frogcjn i7-512GB Yes - 1430 "when I was installing windows updates, it cannot turn on!!! After a while, I can turn it on. Then I found it is too noise with its fan running in a slow speed."
8/8 - Kasco Jake i7-512GB Yes - 1429 "...if i were holding the tablet, it would probably burn my hand if I didn't move it to another side with the amount of heat"
8/8 - Piero00  i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "It hasn't overheated yet but the fan runs extremely loud and the back gets very hot."
8/9 - J. Branco  i7-512GB Yes - 1429 "While updates were being installed this morning during restart it showed thermometer, then shutdown -  two times."
8/9 - frogcjn i7-512GB (replacement) No - 1427

"1. The new one does not have the sharp fan noise. (At least until now.)

2. When the sales boy installed windows update on the new one, no high temperature errors."

8/9 - Wes Preston  i7-256GB Yes - 1430 "Fan volume cranked up almost immediately on the i7/256 I pulled out of the box today. Lot 1430. Loud fan and very warm back, but not to the point of the temp alert or shutdown yet"
8/9 - Jarem  i7-512GB (replacement) No - 1430 "My replacement from Surface support has yet to exhibit the issue. Read 8/9 update above."
8/10 - Dan Schwartz  i7-256GB Maybe - 1428 "Had high heat/fan issues the first few days but since the recent updates I haven't had those problems."
8/10 - RKB-Washington D.C. i7-256GB Yes - 1428 "My new ( just bought it today and spent the day setting it up) cycles from high noise to low noise irrespective of the load I am putting on the CPU. " 
8/10 - f4denz  i7-256GB (replacement) No - 1429 "at no time did it get even close to the heat that I experienced daily with my original Pro"
8/10 - nitehawk_967 i5 -128GB Yes - 1423 "...my 'host task for windows process' revs up to 25-30% cpu. and the right hand corner get hot to the touch and fans whir like crazy"
8/12 - kslogan i7-256GB No - 1427 "Has not overheated, but fan frequently runs louder than expected even when experiencing light load.  None of the Surface Pro 3 i5 or Surf Pro 2 i5 machines have comparable fan noise."
8/12 - DilrajSaini  i7-512GB Yes -1429 "Get loud and hot while running AV scan. Skype hangs. Will try returning it."
8/12 - Luis Mitchel  i5-128GB No - ??? "I tried to restore it but it overheated and stop working again, so I put it near the air conditioner and it restored successfully. I installed the updates manually but I didn't install the update from 07/08/2014 (July) and the new 08/12/2014 (August). Now my SP3 is working as expected and it doesn't overheat."
8/15 - StephenW7 i7-512GB Yes - 1428 "After trying to use the unit last night, I decided I'm going to return the unit. It's just way too hot to hold, and way to noisy."
8/16 - The Cool Dude i7-512GB No - 1429 "It's a little warm but that's about it. Streaming movies/TV shows from my NAS work fine without issue. No heat. No noise."
8/16 - surfacepro3runninghot i7-256GB Yes - 1431 "Fan is quite but it runs hot. Seems design issue . Mine is going back."
8/16 - LO_CP i7-256GB Yes - 1429 " doing the normal windows updates the fan was going crazy and it got really hot in the upper right where the fan is"
8/19 - jl33t i7-256GB Yes - 1429 The fan comes on and it's seriously the most menacing thing I've ever heard to come out of an electronic device. I can no longer use this in class to take notes since it's so disruptive.
8/19 - Chipgoon i7-256GB Yes - 1429 Machine was quite hot after running all of windows updates, and firmware update would not install until machine cooled down.  But haven't had any thermal shutdowns yet, CPU throttling manages the heat but reduces performance significantly.
8/19 - Imaohw i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1432 As soon as the SP3 starts to get warm ( which is all the time using video conferencing software) the fan comes on the microphones pick up the fan noise.  This makes it very difficult for the other party on the call to hear me.
8/20 - Universeman i7-512GB Yes - 1429 Didn't really have these issues until I installed the August firmwares/patches. Last night was my first overheat and temp warning shutdown, while I was re-applying patches after doing a system reset in an attempt to troubleshoot a battery drain.
8/20 - Brad Groux  i7-512GB x 3 Yes - 1459 I have four 512GB Core i7 SP3 from lot 1459. Three of the four have the issue. All four were purchased on launch day (08/01/2014) from the Houston Galleria store.
8/20 - Brad Groux  i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1522 I have one 512GB Core i7 SP3 from lot 1522, and it has the issue. It was a unit swap at the Houston Galleria store yesterday, 08/19/2014.
8/20 - Bloodlive  i7-256GB (replacement) Yes1429 "Loud Fan noise, Overheating and battery lasting 3-4 hours."..."I called Microsoft support, I referred them to this thread and they told me we are a minority."
8/20 - JohnBarboni  i7-256GB Yes - ??? "If I download something (anything) the fan kicks into overdrive and the back of the device gets hot to the touch. If I play a 3D game it shuts down and while it's off I get the thermometer until it cools down enough to restart..."
8/20 - KevinAdamsTMG i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "Me too, excessive heat, (too hot to touch, and too hot to leave on lap) and the noise of the fan is unbelievable..."
8/21 - SteveH_250  i7-512GB Yes - 1430

"same issue for me: with light internet browsing (e.g. youtube videos) unit gets smokin' hot just behind the windows logo, and the fan comes on full blast"

8/21 - 206realestate i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "I have similar issues Surface Pro 3"
8/22 - KenKen Yen i5-128GB Yes - 1430 "Sh*t burns really bad whenever I play games and it goes completely volcanic when I play Project Spark."
8/22 - YoshiJL  i5-256GB Yes - 1429 "has heat issues"..."just got it out of box. Might be charging issue"
8/22 - sj_canada i7-256GB Yes - 1429 "After installing all updates on 2014-08-21, it currently runs very hot in spite of loudly operating fan even when working on simple tasks (Internet Explorer, OneNote, file transfers).  Battery draining faster than expected."
8/22 - Pamsaja  i7-256GB (replacement) Yes - 1431 "First I7 256 1428 overheating and fan noise, I returned it and bought the i7 256 1431 online ( replacement) the overheating problem is worse, i am thinking in return it and forget about the surface and Microsoft"
8/22 - STep_001 i7-512GB Yes - 1429 "My system fan loudly and furiously spins up it then overheats and I get the same thermometer icon right before it shuts down."
8/22 - DarrellGarrison  i7-512GB (replacement) Yes - 1433 "As soon as I had it up and running, the back got extremely hot, and the fan was going nuts.  What was I doing?  Running a YouTube video as a test.  Same issues as my current unit.  I already called support and am shipping the replacement back."

-----------------------------

  • Edit 8/3: Added purchase sources
  • Edit 8/3: Added date/lot number for initial order
  • Edit 8/4: Added user lot number table
  • Edit 8/4: Added notes to table / formatting. Updated w/third SP3
  • Edit 8/6: Added yes/no issues to table, more entries
  • Edit 8/7: more entries, removed model numbers.
  • Edit 8/8: more entries
  • Edit 8/9: Added update on 4th Sp3
  • Edit 8/10: more entries 
  • Edit 8/12: more entries
  • Edit 8/14: more entries
  • Edit 8/16: Update on fourth unit added. more entries
  • Eidt 8/19: more entries
  • Edit 8/20: Update on fourth unit :(, more entries
  • Edit 8/22: more entries (not looking too good)
  • Edit 12/12: ReAdded table showing users with similar heating/noise issues that was removed.

 

Discussion Info


Last updated July 20, 2019 Views 295,066 Applies to:

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It was fine for me in the morning yesterday in the dock. I was doing some high powered work related.

However when I checked later for updates there where three more updates available to my surprise. And I thought I updated everything during my initial set up the night before that.

Attached I have my screen shot with those last few updates. I also removed my hard wired connection from the dock Yesterday afternoon after some research and connected it through my 3.0 usb pluggable hub. At that time it seem to be more quiet as well.   It is till a mystery. And really hope it firmware related.

Johan van Mierlo | Community Moderator Windows Phone | www.mobilityminded.com |
Exact same problem. First I7 256 1428 overheating and fan noise, I returned it and bought the i7 256 1431 online ( replacement) the overheating problem is worse, i am thinking in return it and forget about the surface and Microsoft

Ok....I just noticed that my Surface Pro 3 in the dock also indicates no charging.

So I unplugged the power of the dock and reconnected and the icon and text label indicated that my Surface Pro 3 is charging again in the dock. However it stopped again when I continued watching a NetFlix movie in the Chrome Browser. At that time it says "plugged in, no-charging"

So I played around with it and it seems that just pausing the netflix stream the icon changed back to charging :). The moment I hit play I get the no-charging text label again.

I did this a few times and I get the same behavior.

At this time my Surface is getting hotter too on the same side as my charging connector.

Other people have issues of the device getting hotter to. Maybe this has to do with the power supply being connected and streaming video (Maybe in the dock)

I am really trying to nail this overheating issue down. It could be that when the processor gets to hot it stops charging the device as well.

Ps. I ran the SP3 this morning with no power connected. Had 4 browsers open with one streaming netflix, working in outlook, excel and some other stuff and the fan never got load or the device got hot.

Johan van Mierlo | Community Moderator Windows Phone | www.mobilityminded.com |

My Surface Pro 3 i7 512GB overheats during the updates. My system fan loudly and furiously spins up it then overheats and I get the same thermometer icon right before it shuts down.

I am going back to the Microsoft Store and getting a replacement. Any time a system overheats like this I am sure there are some internal damage(s) sustained by the overheating event.

Lot#: 1429

Cauem,

Are you still experiencing this overheating problem with your Surface Pro 3.  While you are gathering info to answer my questions, please consider  installing all the Windows and Surface updates, then restart. I hope that will help solving the problem.

If that doesn't help, refresh the system, then install all the Windows updates.

I hope the provided info will help. we 'd love to hear from you.

Best regards,

Reagan_L
I cannot replicate this on my unit.  So there might be a difference for some.  I also do not experience any heat while viewing Youtube videos.  So far, only 3D processing appears to trigger the high heat on my unit.

Hi,

This thread has been incredibly helpful to me.  Without it, I may have thought I was alone in my experience.  So Thank You!

Yesterday I received my replacement i7 512g.  Lot 1433, Model 1631.  As soon as I had it up and running, the back got extremely hot, and the fan was going nuts.  What was I doing?  Running a YouTube video as a test.  Same issues as my current unit.  I already called support and am shipping the replacement back.

I am so incredibly disappointed.  I really, really wanted this SP 3. (Lot 1429)

In a matter of days I will be forced to return this unit and get a refund.  As soon as I am done with this post I will be looking online for another manufacturer.  Maybe I will need to wait for Surface Pro 4.

My biggest disappointment is the silence from Microsoft on this thread.

Hello, Lot 1429 here -- i7 512 GB. Loud fan noise and gets hot during basic tasks, like web surfing and emailing. Battery only lasts about 2 - 3 hours. I'm hesitant about ordering a replacement because it looks like the newer lots havent solved this. Hopefully MS comes out with a firmware update. This is ridiculous for an i7 device.

I think I've figured it out. The issue is NOT the lot/batch of MS SP3. It appears to NOT be a hardware issue. IT IS a software issue. I was having similar overheating issues.

There is an issue with Windows Installer Module and Windows Installer Module Worker.

It will run in the background at intermitted times, sequestering a huge amount of CPU and memory power. This causes the system to overheat and increase fan activity.

Additional damage(s) may occur, in my case MS SP3 would overheat causing the system to display a thermometer, shut down and burnout a few pixels.

The software intermittently runs Windows Installer Module and Windows Installer Module Worker. I opened Task Manager, click on those 2 applications and End Task. Both the fan activity and heat would decrease significantly. I've been pressure testing this on my new MS SP3 for 8 hours.

Replicating (as best as possible) and Repeating what I've read in this forum. (Scientific Method)

YouTube --> overheats --> WIM & WIMW active

Games --> overheats --> WIM & WIMW active

Windows Update --> overheats --> WIM & WIMW active (even after update is complete)

End those tasks and the system, fan, and temperature normalizes.

Satya Nadella et al. Please address this issue and fix the software. I am sure you will keep the customer base and gain more of your customer approval.

P.S. - I am a professional scientific researcher.

Your point seems valid, but I was wondering why such an issue would target i7 users more than i5 users.

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