Laptop super hot and fan goes crazy when connected to an external monitor

Every time I plug my laptop to an external monitor through a USB-C, it instantly begins to heat up and the fan almost immediately starts to be very noisy - even if I’m not handling any computationally intensive operations or just sitting idle.

I monitored task manager and don’t see anything out of the ordinary. The CPU usage is only around ~12-15% and nothing else warrants the instant change in the fan. The laptop also becomes so hot to touch that it burns. I assume this isn’t good when left for long periods of time, especially when I begin smelling some plastic burning.

Any ideas? Is this some driver issue?

You have a process that’s eating up a complete core (the 12-15% of your processor).

@Second_Coming Well it’s multiple processes adding up to the 12-15%. That’s normal in my case, and when I don’t have the monitor connected, my fan is quiet and the laptop is fine in terms of temperature despite the CPU usage. However, when I connect to the monitor, the CPU doesn’t change but the fan goes crazy and the laptop heats up. That’s why I think there’s an issue

Ah…no extra idea then. Framework Support is your best bet.

It might be either the resolution of the monitor and/or a combination of what you’re doing (browsers or programs that use hardware acceleration and are on a higher resolution display).

Do you know the resolution of the monitor? The GPU is on the CPU die, and if the GPU is having to work extra hard that can cause the fans to run (since for the purposes of cooling the CPU and GPU are a single unit here).

I occasionally use a 1920x1080 touchscreen connected via USB-C in conjunction with my laptop display and don’t notice my fans spinning any more loudly than normal. I normally use a 2560x1440 display connected through an Anker USB-C dock (HDMI over USB-C) with the laptop screen off, and my fan doesn’t usually kick up.

It sounds like you’re using Windows, so when your fan is going crazy if you look at the Performance tab of the Task Manager at the bottom you can see if your GPU is working hard.

EDIT: I should also note that even if your CPU load is only 12% or so, your CPU might be boosting the clock speed up and thus kicking the fan on. For poorly-threaded tasks I’ve seen my CPU clock go 4+ GHz with only one or two cores ‘loaded’ (11th gen Core i5 in my case). Through the Performance tab of the Task Manager you can see your CPU’s current clock speed in addition to the load.

@Gary_S Thanks for the insight!

The monitor’s resolution is 1920x1080 no touchscreen, so nothing too special there. I usually close the laptop lid (with the setting to do nothing), so the monitor’s display is the only one I use. I assume this means there isn’t any “incompatibility” between the laptop display and the monitor one…?

I had a look at the Performance tab and don’t see anything out of the ordinary either. The clock speed hovers around 2.0 when idle and jumps to 3.5+ when I’m using Chrome, which is consistent with the behaviour when I’m not connected to the monitor. I understand this setup can be changed using power plans, but I don’t want to have to change the performance when connected to a monitor. Additionally, GPU hovers around 2% and never exceeds 5% (just using Chrome), so I think the GPU isn’t overworked yet.

This is so strange :thinking:

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It doesn’t sound like the GPU is working too hard, you’re right. It also sounds like you’re probably using the Balanced power settings in Windows 10 or 11 (based on your clocks), and you shouldn’t have to adjust anything there just to keep the fan quiet (I also use Balanced with Windows 11 when using either of my external display setups).

I’m stumped! Maybe you should see if Framework Support has any insight. I’ve fiddled around with my UEFI/BIOS settings for an unrelated project I’ve been testing to keep my power draw below 60w, so maybe I’ve made a change that makes my setup much different than yours. I wish I had more to offer :face_with_diagonal_mouth:

@Gary_S No worries - you’ve been a great help, thank you! I’ll reach out to Support and see if they have any ideas.

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That might be the problem. Part of the airflow is ducted through the gap between the body and the screen, and when the screen that gap is closed. So the FW13 has restricted airflow with the screen closed. If there’s need for a bit of air flow, the fan might be spinning up a little more to try and make up for significantly increased resistance. So you might want to check if opening the screen alleviates the problem. I frequently use mine in dual screen that way and am not noticing more fan activity when the external screen is connected.

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@Nils Hm yeah that might play a role. I’ve tried using the laptop a bit with the lid open, and it’s slightly better in terms of heat and fan noise when idle. However, it’s still much more noticeable than when I’m not connected to an external monitor. The literal instant that I plug in my USB-C, the fan starts spinning up and it truly baffles me

Did you ever find the issue or a solution. I’m having the same issue on a pre-built laptop