Fixing the loud CPU fan on the Dell XPS 15 9550 (2016)

Update (11/01/2019): I purchased a Razer Core X eGPU + GeForce GTX 970, with the eGPU connected fan noise is no longer an issue as all GPU processes are done over Thunderbolt 3.

I’ve had my XPS 15 9550 almost 18 months now, here’s my replacement history so far… all covered under Dell’s Premium Support NBD contract:

  • 5 motherboards
  • 1 battery
  • 2 CPU fan
  • 2 graphics card fan
  • 1 heatsink
  • 1 keyboard

I can put at least 3 of the above motherboard replacements down to me telling them “the CPU fan is too loud” which was blamed by Dell Support and on-site technicians on issues with the motherboard and promptly replaced.

The fix for the loud CPU fan – especially when a Thunderbolt device is connected – is to turn on passive cooling within Power Options and using Intel XTU undervolt the CPU 0.100 V dramatically lowering the thermal profile of the XPS 15 9550 followed by setting Dell Command Power Manager to Quiet.

Showing the thermal profile of the Dell XPS 15 9550 24 hours after applying the Core Voltage Offset change and enabling Passive system cooling.

Today I have a silent machine with no noticeable effect on daily usage or CS:GO gaming performance, that’s with 2 Dell U2414H monitors occupying the HDMI and Thunderbolt connectors. I have multiple Chrome tabs open (10+), Slack and other typical CPU hogs running without the CPU fan attempting to rise off the desk.

Here’s how to fix the loud CPU fan on the Dell XPS 15 9550:

Part 1: Turn on passive CPU cooling

  1. Right click the battery icon in the start taskbar
  2. Select Power Options
  3. Click Change plan settings beside the Balanced power plan
  4. Click Change advanced power settings
  5. Expand the Processor power management list
  6. Expand the System cooling policy list
  7. Set the On battery and Plugged in options to Passive
  8. Click OK to save changes
  9. Click Save Changes on the Edit Plan Settings window to save changes

Part 2: Undervolt the CPU 0.100V

Dropping the Core Voltage Offset -0.100 V significantly lowers the thermal profile of the Dell XPS 15 9550.
  1. Download the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility from the Intel website
  2. Install and open Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (ala Intel XTU)
  3. Open the Advanced Tuning > Core section
  4. Find the Core Voltage Offset slider
  5. To the right of the Core Voltage Offset slider hover over the 0.000 V value to show the decrease/increase toggles
  6. Click the decrease toggle until the Core Voltage Offset indicator shows -0.100 V
  7. Click Apply
  8. Close Intel XTU and restart the computer

Part 3: Dell Command | Power Manager

Dell Command | Power Manager is the holy grail of thermal management tools for Dell units.
  1. Download and install Dell Command | Power Manager from Dell’s website
  2. Open Dell Command Power Manager from the Start menu
  3. Switch to the Thermal Management tab
  4. Set the Thermal Setting to Quiet

That’s it! 😀

Published by

Michael Visser

I'm a WordPress Plugin developer, UAV & Raspberry Pi enthusiast and general tinkerer. This domain serves as my development playground for non-WordPress Plugin projects.

11 thoughts on “Fixing the loud CPU fan on the Dell XPS 15 9550 (2016)”

  1. I have the same issue with my new XPS 15. As soon as I plug the thunderbolt, the fan is on and never stop. I followed the three preceding steps but did not fix my issue.

  2. Many thanks for a thorough guide on fixing this very annoying issue on an otherwise good computer. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Interestingly enough, after applying all the tweaks (though I used ThrottleStop for underclocking), I need to switch the Dell Power Manager thermal settings a couple of times a day. Sometimes it’s better to use the”Quiet” mode (as advised) while many other times the fans slow down in the “Optimized” mode….

  4. Thanks for publishing this.

    I’ve a question though. Did Dell provide you with this solution? I’m concerned that fiddling around with the CPU voltages will cause other issues.

    Also, I’ve followed the instruction, but it doesn’t seem to have made a great deal of difference.

    1. Hi Scott, none of the above advice was from Dell. I’ve been monitoring various forums (including Dell’s own forums) and posted suggestions and trying each as they came available to reduce the CPU fan noise on my XPS 15 9550.

      You’re correct in that adjusting CPU voltages (especially increasing voltages) can cause other issues but underclocking (reducing the standard voltage) as in our case is a low risk practice and can be automatically recovered by the system as needed.

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