Z830/Z835 BIOS 1.6 Addresses Fan Noise

Posted on 21 February 2012 by

Toshiba-Z830-31The Z830 was my favourite Ultrabook of ‘phase 1’ in 2011 and I got very close to buying one. The problem was fan noise. A recent BIOS update may have fixed the issue.

Update: I tested the BIOS update. It works. Info here.

In common environments like offices and silent environments (library, home office) the noise, a mechanical buzz rather than air noise, was unnoticeable. In a quiet environment, it’s another story. Here’s what we said in the Z830 review

To quantify the noise is difficult. It can barely be measured at close range with a consumer dB meter in a quiet room but we did manage to mask it with the quietest of music streams. Groove Salad, a downbeat music stream, at a system volume of 9% (WMP volume 100%) was enough to mask the noise and it resulted in our dB reading going from around 45 to 50dB. 50dB is quieter than most offices so this is only something that will affect quiet-room use. Unfortunately for the home user, it might be enough to be a major issue.

Interestingly the Z830 stays very cool at idle temperatures and it appears that there is scope for either turning the fan off or reducing the rate. There’s also reports that some fans are quieter than others to the point that some owners are saying they only hear air noise. Our recommendation, if you often use notebooks in quiet places, is to 1) Keep checking forums for potential BIOS updates or other fixes 2) Test the Z830 in a shop before you buy it. Note that store noise is likely to masks the fan noise so pick it up and put it to your ear!

Thanks to a reader tip, we’ve just checked some forums and sure enough, there’s a new BIOS that appears to address the issue well.

Version 1.60 – 2012-02-15
Modified: Fan control.

One owner makes this comment: “Yep… I’m at home… been browsing, IM’ing… fan is off. Feels a bit warm but I guess not warm enough to turn it on.”

After reading through some comments it sounds like Toshiba are now setting the fan off in idle and low-usage scenarios. For those with clean builds, it’s likely that one can do a little text input, maybe a little basic browsing and some other activities but obviously in heavier usage scenarios, the fan will be needed.

The Toshiba Z830 needs some reconsideration now! I’ve updated the Toshiba Z830 review to suit.


21 Comments For This Post

  1. W.J. Keller says:

    With bios v1.6 my fan is nearly always silent, in particular in ecomode (nearly 7 hours batt life). Only under heavy loads the fan kicks in. Even with light work and no-eco mode the laptop is completely silent. Great!

  2. Chippy says:

    Good info. Thanks.

  3. michael says:

    Hi, two weeks ago I bought a Z830 at Best Buy and the fan noise drove me nuts. I returned it for another — worse! Today is last day for exchange. Can someone direct me how implement this BIOS please. I am tech-challenged. Thanks

  4. Chippy says:

    I believe the update is a simple click-to-install download. Search for Z830 bio 1.6 and look for official Toshiba sources. Come to think of it, look.for a software update program on the Z830. You should find it under the normal list of programs.

  5. W.J. Keller says:

    Search for the file “bios-20120215103822.zip”, download, unzip and execute. You can also use TEMPRO (in the Toshiba directory) to find the file (at least in Europe).

  6. W.J. Keller says:

    Chippy, why does not the Z830 show up when I use your ultrabook (Amazon) wizard? With the fan fixed, it should now absolutely be the best ultrabook under $1000!

  7. Chippy says:

    Amazon USA (and their marketplace) don’t have the Z830 in stock right now. Its only the z835 showing up right now. One thing we’re looking at is using the product database to show alternative choices that may not yet be available.

  8. phoebechen says:

    After the BIOS updated,the fan is not always working,so the noise issue is not worse,but i found the lift speaker has noise,when the sound is higher then 50%. I don’t know if it is just my Z835 issue or the BIOS issue?

  9. mage3 says:

    I can confirm this. Just updated my core i3 z835 to the new BIOS. No noise at all. The vent’s not moving. Only’ve been using it for a while now, but can’t express how happy am I.
    I bet this change is gonna positively affect the battery life, aswell. At least for a few minutes.

    Now, the update is done through the Toshiba Service Station, which is preinstalled on every laptop. Just search for Service Station in the Start menu Search bar. And then Check for Updates.

  10. me says:

    I just upgraded bios on Z835. It took only 5 mins. After reboot i do not hear fan noise at all = it’s dead silent and ultrabook works like a charm!! Love it !!!

    Here is the link from toshiba support web site where i downloaded this bios upgrade:
    ACPI Flash BIOS version 1.60 for Portege Z830/Z835 (PT224U/PT225U)


  11. Neil says:

    I installed the new bios a few days ago & am not happy with the new fan control. Before it was an easily ignorable whirr. Now it starts and stops. When it starts (high speed?) it’s more noticeable and annoying. I fooled a bit with the cooling settings but couldn’t find one for which the fan runs more or less constantly at low speed. Any ideas?

  12. Chippy says:

    In my experience, if you want a silent mode you can switch to Eco mode and use the Z830/835 for basic browsing, typing without the fan coming on at all Apart from that, yes, the fan will come on and spin-up occasionally. This is not a perfectly silent Ultrabook!

  13. Niall says:

    I managed to get the Z835 when it was on at 699 in best buy. The noise has always been an issue, but I suffered it because it was such a good deal.
    Since I updated to 1.6 it feels like a new laptop. I didn’t realise how annoying it was until it was gone!
    It still come’s on occasionally but before it was a constant whine 100% of the time.

  14. Steve says:

    I bought the z830 just after Christmas 2011but returned it because of the fan issue. It seemed like the perfect machine for me as I needed something light because I travel, but with VGA because I do a lot of presentations.

    Anyway, when I heard the bios had been updated to fix the fan issue, I was happy to buy it again. It cost me $70 more second time around (I paid AUD$1,170), but I’m pleased to report that having completed the bios update… everything is A-OK.

    Thanks so much for letting me know about the bios update.

    – Steve

  15. Chippy says:

    Glad it helped! (Written on a silent Z830!)

  16. Jess says:

    So is this really a great fix? A brand new car’s engine is noisy at idle so what do we do? I know turn the engine off at every traffic light stop so it doesn’t annoy us. Seriously how do people accept this mediocrity is beyond me. Toshiba should have replaced or rejigged the fans in every ultra-book to solve the situation. What happens now instead is the machine just gets hotter, then the fans kick in and noise is back. Really not a solution in my book, just a really quick and nasty fix. I was going to buy this despite the flimsy wobbly screen, but the fan noise issue was a show stopper for me. I went with the Samsung Series 5 instead.

  17. Chippy says:

    It’s possible to use the Z830 with the fan off for a reasonable length of time. IN Eco mode under browsing or typing – totally silent for 100% of the time. I’m testing the Samsung Series 5 right now. The thermals seem to be tweaked towards ‘quiet’ at the expense of heat and lack of Turbo 2.0 performance. It’s a trade-off but I would rather have silent mode + high power mode/noisy mode in one device so I can choose.

  18. W.J. Keller says:

    I support the claim of Chippy: my Z830 is 95% of the time silent when doing browsing, etc. Only with heavy work the fan kicks in.

  19. Robert says:

    Hello guys. I would like to share with all of you my experience with my z830 and the fan noise. I bought this amazing Laptop last week and I was really annoyed with that noise. I was nearly to complain but before that I tried to find out more information on internet. The question was that I wasn’t the only person. I was getting worried cause all the time the fan was on and really noisy UNTIL i found this link http://aps2.toshiba-tro.de/kb0/FAQ22039H0002R01.htm

    I downloaded BIOS 1.6 and now is nothing to do with the previous noise..just comes on when you have lots of programs open but generally is off.

    Hope this info helps all of you.


  20. Lunr says:

    The noisy fan problem is not caused by the software, the bad hardware design is the cause. So no BIOS update will get rid of the horrible noise of this machine.

  21. Brian says:

    I recently updated my new Toshiba with the new Bios update required by Toshiba and I had the same issue as everyone else here. The update requires a new fan because the Bios update made the fan go faster. The laptop is new so it is still covered under the warranty. Once replaced, my laptop is like new again. I hope this helps.

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