Does your laptop sound like a fully-loaded B-52 bomber going for a takeoff? I have a Dell XPS-15. These generally well-regarded machines are also known for making excessive cooling fan noise even when not under load.

The issue is the “active” cooling scheme in Windows that kicks in whenever your CPU is about to hit 100%. A smart way of implementing this cooling method would be to do a statistical analysis of historical CPU activity and turn the fan on only when the processor is expected to stay busy for a while.

Unfortunately, this system was not created by a wise man, and the cooling fan keeps revving up every time the CPU exceeds 90% – even if momentarily – creating a lot of unnecessary noise.

The workaround for the noise issue is not ideal but simple: limit your CPU to 90% of its capacity. Unless you’re doing some serious CPU-intensive work, you’re unlikely to notice the difference in performance. On the other hand, noise reduction will be hard to miss.

Most laptop makers hide advanced power plan options from us, mere mortals. Go ahead and run cmd as Administrator and enter these commands to add CPU and cooling options to the power plan management:

# Add "Maximum processor state"
REG ADD HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power\PowerSettings533251-82be-4824-96c1-47b60b740d00\bc5038f7-23e0-4960-96da-33abaf5935ec /v Attributes /t REG_DWORD /d 2 /f

# Add "System cooling policy"
REG ADD HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Power\PowerSettings533251-82be-4824-96c1-47b60b740d00D3A615-A899-4AC5-AE2B-E4D8F634367F /v Attributes /t REG_DWORD /d 2 /f

Now when you open your power plan settings (Control Panel\Hardware and Sound\Power Options\Edit Plan Settings) and click on “Change advanced power settings,” you should be able to set your maximum processor state to 90% and your system cooling policy to “passive”, as shown below.

These settings can be easily modified without having to reboot your laptop. So, if you’re planning on using some app that is a known CPU hog, you can quickly change the power plan back to using 100% of the CPU.