Is the Librem 14 fan noise acceptable? Are there better low-noise laptop alternatives for Qubes?


Qubes used to be my daily OS, so for college I purchased a librem 13 with the hopes of continuing using it through my college years. However, when running Qubes for basic multimedia functions, the fan screamed like a banshee and made the laptop unusable in a classroom environment. In light of this, I’ve simply been using PureOS on my device to resolve the unacceptable fan noise. Though this solution worked, it has been greatly disappointing to not have been able to use Qubes as I am very fond of the OS and its compartmentalized architecture.

I’m now again in the market for a new laptop and have spent hours at this point researching hardware. Besides the fan, I generally had a good-to-decent experience with my Librem 13, so I am considering purchasing the Librem 14 for reasons no more complicated than inertia. However, this will not be a possibility if the fan noise remains an issue. For context, I expect to frequently use audio-video calls and occasionally scientific software which may be graphically intensive.

I have been able to find only a handful of conflicting reports on the fan while running qubes (1, 2); some say it’s no issue at all and others say it is the largest problem with the laptop, but use-cases vary and it’s hard to find a definitive answer. Is there anyone using a librem 14 here that uses qubes who can share their experiences with the fan?

Are there others who have found a laptop that minimizes fan noise? A user took a swing at answering this question under the thread name “Recommendation for quiet laptop (low/zero fan noise)”, but ended up purchasing a device which did not satisfy them, and I’d, you know, prefer not to do that.


Note: I would provide more links but am capped at two as I am a new user.

I am not a Librem user but would like to share four observations:

  1. Audio/Video calls should not be an issue really. Maybe the respective qubes don’t have enough memory and you experience swapping?
  2. Scientific software may rely on hardware acceleration, which will simply not work in a qube unless you are willing to go down a long and complicated road of attempting GPU passthrough.
  3. Thinkfan works also with other computers that are not ThinkPads. You may create your own fan pattern that trades less noise for some more heat.
  4. I ended up exchanging the actual fan in my ThinkPad for a less noisy one and created my own fan pattern. Not all fans have the same noise and sometimes they also get louder if they are older or full of dust. So if you are not afraid of a little surgery this might be a less expensive way of solving your issue.
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