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November 24, 2004

Sleep Silently

This may be of use if you've built your own x86 PC and wonder why the heck the fans keep running full bore when you put it into standby mode. I didn't have reason to use standby until very recently, so I wasn't aware of the problems many people have with noisy sleep. The answer is simple, and a little background will clear it up right proper. There are two common kinds of sleep most PCs are capable of going into: S1 sleep and S3 sleep. S1 sleep simply stops the CPU from processing, which is why your fans remain on: everything is still powered up and ready to go. S3 sleep, on the other hand, is the silent slumber where everything powers down and you don't hear every fan in the system droning away. When you buy a computer from a big-name vendor, this is usually the default. Most motherboard manufacturers, though, set S1 sleep to be the default in the BIOS. As a result, you assemble your shiny new computer and end up with a wind tunnel. *The Fix* The simple fix is to pop into the BIOS and change the setting that specifies which level of sleep is used. In Award/Phoenix BIOS (the most common), this setting will be in the Power Management screen. Most vendors today seem to make it the very last item on that screen. If it's not there, look for something with a label involving "standby" or "sleep." If the options for it include "S1" and "S3," all the better. *The Bigger Fix* Again, back to the big boys. Most factory-assembled desktops allow you to bring the system out of sleep by pressing a key or clicking the mouse. A clean Windows install, though, will ignore everything but the power button (or, if you have one, the sleep button). Allowing keyboard and mouse-based wake is a sucker's game. Windows may want to cooperate with you, or it may not. If it wants to cooperate, your mouse and keyboard will have a "Power Management" tab in the Device Manager. Check the box that says "Allow this device to wake the computer," and you're set. If you don't have the magical Power Management tab -- which I don't -- you're screwed. Or there's another BIOS setting I haven't discovered yet which keeps the USB ports polling.

Posted by Colin at November 24, 2004 5:54 PM

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