Why Is My Computer Making Noise | Number 1 Reason

Noise coming from your computer is usually noisy fans or your computer hard drive. Fan noise is a good sign a fan bearing going bad or a fan that has come loose and is vibrating against the computer case. Hard drives have internal moving parts and will make a low-pitched whirring noise when they boot-up. If the noise is too loud or you hear excessive clicking, this is a symptom your hard drive read/write actuator is going bad.

Why is my computer making noise

Computer noise coming from fans

In most cases, the noise coming from your computer is coming from fans. Fans cool the electrical components inside the computer. And if you have a robust computer used for gaming or video editing, it will have multiple fans. Usually, there are three case fans, one CPU fan, and one to two graphics card fans. As you can see with all the fans, for a total of six fans, they can make noise. Fans will automatically turn on and increase in RPM as computing intensifies. The motherboard has temperature sensors and automatically controls the fan speed based on the temperature. As computing increases and temperature rises, fans increase in RPM to keep up with the increased cooling demand and, the increased RPM makes noise.

Quiet computer fan configuration

For example, on an EVGA motherboard, other motherboards are configured similarly, the fan control options are located in the BIOS. Here you can configure your fan speeds according to temperature. On my setup, since its water-cooled, I have the fans turn on only at 30 degrees Celsius. At 30 degrees Celsius, the fans operate at 25 percent capacity. As temperature increases, fans will automatically increase by 25 percent for every 15 degrees in Celsius temperature. So while my computer is mostly sitting around not playing a game or performing video editing, it remains silent because no fans are running. I can do this due to the sizable water cooling system capacity. The water-cooling keeps the computer at a low temperature without the use of fans. As long as the activity remains below a certain threshold, the fans never turn on. As activity on the computer increases, so does fan RPM and thus fan noise. It is a good strategy for keeping your computer running silent. As long as the CPU remains relatively at a low speed, the fans do not turn on, thus making the computer virtually silent.

Fans get dirty from use. Over time dust builds up on computer fans. In some instances, it can build up very fast. Most folks will acknowledge the dust and keep on using the computer without really doing anything about the excessive dust build-up. But this can lead to other substantial problems down the road. For example, excessive dust build up decreases your fan’s ability to cool properly. The fan is not able to move as much air as it once did due to excessive dust build-up.

Computer fans get dirty, make noise, and wear out

Excessive dust build-up on a fan causes it to wear out quicker. The weight of the dust could reduce the fan's life due to the extra weight and dirt fouling the bearings. The best way to keep your computer running silent is to clean your fans periodically. It can be accomplished easily by using a computer duster. Nowadays, they make highly portable rechargeable dusters with can dispense 33000 RPM air to quickly wipe away most dust and even small particles of dirt off any fan. Or a cheaper alternative is to use a compressed can of air. Usually can cost less than ten dollars, are ozone safe, and can clean not only the computer fan but other internal components. It is a good idea to keep your fans dusted off so that the fan bearing will last longer. The bearing is the first thing to go since they are moving all the time. As fans get older, they eventually wear out, and, right before they completely stop, they emit a noise. This noise is usually the bearing seizing and the fan coming to a complete stop. If you hear weird noises coming from your computer’s fan, it’s time to replace the fan. 

Don’t wait to change the worn-out fan because by not replacing the fan. It could result in damage to other components. When looking for a replacement fan, a low dBA rating and oil pressure bearings are great features. Any fan with a dBA rating under 20 dBA is going to be quiet. Larger, diameter fans move more air. So when replacing a computer case fan, it might be a good idea to check to see if you can upgrade to a bigger diameter fan. For example, a 140mm fan will move more air than a 120mm fan. The advantage is the bigger fan can spin at a lower RPM thus, moving more air as opposed to the smaller 120mm fan. This strategy of opting for a bigger fan and running at a lower RPM allows the fan to run much quieter.

Fan blade design also plays a critical role in how noisy the fan is. Forward or backward swept blade designs are not used in quiet fans. They are more straight. This design allows the fan to move more air at a lower RPM. Besides, the fan runs quietly. So when looking to keep your computer quiet, look for high-quality fans designed for low noise applications. These fans will most likely have straight blades and able to move more air than regular fans at a much lower RPM.

Computer noise emitting from the hard drive

A common problem for noise is computer hard drive noise. Noisy hard drives are becoming less and less of a problem due to the growing popularity of solid-state drives. Solid-state drives have no moving parts, therefore operate quieter than mechanical ones. When accessing data using a mechanical hard drive, a platter must spin-up between 5600 and 10000 RPM. A tiny magnetic head, the read/write actuator, moves in position above the spinning plater and either reads or writes data to the platter. The moving of the read/write actuator head, combined with the spinning of the platter, is the noise you hear. There are still millions of mechanical hard drives out there in operation. And age is having an impact on them. And you well know anything that moves or has internal moving parts eventually wear out, and a mechanical hard drive is no exception.

Noise generating from a mechanical hard drive is routine. Normal noises should include a low humming or silent whistling sound. Noises that you shouldn't expect to hear are repetitive clicking, humming, knocking, or any hard thump. If you hear any of these noises, I recommend replacing the hard drive. The drive read/write actuator is ruined or may have worn out. In this case, the best thing to do is try to back up your data and immediately replace the hard drive. When looking for a replacement hard drive, the best option is to go with current technology to maximize longevity. So the question is, should you replace your old mechanical hard drive with an SSD or NVMe? Which option is better?

So what is an NVMe?

NVMe stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express and is newer technology than SSD. Both NVMe and SSD are solid state drives but the way they transfer data is different. And this is a big difference. NVMe drives are much faster than regular SSD drives. A standard SSD drive uses what is called a third generation SATA interface which uses the 8b/10b encoding to transfer data between storage (the drive) and the computer. The fastest data can travel via a SATA interface is 6.0 Gbit/s or 6 gigabits per second. And of course as you know by now the NVMe is much faster. The NVMe interface was built specifically for solid state data retrieval. This technology is very efficient at accessing data (from the drive) and leveraging data transfer speeds that SSDs are not capable of. NVMe drives transfer data at a rate of 32 Gbit/s per second. That’s over 5 times faster than an SSD. So by replacing your old hard drive with a new NVMe drive you are going to see a huge difference in data transfer speeds. This means boot up times are going to be almost instantaneous as well as program load and data saves. Your computer life could easily be extended by 2 years or more. Now all this sounds really good and you are just about to rush out and purchase a new NVMe drive. But wait, there is more you need to know about NVMes. There are two types of NVMes and you need to know which one to buy. And this depends on your motherboard. Most NVMe drives use what is called a M.2 form factor to plug into. And the M.2 slot is on your motherboard. Many older motherboards do not have the M.2 slot. So, if you do not have one then you are going to need an NVMe drive that is designed to fit into a standard PCIe motherboard slot exactly like a graphics card. A PCIe slot is called Peripheral Component Interconnect Express and is used to connect high speed components to your computer or motherboard. Every modern computer has several of these PCIs slots.

Well now that you know more about NVMes to answer that question you will need to know if you have a M.2 slot or an open PCIe slot on your motherboard. And if you do then it’s going to be cost effective to purchase an NVMe drive. However if you do not then the other option is to purchase an SSD and use the SATA interface which transfers data at a slower speed. SSDs and NVMes are quiter than mechanicla hard drives because they contain no moving parts. This is going to be the best option for making you computer quiet. The easistest fix for a noisy hard drive is just replace it with an SSD. They plug right up in a few minutes and you are off and running if you do not have to install an OS (Operating System). But if you do most SSDs come with clone software that can handle this for you. 

The conclusion to a vociferous computer 

So now you know the two main reasons why your computer is making that dreadful noise. You also concede some noises are normal. You know how to tell the difference between normal noises and critical ones. You also understand more about fans and how fan noise can be an early indicator of a fan that is about to go out. Replacing a fan is not that big of a job provided you have the right power connector. Most fans nowadays come with an assortment to fit your particular computer. And lastly, you know more about hard drives and how they operate and why they make noise. I hope this article has been beneficial to you. I would be curious to know more about the noises your computer makes and what you did to resolve it. Please leave a comment below.


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