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High pitched whistle coming from computer

High pitched whistle coming from computer

Postby phileysmiley » Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:48 am

All of a sudden I'm getting this incredibly annoying very high pitched whistle coming from my desktop. At first I thought it was from the fans but when I restart the whistle stops even while the fans are still going. So my fear was that it's the hard drive. I did a full system backup just in case my hard drive is on its last legs. Then I started doing some research and people's answers are all over the map. Most seem to point to the PSU but others blame the motherboard, faulty circuits, graphics cards, just about everything in the case.

Anyone have a clue?

Here's a long thread at Tom's Hardware and as you can see it went nowhere:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/21088 ... otherboard

Here are some comments from there:
I have an MSI motherboard, 3500+ and 6800GT. I have the same exact issue. It's a very high pitched noise that definitely sounds like it's from an electrical component. Mine starts up when I start the computer but then kind of goes on and off. It really gets going when I start up a game which made me always think it was the video card.

Well, I actually had a toublesome DFI board do the same thing, it was coming from some where near the north/south bridge. I believe it might have been a squealing cap or the chip itself making that noise.... I could not stand it. You can try to isolate it from the PSU by unplgginng the PSU and jumpering the pins out that power the psu on. It might also have something to do with the PSU sending bad power, causing the motherboard to make this noise. I know how you feel man.... like I said, it drove me crazy....

I've found that a high pitched whistle in an electronic component is down to something vibrating at an exceedingly high frequency (I've had a few TV's do it and my monitor does it at start up), with my TV's a quick whack usually sufficed, though not really recommended for a mobo.
I dare say the only realistic solution is either put up with it or replace it, repairing such things is usually more hassle than it's worth (and finding exactly what is making the noise would be a nightmare).

I too had an MSI board (SocketA), and certainly not top of the range, that emitted a high pitched squeal. I discovered it was cheap electrolytic capacitors (or one in particular) that was responsible for the noise. Took a bit of tracking down though, being intermittent, and sod's law thrown in, it never did it when you wanted it to.

I tried all the fans except the psu fan by stopping them momentarity using a pencil.
No luck.
The psu fans will not put out such a high pitched sound as they run at slower speeds. In any case I have been using the same psu in another machine earlier without any problems. It is a high powered psu with two fans and it is pretty new.
It is not the hard disk because the sound would come on even on disconnecting the hdd.
And the most frustrating thing is that it is very intermittent, like today it is coming on for very short durations many minutes after boot up.
So if I do send it in for a replacement, the guys who put it on the test bench at the dealer may not get it at all?!
I even tried to adjust the torque in all the mounting screws of the mobo with mixed results. It might go away for awhile....then turn up again.
I guess it is something resonating on the mobo .....
I think I will write to MSI, but am not very hopeful. I believe they (all mobo manufacturers) keep their brainy guys into the R&D rather than on cusomer technical service!


And I found this on another site. Sounds similar -- he thought it was the fans, PSU, etc.
Hello all,

A puzzling problem has been plaguing my PC the last two days; better start at the beginning...
Before I start, I should mention that I haven't installed any new hardware since November (a DVD±RW). My system is an Athlon XP 1700+ on an ECS K7VTA3 motherboard with 1GB RAM, a GeForce 4 ti4200 and an 80GB Maxtor hard disk. It also has some other things like a C-Media sound card, modem, ethernet controller and TV tuner.

Two days ago, I began to hear a whining noise coming from my computer. I thought maybe the fans were clogged with dust, so I decided to take everything apart and do some dusting. I evicted a huge cloud of dust, mainly from the CPU fan and the inside of the power supply unit.
After putting everything back together, I found that not only had the whining failed to go away, but it had got worse (or maybe it just seems to get worse the longer I listen to it?).
Now I have a loud high-pitched whine, just on the cusp of hearing (it must be getting close to ultrasonic), which is slowly driving me insane...
After some poking around, I decided that the sound seems to be coming for the power supply unit (a 300W unbranded PSU that came with my case.)
After a bit of searching around on the web, I read that power supplies (and other things) start to whine when they are starting to fail, and that the sound in this case would come from one or more 'whistling capacitors' that are breaking.

I happened to be visting a friend with a lot of old computer gear anyway, so I brought the PSU along to see if he had a spare. He had an old computer that wasn't being used anymore, which had a 230W PSU, so I thought I might try that. I decided to put my old CPU into that computer to see if it would whine there, which it did. In fact, it whined the moment I supplied it with power, whereas in my own computer it only whines when the computer is on.

Anyway, I brought both PSUs home with me and tried the 230W one, which immediately started to whine as soon as I supplied power, even though it had been fine in the computer that it came from.
After some thought, I decided to try the PSU from another 'good' computer that I have access to. This one has a fairly new Mercury 400W PSU which should be working perfectly. However, when I plugged it into my computer and started it up, it soon started to whine too. Of course it's nice and quiet in the computer where it comes from.

I tried taking everything out of my computer: the expansion cards, GeForce, IDE chains, even the CPU fan. Turning on the computer in this minimal state (only motherboard and CPU), the sound is still there, but it was different, a sort of high-pitched electric crackling noise which sounds a bit like a fan, but the noise persisted even if I stopped the PSU fan by blocking it.
The noise seems to get worse when everything is connected, leading me to think it might be related to the amount of power the computer is drawing.
The sound also gets slightly louder when I hold down a key on my keyboard or use the mouse wheel to scroll up or down in Opera...

I also tried my PSU in the 'other good computer' I mentioned earlier, and it works perfectly without a single sound other than the normal fan whirr.

So, basically any PSU I plug into my computer makes a sound (though each makes a somewhat different one), and plugging my PSU into another computer makes no unusual sound. The PSU also sounds fine when it is powered up on its own (without a computer attached).

I'm 99.99% certain that the sound comes from the PSU, though. The only thing I can think of is that maybe the motherboard is drawing a huge amount of power for some reason, and the PSU makes the whining noise as it struggles to meet this demand.
Another possibility could be that the part of the motherboard that controls the PSU is damaged...

I really can't think what else to do. Any suggestions?

- NV

PS: If anything I just wrote doesn't quite make sense, I blame it on that high-pitched whine driving me insane!
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Re: High pitched whistle coming from computer

Postby NT50 » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:39 pm

It is sad to say it can be a many of things. You will need to take the side panel off and start watching/listening for the sound.

Just to let you know and not to feel bad, at least you got a backup, I walked in my house yesterday afternoon and my computer would not boot. My main hard drive with all my data on it and Windows 7 went out without any warning. I lost about 6 months of work.

Edit: This is my second Seagate HD to do that. I have never had a WD hard drive to fail like that.
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Re: High pitched whistle coming from computer

Postby augie » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:53 pm

After you get the side off, use an empty paper towel tube to isolate where the sound is coming from exactly.
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Re: High pitched whistle coming from computer

Postby Grav!ty » Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:22 pm

Yeah, I'm afraid that with something like this one can only find the problem by elimination. Check your chipset fan if you have one and also, check whether any capacitors on the motherboard are swollen on top and no longer flat.
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Re: High pitched whistle coming from computer

Postby phileysmiley » Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:24 pm

augie wrote:After you get the side off, use an empty paper towel tube to isolate where the sound is coming from exactly.

Great idea! I'll try that. :yesnod:

Grav!ty wrote:Yeah, I'm afraid that with something like this one can only find the problem by elimination. Check your chipset fan if you have one and also, check whether any capacitors on the motherboard are swollen on top and no longer flat.

Thanks! will do. :yesnod:
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Re: High pitched whistle coming from computer

Postby mnemonicj » Thu Dec 17, 2009 2:49 am

Do you have a speaker on the motherboard? Those things are small and can hit really high pitches.

NT50 wrote:Edit: This is my second Seagate HD to do that. I have never had a WD hard drive to fail like that.


:eek: I just bought six 500 GB Seagate hard drives for my server. Granted they are all in RAIDs or non-essential drives, but I don't like hearing that.
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Re: High pitched whistle coming from computer

Postby NT50 » Thu Dec 17, 2009 2:55 am

mnemonicj wrote:Do you have a speaker on the motherboard? Those things are small and can hit really high pitches.

NT50 wrote:Edit: This is my second Seagate HD to do that. I have never had a WD hard drive to fail like that.


:eek: I just bought six 500 GB Seagate hard drives for my server. Granted they are all in RAIDs or non-essential drives, but I don't like hearing that.



Sorry to rob thread...

I have never had goodluck with Seagate and Hitachi. Sorry to say that to you but I have bought a MANY hard drives. BTW: My brother botught a Seagate due to price (same as me) and his did the same thing, no warning, no sound, no nothing, just quit.
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Re: High pitched whistle coming from computer

Postby Grav!ty » Thu Dec 17, 2009 3:05 am

I agree about Seagate Jeff. When I was still building quite a lot of systems, I tried a few for clients because of price and it invariably ended up costing me money to replace.
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Re: High pitched whistle coming from computer

Postby yeshuas » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:48 pm

I build a minimum of 10 systems a week and use nothing but Seagate, and have only had a problem with 2 harddrives and that was over 2 years ago and those drives were 3 years old when they went bad
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Re: High pitched whistle coming from computer

Postby phileysmiley » Thu Dec 17, 2009 7:48 pm

Update: as I suspected, it is coming from the PSU.

It's a custom-built from TigerDirect (Systemax). I found the original invoice but the PSU isn't listed as a line item on it.

This was pretty state-of-the-art for when I ordered it, which was 11/14/2004. I can't believe it's over 5 years old! And I've never had a single issue with it.
1 BTO 036116 Systemax™ AMD Athlon™ 64 3200 HyperTransport Technology / 1GB DDR / 80GB HDD / CD-RW / Built-To-Order Gamer Desktop PC
MPN: 036116S
$2,030.96 $2,030.96
1 BTO BASE 600103 Dragon Silver Gaming Base
--

--
1 BTO HD2 48879 No second hard drive selected
--

--
1 BTO HD4 87482 120GB Ultra ATA 7200RPM Hard Drive
--

--
1 BTO ID 48931 No Mouse Selected
--

--
1 BTO KB 48930 No Keyboard Selected
--

--
1 BTO MB 600121 Asus K8V SE Deluxe ATX MB
--

--
1 BTO MD 89666 56K Controllerless Hard Modem
--

--
1 BTO MMY 89592 2GB DDR400 PC3200 Non-ECC Memory (2x512MB + 1GB)
--

--
1 BTO MON 48878 No Monitor Selected
--

--
1 BTO NT 83677 Intel PRO/1000 GT Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
--

--
1 BTO NTU 87753 No Firewire Card Selected
--

--
1 BTO OD2 88307 52x32x52 CDRW Drive
--

--
1 BTO OD2 90393 16X DVD+/-R/RW Dual Layer Drive w/Cyberlink
--

--
1 BTO OPC 036116 M Systemax Athlon 64 3200 Gamer BTO PC
--

--
1 BTO OS 82958 Windows XP Home Edition DSP
--

--
1 BTO PEN 89106 No USB Flash Drive Selected
--

--
1 BTO PRC 600120 AMD Athlon 64 3400+/1600FSB/512MB CPU
--

--
1 BTO SND 87949 Creative Labs SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum
--

--
1 BTO SPK 48897 No Speakers Selected
--

--
1 BTO VD 87525 ATI Radeon 9800Pro 128MB AGP Card w/ TV-Out
--

--
1 BTO VRS 83898 CA eTrust InnoculateIT Anti-Virus Software
--

--
1 BTO WNT 89283 2 Year Parts & Labor Warranty w/ 2 Years Onsite
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