Both new and old computers can experience what is called “coil whine,” which is a high-pitched noise coming from the computer. It’s easy to conclude that the noise is a sign of a major computer failure or that something is broken, loose, or about to explode.
Fortunately, coil whine is normal behavior. When you hear a high-pitched sound on your computer, there’s no reason to assume your computer is toast, your hard drive is about to die, or anything like that.
In fact, this high-pitched noise is nothing more than an annoyance. If you can stand the noise, you don’t need to do anything to fix it. There are, however, a few things you can do to reduce or eliminate coil whine if it is too much for you to handle.
What is coil whine?
Coil hiss is a high-pitched sound that some devices inside the computer case can create in certain situations. This hissing or screeching sound resembles the sound of a kettle boiling over and off, only it’s usually much quieter.
These coils in your computer have an electrical current running through them, one that normally fluctuates, which is what the coil is for: to try to stabilize the current and provide a more regular stream of power. When the electrical current increases to a certain point, the magnetic field around the coil can cause it to vibrate, which produces the screeching sound.
Coils in a computer.
This high pitched shriek is not always heard by everyone in the same way as the frequency varies and not everyone can hear the same frequencies. In fact, most components in a computer make a sound, but it’s usually too quiet for most to hear.
Not only does the volume of the wail depend on the person hearing it, it also matters how much electricity is moving through the wiring and, of course, how far away the computer is from your ears.
What causes the high pitched sound?
Almost any device can experience coil whine, but it is common for video cards to emit a high-pitched sound as they are often used for high-intensity tasks such as gaming, graphics editing, and video playback, and they are typically used for such tasks for hours at a time.
One way to verify what is causing the noise so you can better determine how to fix it is to pay close attention to when the noise occurs. If the noise is much louder than usual when playing video games, you may blame your video card (that’s probably what’s causing the high-pitched sound anyway).
Another way is to use a benchmark tool to test specific hardware and then again listen for when the noise actually occurs. If you are having trouble, you may need to hold a straw from your ear next to various equipment components to help isolate sound. Please be careful when you do this!
However, be careful not to mistake other noises – such as clicks, rattles, or clicks – for high-pitched sounds and assume it is a coil whine and walk away without directing it. For example, a screeching noise may at first appear to be a coil squeak, but it could actually be a hard drive noise pointing to a failing hard drive, and another sound could be a more accurate sign of rapid computer overheating. power supply.
Even if the noise isn’t coil whine, it doesn’t mean whatever is causing a problem. For example, if your computer makes a noise every time you burn a movie to a disc or copy music from a CD, it’s just the optical drive; It is normal to hear the disc spinning.
In other words, it’s important to listen for the distinctive hissing sound that probably means the problem is with a vibrating coil, in which case it can be called a coil whine and treated as such.
You may even experience a high-pitched noise when your computer is turned off! This is most likely a problem with the power supply. Something you can try in that situation is to replace the power cable with one that has a ferrite bead.
How to fix coil whine
Some online “coil squeal repair” solutions will tell you there’s nothing you can do to fix a high-pitched noise coming from your computer, but that’s not true.
You’ll also read that coil whine is a symptom of a broken computer, and while it’s true that it could mean the components making the noise are cheap or not designed to shield sound or vibration, it’s not a sign that indicate that something is not working.
There are many things you can try to reduce the effects of coil whine, from addressing the wiring directly to buying or building a computer made specifically to absorb noise, but those are the most drastic solutions.
Work through this list from top to bottom; is organized by the ease with which each task is completed:
- Get your computer away from you! I know, this doesn’t really sound like a good solution to fix coil whine, but it can definitely reduce all those noises coming from your computer and is by far the easiest method to try.
This will obviously only be beneficial to people who have their computer on their desk right next to them all the time. If that’s you, unplug everything and rewire your monitor(s), keyboard, mouse, etc. to get them moving around the back of your desk, and sit your computer down on the floor to reconnect everything.
If your desk doesn’t have legs and sits directly on top of anything you put on it, it’s best to avoid sitting on the floor, especially if it has carpet. Put it on a piece of wood or on a lower shelf of your desk, if you have one.
- Blow your computer. Open the case and use canned air to remove dust and other impurities from fans and other equipment.
When these components, especially fans, collect enough dust to slow down their operation, they can be forced to run faster to compensate, which is going to demand more power and therefore produce more noise such as coil whine.
There are actually many ways to keep your computer cool. The more methods you use, the less likely your computer components will overheat and work harder. This should translate to a less noisy computer.
- Put everything back inside your computer that you can and check that it is securely fastened with screws or some other fixing mechanism.
When you replace the data and power cables, be sure to bundle them in a way that reduces the overall space they take up in the case. This will ensure that the fans have enough space to move hot air and dust out of the computer and prevent the hardware from working harder than it should.
If the readjustment fixes the noise, it may not be a coil whine, but vibrations from a device hitting its own frame or slot in the motherboard or case.
Something you might consider getting, if you don’t already have them, are rubber grommets (like these). They can help reduce noise if they are installed on the hard drive or on devices that move frequently, such as the optical disc drive.
- Limit the amount of work your team can do. This may involve reducing the maximum number of frames per second that the GPU can process, or reducing the speed of the fans.
If the GPU is rendering too many frames too quickly, it will cause the GPU to work harder than necessary, which could be causing the coil to complain. Similarly, you may hear sounds from your fan if they are working too hard.
Some video games and software programs have a built-in setting where you can change the maximum frame rate setting. Another way is to install MSI Afterburner and modify the “Framerate limit” setting in the RivaTuner Statistics Server tool , or in the “Fan Speed” option. SpeedFan is another solution to reduce the speed of fans.
If your computer is already hard to cool, don’t reduce the speed of any of the fans. Fans are really important to keep hot air out so only change the fan speed if your computer isn’t overheating and only if you’ve made the fans faster at some point and that’s why they’re making noises .
- Soundproof your computer case. If the case is made mostly of metal, without any soft, sound-absorbing insulation on the case or around the computer hardware, it’s much easier to hear everything that’s going on inside.
Add some foam or thick cloth material to the door of the box, or to the part of the box directly in front of you, or to the part of the desk between you and the computer. You can get some on Amazon or places like Parts Express.
It’s much easier to add sound-protective foam to your gear than it is to put all your gear in a new soundproof box. You can see an example of a soundproof computer case with this Deep Silence case from Nanoxia. Take into account the insulation of the box door.
- Paint insulating varnish, also called coil lacquer , on the specific coils you suspect are causing the high-pitched noise. Once dry, the liquid will form a thick, protective barrier around the coils which should help reduce or even stop coil whine altogether.
You can also use silicone or hot glue if you prefer.
This technique seems to be very popular for coil fixing, but it’s obviously not the easiest method, which is why it ranks so far down this list. You first need to know what, specifically, is causing the high-pitched noise before the hairspray will do you any good.
- Replace the part that is making the high-pitched noise. If it’s still under warranty, you might be able to get a free replacement due to excessive noise, but most manufacturers won’t cover a replacement when the problem is just a high-pitched sound. The reality here is that the replacement will likely suffer from coil whine, too.
When buying a new computer part to fix the coil whine, try to look around places that have a good return policy so that if after running a benchmark on the hardware, the high-pitched noise is too annoying or appears too easily, you can just return it and look elsewhere.
You can also look for parts of computers or entire computer systems that are made especially to absorb sound or minimize heat, either with individual parts that are insulated or with a computer case that is made for the sole purpose of keeping noise inside. her and/or the heat out of her. A quiet PC can be a good start.
Before you commit to buying any new computer parts, check out reviews and see what other users are saying about coils. If there are a lot of complaints, you’d be wise to avoid buying something that simply repeats the problem you’re trying to fix.
- If you don’t want to go as far as replacing the hardware, and nothing else worked to stop the coil whine, you’re left with just dealing with it. Since there’s nothing wrong with your computer when the only symptom is a high-pitched noise, you can use noise-canceling headphones whenever you’re at your computer. That should be enough to block or drown out the noise.