What is causing noise in my computer?

Updated: 08/02/2020 by Computer Hope
Noise from computer

Below is a listing of components in the computer that may cause unusual noises to be generated. To determine what components are creating noise, verify that lights on hardware devices, like the CD-ROM drive, are not on when you hear the noise. If you are only encountering excessive noise when a device is accessed, it is likely that the device is causing your issue.

If the noise occurs as a pattern, long or short beeps, it may be what is called a beep code. When a computer emits a specific beep code, it is trying to tell you what specific problem is occurring in the computer. See our page on beep codes and what they mean to help troubleshoot and resolve the problem.

If you hear the noise the entire time the computer is on, it could be any of the following devices. Determine what device is causing the noise by reading through each of the sections below.

CD-ROM, DVD, or another disc drive

CD-ROM and other disc drives may generate noises when the drive is accessed. Disc drive noise should be a soft whirling noise when the CD-ROM drive is accessed and only be generated when the CD-ROM is accessed.

It is abnormal for a CD-ROM to experience any of the symptoms below.

  • No noise.
  • Clicking while accessing the CD-ROM.
  • Noises when the CD-ROM is not being accessed or no disc in the drive.

If any of the issues above occur, the drive is likely defective, and we recommend it be replaced.

Fan

Many computers have several fans to help provide ventilation to the computer's components. Below is a listing of the fans that cause noises in your computer.

Case Fans

Case fans are fans commonly attached to the front or back of a computer. It is normal for most additional case fans to generate additional noise (usually a low hum). However, any clicking noise or high pitched noise from any of the case fans should not be heard. When this occurs, it's a good indication that the fan is failing or has already failed.

CPU fan (heat sink)

Although not installed on all computers, some computer heat sinks may also contain a fan to help with keeping the processor cool. It's also not uncommon for a fan to go from quiet to loud while you're working on the laptop. Most computers and laptops adjust the fan speeds when the processor is working more, or the computer is getting too hot.

You should only expect to hear a slight hum from the CPU fan. Below are some issues that may cause additional noise from your CPU fan.

  1. The CPU fan is loose causing vibration.
  2. A cable is hitting the fan causing a vibration.
  3. The CPU fan is bad causing additional noise.

Power supply fan

See below power supply section.

Floppy drive

Hard drive

The computer hard drive is a common issue for additional noise. It is normal for a hard drive to produce noise. Normal noises should expect to hear include a low humming or quiet whistling sound.

Noises you should not expect to hear are repetitive clicking, very noticeable humming, knocking, or any hard thump. If you hear any of these noises, we recommend the hard drive be looked at or replaced, as it may be going bad.

Note

You'll notice an increased volume of sound from a SCSI hard drive when it is compared to a standard IDE/EIDE hard drive.

Note

If you have an SSD, it never make any noise.

Modem

Dial-up Modem MP3 audio fileWhen connecting to the Internet or another computer, you may hear a loud screechy or high pitched noise. That noise is coming from the onboard modem speaker, and is caused by your computer connecting to another computer. It should only be heard when your computer is establishing a connection with the other computer. Click the MP3 icon to hear how this may sound.

Power supply

The power supply can cause an excessive amount of noise because not only is it providing power but also provides ventilation to the computer. If the fan in the power supply becomes bad or dirty, it can cause an excessive amount of noise.

If excessive noise is coming from the power supply, it is likely failing or bad. We recommend you first clean the fan by using compressed air to blow out any dust, dirt, or hair. If this does not resolve the issue, the power supply needs to be replaced.

Speakers

Monitor