You may not know how loud they can get until you hear a noisy computer. Some are loud enough to disturb the other people in the room with you. Last year, I returned a brand new pre-built computer because the fans made so much noise that they sounded like a jet engine. Sometimes, the sound is just typical and something you must live with.
However, some computer issues may be making yours louder than necessary. If that’s the case, you can probably take steps to quiet it down.
Reasons Why a Computer is Loud
Multiple causes could be at the root of how much noise your computer is making. Understanding them can help you determine whether or not your sounds are at the level they should be.
Loud Fans: Sometimes the fans in a computer are just very loud. Different fan types from different manufacturers make different levels of noise. While you can always look for fans that perform more quietly and replace the ones you have, it might be an investment that only makes a negligible impact on the overall soundscape.
Increasing Temperature: Your temperatures may be higher than usual, causing your fans to operate faster – meaning more noise. To reduce the noise and keep your computer safe, you’ll need to address the issues causing the computer to run hotter. Remember that sometimes the computer will operate at higher temperatures, like when you use a demanding program. You don’t want to slow the fans at those times unless it’s getting enough cooling without them running full blast.
Loose Parts: A moving part in your computer might be impeded in some way. If you hear a sudden loud or repetitive sound, it’s worth checking.
Faulty Hard Drive: Some hard drives make sounds when they start to die. Clicks, whirs, or a grinding sound could signal that.
If the noise you’re hearing is new or sudden, stop what you’re doing and investigate it before continuing. You’re more likely to avoid damage if you take care of the problem fast.
How to Fix a Loud Computer?
Check the most important things first, then your settings. Once you understand how things are working, you’ll probably have a better idea of where the sound is coming from.
Assess the Situation
First, take stock of what you were doing when the sound first occurred. This will set the stage for your investigation into how to quiet things down.
Note what programs were running and what you were doing in them at the time. Watching a streaming video on my computer doesn’t raise the temperatures from their idle point, so my fans remain low and quiet. Battling a dinosaur in ARK: Survival Evolved with high settings makes the temperature of my computer skyrocket, and the fans have to be on a high to manage it.
Take a peek at your fan settings. If you don’t already have a computer fan monitor installed on your computer, take the time to install one. You want to have more control over how fast they’re going, especially if they’re running faster than necessary at idle.
Look into your computer to see whether you spot any visible problems. Excessive dust, parts that have moved out of where they should be, and anything in the computer that shouldn’t be are red flags.
Listen to see if you can pinpoint where the sound is coming from. You should also try to figure out precisely what kind of sound it is. A woosh of a fan indicates a different problem than a clicking from another piece of hardware.
Some sounds are expected on your computer. A water-cooling system will also add another layer of sound to it. But most of it shouldn’t be obtrusive.
Remove Any Obstructions
Because obstructions in the computer are a severe issue that can damage your hardware, remove any that you notice when you look into your computer.
Turn off your computer, turn off the PSU, and unplug it from the wall. You don’t want the computer running when you reach inside it.
Manually attempt to turn the fans with your fingers. Don’t be too rough, because you don’t want to damage them. You just want to make sure they’re spinning and not stuck. If they’re stuck, that could be why you hear a loud sound.
Trace the length of the cords between your components. Make sure no cables have dipped to interfere with another computer part.
Remove anything from the inside of the computer that shouldn’t be there. If you have a custom fit decorated with extra objects, take them out while troubleshooting.
Check the placement and tension of your components. If something is rubbing against the case or another part, it might make a sound when the computer is running. Things can shift over time, but you can take out a part and replace it if necessary.
Once you’re done and everything is in place, it’s time to clean out the computer.
Clean the Computer
Extra dust equals extra heat. Excess heat means the fans have to work harder to keep the inside of the case cool. Give your computer a good dusting to ensure that it isn’t contributing to the sound you’re hearing.
Aim a can of compressed air at the top of the inside of the case.
Press the button and let the air dust away anything on your components. Don’t leave it down too long. Operate the compressed air in short, compact bursts.
Continue using the compressed air from the top to the bottom of the case. You want the dust to continue falling until you can blow it out of the case.
Once everything is clean, reconnected, and properly positioned, plug the computer back in, flip the switch on the PSU, and turn the computer back on.
Now you’ve eliminated some of the issues that can increase the volume of your computer. It’s time to dig into your settings.
Check Your Fan Controls
One of the best things about fan control software is that you can raise and lower your fans whenever you want. Doing so will make it easy to determine whether the fans are the source of the sounds you’re hearing.
Turn on your fan control software and put it somewhere you can see. It’s easiest to do this if you have a second monitor to run programs without minimizing them and check how they affect the temperature.
Watch the fan speed and temperature at idle. Listen for the sounds the computer is making. This is the baseline sound your computer produces.
Turn on a demanding program that will generate heat from your CPU and GPU. Watch the monitor to see how the fans react. As the speed increases, so will the sound they make. Listen for the sounds and how much louder they get with the increased speed.
You have few choices if you’ve determined the fans are too loud. You can replace them with a quieter model if you’re comfortable removing and replacing computer components. You can also create a custom fan curve if your fan control software supports it.
A custom fan curve is a little graph that tells the fans when to speed up or slow down. Each point on the graph corresponds to a temperature and fan speed. For example, you can tell the computer to increase the fans to the max when it hits 80 degrees instead of increasing to the maximum at 75 degrees if that’s the current default.
Delaying the time it takes for the fans to increase may mean your components stay hotter longer. It might also affect your performance in games. However, if the fans are too loud at max, it can mean your computer runs more quietly.
Replace Failing Parts
Sometimes sounds in your computer come from failing parts. If you’re sure it isn’t the fans or an obstruction, it might be something like a hard drive.
You can open your computer and listen to the sounds it’s making. Rarely are abnormal sounds good because they often signal that a part is dying. For example, hard disk drives will often make clicking or grinding sounds as the internal parts begin to wear out, shift, and rub against each other.
It’s difficult to tell whether and how a part is damaged just by hearing a sound. If you think it’s failing, you can try to swap in another similar piece to see if the computer’s sound changes to something more appropriate. If it does, it’s the part you removed making the noise, and you should seek help to repair or replace it.
Consider New Fans
As a final resort, you may need to replace the fans you have. If you do, consider checking if larger fans will fit. As strange as it sounds, many people experience positive results when they upgrade from an 80mm fan to a 120mm fan, for example.
You should also check to see what size fan your PSU has, especially if it seems particularly noisy. PSUs with larger fans are often quieter, especially if you upgrade the quality too. Like most other components, more premium PSUs often run quieter.
Check Out Other Hardware
Some companies sell sound-dampening cases or other parts you can insert to try to make it quieter. Read the reviews and check to ensure these don’t increase the heat of the case too much and that your parts will fit inside it.