Computer is making a "revving" noise (fan issue?)

By misterwinter
Feb 13, 2011
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  1. Hello everyone,

    I'm having an issue with my desktop computer (HP Pavilion p6310y) that I'm hoping you can help me with.

    To give you a brief background, I bought this computer last February. About a month after purchasing it, I had a third-party graphics card installed by a local technician.

    The computer ran fine up until last month (January 2011). At that time, I got the "blue screen of death." I took it to the technician who previously installed the video card. He initially diagnosed the problem as a RAM issue, and then changed his assessment to it being a hard drive problem. But even after he bought and installed a new hard drive, the problem was not resolved.

    At this point, I sent the computer to HP for repair (it was still under warranty). They replaced both the motherboard and hard drive (the tech swapped the original hard drive back in prior to me sending it to HP), and sent the computer back to me. However, the paperwork that they sent back indicated that the third-party video card was the source of my problems and they advised removing it.

    Because I do not have the necessary expertise to remove the video card, I took it back to the local technician. He indicated to me that the video card was NOT the problem and he said that the computer was running just fine with it installed. At this time, he added the new hard drive (the one that he had me buy prior to the unit being shipped to HP) to the computer, so I now have two 1TB hard drives installed.

    I was a little bit concerned about the video card, but decided to take the local technician's word that it was running okay.

    About a week later, the computer fan started running very loudly every 20 minutes or so. It would run hard four about 60-90 seconds before returning to normal. I have SpeedFan installed and it indicated that "Fan1" was going from around 2000RPM to up to around 4500RPM. Once again, I called the local technician and asked him to look into this. While waiting for him to respond to me, I got online and discovered that the minimum power requirement for my video card was a 400watt power supply, but that my computer had only a 300watt power supply.

    When the technician got back to me, I brought the power supply issue to his attention. At that time, he indicated that the best fix would be to remove the external video card and simply rely on the video card that is integrated into the computer's mother board. He came over to my house and removed the video card the next day.

    Shortly after the technician departed, I began to notice an odd sound. It was not very loud (in fact, you don't really even notice it if you have other background noise) but it was definitely noticeable. I guess I would call the sound a "revving" noise. It is occurring every 30 seconds or so and it lasts only 1-2 seconds. The noise is occurring regardless of what I am doing on the computer, and even if it is just sitting idle.

    My gut feeling is that the revving noise is coming from one of the computer fans. Once again, I ran Speedfan, and I am seeing that "Fan1" is occasionally going from around 1760RPM to around 1950RPM. That said, the readings that Speedfan is providing do no sync up exactly with the noise that I am hearing.

    My next step was to remove the side panel from the computer to see if I could isolate where the noise is coming from. Even with my ear right up to the machine (with the panel removed), I honestly cannot tell from which component it is coming from. While I had the panel off, I did go ahead and spray some air into the computer to clean out the dust, as I've heard that if dust accumulates on the fans or in the heat sink, it can produce the "revving" effect that I'm experiencing. However, this has made no impact.

    I've also kept an eye on the lights near the top of the tower, to see if they blink or flicker when I hear the noise (which to me, would indicate that the noise I'm hearing is the result of data being written to the hard drive). But there does not seem to be any correlation between the revving noise and the lights.

    At this point, I'm at a loss as to what is producing the sound, or what to do about it. The sound itself is a minor inconvenience (though I'll say that hearing it every 30 seconds does prove to be quite annoying). But my fear is that it could be symptomatic of a larger issue, and I really don't want the computer crashing again.

    I thought I would reach out to the TechSpot community to see if anyone can offer any advice on this issue. I really do not want to get the local technician involved again, as I just keep paying him money and much of it has been for naught (for instance, he is the one who spec'd the third-party video card even though my power supply did not support it, and he also had me buy a new hard drive, even though I did not need to do so).

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to what my next step should be? Is there any surefire method for determining whether the sound is coming from the fan(s), the second hard drive, the power supply or some other component? If it is a fan issue, is it something that I might fix via the BIOS? If so, can anyone point me to any resources that would explain how to access the BIOS and what I would need to modify once I'm there?

    Looking forward to your feedback. Thanks very much.
  2. nismo91

    nismo91 TechSpot Guru Posts: 1,000   +11

    I used to 'lubricate' my fan and voila, it runs quieter until I can hear my HDD crunching clearly. but I don't suggest it, since it doesn't always brought success.

    However I'm pretty confident what you need is a new set of fan. The problem would be identifying which fan causes the noise. Either CPU fan, chassis fan or even the power supply fan.

    If I were you I would open my case side door and see what's inside, maybe snap a picture. and then first try to disconnect the chassis fan, since it's the easiest and cheapest to replace. Don't forget to disconnect all power supplies before opening the side door.
  3. treetops

    treetops TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 1,658   +57

    I bet it is your cpu fan speeding up due to a increase in heat. I am not sure if this is likely but I think the new video card might have stressed your power supply and your power supply is now causing your computer to over heat. Just a guess.

    The cpu fan will normally rev up when your cpu is getting hot. Like say if your playing a video game. I recommend turning off your computer and vacuuming out all the dust you can and then blowing out all the dust you can. Always start with the simplest cheapest solution first. Be careful not to let the air spin your current fans to fast when you do this. Increased dust insulates and makes your computer hot.

    A good cleaning can do wonders for your computer. I do not know if what I said about the power supply can even happen, someone else on here will be able to give you better advice.

    Always unplug your computer when you open it up.
  4. Row1

    Row1 TechSpot Maniac Posts: 355   +8

    yes, 'sounds' like a fan.

    yes, 'sounds' like a fan.

    **The variable noise deal: some fans are supposed to turn on and off as needed - this is normal. Your car probably does the same thing. Your home A/C probabyl does the same thing. Fans "cycle:"when the temp rises, they speed up, then when temp goes down, they slow back down. This is normal.

    Fans are cheap to replace, if you have a place to buy them locally, or can identify what type well enough to order over the interweb. They cost from $4 to $20 for plain, and 'fancy' low-noise or special-lights can get pricey.

    if you are brave enough to take that side panel off the computer and look inside while the computer is running, you can probably identify a fan making the noise.

    if you are a bit timid, first look in the comp when it is off - and identify every fan you can.

    then, get ready to pay attn to each once computer is turned on.

    number of fans varies. you usually have these:

    for sure, one on "cpu" cooler (unless water-cooled - which is quite advanced, so unlikely in your case);

    for sure one fan to blow air OUT of case, in the back;

    almost for sure one integrated into the 'power supply' (the big metal box that the plug-in cord goes into, and that has several cords coming out of with those running to various places in the computer);

    possibly one at front of comp for air intake;

    possibly one at back, with some kind of tubing / tunnel / channel to direct air to some place in comp most likely onto 'cpu' (it has to have a tunnel or the fan blowing air out would just suck up the incoming air and blow it right out without the air going past hot things);

    probabyl one on video card (or - no longer there if plug-in video card has been removed, and you are now using the vid 'card' built into the motherboard);

    possibly one cooling the hard drive (which would either be sandwiched right along the hard drive, or if more than one hard drive might be perpendicular across the hard drives);

    possibly one on motherboard 'chipset' (a small 3/4-inch-square component which will be somewhere in the middle of the motherboard looking kind of innocuous even though it is crucial and cannot get over-heated or blue screen happens - these are cooled less and less by fans anymore);

    beyond this, unlikely but possible - anywhere some engineer decided to stick a fan.

    They all should be visible to the nekkid eye, and all look exactly like little fans.

    the hardest to find visually would be one so inside a tube/channel dealio that you cannot see it unless you move the tube/channel (the tunnel-mounted fan may point down onto cpu cooler and so you cannot see it), or if one is sandwiched between two layers in the front of the case - sometimes a front of a case has some kind of mesh then another layer of structure - aluminum or steel- behind that, and a fan can be located/mounted between those two front layers - you will have to peer around to see if one is hidden in there - if there is, it will be fairly obvious, since it can't be too hidden, and won't be small - will be 60mm plus.

    almost always, each fan has a wire and a plug , plus is mounted somehow.

    you can replace these if you feel up to the task.

    UNPLUG AND LET THE COMP SIT A BIT BEFORE YOU REPLACE ANYTHING!
    Computers have doo-hickeys called 'capacitors' which technically can HOLD ELECTRICITY even after the comp is turned off, so you need to go research that issue elsewhere to know what you are messing with.

    the fan plug works exactly like you might guess- you unplug the old and plug in the new, which must (almost-must) have the same kind of plug. It is like plugging any appliance in the wall outlet. You just carefully plug it in.

    mount:
    these fans can be mounted in a zillion ways - and some mounts can be fragile. so, if you are not confident, just have a computer nerd buddy or a tech replace and obviousy noisy fan. Some mounts are fastened with dealios like "brads," or "rivets," that are one-time-use, and so cannot be backed-out and re-used, like a screw could. A replacment fan MIGHT include the one-way, one-time fasteners, so you discard the old and use the new.

    DO NOT REPLACE A FAN INSIDE THE POWER SUPPLY.

    You really may shock and kill yourself, or may do it wrongly, and fry the comp, or get electrocuted in any of many ways, or short-circuit your home. Just get the entire power supply replaced. By a tech.
  5. Row1

    Row1 TechSpot Maniac Posts: 355   +8

    drives spin and make noise, also

    a hard drive or CD/DVD could be making noise as the bearnings wear out.

    these are easy to figure out, if you are careful.

    the cd drive only spins when being used. so, put in a music CD, and see if noise matches the spin-up.

    you just replace the CD/DVD drive if this is the case. This is not too hard.

    Hard drives will make noise. You can press a pen or screw driver onto the smooth metal surface of a hard drive, while the comp is on, and put your ear to the stick - the stick will transfer the sound well, and you can hear almost like a stethoscope - rough, grinding noise is not good. hard drive always spin, so the noise should be present all the time - they do spin more and less, as they are accessed, but the drive platters are on a spindle and are (almost) always spinning (sleep mode is an exception).


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