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Strange computer noise

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posted on Apr, 7 2006 @ 08:36 AM
Over the last few days, I've heard a strange noise coming from my tower.
It sounds like a dull buzzer noise. I can't really describe it well.
Like buzz-buzz-buzz...pause, buzz-buzz-buzz.

My Dell is about 4 years old and currently I leave it on 24/7.
Dell Dimension 4500, Pentium 4, 1.8 Ghz, 1.79 GHz, 768 RAM

Do I need to give more info? Is my hard drive going?

posted on Apr, 7 2006 @ 08:58 AM
Most of the noises you hear out of your tower will be the hard drive vibrating against the casing. (assuming you see no degradation in machine performance)

Try opening it up and see if its coming from there. If so, you could put a little bit of card between the drive and the chassis to see if that dampens it a bit.

I have a similar spec machine at work and when the hard drive is being accessed it sounds like construction work in the road downstairs!

posted on Apr, 7 2006 @ 09:08 AM

Perhaps try opening the case and attempt to isolate just where the buzzing sound is coming from. Your Dell has a "clamshell" style case whereby the entire left side is hinged to swing out allowing easy access to the internal components.


There is a black/dark gray button on the top of the case towards the rear and another ne on the bottom.

Push these in to release the "latch" and you'll be able to swing the entire side open. You may want to open the case while the unit is off, then turn it on. You should be able to better isolate the source of the noise. i.e. hard drive, cd/dvd, fan(s), etc.

posted on Apr, 7 2006 @ 09:09 AM
It could also be the cooling fan, its hard to say without actually hearing the noise. Does it sound like metal to metal, or plastic to metal?

Is it continious or sporadic?
sorry bout the speellin folks,kinda tired here for some reason

posted on Apr, 7 2006 @ 12:43 PM
I would guess the cooling fan is the culprit. Have replaced mine a couple times.

Are your cables inside neatly tucked away, not touching fan? Could be another source of the mysterious noise. Or your fan may need a good dust blowoff. You'd be amazed at how much gunk can stick to them!

Keep us posted.

posted on Apr, 7 2006 @ 12:49 PM
It might be that theres something in contact with the cooling fan or its going bad. that happened to me once, a piece of plastic got in there and it would buzz often.

posted on Apr, 7 2006 @ 01:06 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions.
Since the noise is brief, I can't really isolate it.
It could be the fan.

Since it's on 24/7, I already found out I need to get some canned air and clean it out about once every 10 months. I guess my house is dusty

It could be a bearing noise, now that you mention it. It was just louder than I would have imagined.

I have had to turn the 'puter off/on because the fan starts to run loud. The off/on seems to reset something, I dunno.

Yeah, opening that Dell for the first time was a real fun experience. Now, it's a piece of cake
Wish I would had those pictures then.

I assume if it is the fan, it snaps out fairly easily? Are all fans about the same, or should I say interchangeable?
Well, I guess they're not

If it is the hard drive
I think I hope it's the fan.....
I might as wlll have some idea what I'm gonna be facing

posted on Apr, 8 2006 @ 04:41 AM
Yep, I'd bet $100, that it's the fan. Especially since when you power off, then on the noise changes.

It probably goes something like this...

During intial startup, fan runs a little fast while startup processes are loading, and running. Once startup is finished, the cpu activity slows down, as well as the fan speed. Once the fan speed slows down, it is as quiet as 'normal'.

If you do anything resource intensive, the fan will speed up again, as cpu and memory usage increases, heating up the insides.

Then back to slow mode, when activity dies down.

Is that an accurate picture?

Or is the noise more sporadic, and unpredictable?

posted on Apr, 8 2006 @ 09:11 AM
Yes, what you describe is pretty accurate.
Sometimes when my FF browser is open all day, I have quite a few processes running, what with all the "safety" stuff, AV, spyware, ect. running. And, my stupid Lexmark is so quirky it has three processes running, if you don't run it on startup it malfunctions :shk:

Now, the noise that is new, I only herd it twice.
It is LOUD. Kinda like bearings going, maybe. But, the noise was so quick, I cannot be positive.

From research, I've learned that if I don't get a Dell fan, I'm gonna get error messages and no fail-safe when if the fan dies unexpectedly.
I'm wondering if I should just replace it soon, assuming I can find the part at Dell. I'm not mechanically inclined enough to rig a similar but not comparable housing unit.


Another question,

When your hard drive goes, you lose EVERYTHING, right?
I mean , I have documents, etc. backed up. And, I have backups to most of my bacakups, but, that sounds nightmarish

posted on Apr, 9 2006 @ 12:15 PM
Okay, my latest plan is to get another internal hard drive and do whatever I need to do to copy/backup everything. Then, if it goes *shrugs*

And, deal with the fan if I need to...

posted on Apr, 9 2006 @ 12:45 PM
Might I add some feedback?

It is my experience that the hard drive mostly makes clicking noises when it is going bad. The rare exception is the few times that it first spins up, but cant find an OS to boot to. It will begin to spin at high speed, and make a whirring noise. If it were me, I would probably put this possibility on the back burner.

Another point is that sometimes when a hard drive is going bad, and the OS cannot be found, the pc will attempt to find a boot disk in the floppy drive. This can make a loud noise. You can quickly look at the floppy drive light to see it light up during startup to see if this is it, but this is usually only when it cannot find the OS on startup, so I would probably rule this out too.

The most common cause of the noise is the fan, but not the CPU fan. It is usually the fan in your power supply. The reason that I bring this up is because of how loud you said the sound is. The CPU fan is very small, in your pc it is covered by a shroud which dampens noise, and, while it can make the kind of noise that you related, it is usually not very loud.

The power supply fan is indeed larger, capable of making that noise, is not covered by a shroud, is at the far back of the pc, almost on the outside, which makes it easy for debris to get into, but it would be rare that it would be so loud, unless a peice of paper (for example) or a bug got into the fan. This is the first thing I would look at. I would blow it out with a can of compressed air. If it does eventually go bad, you will know it real soon, as you wont have any power shortly. The good news is that these are cheap and easy to replace.

Since I am a cheap skate, the second thing I would do is unplug the build in speaker on your pc. This is another likely cause of the noise, and is capable of making the noise as loud as you describe. In addition, it is free, quick, easy, and causes no harm. The built in speaker is usually on the very front cover of the pc, which would help the sound be so loud. In fact, I found a forum that even discussed this very item for this Dell.

Yup, that is what I would do. Long winded today aint I?

Best of Luck

posted on Apr, 9 2006 @ 12:57 PM
I've had the same problem a couple of times and if i pick it up and move it just a bit, the noise subsides.

I've been lucky, mine has gone away.

posted on Apr, 9 2006 @ 04:40 PM
makeitso, yes, it is the large fan at the back. That's the one I have cleaned form time to time.
I confess I have no idea where the other fan even is
So, where is the CPU fan

I just hate the idea of having to get it from Dell, but.....

I'll have to check out the speaker issue, but since the fan seems to run louder with load and quiets after a reboot, I think it may be as mechanic suggested.

And, no clicking noises.
I think I know the sound you mean, sometimes it makes it when it is starting up. But, I think it's always done that.

Now that I found out that I can have another internal hard drive for about $50, I think I may just do that. Maybe this is nature's way of telling me to back up my stuff BEFORE it's too late

posted on Apr, 9 2006 @ 04:50 PM

Originally posted by DontTreadOnMe
I just hate the idea of having to get it from Dell, but.....

If you need to replace the power supply, why not try Staples? Good quality Antec P/S for about $65-$75. Much better than what came with your Dell.


posted on Apr, 9 2006 @ 05:58 PM

As our friend 12m8keall2c has pointed out, you dont have to buy from Dell.

I go to the local mom and pop pc store, and buy a used Power supply for $10-20. Take the old one with you for compatibility. Never go to the name brand stores except as a last resort. Of course I'm a cheap skate.

If your not mechanically inclined, take the whole pc there, and have a local mom and pop shop swap it for you. It'll take all of 10 minutes.

You can find the average going rate for a new one on Froogle

posted on Apr, 9 2006 @ 06:15 PM
Sometimes Dell uses an odd way to cool the cpu by installing a Fan at the back of the case with a shroud over the CPU and just cooling fins mounted on the CPU. It could be that fan so you could just get a 80mm,90mm or 120mm fan whatever size is supposed to replace it. Should be in your users manual
Another whirring noise coming from the back can also be your Power supply fan is going bad. Do not let this condition go on for too long if in fact its coming from the Power Supply. Replace it right away. The fan will stop after a while and you dont want your power supply to overheat. It may be a firehazard or possibly damage your computer.Make sure its spinning and you feel air coming out.
I very rarely see it on a Dell but it could also be your CPU cooler fan which could be failing. You should manually inspect it if you have one to make sure that it is spinning freely and not stopping and starting or moving slowly. Your CPU can be damaged if it overheats.

As was suggested you can get a non-Dell purchased Power Supply. If you are in the USA you can try or for good quality power supplies. Make sure its one that will match your board if it has a 20pin or 24pin connecter (Some of the newer PSU's have both) and a 4pin power connector (It plugs in near the CPU sometimes) you need to get the same.


posted on Apr, 9 2006 @ 09:58 PM
Power supply? Okay, are we talking wires that plug and unplug?
So, if I get a non-Dell power supply, I can get a non-Dell fan?

Also, the Dell fans are proprietary, and error message comes up, you have to hit F1. Some weird thing Dell did with some kind of failsafe warning *shrugs*
Something about the non-Dell fan doesn't communicate with the motherboard, I don't even want to know where that is

(this from the Dell users forum)

posted on Apr, 9 2006 @ 10:34 PM

Power supply? Okay, are we talking wires that plug and unplug?

Yes. They simply unplug. They are made so that you can only put them back on the correct way. The picture below attempts to point out the power cable, and power plugs/connectors to your computers parts.

So, if I get a non-Dell power supply, I can get a non-Dell fan?

No. You must get a Dell Fan. The power supply is indeed a proprietary power supply. We meant to say you don't have to buy it from Dell. You can get a used Dell Power Supply, or a new Dell one. But you dont have to buy it from Dell. See here

There is a way you can use a non-Dell power supply with an adapter but dont go there.

the Dell fans are proprietary

Yes, the CPU fan is also proprietary. Yes you have to buy a Dell, (if you determine that is the problem). NO you dont have to get it from Dell. For example, I found this used one for $6 on Froogle

Best of Luck

posted on Apr, 10 2006 @ 12:24 AM
This is very disconcerting. Proprietary Power supplies, proprietary cooling fans?

I say scrap it, and get something that lets you swap them at will.

The great Dell Computer Conspiracy!

Just kidding. I have an Emachines, I would go nuts, if I had to stick with buying anything proprietary for it!

DTOM, let us know what happens next.

Tha saga continues..................

posted on Apr, 10 2006 @ 01:07 AM
you guys forgot about the fan on the video card there's even one in the picture above, I had my video-card fry last weekend but the fan stopped about two weeks before LOL

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