Noisy Power Supply Fan? Wrong!

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Rocket J. Squirrel, Apr 11, 2004.

  1. My Dimension 4500 is not as silent as it used to be, so I figured "noisy
    power supply fan." Then I read a post in this group about running the
    computer with the case open and listening carefully to determine the
    source(s) of noise. Good idea! As it turned out, my PSU fan is actually
    pretty quiet. The really noisy buggers are my two brand new Western Digital
    hard drives, which emit a loud, high pitched hum.

    The CPU fan hums also, but only when I place my ear right over the green
    shroud. When I place my ear next to the grill outside the case, the hum is
    much softer. My non-engineer guess is that the fan's own hum reverberates
    inside the case, making it more noticeable when I run the computer with the
    case closed.

    Has anyone tried to replace the CPU fan? It looks pretty simple: Unplug it
    from the motherboard and unhook it from the case. Is it really that easy?


    [As for the WDC's - 1200JB & 800JB - I'm going to have to conduct more
    experiments before calling Western Digital. I'll run them outside the case,
    with only the power connector. That will tell me whether it's the drives
    themselves that make the noise.]
    Rocket J. Squirrel, Apr 11, 2004
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  2. Rocket J. Squirrel

    CapeGuy Guest

    I have the 1200JB and mine's very quiet.
    CapeGuy, Apr 11, 2004
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  3. Rocket J. Squirrel

    John and Pat Guest

    The CPU fan is very easy to replace RJ. It literally is a matter of popping
    out one and plugging in the new one. There are a number of manufacturers
    supplying good fans.

    Note that these folks carry sound dampening kits as well.

    John O.
    John and Pat, Apr 11, 2004
  4. Thanks for letting me know about your 1200JB, CapeGuy. I'll have to find out
    which one of my drives is the noisy one.

    Thanks for the info, J&P. I'll give those vendors a good look.


    Rocket J. Squirrel, Apr 11, 2004
  5. Rocket J. Squirrel

    Dick Guest

    In my 4550, by far the noisiest component is the fan on the ATI video
    Dick, Apr 11, 2004
  6. Rocket J. Squirrel

    Eugene Guest

    I've used this method many times prior to making a service call to determine
    which fan to bring. Take a plain old ink pen with the removable plastic
    cap with. Turn the pc off and stick the clip end of the cap in the fan.
    Its just long and thin enough to fit through the slots in the fan grill but
    the cap is big enough to prevent it from falling inside. Turn the pc on
    for long enough to see see if its quieter with that fan stopped. If not
    pen the case and stick the pen cap in a different fan and power on again to
    Eugene, Apr 11, 2004
  7. What a great idea!


    Rocket J. Squirrel, Apr 11, 2004
  8. Hi,
    For this kind of noise check I always put the PC to standby mode instead
    of switching off because of two reasons:
    1. its faster ;-)
    2. turning on the PC while blocking the cpu fan may result in a bios
    error message.

    Christian Steins, Apr 11, 2004
  9. Rocket J. Squirrel

    Jay Chan Guest

    Thanks for the info, J&P. I'll give those vendors a good look.

    You may want to measure the thickness of the fan (in addition to the
    size of the fan) before you order it if you decide to order it from a
    third party vendor. My Dell Dimension 4500 used to come with a 32mm
    (thickness) case fan. I had a hard time to find any silent fan to
    replace it (because that case fan was noisy from the get go). The
    reason is that 32mm fan is not common, and I could not fit a commonly
    available case fan (25mm?) into the fan housing that was designed for
    32mm fan.

    If you order it directly from Dell, you will not have this problem
    because they will send you not only the fan but also the matching fan
    housing (hence, you don't need to worry about if it is 32mm or not).
    Because your PC is still under warranty, you are likely to take this
    route anyway.

    Jay Chan
    Jay Chan, Apr 12, 2004

  10. I just today discovered an interesting hum sound in my brand new 8300.

    I was hearing a throbbing

    It was caused by two harddrives next to each other. They are both
    spinning at 7200 rpm and as such were producing near identical
    vibrations. The change in pitch was due to a beat frequency between the
    two drives.

    And there is ANOTHER issue. The 8300 is one of those "no screws, just
    plastic pieces-parts" machines. There's a fancy shmancy plastic clip
    where a screw used to go.

    Only problem is that while the harddrive clips (or "brackets") allow the
    installation and removal of the drives without tools, they just don't
    clamp the drive tightly enough and the result is that the little bugger
    vibrates around like a sex toy.

    Thomas G. Marshall, Apr 18, 2004
  11. Rocket J. Squirrel

    S.Lewis Guest

    Those little thingy plastic quick release rails have nylon (rubberized)
    bushings upon which the HDD screws rest. It's not likely that the rails to
    drive fit is the noise. It may be the rails to drive cage contact areas, or
    even more likely, the plastic case "skin" vibrating on the snaps to the
    steel chassis.

    Noting that the definition of "noise" varies for any given user, that
    machine is, to me, deathly quiet when compared to my homebuilt (2 80mm case
    fans, PS fan, heatsink fan @ 5200rpm, and video card fan).

    Isolating and dampening your case vibrations might prove difficult.

    S.Lewis, Apr 18, 2004
  12. This is the best thread I've read here in months - and that includes threads
    where I was a contributor. I recently replaced the 40GB Western Digital
    'budget' drive that shipped with my 4500 with two larger Western Digitals
    (1200JB and 800JB). What I hear ever since is a high pitched whine coming
    from the HDD cage.

    Both drives have passed Western Digital's diagnostic tests several times. If
    there was anything physically wrong with the disks, they would have failed
    by now. I think I'm just stuck with noisy hard drives.

    I've yet to try a few tricks, like removing and reinserting the drives in
    the cage, redoing the screws, etc. to try to catch the source of stray
    vibrations. If that fails to help, I'm afraid I'm stuck with some harmonic
    that plays off the drives and the cage. Of course, Western Digital has been
    only to happy to exchange them...

    There are threads on the Dell Community Forum that claim the WD makes the
    noisiest drives of all the major makers, but that could just be sour grapes.
    (Seagate wins for quietest, or so they say.)

    BTW, I also have a mmmMMMmmmMMMmmm...but it's coming from the power supply.


    Rocket J. Squirrel, Apr 18, 2004
  13. Of course! I'm not complaining where this is already a screw, I'm
    complaining about where there used to be one and there isn't. There
    isn't one from the drive to the chassis. It's not tight. That's the
    whole point.
    Thomas G. Marshall, Apr 18, 2004
  14. Rocket J. Squirrel <> coughed up the following:


    What you really need here are things that may not be made.

    In computer land, drives need to be /CLAMPED/ into place, not screwed.
    And with clamping, you can always put a thin rubber gasket into place
    between the drive and the cage. This would reduce the harmonics to
    things that occur from drive->air->case and not the current drive->case

    Them harmonics are a pita.

    Be careful here: It may /seem/ like /just/ the powersupply, when it is
    really the powersupply beating against something else rythmic. Just a

    Thomas G. Marshall, Apr 18, 2004
  15. Rocket J. Squirrel

    S.Lewis Guest


    It's been my experience and general understanding that WDs are indeed the
    noisiest of the current bunch (and maybe even back some two to three years).
    Almost w/o exception the drives I've replaced for noise and that I've seen
    suffer the most spectacularly noisy deaths have been WDs. Might just be a

    I've got Maxtors here with fluid bearings that seem alright, and my last
    drive purchase was an 80gb Seagate Barracuda - largely due to comments from
    users in this group and over on Delltalk. I'm pleased with it as well.

    My only WD is a Dell warranty replacement for the original Maxtor that met
    an early demise ("user error"). I can't say as I notice a huge difference in
    the noise from that machine, but I don't use it regularly. HDD brand
    preference is somewhat like politics or religion, but when the mfrs. began
    shortening their disk warranties to 1 year from 3 (coupla years ago), it
    appeared to me that overall drive quality began to tank. So now, I plan to
    buy what brand seems to be working best for others at the time of my


    S.Lewis, Apr 19, 2004
  16. Stew:

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    On the one hand, the two WDCs I have now were really inexpensive (after
    rebates - which I received), so it wouldn't be the worst loss of money to
    replace them when Seagates go on sale. OTOH, Western Digital seems eager to
    issue RMAs - which tends to support your idea of diminishing quality - so I
    may as well take them up on it.


    Rocket J. Squirrel, Apr 19, 2004
  17. Rocket J. Squirrel

    S.Lewis Guest

    True, there is not, and there is "play" or "slack" in the fit of the drive
    rails in the cage. It's enough to make a man remove the drives and tap two
    small holes into the side of the drive cage where two small screws or large
    set screws could evenly hold the entire drive/rail assembly tight and
    virtually immobile.

    That said, any vibration might still transfer from the cage to chassis to
    external plastic panels.

    S.Lewis, Apr 19, 2004
  18. Yep, and this is why I claim that HD's should be clamped into place
    (with full bushings/gaskets) and not have a direct metal to metal
    Thomas G. Marshall, Apr 19, 2004
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