5 Types of PC Buzzing Noise (And How to Fix Them)

pc buzzing noise

Last updated: July 12, 2022 at 14:12 pm

Computers have a lot of components within them, which means there are lots of opportunities for things to break. Often this can cause issues when it comes to the PC’s usability and performance.

It can also cause the PC to become noisy, which can be inconvenient and irritating for those around and those using it. If your PC has suddenly started to make noise, it could mean any number of things; sometimes it is a sign that more damage is to come and is worth checking out.

A buzzing noise from a computer can often be overlooked as normal, particularly if you’re loading up a hefty programme or your PC is old.

The 5 common PC buzzing noises are:

  1. High pitched buzzing
  2. Fans whirring
  3. Rattling and buzzing
  4. Grinding and buzzing
  5. Buzzing and crackling

What Type of Buzzing Noise Is Your PC Making?

Since PCs are often doing a lot of things at once, there could be a range of causes to the buzzing noise emanating from the computer. The type of noise may help you to determine the source of the noise and subsequently any possible solutions.

The most common buzzing noises that come from PCs are a vibrating buzz, an electrical buzz, a whirring fan buzz, high pitched buzzing, grinding, and buzzing and rattling and buzzing.

Each of these different buzzing noises has its own distinct sounds and its own distinct causes and solutions, so it is important that you determine precisely which type of sound your PC is making before you splash the cash on any new parts.

Why Is Your PC Buzzing?

Luckily, there are ways to determine what kind of noise your computer is making. This makes fixing the issue behind the noise much easier. Here are the most common reasons why your PC might be buzzing and how to fix it.

1. High Pitched Buzzing

coil whine

PCs have a huge range of parts to them, and many of them have electrical currents running through them at such rates that they vibrate. This can sometimes cause a phenomenon known as coil whine, wherein two or more of the components within a PC are vibrating at the exact same frequency, causing a high pitched whiny buzzing noise.

Coil whine is not harmful and is one of the few causes of buzzing within your PC that does not require immediate attention, however, many PC users find coil whine to be incredibly irritating, especially in otherwise silent machines.

How to Fix

There is not a huge amount that you can do to stop coil whine without simply removing the elements within the PC that are causing the noise. It is a relatively simple fix, but one that many users begrudge to make as it often involves replacing elements within a PC that are not actually damaged or faulty in any way.

You will be able to distinguish if it is coil whine causing the noise within your PC by just listening to how high pitched the noise is. If you’re unsure, ask for a professional’s opinion, or do the other tests to see if the noise could possibly be caused by something else.

2. Fans Whirring

PCs rely on their fans to keep the CPU and all the other components cool. This is important as all electrical currents running through the various components of a PC will inevitably create some heat. Without an efficient and functioning fan, these components cannot cool down and will continue to overheat, which can cause damage to the components, reduce their lifespan, and can ultimately lead to data loss if left.

These fans sometimes must work overtime. This happens when you place a PC too close to a wall or flush against it if the PC is loading up large software, or when you use a laptop on a pillow or duvet. It also happens when the fans and internal workings of the PC get too dirty and dusty.

When this happens, rather than a boost for a short amount of time like when loading up a game, the fans must work harder all the time. This can cause a constant whirring or buzzing sound to come from your PC.

How to Fix

Usually, the solution to a buzzing fan is straightforward. It is most often caused by dirt and dust collecting within your PC. You can tell if your fans are the source of the buzzing usually by listening to them and checking how dusty your PC’s intake vents are.

If they’re particularly dirty and full of debris – it is likely that your fans are working double-time to keep up. All you must do to relieve the fans of all the extra work is clean your PC out.

You can do this using a can of compressed air to spray away all the dust and debris in the vents and on and around your fan. It is also worth cleaning your CPU and the nooks and crannies of the case whilst you’re on it, just to make sure the issue doesn’t return instantly. You can also clean the PC with a lint-free cloth, but many of the components are fragile, so you must be careful.

If, after cleaning, the noise persists – replace the fans.

3. Rattling and Buzzing

PCs have a lot of screws and cables within their casing to allow them to work. Many of these screws are small and once screwed in get ignored. Occasionally, a screw or a cable can move or wiggle loose, especially if the PC has been knocked, and can cause a rattling and/or buzzing sound.

So, if you have suddenly noticed an annoying rattling sound – it may well be caused by a loose piece of hardware. Luckily, this tends to be a very easy fix. However, loose hardware can cause damage if left unattended, so it is important you check on your PC sooner rather than later.

How to Fix

To check to see if your PC has loose hardware, unplug it from the mains and remove all attachments. Such as your mouse, monitor, speakers, and USBs, and gently, carefully rotate your PC onto its front, then its side. If, as you move the computer, you hear a rattling or buzzing noise, then you are in luck.

All you need to do to fix the issue is to unscrew the casing and tighten, replace or adjust any hardware that needs moving. This might mean moving cables away from the fans, tightening screws or reattaching components to the motherboard.

4. Grinding and Buzzing

hard drive buzzing

One of the most important parts of your PC is your hard drive. These are where your data and information are kept, and they can be fragile. It is important, even if you have a huge amount of storage available, to keep your data backed up on an external hard drive or on the cloud somewhere in addition to keeping it all saved on your PC. That way, if your hard drives fail, you don’t lose everything.

Often, buzzing in a PC is accompanied by grinding can be a sign that your hard drive is failing. This can mean that you’re incredibly close to losing everything on said hard drive, and it is imperative that you back it up and check the drive as soon as possible.

How to Fix

If it is in fact your hard drives causing the noises from your PC, you will be able to tell by running a disk checking operation. Windows computers have options such as Windows Error Checking available for free use. But, there are numerous free checkers available online. These scan your hard drive for any faults or errors and show you whether the drives are in fact the cause of the noises.

To fix the noise, you will need to replace the hard drives with new ones. Be sure that you remove and save any data on said drives prior to doing so.

5. Buzzing and Crackling

CD and DVD drives tend to make a quiet buzzing noise when in use, simply due to the way in which they work. When the disk is particularly dirty or scratched or when the drive is damaged, the DVD/CD drive in a PC can create crackling and loud buzzing sounds.

This can be quite alarming, but luckily it is unlikely to cause any damage elsewhere in the machine.

How to Fix

If your disk drive is causing irritation by making too much noise, then it is likely broken. You will be able to tell that it is your disk drive making the noise as it will only appear when in use. To tackle the issue, remove whatever disk is in the tray and gently clean the tray with a lint-free cloth.

You might also wish to clean the disk before you return it to its case. Once clean, try to use the disk drive again. If the noise continues, then the drive is broken.

After you have established that the disk drive is damaged, you will need to replace it to prevent the buzzing and crackling noise.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ is a self-confessed soundproofing nut. He has written full-time on Quiet Living for the past 4 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about living a quieter life, soundproofing and fixing loud noises.

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