Noise in computer

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  #1  
Old 01-11-10, 11:56 AM
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Noise in computer

My Gateway GM5626 has started making some noises a few weeks ago. Not constantly, but once in a while and on/off. It sounds like a fan whirring/humming, the pitch changes, it kind of warbles, and then it gets quiet. No consistency. It's not "loud", but noticeable. The computer seems to be operating correctly and I always turn it off at night.

Several times I took the side panel off and gently blew the dust out of the cabinet with air. It looked like there were 3 fans inside.

Is this something to be concerned about? Is this a flaw with this model or a common fault with towers? Is there something I can fix or do to be proactive about without taking it to Best Buy? It's past warranty.

Thx
 
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Old 01-11-10, 12:29 PM
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Your description does sound like a fan, or the gremlins are plotting a takeover of the puter.
Usually it gets much louder and steadier before the fan goes. Thats the time to replace it.

Since it is intermittent, you can bet that it will behave itself at BB and you will spend time and money for nothing. Once the fan is identified, they are usually easy to replace, and not too expensive.
 
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Old 01-11-10, 01:12 PM
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Need to look at what you have open and running when it does this also. Many PCs have temp controlled fans that as the vid card, CPU, P/S get warm they adjust the fan speeds.

Mine does it any time I open a streaming video or open a graphic intensive app.
 
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Old 01-11-10, 02:16 PM
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Next time it makes the noise touch the middle (not the blades) of each fan and see if the noise stops. If it does, you have found your bad fan. If not, your hard drive may be failing. You can shut off your hard drive by right clicking on the desk top > porperties > Screen saver> down to the Power button and set the Turn off hard disk to 3 mins.
 
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Old 01-12-10, 09:57 AM
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O.K.

If I were to check the fans I should have the side panel off to get to them from inside the computer, right?

While I was on this morning the noise started. I went to power saver mode and set it to sleep in one minute. After one minute the noise ceased when the computer went to sleep. When I woke it the noise came back on. I let it go to sleep again and the noise ceased again. When I woke again, the noise wasn't there, just the steady, normal, low hum.

Now when the computer sleeps the fans shut off as well as the hard drive, correct? Therefore the noise could come from a temp controlled fan that isn't on all the time, right? So this wouldn't conclude the problem is the hard drive.

If it were the hard drive how difficult is it to change out? Could I do that? Also, if the noise IS a fan and it failed, would any damage occur? And how difficult is changing a fan and do I have to have the exact same one?

Is there a system check I can do to get an idea?

Thx for the prompt responses guys.
 
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Old 01-12-10, 11:30 AM
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Hi trs4594,

I had the same problem last week!!!

Some tips to identify the problem

1 - First step, make a backup of your system, just in case

2 - Using a can of compressed air, clean the main fan, video card fan (if you have one), power supply fan, and general cleaning. Clean the air intakes!!!

3 - Try to replace the fan--> the replacement of a fan is cheap and easy, but if the fan fails... then the cpu would fry

4 - Open the side of your computer--> identify the Hard Disk--> wait for the noise to start--> give the HD a (gentle!!) sharp tap with a finger--> if the noise stops or changes... be sure you did the back up and buy a new HD ASAP

5 - If all of the above fails, repeat step # 4 with the power supply --> if the noise is from the PS, you can change the PS or the fan of the PS (I'd suggest the first option)

Hope this helps
 
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Old 01-12-10, 12:28 PM
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Thanks Patricia,

Here's the deal.

After my last post I took the side panel off and just listened and looked. There are 3 fans:

1) attached to the very back of the computer frame. It appears to be a simple cooling fan for the interior of the computer. Appears to be easy to remove.

2) is attached to a big (10"x10") circuit board with a 4 bolt pattern, with a chute like housing (about 4"-5" in length) that extends away from it toward the slotted panel door I removed. It appears to cool this board. Appears to be easy to remove.

3) above both of these and attached to the top/rear of the computer housing is a silver box with ventilated slots. I can see what appears to be a little transformer inside. It has a fan in the rear of that box that appears to cool the inside of the box. The a.c. power cord plugs into it from the outside. Not sure what would be involved in trying to remove this. Would this fan be a part of the power supply box and I would just have to change out the box and all?

I backed up my system last weekend. As per my first post, I have cleaned out dust etc. several times.

I gently touched the center of the 2 fans and slowed the rpm's a tad, nothing changes. Is it possible to unplug the wiring plug for a few seconds without hurting anything? Even with the side panel open it is hard for me to tell where the noise is from but it does seem to be from the back. When operating the machine I get a soft chattering noise but think that's normal.

I googled Gateway for a parts list and found Skyline as a parts supplier. If it comes to that would the replacement part have to be exact?

Thx for response.
 
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Old 01-12-10, 12:59 PM
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I'd have to suggest something...sorry. If you know someone whos a geek or have a local PC shop that will be quick..I'd suggest going there.

No offense...but I can tell you really don't have a lot of experience with PCs and electronics. I do, about 35 yrs worth...and one little slip with a screwdriver cost me $200 when I was trying to replace the stupid CPU fan that was making noise. It was cheaper to buy a new/used PC than to fix the problem.

Now...if the noise is from a video card fan..thats a different story. Power supply fans are normally internal to the supply...and can be replaced...but a new aftermarket power supply is probably as cheap as the fan itself.
 
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Old 01-12-10, 01:25 PM
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It will most likely be one of those very small board fans. They are really cheap and can make quite a chatter. The noise probably occurs most frequently when the machine is cold and yes, you can go ahead and have the likely suspect unplugged while you boot. You will note that each of those 10 or 20 mm fans has a short pigtail which plugs right into the mobo.

If you find it difficult to unplug the fan try a long bladed screw driver and use it like a stethoscope. Be careful as you guide the blade in while the racket is present and touch a solid non moving part of the fan housing connected to this little guy. Now turn your head and put your ear to the end of the screwdriver handle and listen. After listening to one or two fans in this manner you will soon know who's causing all the racket.

Can you swap out a bad/noisy hardrive? I dunno, can ya? If you can unscrew a light bulb you can change a hardrive but that is the subject of another post.


bs5
 
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Old 01-13-10, 12:51 PM
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Using your numbering, Fan#1 is indeed a simple cooling fan to vent the whole box. It's the chassis fan and it's cheap and easy to replace (appx. $3-$15). For testing purposes, you can temporarily disconnect it.

Fan#2 sounds like the CPU cooling fan. You should NOT disconnect this one with the PC running as it may cause the CPU to overheat very quickly (seconds). The computer would probably shut itself down soon after the CPU overheats. This is not a good way to shut down a PC. ;-)

Fan#3 is the power supply fan. The silver box you described IS the power supply. There can be 2 fans inside the power supply. If that is the source of your noise, then you would replace the entire power supply, not the fan(s) inside it. You may be able to determine if this is your noise source by putting your ear next to the back of the computer (where the black power cord plugs in.) If there is only one fan it it, you may even see it at the back of the computer. If there are two, it will be trickier to get to and listen to the other one (on the inside.)

If the noise is a whirring or moaning sound, it is likely one of these three fans that is causing it and not the hard drive. Hard drive noises are much scarier, e.g., screeching or clacking and sometimes clicking.

Amazon.com is a good source for chassis fans, cpu fans, and power supplies.

Finally, if you have to replace the power supply, there are certain specs that you need to be aware of and match the one you are replacing, but let's cross that bridge when we get to it...

Oh yeah, in case nobody mentioned it, in this dry winter air, you are much more likely to fry internal computer parts with static electricity. Before you touch anything inside your pc, first touch a shiny part of the chassis (after you remove the cover) to discharge any static build-up.
 
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Old 01-14-10, 08:35 PM
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Thanks Daner,

There are many things of which I possess a good working knowledge, and many more of which I can say I am skilled. I didn't get there without learning there are times to pull back and ask questions. I don't spend a lot of time with my head inside a computer tower and I'll ask before I "just get a screw driver in there and see what you can do".

Today I took the machine into a small shop that I had called the other day and discussed the problem. I left it there for 2 hours and when I returned it was purring like a kitten. There was a FOURTH fan located under a circuit board-video board-in the very bottom of the chassis. I had no idea there was even room for it under there. It was dirty, of course, and he had taken it out and cleaned it up.

We talked a bit about his business and I found he also teaches basic computer analysis classes at a local tech college. His rates are more than reasonable and now I have a "go to" guy for our computer needs.

So the good news is we're back in business. The bad news is,when I got home my internet modem lost it's ethernet output (my tower doesn't have a wireless card), although the wireless side still works. So I'm posting this from our spare laptop and hoping the new modem arrives tomorrow from Verizon....

Thanks for your patience in following through my question points, Daner. And thanks to the rest of you for your input and some (but not all) of your comments.
 
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Old 01-14-10, 09:02 PM
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You're very welcome. I'm happy it worked out for you (at least the fan issue.) Sorry to hear about the modem problem.
 
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Old 01-14-10, 10:55 PM
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Did you try shutting off the modem for a few minutes and turning it back on?
 
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Old 01-15-10, 06:43 AM
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Yes Rick.

I went thru the steps that I knew and repeated those with the troubleshooting tech; power reset, reset button on back, swapped out ethernet cable, signal check, etc

This model of modem has indicating led's for each of the 4 ethernet connections as well as the outgoing wireless signal. My wife uses the wireless, and so do the kids when they are home from college with their laptops. That led is lit, as usual.

Since my desktop has no wireless capabilities I use the ethernet plug, since the modem sit right beside the tower. But the end of the cable as well as the ethernet indicator led is not lit, and it usually is.

It just seemed odd it happened, but that's a lesson in life. Expect the unexpected and don't think things won't change because they will-every time.
 
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