If turning on your desktop computer or laptop has been sounding like a jet taking off lately, there’s likely a problem with your PC fans. These fans move heat away from the processor, motherboard, and graphics card out – all of which emit heat as they function – and out of your computer. These fans can create noise if they are too small, not powerful enough, or too loose.
Computers acquire dust, lint, and pet hair as they age – all of these can block fans and prevent them from running efficiently. Sometimes parts can come loose or wear out, thus increasing the noise made by fans. Additionally, if your computer is particularly powerful, it will have more fans – some components like the graphics card may have their own separate fans, and more fans naturally mean more noise.
In any case, loud noise is a bad sign that needs to be dealt with immediately. If, after trying everything you can to calm your fans down, your computer is still noisy then the problem may be originating elsewhere – like in the hard disk.
Types of Fan Noises and What Causes Them
The type of noise that your PC fans are making can help you understand what may be causing the problem. Here are some possible explanations.
PC Fan Making Rattling Noise
If the noise from your PC sounds like rattling, it may be because your fans are overheating, but rattling is usually caused by one faulty fan. To figure out which one it is, use a long cardboard tube between your PC’s fans to listen to each one, but make sure not to make direct contact with the fans or anything else in the case. Once you narrow down the culprit, shut your PC down and use a flashlight to inspect it.
PC Fan Making Grinding Noise
Grinding noises are slightly worse news, but are usually caused by a failing fan. In this case, you will again need to figure out which one it is before you go further. The fan will probably need to be replaced – unless it is a PSU fan, in which case you may need to replace the entire PSU.
PC Fan Making Crackling Noise
This problem usually arises in custom PCs that haven’t been assembled properly. When a fan in such a PC is noisy, it is usually because it may not be on par in terms of quality. Another reason could be that there is some debris or a loose wire in the case that is brushing across the blades of a fan.
PC Fan Making Clicking Noise
Clicking noises can arise from two extreme cases; either your fans are dying or they are simply gummed up with dust. You can power up your PC after taking the case off and inspect its components to see which one it is. Just make sure not to touch the internal components of the PC while it is running.
PC Fan Making Buzzing Noise
Buzzing noises come from fan speed not being controlled properly. Most computers adjust the fan speeds on their own depending on how hard the processor is working, or how hot the computer is at that moment. You can also get fan controllers separately to control the speed manually. Healthy fans shouldn’t produce more than a soft hum.
Getting Rid of the Noise
Once you’ve figured out why your fans are noisy, you can take certain measures to quiet them down. The first thing you need to do is make sure your computer isn’t in a closed-off space where the fans don’t get proper insulation. Next, you can inspect the attachments for loose parts and tighten any loose screws and so on.
Cleaning the fans may also be helpful. You can do this using a can of compressed air and a soft brush – but don’t force the compressed air onto the fans too much because this can damage them. If any of your fans seem too far gone, you need to work on replacing them now. Depending on your situation you can upgrade the fans instead of replacing them with the same versions. You may also consider an additional power supply for your fans if your computer is a heavy-duty one.