13" MacBook Pro CPU whine driving me crazy!!!

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by slineaudi, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. slineaudi macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2009
    Is anyone else experiencing a very annoying electrical noise or whine coming from their 13" unibody pro? Mine is about a month old and has gone from very quiet to so annoying I have to play music sometimes to not hear it. It only seems to happen when the charger is plugged in and the computer is idling. If I open a program it gets quiet while loading. If I just move the mouse around the screen, however, it gets very loud! I don't know what to do. I'm a couple hours from the nearest Apple store and if I make the drive I have a feeling they wont be able to hear the noise in the store. Is this normal?!?
  2. vant macrumors 65816

    Jul 1, 2009
    I think it's the fan. Look for the program smcFanControl and check your fan RPMs.
  3. zoziw macrumors member


    Feb 19, 2006
    I have the same model and picked it up about a month ago as well. It is still silent.
  4. mrsir2009 macrumors 604


    Sep 17, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
  5. kryptonianjorel macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2009
    Could be a grounding problem. I have alternator whine in my car when my ungrounded ipod is used. You could have the same problems with your computer.
  6. slineaudi thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2009
    Thanks for the tip. The fan is running at right about 2000 rpm. The noise doesn't seem to follow the fan speed; but maybe it is related. It used to be that If I had my tv on or the AC was running you couldnt here it at all; I can now hear it over those things.

    Anyone have any advice on what to do? Try an Apple store?
  7. slineaudi thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2009
    Oh my. Is it possible I can get an Apple store to swap my computer for another one? Im pretty upset and dont really want them to tell me Ill have to send it away; its brand new!
  8. Paul B macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2007
    I think what mrsir2009 meant is: use smcFanControl to control (increase) the RPMs of the left and right fan individually and see which one is the culprit.

    If the problem is definitely one of the fans (it's a fairly common problem), then you can take it into an Apple Store. The Genius Bar will replace the fan for free and you'll get it back in under a week.
  9. slineaudi thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2009
    smcFanControl only gives me one fan to control. I adjusted its speed but found no connection to the noise. The noise is coming from the back left under the keyboard, where I think the fan I was able to control is.
  10. slineaudi thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2009
    Also, I forgot to mention I think. Opening photo booth will stop the noise. If you close photo booth or minimize it the sound will return. You can control it like a light switch with some apps, lol
  11. thescientist00 macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2009
    The fan on my 13" MBP whines even at 2000rpm. It is very tough for me to ue it in bed in dead silence! Apple will prolly say there is nothing wrong so I havent bothered taking it in. It performs great so...
  12. slineaudi thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2009
    Thats interesting. Im pretty sure this isnt my fan however. this is more of a static/electrical sound rather than a fan. All I know is I buy mac's because they are well made and are nice to use - this one is pretty disappointing. :(
  13. m85476585 macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2008
    The 13" has one fan. It shouldn't make too much noise, especially at low speed.

    The CPU or power circuitry in the computer can make noise sometimes. there are programs you can download that use a few % of the CPU all the time to keep it quiet. It's a hack, but it might work for you.

    I also wrote a python script that might do the same thing. I can't test is because mine doesn't make noise, or the CPU is never idle enough for me to experience it. Macs come with python built in, so all you have to do is save the code as a .py file and run it in terminal.
    Alternatively, you can just use itunes since it uses a few % of the CPU while playing music, and the music will drown out the whining sound.

    The Magsafe could be making noise too. There's not much you can do if it is, except complain to Apple and see if they will replace it. Using the grounded (3-prong) cable is always good, but it probably won't do anything for noise. Mine sits on my desk next to my MBP, but if you move it to the floor you probably won't hear it any more.

    Finally, the LCD backlight inverter sometimes makes noise in Windows in bootcamp. I don't know if the fixed that with the latest drivers, but if not there is probably no fix.

    I had trouble playing last.fm on my MBP connected to the inverter in my car. I was using the grounded cable, and I guess there was a ground loop , because the MBP and the stereo were grounded, so there was an annoying buzz. I didn't have the ungrounded plug, so I didn't get a chance to try it with that. It's possible that the inverter just makes so much electrical noise that the magsafe can't filter it out; it does get a lot warmer runing from an inverter.
  14. slineaudi thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2009

    Thanks Matt! My problem is related to the cpu circuity. Using the app you suggested ends the noise! I was previously getting around the noise by just leaving photo booth open. This is normal though? Any harm to my computer by using those apps?
  15. m85476585 macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2008
    It is normal to have some noise, and the program can't harm your computer. Basically it just uses a little bit of the CPU to change how much power the CPU is using, which is enough to make the power regulation circuit quiet. You might notice slightly decreased battery life using it, but you can disable it when you are using the computer on battery (and you might find that there is no noise when using it on battery power anyway). If you look at the python code I posted, I'm guessing this program does exactly that. It basically runs a loop for a while then waits a while, which is just like running any other program, and because of the waiting, it is not very hard on the CPU (unlike video rendering, for example).

    Noise might indicate a defect in the logic board, or it might not. You might be able to convince Apple to replace it, but I wouldn't worry about it if they don't. If you can get them to document the problem if they won't fix it, you might be able to use that to make them fix it if it fails out of warranty (calling AppleCare and getting a case number might be sufficient to document the problem). It could be something like a bad capacitor, which might not actually fail for a few years, and if it does fail out of warranty I doubt they will fix it even if you show them that it made noise under warranty and they refused to fix it. You can also consider buying AppleCare when your 1-year warranty is about to expire.

    I think the chance of the logic board failing due to whatever is causing this noise is low, and you can keep using the computer as normal. You still have a long time left on the 1-year warranty, and the chance of something failing after the first month or so is low, except for mechanical parts like the fan and HDD that will eventually wear out (but they should still be good for 5+ years).
  16. slineaudi thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2009
    Interesting. Well you make good points. I'll probably just wait and see if it breaks - and buy apple care. It's just sooo annoying. This plus the fact that I got one of the ones with the messed up screens with the brightness problem is just really starting to get to me.
  17. NSK123 macrumors regular


    Mar 29, 2008
    Why do most people always insists it's the fan whenever this topic comes up?

    The noise you're hearing is the magsafe.. It periodically emits some kinda static or cracking noise.. I've owned 4 macbooks and they all had this issue, from the old ones to the brand new ones. One of them was a bad one and the noise was loud so I had it swapped.

    This might not be cpu whine either.. it's probably the magsafe and nothing else. There's nothing you can do about it really.. and it's not worth it, because you will most likely have the same issue more or less with a new macbook.

    Go ahead...put your ear down by the left side of the macbook and listen for the noise.

    I don't know if they will swap it with minor issues like this, When I had mine swapped I just sent it back as it was ordered online from the apple store. I never buy macbooks from a store as you have to deal with them just to have it swapped.. Buy online and send it back if it has issues.. no hassle and it works better that way then having to try to convince some applestore dork to give you a swap.

    There is a chance that it's cpu whine but in most cases iv'e seen the noise was coming from the magsafe.
  18. slineaudi thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 12, 2009
    I doubt this simply because using an application that adjusts the cpu load slightly makes the noise go away. My previous MBP did not make this noise. If this is normal then Apple is loosing me as a fan.
  19. sekoitus macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2009
    Yep, I've got the same problem on my MBP 13" lo-spec.

    It's definitely cpu whine as photo booth and/or QuietMBP removes the whining.

    It's absolutely annoying, so much so that I'm running QuietMBP almost constantly.

    I've got AppleCare but haven't called Apple yet.

    I know for a fact that they have replaced logic boards in the past for cpu whine reasons, so maybe I'll try to get mine replaced.
  20. sekoitus macrumors member

    Jun 30, 2009

    I sent my MBP13 to service and they changed the logic board to a new one.

    Works like a charm without any cpu whine, yay :)
  21. jba256 macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2010

    Very cool info. Thanks matt. FWIW, my uMPB is completely silent. I'd use my applecare if it wasn't.
  22. newdeal macrumors 68020

    Oct 21, 2009

    man I thought I was the only one with this problem. My MBP emits a staticy noise too, its definately coming from the logic board, I can hold the fan with my finger so it stops turning and the noise is still there and I have an SSD so it isn't the hard drive noise. Its louder sometimes than others but definately VERY annoying!

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