Brand New Mac Mini 2012 2.6 making click/tick/crackle noise

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by tim34567, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. tim34567 macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2012
    Hi All,

    Ordered a 2012 Mac Mini 2.6GHz (all other options stock) on the day they announced it and I received it last week. I've noticed an occasional clicking or ticking sound happen about once a minute while in regular use. I can't narrow down when the clicking happens as i've had it browsing the internet, browsing files in Finder, and a few times even doing nothing but staring at the desktop.

    The sound is noticeably different from the other sounds the computer makes - for example when I load a website I hear the familiar processing sounds that any other computer makes, but it will also occasionally make usually a single "tick" which sounds like two parts hitting up against each other, possibly in the front of the computer. The best I can describe is as a tick/click/crack/pop sound. I can only hear it when the room is mostly silent.

    What should I do from here? Is anyone else's Mini doing this? Of course, I don't care about the actual sound, but am concerned this is an indicator that something in there is busted. Can/should I return it to a physical store? Should I make an appointment at the genius bar (never done this before) or will they just tell me it's fine? Coincidentally, I bought a 2011 Mac Mini a week before they announced the 2012's, so I returned that once I saw the announcement for the new ones. Will they give me crap about returning another Mini?
  2. Darby67 macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2011
    the corner of Fire and Brimstone
    I'd take make an appt and take it in to have a 'genius' look at it. Reminds me of some of the older Seagate mechanical hard drives; noisey but not necessarily bad. But I haven't had a noisey hard drive in years, so I would have a chat and politely explain I would like for it not to be clicking and clacking.
  3. tim34567 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2012
    So is it safe to say I'm the only one hearing this from their new mini?
  4. Sir Ruben macrumors 68000

    Sir Ruben

    Jul 3, 2010
    I hear a 'tick' sound every so often, I put it down to the HDD or fans spinning up/down occasionally
  5. tim34567 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2012
    So I just went to the Apple store to try it with the model on the floor (late 2012 server) and I THINK I heard the same thing occurring, but it was very difficult to tell with the music playing (and I surely looked like an idiot putting my ear to the mini :) ). It is most noticeable when swiping back/forward in safari (magic trackpad or magic mouse). It seems to happen about 50% of the time when trying to load a page. Could anyone out there with a 2012 mini go back/forward in Safari a few times and tell me if they hear the clicking? I hear it while sitting 2 feet away in a quiet room.
  6. StevenT42 macrumors 6502

    Jun 9, 2010
    No clicks on my mini.
  7. kdoug macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2010
    Iowa City, IA USA
    In the Apple community forum there's a post with somebody who experienced the same noise. They returned it for the same model and it also had the noise. I wouldn't worry about, it's probably the head or coil actuator doing it's job. I think the biggest problem is Migration Assistant and how it JAMS all your information back on a new drive. It's scattered everywhere and the HD is working it's arse off for the next several hours.
    When I use Migration assistant on a new HD I always use a disk defrag tool like TechTool afterwards. It'll run much faster and your HD won't have to work as hard. Not be be used on SSD's though!
  8. pongo99 macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2012
    Hi, found this topic after searching on Google for Mac Mini hard drive noise.

    I bought the latest model recently, the i7 version with a 1TB drive, and from the moment i turned it on noticed exactly the same problem as you have described.

    For one thing, the read noise is just exceptionally loud for a new disk. I have drives that are 3+ years old and don't make such a racket as this one does.

    Also, there's a strange clicking, all the time, that's most likely the read head being parked or something. It sounds like this:


    Sorry for the vague description, i'm not very good with onomatopoeia.

    Anyway, i installed SMART Utility to check the load cycle count, and in one evening of usage (4-5 hours) it increased from 680-something to 870-something. That's nearly 200 cycles in that space of time, which sounds quite exceptionally high considering the lifespan of an average drive is supposed to be around 300,000 cycles. By my rough calculations this means that within a year of usage, the drive will be pushing the limit of its recommended load.

    Think i'm going to return it to the store for a replacement, see if the new one does the same thing, and if so will just migrate to an external SSD for boot and storage.

    It's a real pity that such a nice machine is beset with this annoying issue.
  9. pongo99 macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2012
    So, i was lead to this utility via some more Googling, and after installing and rebooting the Mini it has solved the loud click noise and stopped the excessive load cycling:

    Hope this fix is of use to anyone else being annoyed by this problem.
  10. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Actually the Migration Assistant should just be writing all your old data sequentially to the new drive. So it's basically a very roundabout way of defragmenting your data already.

    "Working its ass off for the next several hours" is almost certainly down to Spotlight re-indexing your drive which is perfectly normal and a one-time process that you shouldn't worry about.

    In other words, don't worry about it.


    Are you sure it's the drive making this noise?

    If so I guess I'm not too worried since I plan on mainly using an external SSD anyway and just using the hard drive to store large files.

    But I would like to be 100% sure that this setup will not result in clicking.
  11. tim34567 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2012
    I noticed yesterday that the clicks happen quite a bit while the machine is idle as well (even hours after I stopped using it).

    I will try that utility above, thanks for posting. I'm still wondering if I have a defected mini or if they're all doing this. Or perhaps just a percentage if the HDD's are manufactured in a few different places.
  12. kaibob macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    Prescott, Arizona
    I purchased a new base-model 2012 Mac Mini from Apple, and it had this same exact issue. The computer would go for 30 minutes or so without making the clicking noise and would then make it with some frequency. The clicking noise was relatively loud and was more than simple hard-drive sounds. I disabled indexing, rebooted and left the computer idle for some time, and took all kinds of steps to stop the clicking noise, but none of them did any good.

    I returned the Mini to the Apple store and got a new one on October 31st, and the new one does not make the clicking noise. The original Mini did not make the noise at the Apple store, so the genius said that I would have to leave the computer to see if they could duplicate the issue. Instead, I requested and they did what I believe they called a retail swap.
  13. pongo99 macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2012
    Well, i exchanged the first Mini for a new one at the Apple store today, and it has the same problem with the drive. A kind of 'gulping' noise. Anyway, installed HDAPM again and it seems to have stopped.

    I'm almost certain the annoying sound isn't anything ominous, and is to do with the power saving feature included by Hitachi (the drive manufacturer). With HDAPM it stops the build-up of excessive load cycles and should mean that the disk will live longer. I'm still going to get an SSD to boot off anyway.

    Incidentally, a strange thing i noticed after running SMART Utility (a useful disk status tool) is that this drive has already had 46 hours of usage and over 1400 load cycles, whereas the first one only had 23 hours of usage and around 640 load cycles.
  14. calvol macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2011
    Sounds like the Hitachi power save feature is kicking in too often, and causing the head to "mount-dismount" frequently, in turn causing the "kerplunk" sound. Wonder if Hitachi has an updated firmware release to address this?
  15. Snowcake, Nov 7, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2012

    Snowcake macrumors regular

    May 18, 2010
    it is very handy if you could all post the brand and size of your HDD and if you have the issue.

    So then we know if this is a issue with only one brand, or with more.
  16. tim34567 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2012
    So I installed HDAPM and it significantly reduced the clicking to be almost nonexistent. Before installing, while browsing the web today I was hearing it constantly, once every few seconds. After installing HDAPM i've only heard it about 10 times in the past half hour while doing the same things (just browsing the web). Thanks very much for that resource! I imagine you found it from this link which seems to explain the clicking:

    Couple questions:

    1. Is it safe to have HDAPM installed for the lifetime of this Mac Mini?
    2. Since HDAPM dramatically increases the clicking, is it safe to assume the sound is related to the head mounting/dismounting (albeit more often than it should) rather than a defect in the machine?

    Also, for records sake, the size of my drive is 1TB; can someone point me to where I would find the HDD brand?

    I suppose it's not worth asking for a replacement machine if the clicking is related to a HDD setting rather than an actual defect.
  17. skippy911 macrumors regular

    Nov 1, 2006
  18. DitteVilladsen macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2012
    Complete silence from my Fusion Drive. The hard drive model number begins HTS. Does that mean Hitachi?:

    Physical Volumes:

    Media Name: APPLE SSD SM128E Media
    Size: 120.99 GB (120,988,852,224 bytes)
    Medium Type: SSD
    Protocol: SATA
    Internal: Yes
    Partition Map Type: GPT (GUID Partition Table)
    Status: Online
    S.M.A.R.T. Status: Verified

    Media Name: APPLE HDD HTS541010A9E662 Media
    Size: 999.35 GB (999,345,127,424 bytes)
    Medium Type: Rotational
    Protocol: SATA
    Internal: Yes
    Partition Map Type: GPT (GUID Partition Table)
    Status: Online
    S.M.A.R.T. Status: Verified
  19. cmeisenzahl macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2005
  20. Sir Ruben macrumors 68000

    Sir Ruben

    Jul 3, 2010
    I think this 'problem' is more to do with the fact that the mac mini is SO quiet.

    Ive heard HDD's making all sorts of noises in the past but they are usually drowned out by the fan.

    Its not a problem, more a normal HDD sound.
  21. jenkins09 macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2008
    I am also getting a LOT of noise from my new 2.3Ghz i7 Mac mini. I have the fusion drive in mine, but my noise is constant. It will maybe stop for 15 seconds or so, but then pick back up.

    I'm wondering if part of it could be the drive moving stuff back and forth between the SSD and 1tb portion of the fusion drive (I copied over my entire iTunes library).

    Is anyone else having this frequency of the issue? It really doesn't sound like a normal sound (it is much louder than my 5 year old MBP, even with the fan on). My hard drive looks like the same as DitteVilladsen's when I pull it up in the system report...
  22. pongo99 macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2012
    As far as i am aware (and please take the following as nothing more than a guess), running HDAPM to permanently stop the power save feature of these drives isn't going to cause any more harm than if it were left on. In fact, from what i've read it's likely to in fact increase their longevity. The noise almost certainly comes from the 'head parking' as it is commonly called which is the sole (?) effect of the power saving routine, and not from any mechanical fault. Frankly, i can't see why such a feature is needed in a desktop machine when its main purpose is to reduce power consumption while running off batteries. It's a lazy oversight.

    You can verify the drive manufacturer using the Disk Utility or System Profiler. Look for a long identification code. If it begins with 'HTS' then it's a Hitachi, which seems to be the only brand of HDD used in Apple's recent machines.
  23. pongo99 macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2012
    Oh, also, it's important to be satisfied with what you spend your money on. If you're content knowing that the noise can be stopped with a small tweak to the system settings, then by all means, keep it. I would still have the first one i received had it not been for the annoyance the sounds it made were causing me. They really are very good computers aside from a few niggling issues.

    In some ways it's serendipitous to have had to deal with such factors, as the doubts they cause regarding the purpose of your purchase can bring one to wonder what it is that's actually required from such machines.
  24. JamSandwich macrumors regular

    May 19, 2006
    I wonder if anyone who feels this is a potentially drive-wearing problem would test if there's a simpler solution: I wonder if unchecking "put hard disks to sleep when possible" in energy saver preferences might have an impact...
  25. tim34567 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2012
    I just unchecked the "Put hard disks to sleep" option in Energy Saver (and I had already installed HDAPM) and the sound is almost nonexistant now. Maybe 5 times an hour (constant surfing of the web, no music playing in background). Thanks for the tip!
    I'm going to leave that setting unchecked, leave HDAPM running, and not return the machine. It doesn't sound like a particularly damaging issue or a specific malfunction with the hardware, though it is strange that some mini's don't do it at all.

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