CPU whine on 2.13GHz 13.3" model?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by glhughes, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. glhughes macrumors regular

    Jul 4, 2009
    I bought my maxed-out MBA (2010) online the day after they came out and have recently noticed a CPU whine coming from the top-right corner of the keyboard when under light load. It can be heard both on AC and battery power and is distracting when using the Air in a quiet room.

    My previous MBPro (late 2007 C2D at 2.16GHz) had the same issue and it progressively got louder to the point where it became one of the major reasons I wanted to upgrade to a new machine.

    Needless to say, I am disappointed that this machine is exhibiting the same problem and am looking for a fix.

    Is anyone else hearing this? Can I get rid of this damned noise?

  2. ReallyBigFeet macrumors 68030


    Apr 15, 2010
    I think you mean "fan whine" and not "CPU whine," as I don't see how the CPU can make any noise itself considering it has no moving parts.

    I can get my fans roaring when playing a Steam game. They will also purr slightly when playing a 1080p MKV file in full screen under VLC. This is true on both models in my sig.

    Other than that....no whining. Are you sure you aren't getting feedback from these forums? :D
  3. Snørrbjørg macrumors newbie


    Aug 12, 2010
    at home
    Fan is placed to the left. CPU in the middle. To the right, "nothing".
  4. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030


    Dec 7, 2002
    Florida, USA
    The early MBPs had a well-documented issue of "CPU whine" that was caused by the power supply/VRM under lower power states of the CPU.
  5. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I can't say I've noticed it on mine. You might want to have it checked out.
  6. blimey macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2007
    i don't have this issue. I have been running the MBA for 1 week on heavy/light loads.
  7. fyrefly macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2004
    If you can hear the whine, I would take it to a genius bar ASAP. If your 2007 model was under AppleCare and it was getting progressively worse, with age, I would have taken that in and gotten a logic board replacement ASAP.

    My old job had a RevA MBP with whine issues, and they replaced the logic board no questions asked at the Genius Bar.
  8. glhughes thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 4, 2009
    Thanks for your replies. A few responses:

    It's definitely not the fan; I have been playing SC2 the last couple of days so I know what the fan sounds like :). This is a high-pitched electronic whine that modulates in pitch and has a bit of a staccato pulsing nature to it.

    I've verified that it's coming from near the center of the keyboard, not the right side as I had previously thought. The noise also appears to be lessened or nearly gone sometimes when plugged into AC power; it's definitely worse on battery.

    I have also noticed that the timbre of the noise is different in OSX vs. Win7 -- in Win7 is more of a solid whining whereas in OSX it is more subdued / subtle staccato pulses. Perhaps this is why no others have been noticing it? It was particularly bad last night; so far tonight it has not become a distraction.

    In any case, I will probably take the machine in to the genius bar in the near future. I really doubt they will be able to do anything though -- I have terrible luck with stupid issues like this in electronic devices. :(
  9. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    From what you are saying, I'm guessing it has something to do with the power management. Windows 7 will have less sophisticated power management than OS X on any Mac. Perhaps the power management is delivering the wrong amount of power to the CPU, causing your issue.

    Do you have CoolBook or anything like it installed?
  10. glhughes thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 4, 2009
    Well, C2Ds are not exactly Apple-exclusive HW. :)

    I am using nothing but the built-in power management that comes with both OSes. It's definitely power related and is more pronounced when the CPU is in a low-power mode / idle. BTW, the battery life in Win7 is still very good -- approximately 6-7 hours when websurfing via Wi-Fi on the 'balanced' plan.

    There are other reports on the interwebs about similar whine issues on non-Macs. From what I have read, this was a common issue with the C2D processors or motherboards at some point (~2007?). I am surprised it's still a problem though and I was expecting better-built HW in a Mac, TBH.
  11. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
  12. superego macrumors member

    Jun 24, 2009
    There's no reason why you should put up with such a problem. It doesn't sound like it's a common issue. Anyone can understand that kind of whine can be bothersome. Take it back asap and have it replaced.
  13. zafar9999 macrumors newbie

    Apr 8, 2010
    I had this exact same issue with my first "Ultimate" air. It's slight enough that you think it could be something else in the room.. but it happened consistently while using the laptop. Make sure you get a genius bar appointment asap. Be polite but adamant that it is an issue ("I use the Air in quiet places most of the time so it's an issue since I can also notice it")
    The genius will attempt to replicate the sound in the store, but it will be impossible with all the background noise. Luckily, I had a voice memo on my iPhone of the noise. I'd recommend getting a recording of the noise and showing it to the genius. It's probably been a little over 30 days, but I'd still be excepting a new Air in your situation. Don't let them service it unless you want a scratched up Air with the same problem.
  14. jahman macrumors regular

    Feb 12, 2010
    Sigh. I've just noticed this problem with my machine. 13.1" MBA Ultimate.

    The noise seems to be coming from the lefthand side of the machine to me though and is, as you describe, a modulating hum. Unfortunately, I'm very sensitive to such noises and this could bug the hell out of me. Fortunately, I don't tend to use the machine in quiet environments although it just so happens I'm sitting in silence in my living room using the thing right now. It's not a deal breaker although I may consider taking it to the genius bar at some point.

    Personally, I think it's the fan, in which case it's probably a "design feature", i.e. most machines will exhibit it under the same conditions.



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