Mac Pro 6 core noise

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by LuckyButtons, Oct 6, 2010.

  1. LuckyButtons macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2010

    Just set up my new 6 core over the weekend and it is a beautiful thing.

    It is almost silent. Can barely even hear the fan. Amazing. I do however now hear what sounds like a coffee pot percolating, which didn't happen (i don't think) for the first two and half days. I have an SSD as the boot drive (so all that is on it is the system and my apps), so that shouldn't be making noise, right? The other hard drives aren't in use right now (only safari and entourage are open), but that noise still happens.

    The sound is intermittent and isn't a rattle, and isn't the fan. Literally sounds like percolating.

    Anyone have a clue as to what this might be?

  2. jaydentaku macrumors member

    Sep 28, 2010
    Durham, UK
    Well It really must be one of the following, a fan, a hard drive or an optical drive, as I can’t think of any other move part.

    When does it happen, at startup? Because the unused harddrive will spin up then. It isn’t being used for swop is it?
    The optical drive again will exhibit this spin up on boot up.

    Could it be the fan zapping on on high, off, on high, when the mac gets really hot?
  3. johnnymg macrumors 65816


    Nov 16, 2008
    Download istat and post your temp and fan speeds.
  4. LuckyButtons thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2010
    It happens all day long, intermittently and seemingly not connected to any particular action. When I came in it was silent until I opened a program (from the SSD). Right now it is just randomly doing it...could be for several minutes intermittent and then be silent for a bit. Totally random. Happens even when the computer is idle.

    When the HDD is in use opening or saving files, it doesn't seem to make any noise. So I don't think it has anything to do with that drive. But I will test the start up.

    Again, it didn't make the noise at all for the first two days, at least not that I noticed.

    What would the optical drive be doing? no swop.
  5. LuckyButtons thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2010
    Okay, just got that....

    HD 1 = 40 deg
    HD 2 = 37 deg
    CPU = 34 deg
    Bay 2 = 29 deg (this is the SSD)
    Bay 3 = 29 deg (this is where the files I work on sit)
    Bay 4 = 31 deg (empty)
    Mem Bank A2 = 33 deg


    PCI = 799rpm
    BOOSTA = 856rpm
    Exhaust = 599rpm
    Power Supply = 599rpm
    INTAKE = 600rpm
  6. Desmo1098 macrumors regular


    Aug 28, 2009

    I know exactly the noise you are dealing with. Just like others have said the root cause of the problem is something mechanical in the Mac Pro. With that being said, the noise is being generated by one or more of the following:

    • Hard Drive (not solid state)
    • Power Supply Fan
    • PCI Fan
    • Intake Fan (the forward most fan of the chassis, near the power button)
    • Video Card Fan
    • CPU Heat Sink Fan

    This noise has been driving me crazy because my Mac Pro is situated on my desk within an arms reach. Most of the time I work in silence so I can hear it. However, if I play music I cannot.

    First I removed all the hard drives and only left my solid state drive. I did this to see if the hard drives were the source of the noise or if they were causing some vibrations throughout the chassis of the Mac Pro. I was able to eliminate the hard drives as the source as the noise was still present after removing them.

    I then downloaded SMCfancontrol and adjusted each fan individually to diagnose where the noise was coming from. I did this by taking the side panel of my machine while it was running. As a side note, if you are not comfortable with this, don't do it. After testing each fan individually I was able to determine the noise is coming from within the CPU heat sink area. Because as I adjusted the speed the noise followed. Not only did it follow, but the frequency of the noise, meaning it was a higher pitched noise, followed with the speed. And this I would expect. I, personally think that there is a bad bearing in the fan that is built-in to the CPU heat sink. By the way, there are two fan built-in to the CPU heat sink. I was able to observe this by removing the CPU tray.

    After long discussions with Apple I was able to convince them to order the parts to a local store for them to replace. Apple did resist, because it requires replace the entire CPU. I found this comment from them to be strange and thought that it did not make much sense and it certainly we be a bad design if that was the case. Then I thought, they probably just do not have all the individual components to order and they come pieced together. Nonetheless, I did not argue cause I want the noise gone.

    My parts should be here tomorrow and I will follow-up with the forum to let you know my results. I have included a picture of where I am certain the noise is coming from. One afterthought I had was that if the noise is not fixed then there is a design issue with some components in that area.

    Maybe someone else can comment on the new cooling architecture on the 6-core machine. Has it changed from the Nehalem to the Westmere? The reason I ask, is because the heat sink in the 2.66 4-core Nehalem was not as big and I am not sure if there was a fan built-in to the heat sink. Anyone?

    My specs are:

    • 6-core
    • 3 GB RAM
    • 1 x Solid State Drive
    • 3 x Western Digital 7200 RPM 1 TB RE3 Hard Drive
    • 2 x ATI 5770

    Attached Files:

  7. LuckyButtons thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2010

    well, I am okay taking the side off but I am not sure how to run the tests.

    My noise doesn't seem to be a "grinding" nor "high pitched". Just to clarify, is that what you're hearing?
  8. jaydentaku macrumors member

    Sep 28, 2010
    Durham, UK
    I am not certain of the processor line up by comparison, but it would make sense that if the processors are changing, then the cooling system will also.
  9. Desmo1098 macrumors regular


    Aug 28, 2009
    Well try to keep in mind "hearing" something and then describing it is purely subjective. What sounds like a coffee pot percolating to you might sound like a bearing grinding to me. I have spent the last 13 years designing automotive engines and work around these mechanical components all the time. Yes, working on a Mac Pro fan bearing is on a different scale but all mechanical components exhibit the same symptoms.

    The problem with this problem, if you will, is that we ourselves cannot fix it, only Apple can. So we can spend all day testing this and testing that but it truly is a waste of time. You really only have one option if you are not happy. That is to take it to the Apple Store and explain the situation. If they check it in and verify there is a problem they will fix it. If they determine there is no problem then you are still covered under warranty for 1-year unless you bought Apple Care then 3-years.

    The only other option is to return it or ask for an exchange. I do not want to be indirect about the situation, but it really is a waste of time trying to do anything on your own. Apple has these systems so locked down you cannot replace parts on your own and they track all service done on the machine.

    However, what you are describing it your very first post I would translate as to the same exact problem I am having. The noise comes and goes with the fan speed. Remember the fan speeds are never constant. They vary a few RPM's when at idle. And what I think is happening is that the fan hits a natural frequency, maybe you can think of it as a "sweet spot", that causes this percolating noise you are hearing. I ultimately think that is what the problem is. Unless this CPU heat sink fan does fix the problem. Then if that is the case we are simply talking about a design problem. We can't do anything about that but... turn up the music----- :eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::cool::cool::cool::cool::cool::D:D:D:D:D
  10. LuckyButtons thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2010
    ahhhh. so fun.

    so can you tell me what those numbers/stats meant to you? I'm not so tech savvy in that area and curious how that helped you diagnose.

    further - the computer hasn't made the sound in about 1.5 hours. wouldn't the fans run during that long of span, and hence I'd be hearing it?

    thanks for all your input!
  11. Desmo1098 macrumors regular


    Aug 28, 2009

    Those numbers and stats are normal and within the range that would consider your Mac Pro to be running as designed meaning there are no problem. All the fans, a total of 5, in your Mac Pro will always be on as long as your Mac Pro is powered on. For the most part all fans idle somewhere between 600-800 RPM's and will go as high as 4000 RPM's (I could be off in the upper range, so someone might correct me). However, your Mac Pro is designed to adjust the speed of the fan based on system load.

    If you have not heard the noise then your concerns are at your discretion. Like I said before, this is a tricky problem. I have resorted to the following thought and that is, if there is a problem with my Mac Pro I am covered under warranty for 3 years. I cannot afford to be without my computer.

    However, I was able to convince the Apple Store to the order the parts that I was concerned with. Your milage may vary. Remember, my problem is persistent. It has not disappeared as you stated you have not heard yours in 1.5 hours. Therefore, I think you are fine and have nothing to worry about. The Mac Pro has built-in safety measures so if the fan stops working and the system gets to a temperature it does not like, it will shut down on its own before permanent damage is caused. Then it is time for Apple to step in. I would say, enjoy the Mac Pro, buy Apple Care and if the problem comes back, call the guys at Apple and get the result you desire. Apple are very good as listening and delivering what the customer wants when there is a problem. I have spent over $100k in the last 3 years with Apple. Not once have they ever said "No, we cannot do that." They always are willing to solve the problem.
  12. LuckyButtons thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2010
    right, just a bummer since I use my computer all day long for work, so having it out for repair will hurt. a lot.

    the noise always comes back, I was just mentioning that it hadn't been there for about 1.5 hours to say that it is not constant. it's back right now. a few seconds here and there. it's just bugging the crap out of me when it IS on.

    thanks for your advice...I do have apple care. (but not an extra computer!)
  13. WardC macrumors 68030


    Oct 17, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    I purchased my Mac Pro 2.93GHz Quad-Core 2009 model from the Apple Store Refurnished online. I have noticed my Mac Pro is making a faint "rattling" noise coming from one of the fans. The sound is intermittent, it usally comes and goes every 45 seconds to one minute and lasts about 5 seconds in length. I have made a recording of this fan sound, so you can hear it.

    Turn your speakers up to listen:

    Does yours sound anything like this? I think mine is coming from the front lower intake fan on the front of the unit. That's where it sounds like it's coming from. I think it's a bearing inside the fan that's loose and causing it to rattle. It's really bugging me, I had to move my Mac Pro to the floor to avoid hearing this noise. It's a very faint low ptched rattle, but it's very annoying.

    Please listen to the recording and let me know if this sounds anything like yours. Again, you will need to turn up your volume to be able to hear it.

  14. LuckyButtons thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2010

    it's not a consistent sound like that, BUT it is SORT of the same "tone" if you will. mine is literally what you think of when you hear an old school coffee pot percolating - meaning it is random pops/clicks, for random amounts of time, with random amounts silence in between. so i may hear one click and then a few seconds go by and i'll hear 3 or 4, then 10 seconds later another couple. and so on. it doesn't just continue at a consistent rate like yours and then stop.


    my mac is on the floor, and while the sound isn't LOUD, it's still really annoying.
  15. schulmaster macrumors member

    Aug 7, 2010
    If you listen to virtually any desktop computer since ever, it makes this noise. If you check an old school pc, this 'percolation sound' happens proportionally to the 'HD access' light's blinking. It's definitely the HD, and the sound's intensity varies with case configuration.
  16. LuckyButtons thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2010
    actually, like one of the other posters, i took out the HDDs, leaving only the boot SSD, and it still makes the noise.

    and I have never had any computer do this. the G5 sounded like a jet engine, but it certainly never made this noise.
  17. schulmaster macrumors member

    Aug 7, 2010
    Fair test. Maybe it isn't the HDD, but I know my mom's dell tower and my old laptop still make this noise. It picks up when you open an application or something along those lines.
    This talks about HDDs making a 'muted clicking' noise, which is normal. This is what I imagined your sound was.
  18. LuckyButtons thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 20, 2010
    i'll check out that link.

    the weird thing is that it only started doing it after about 2 and half days of having it, and it is random to the point of it happening even when the computer is not in use.
  19. WardC macrumors 68030


    Oct 17, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    I have determined the culprit was the heatsink fan, the "BOOSTA" fan on my single-processor Mac Pro. I have fixed the situation for now, it's not making the noise anymore.

    What I did: Used SMCFanControl, set "BOOSTA" to 4000rpm and ran that fan on high for one minute. Set it back to lowest setting...I think the fan had never been run on high before, and somehow this has fixed the problem.
  20. mattmower macrumors member


    Aug 12, 2010
    Berkshire, UK
    Does the noise go away if you apply light pressure to the front grille of the Mac Pro?

  21. Desmo1098 macrumors regular


    Aug 28, 2009

    As a person who does not want you to cause even further damage to your Mac Pro, can I make a suggestion,... If you are not technically proficient with the electrical and mechanical components on the inside of your Mac Pro I would stop where you are. Meaning, I would not try installing SMCfancontrol or working with your Mac Pro while it is powered on with the side panel off. It will only be a matter of time before you create another problem that was not there in the first place. For example, working with you Mac Pro side panel off and then you knock over that glass of water with your forearm as you inadvertently reach for something that you had next to your machine.

    Apple will very highly frown on you using SMCfancontrol and iStat if you take your machine in and they see that stuff installed they will note it and could say that those programs caused the problem. As I stated earlier in my post Apple are very good at working with their customers.

    Therefore if this is an ongoing concern the only way I can recommend to put it to rest is to take into Apple and let them look at it. If they say everything is OK with the machine they will note your serial number so in the future if there is a problem you can take it back and let them know you had it in for service before, if it becomes a problem again that is. In addition, if Apple say everything is OK and the noise persists, as I said before ask for an exchange. However, be forewarned that you could very well get a machine that has another problem (i.e. cosmetic flaw, or even a worse noise) and then you are back to square one. I do not want to discredit the forum members here because many of them have a lot of great knowledge, ideas, advice, etc. I hope that you find light in my advice, and can solve the problem.
  22. lbeck macrumors 6502


    Dec 5, 2009
    Luckybuttons .... do something for me. I was hearing the same type of faint "percolating" noise and it ended up being my hard drive. I know the other user in here determined it was not his hard drive but mine was. Try this out ...

    If your OSX and all apps are on your SSD drive, then be sure to close any and everything that is on your other internal drive. Even in finder, do not have that drive selected or it will be spinning. Select your SSD drive, and close everything for good measure. Have nothing open and only your SSD drive selected in finder. Soon your internal hard drive will stop spinning and be idle, therefor making no noise.

    Now, wait and listen for the noise. Is it still there? Mine was not, it was definitely the internal hard drive. ITs a very faint noise but easy to hear if nothing else in the room is on. If I have my overhead fan on it drowns it mostly out.

    To be absolutely sure your internal hard drive is not being used, you may need to pull it out of the bay. But I was able to make sure nothing on it was being accessed.

    Some hard drive are just louder than others, the percolating noise I was hearing was the drive accessing data. For some reason this hard drive sounds different than others but overall its no problem at all.

    Let me know how it goes ...
  23. Desmo1098 macrumors regular


    Aug 28, 2009
    My noise has been fixed. My machine is whisper quiet! :) I am so happy!:)

    They fan located in the CPU heat sink was the problem. I can understand Apple wanting to follow protocol and go through these 48 hour stress tests and all, but sometimes you got to trust the customer. I am glad they did. They placed an order for spare parts to replace all the system fans without me bringing the machine in. That was very generous of them. I told them specifically which fan I though was the problem and requested only that fan be changed. They said "OK" and they did it and the problem is gone.

    I love :apple::)

    What else can you ask for?
  24. lbeck macrumors 6502


    Dec 5, 2009
    That's great! Did you have to take it into the apple store and let them fix it? How exactly did it work?

    I'm still getting a similar noise but I'm uncertain if it's my hard drive or the fan like you described. Originally I thought it was the hard drive but I still hear it when the computer is idle. I think I'll remove the hard drive to male sure its not that. Can I just take it out of the bay by unplugging it?

    If it's not the hard drive then it has to be one of the fans and I'll be using your experience to hopefully get it fixed. The noise is pretty quiet though but I do hear it.
  25. ahavriluk macrumors member

    Aug 23, 2010
    I have rattling sound coming from lower front fan. Mac Pro 2010. Should I take it to Apple Store to fix it?

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