Odd Alum. MacBook CPU/fan noise problem.

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by blackmoses, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. blackmoses macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2009
    This is my first post, and I apologize as it's a little long. I just wanted to get the whole story on the table and clarified.

    I've had one of the new Aluminum 13" MacBooks (2.0GHz C2D) since Christmas Eve. A few weeks ago, it accidentally fell off my desk at work (not a far drop , but far enough for my heart to stop for a few minutes) when I got tripped up in the power cord under the desk.

    For all intents and purposes, the MacBok seemed to work fine. I had one of our IT staff, who happened to be a trained Apple repair tech, take a look at it; the only real damage was that the display hinge had been knocked a little out of alignment. Just ot be on the safe side, I took the machine to the Apple Store, where they told me not to worry about attempting to get the hinge fixed (because I'd be paying a lot of money for such minor work), and the Genius sold me a hardcover plastic Speck case for the MacBook.

    While the Speck case certainly looked nice and madethe already sturdy laptop feel sturdier and "protected", I was a little concerned about the amount of heat the machine was giving off within the case. On Sunday, I unplugged the machine from the MagSafe charger for a few hours and left it closed in sleep mode. When I woke it back up, the fan on the left continually gave off some sort of high-pitched whine whenever the computer was in idle mode.

    I Googled, searching this site and others, and read about the "CPU whine" in the previous generation MacBooks and MacBook Pros. I also saw where a few people with new Aluminum MacBooks were having this same issue or something similar:


    It seems to only make the noise when the computer is running off of the battery - plugging in the MagSafe charger makes the noise quiet 85% of the time (I've found that plugging, unplugging, and replugging will not stop the whine from occurring).

    I tried installing QuietMBP as was recommended in some posts, but the only setting that will stop the computer from whining is the "highest" setting (that is, allowing the processor 0 seconds of idle time), which causes QuietMBP to eat up 30% of my processor usage in Activity Monitor and to start the fans going (and, presumably, to significantly lower my battery life).

    I don't know whether all of this was the result of the MacBook falling, from it overheating in the case, or something that "just happened". I set up an appointment with the Genius bar for today at 4 PM, but Idiscovered another odd occurance when I set up a new account for the Apple Store (rather than give them my password)

    The noise never happened under the new account. Never. I left the machine idle until any and all initial processes were done. No noise. I checked Activity Monitor for stray processes. None. And no noise.

    Now I'm bewildered. Could something have gone wrong somewhere in my account, leading to a corruption of a power management utility or process? I'm not canceling my appointment, but I am going to try a few things before I leave. I've already repaired disk permissions, and I'm about ot reinstall the 10.5.6 OS X combo update. Should I try to reset the PRAM too? What other options should I be looking at?

    Or should I just wait, and let the Genius Bar folks look into it? As a note, I'm aware I may have to pay for any repairs because they may or may not blame them on the MacBook having dropped (despite two to three weeks passing between the fall and this issue arising), and I'm okay with paying for reapirs (though I will try my best to argue my case, of course).
  2. JamesGorman macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    ive had some cpu whine issues to, and although i dont have any advice to offer id just like to say that this is an interesting occurrence and keep us posted as to what happens. I may just create a new account also if this solves the problem. However weird that may be:s
  3. blackmoses thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2009
    I'll keep you posted. Thanks.

    The Apple Store just called, and said that they can't find anything wrong, nor could they hear anything. I'm getting kind of frustrated because I feel like they must think I'm crazy and hearing things that aren't there, or maybe they're not actually testing them achine in a quiet enough environment.

    Them: "We weren't able to fidn a way to reproduce the issue
    Me: "You don't HAVE to do anything to reproduce the issue. All I have to do was log in and leave it idle. You don't have to do anything 'special!'"

    They said they would get me a second opinion. We'll see.
  4. blackmoses thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2009
    After a second Genius Bar appointment, I got the manager to go into the back and listen to the MacBook by himself in a quiet room. He acknowledged that he could indeed hear the sound (he described it as "a faint, 'static-y' sound"), but said he tested it with other MacBooks in the Genius Room in the back, and they all apparently make that sound.

    For now, at least, I'm just going to be content with the MacBook the way it is. They ran hardware and software tests on it as well, and say that everything is in order (*whew*, considering the drop).

    I got the machine back, and I'm just learning to live with it the way it is. The sound is a lot less noticeable on regular days when everything isn't so dead-quiet. When it *is* quiet and I *do* hear it, doing some graphics work or opening iTunes will get it to eventually fire the fans and stop idling.
  5. pellets007 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 28, 2009
    New York
    Most laptops do this, or at least, all of mine have done it.

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