How do You ‘Hush’ a Non-HDD, Non-Fan Related Buzzing Sound on a Laptop?

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Our electronic devices can occasionally surprise us with unexpected and extremely irritating noises, so finding a solution is a priority. But what do you do when all the usual ‘suspects’ are not the cause of the problem? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has some helpful advice for a desperate reader.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Szabolcs wants to know how to silence a non-HDD, non-fan related buzzing sound on his laptop:

I have a new Dell Inspiron 15 7547 laptop and it makes an annoying high-pitched buzzing sound whenever running on AC power.

This is not HDD noise (there is a separate normal sound when the HDD is working). It is not fan noise (that is also present and it is different/quieter). It is also not coming from the speakers (the noise does not respond to volume control).

The buzzing noise is correlated with CPU usage. Low CPU usage results in a loud noise while high CPU usage results in no noise. For example, continuously scrolling in the browser will shut it up.

I know that electronic components can make noise, and I believe that this is the case. Is there anything I can do to shut it up? The buzzing is just as loud as the HDD’s noise, but it never stops and becomes really annoying.

Is there a way to silence an irritating buzzing sound like this?

The Answer

SuperUser contributors Josip Medved and Roger have the answer for us. First up, Josip Medved:

As the noise is connected to the load (and thus current consumption), this might be a case of a noisy DC-to-DC converter whose switching frequency falls into the audible range.

It is hard to tell whether it is serious or not, but I would definitely look into replacing the laptop if it is still under warranty as a big shift in DC-to-DC switching frequency can quite often have an impact on the voltages it generates.

Even if it is currently working without problems, you might find some of more sensitive components just dropping dead one-by-one over the long-term.

Followed by the answer from Roger:

I think I had the same problem a while back. When the CPU is working at full speed, it is silent, but when the workload is lower, the CPU goes into power-saving mode. That is when it started making noise.

My problem was solved by switching off D-States in the BIOS. Amazingly, neither the computer support at our company nor the two engineers DELL sent out to fix the noise could solve my problem. Luckily, I found the answer on the Internet.


Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .