Why Is My Laptop So Loud Lately?

By Milton Kazmeyer

A noisy laptop may signal a serious hardware problem.
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Computers contain a variety of moving parts, including the spinning platters and moving heads of hard drives and fans to cool everything down. Normally, these internal noises are relatively quiet, but on occasion, your laptop's noise level may increase beyond normal levels. If your laptop suddenly becomes a lot noisier than usual, it may indicate an impending problem with a failing component.

Fan Noise

If the noise level of your laptop increases suddenly, it may just be that the fan is spinning up to dissipate heat. Excessive load on the CPU or graphics card increases the temperature. Playing high-end computer games that use 3-D graphics, for example, can cause the laptop to heat up. The heat level may also build up if you are resting your laptop on a surface that covers some of the case's vents. Reduce the system load or try moving to a better surface to allow your system to cool down.

Dust Buildup

Excessive dust buildup in the case can also lead to a noisy laptop. Dust collecting on the CPU or a graphics card's heatsink reduces its ability to dissipate heat; dust in the mechanism of a system fan can cause it to run longer and make more noise. Check your owners manual to find which access panels cover the CPU and graphics adapter, and remove them to access the interior of your laptop. Make sure your laptop has been powered down for at least 10 minutes to allow components to cool, then blow out any dust you see with a compressed air duster. Spray in short bursts from different angles to clean out the case, then replace the access panels and start up your system again.

Failing Motor

If cleaning out your laptop fails to resolve the noise issue, it could be a failing fan motor. System fans use enclosed motors that generally require no service, but eventually, the mechanism can fail. A damaged bearing can create a squeaking noise that increases in pitch and volume as the fan speeds up, or you may detect a grinding noise from a motor whose interior lubrication has failed. Either way, a fan that won't stop making noise is one that may fail at any moment, and it may cause your system to overheat in the process.

Noisy Hard Drives

Not all laptop noises come from the cooling system. Hard drives consist of spinning platters and moving read-write heads. These mechanical parts can break down over time. If you notice a loud grinding or clicking noise every time your laptop accesses the hard drive, it could be a sign of hardware failure, especially if you also begin to encounter data errors or system instability. Make sure to back up any important data on the drive as soon as possible before sending in your laptop for service or purchasing a replacement drive.