Question Is coil whine normal nowadays? Or can the CPU cause this?

Mar 29, 2022
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Hi guys,

last week, I build up my new rig:

Case: Fractal Design Define 7
CPU: Ryzen 9 5900X
Mainboard: MSI MEG X570 Unify
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB
PSU: Seasonic Prime TX-1000
Graphics Card: Radeon RX 6800 XT
HDDs: 3x SSDs (only thing I re-used from my old computer)

Unfortunately there is coil whine when the computer is under heavy load, e.g. when playing games or running a benchmark (3D Mark).

I changed almost all components (with completely different models/manufacturers) step-by-step to identify the responsible hardware, but without any success so far:

  • First I changed the PSU, but this didn't fix it, so the Seasonic PSU seems to be ok.
  • Next I changed the graphics cards, but this didn't have any effect either.
  • Finally, I changed RAM and mainboard, but unfortunately the coil whine is still there.
The only two components that I did not change were the CPU and the case. Since the case can probably not be responsible for any coil whine - I am wondering:

Could the CPU actually somehow cause this? So would it make sense to RMA it?

Or is some degree of coil whine even normal nowadays on modern systems?
It is not that bad actually, i.e. I barely notice it when the case is closed, but it's still a minor annoyance when the room is very quiet.
 

Aeacus

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Biggest two to generate coil whine are PSU and GPU. Now, CPU is sandwiched between MoBo and CPU cooler, and it resonating so bad that it creating coil whine, is unheard of. Though, MoBo VRM is another possible source.

Found this neat article about coil whine, which should help you,
link: https://www.howtogeek.com/297166/what-is-coil-whine-and-can-i-get-rid-of-it-on-my-pc/

Also, are you sure, that what you're hearing is coil whine, and not vibration noise (or air bubbles noise when you have AIO)?
Best to open up the PC case, and put your ear to it, to determinate from where exactly the noise comes from.
 
Mar 29, 2022
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Thanks for the quick reply and the link!

I have no AIO but an air cooler (Noctua NH-D15) - which I replaced for testing with the same cooler model from my wife's computer, but with no effect.

I am pretty sure that it's indeed coil whine. I listened to a couple of videos that illustrate it and it sounds exactly like this for example: https://www.reddit.com/r/ASUS/comments/r1h9d2 View: https://www.reddit.com/r/ASUS/comments/r1h9d2/solution_for_severe_motherboard_vrm_coil_whine/

I tried to locate it with an opened case, but it was very hard to pinpoint exactly. I'm pretty sure that it comes from the motherboard though.

But since I also already replaced the motherboard (replaced an ASUS Rog Strix X570-E with an MSI MEG X570 Unify) and the buzzing noise is still there, I would probably rule out the motherboard.

Actually, the only thing left that I did not yet change is the CPU. But unfortunately I cannot easily test this, because I don't have a replacement CPU at home and don't want to buy one just for testing only to send it back to my retailer in a used state.

And since you wrote that you would generally rule out that a potential faulty CPU could be responsible for this kind of noise, I am honestly clueless right now about what else I could test...

Although, to be absolutely honest: You barely hear it when the PC case is closed, and I never listened to my old computer and my wife's PC with an opened case when they were under heavy load.
Thus, I am wondering if maybe they had coil whine as well and I simply never heard it...?

Is a certain amount of coil whine maybe even normal in modern / stronger PCs? At least I am finding many reports of this issue when searching the internet.
 

Aeacus

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Thus, I am wondering if maybe they had coil whine as well and I simply never heard it...?
Could be, since coil whine is relatively weak sound, and won't travel much further of PC case.

Now, what you could do, is breadboarding MoBo (take it out of PC case), since it is a possibility, that your PC case, somehow, amplifies the sound. Also, i take that your missus has different PC case.

Another fix would be increasing the white noise, so that the annoying coil whine sound is masked into it.

Is a certain amount of coil whine maybe even normal in modern / stronger PCs?
It's more about specific hardware, than high-end PC issue. E.g back in the day, all Seasonic X-series PSUs were prone to coil whine and many X-series PSUs were "humming".
 
Mar 29, 2022
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Just wanted to give an update on this topic, in case anybody stumbles across it and has the same question:

The problem was indeed caused by the motherboard AND the graphics card. During my tests, I always only swapped one of these components, which is why the coil whine never disappeared.
Only by completely switching to a new motherboard AND a new graphics cards was I able to eliminate the coil whine.
 
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