[SOLVED] Odd "breathing" and clicking noise

Sep 17, 2020
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Hi everyone,

So I've had my computer for about a month now. There's been some bumps in the process, but for the most part I've been able to resolve problems. Today after elevating my PC off the floor with some books until I get a cart (I'm on carpet so I wanted to give the PSU fan room to intake air), I've been noticing this weird clicking and breathing noise from my PC that comes and goes, particularly when I have a program open like Firefox, discord, etc.
The only things that have changed are me elevating the PC case, and updating my GPU drivers today. I stopped all my fans, and the noise continues from around the CPU area. Earlier on I was having issues with the VRM chokes whining, but I resolved that by disabling the c-states. I'm posting a video with my microphone above the top of the case. The overall rattling noise that you hear is just my exhaust fan- I plan on getting a new one. The main issue is that back and forth breathing noise and the clicking afterwards. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1smqLoTuepJwAwNW5F9feALC4EWa-cMud/view?usp=drivesdk
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Yes, it is. So, I think I'd start with getting four fans, if you can afford to do that at some point. Whether they are 3 or 4 pin really doesn't matter since your motherboard supports both on all of it's case fan headers by configuration in the BIOS, as you know.

The fans that come with cases are ALWAYS of the lowest quality. The profit margin on cases is pretty low already, so they are not going to include something of any real value, for free, along with the case, just to make the end user happy, when for 75% of buyers they can just put a cheap fan in there and they will never know, or care, about the difference. But for US, the enthusiast and gaming community, the performance and quality of the fans is moderately important. Sometimes it's HUGELY important.

Your finances are none of my business, but I must ask, can you afford to purchase four fans, two intake and two for exhaust (Being the rear and top-rear locations) and if so, how much can you afford to budget for this purchase. While I realize you COULD reuse some of the fans you currently have, I'm going to assume quite assuredly that they are cheap models and should probably be stashed for an emergency or for use with a less important system. Or simply sold, the ones that work, to somebody else.

I gotta say, I am not a huge fan of Cooler master, in general, but I do like that case because for me it ticks all the right boxes. Budget oriented, full mesh front panel, PSU shroud, tempered glass, good features, halfway decent cable management. One of FEW Cooler master cases I would, now or ever, recommend. I actually have a much older Storm enforcer that I am currently in the process of doing heavy modifications to in order to modernize it and bring it up to date for use with an entry level gaming system for my nephew.

Anyhow, that case can support 140mm fans in the front and top, but only 120mm in the rear. I would very much recommend that you DO use two front 140mm fans, one top-rear 140mm fan and a rear 120mm fan. I would suggest that you go with something that has decent or high quality, such as those made by Noctua, Thermalright, some of the Be Quiet fan models, some of the Corsair fan models, the Aerocool DS series DC controlled fans are good AND you can get the same color LED fans in both 140 and 120mm models so that they all match, but you can also do that with many other fans as well. Others that might be good and fairly cheap include some of the Fractal design and Arctic fans, as well as a few of the models still made by Scythe.
 
Sep 17, 2020
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CoolerMaster Masterbox NR600 case
CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Black edition CPU cooler
Phanteks AMP 750w 80+ gold PSU
Intel i7 10700 (locked)
Gigabyte z490 Vision G motherboard
Corsair Vengeance DDR4 memory 16 GB
EVGA RTX 2070 Super
Kingston and Samsung SSDs, no HDDs
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
I'd bet money that the sound you are hearing is the sound of your graphics card fans coming on and going off, and when under a load, staying on. Perhaps not, but that's the normal behavior for the fans if you don't have the Precision X or Afterburner utility running AND have it configured to control the fans with a custom curve that keeps the fans on at at least a minimal speed PLUS set to load when Windows starts in the advanced settings of the utility.

Stock behavior is for them to click on and off periodically at very low speeds if necessary. It might sound like "breathing" when the fans are running and it IS somewhat in the area of the CPU.

There are no chipset fans or other moving parts of the motherboard that could create any kind of breathing or fan type noises other than the CPU cooler, graphics card fans or case fans.

Maybe the power supply. Those are the only moving parts. The clicking could be any number of things including a relay on the motherboard, burst mode in some power supplies (ticking), or PWM controllers.

Pinpointing the EXACT location of the noise, for certain, using a paper or cardboard cone with the small end at your ear, or a length of hose, to eliminate background noises and precisely listen to a specific area of the board might help to determine the source.
 
Sep 17, 2020
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I’m really hoping that it’s the GPU. I was fiddling around with a custom curve on precision X for a while and recently went back to the default fans off when idling. I’m not sure if it’s because it was more noisy during the day or maybe the driver update/elevation thing made it more obvious, but I don’t recall this being an issue before. I’ll have to try the noise isolation trick too and see if I can figure out where it’s coming from.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
I would check VERY CLOSELY to make sure that there are NO fans dragging on any cables or cable ties anywhere. This almost sounds like a weird faulty HDD noise, but since you say there are no HDD installed then my next guess is that it is either a fan rubbing on something, the GPU fans like I indicated earlier OR a failing fan bearing. That exhaust fan might even be the source of it.

How long has this 212 EVO been in service? Was it in use on an older system?
 
Sep 17, 2020
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The 212 evo is brand new. It too makes a light clicking noise reminiscent of the exhaust fan, but frankly I can't hear it unless I put my ear up to the case. I put the 2070 back onto the stealth fan curve in precision X and adjusted it a little bit, and that seems to have helped the problem. When I drop the exhaust fan down to 20% (since it's DC and I can't completely disable it) virtually all the noise in the pc subsides apart from the normal fan operation sound.

Another question just in case you or anyone else knows: is some VRM whine to be expected? I was hearing it when I put my ear up to the case. Prior to disabling the c-states it was very obvious and quite annoying, but all of these little issues I've been having have me a little stressed out about this build. It's only my second time ever building a computer.

Update: So I don't know if the CPU cooler has always been making this noise, but I recorded it just so you could hear. No wires are in the way and it's firmly secured to the heat sink.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FB4ZnHXjIkz8qUhqvrMdKP4qZ6ubayox/view?usp=sharing
 
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Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Do you have the fan TYPE set to DC in the BIOS Smart fan 5 settings? You're not using a DC fan with the fan header's setting still set to PWM are you?

Sorry, but I don't hear ANYTHING in that video aside from when you stop the fan with your finger. I've never heard of "VRM whine". I've heard of "capacitor squeal", but not VRM whine. VRMs don't have coils, and as far as I know, they don't "whine". Graphics cards and power supplies tend to have some coil whine, potentially. Not always, of course. Capacitors CAN have squeal, but it is not common. If you have capacitor squeal then you have a real problem because that is caused by gas escaping from the capacitor shortly before it fails. Very doubtful on a new motherboard. In fact, virtually unheard of.

You might want to simply unbuild the system and reassemble it on a piece of cardboard or the motherboard box on the bench, out of the case, to determine if you can more easily pinpoint the source of the noise, if it's something that is truly disturbing you and you feel something is actually "wrong" rather than just "annoying".
 
Sep 17, 2020
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I think it’s the same as capacitor squeal then. When I was having the issue, that’s what I was told on the Linus tech tips forum. The issue was fixed after I disabled the power saving states in BIOS.
Basically I’ve deduced the issue down to the fans, particularly the exhaust and CPU. I went into bios and set them respectively to DC or PWM but the issue hasn’t changed.
I’m guessing my best bet would be to just buy new fans? I’m sure the ones that the case came with aren’t fantastic, but the CPU fan making that chopping noise before I stop it with my finger is kind of confusing to me.
 
Sep 17, 2020
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I’ve tried 3 motherboards actually (first two were asus prime h470 motherboards). The first one had the noise, the second’s PCI slots didn’t work, and the last is the current one (the more expensive gigabyte z490 board). I was told that the VRM choke by the CPU can make noise, particularly when the CPU is using c-state power saving modes.
As for the case, it’s a CoolerMaster NR600. I put an old 120mm fan in there from my old build that’s working fine, but that loud rattle is from the exhaust fan in the back. It’s brand new, so I’m not sure why it would be so noisy.
Overall I’ve only had the computer for about a month. Everything in it is brand new apart from the one old Corsair fan I’m using in the intake.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Ok, let's start over, sort of.

How many case fans are installed?

WHERE are they EACH installed and what model is each fan?

How OLD is each fan?

What orientation, intake (Bringing air into the case) or exhaust (Taking hot air out of the case) is EACH fan oriented for?

Earlier you said the rear exhaust fan was making all the noise, but if that fan is new, why would it be making noise like that? Now you say there is an old 120mm fan, but it works fine.

Something just seems "off" about all of this, plus, if you've had the same noise from more than one motherboard, different MODELS of motherboard in fact, then obviously the problem ISN'T the motherboard, because identical problems don't happen on two different motherboards on the same system unless something else is causing it.

I would HIGHLY recommend taking the whole system OUT of the case, assembling just the basics on the counter top or table, on a piece of cardboard or the box the motherboard came in, and test it to see if you still have the same problems. This will help you to do that.

And yes, getting some decent fans probably isn't the worst idea in the world either.

 
Sep 17, 2020
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Sorry I’ve been sort of vague in my explaination. So there’s three discernible noises. The supposed VRM noise is a sort of chirp. It was a lot more obvious and annoying before disabling the C-state. It was also quite similar before getting this new gigabyte motherboard. It’s still there, but I have to put my ear to the case to hear it. I have a recording in this post from the LTT forums: here

Currently, 3 fans are installed in the case of you don’t count the CPU fan. One new intake that came with the case in the front-middle. Above that is another 120mm intake fan which is an older Corsair fan from my old build. The cpu fan is brand new, and that’s on the right side of the heat sink blowing through the sink and towards the exhaust. Last is the exhaust, another 120mm that’s brand new and came with the case like the non Corsair intake. The exhaust is the one making most of the noise, and the CPU fan makes some noise as well BUT it’s substantially less.

The third and latest noise of that breathing I believe was the GPU revving up and down to mitigate the idle temperature, as that seems to have gone away. Hopefully that’s a better explanation.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Yes, it is. So, I think I'd start with getting four fans, if you can afford to do that at some point. Whether they are 3 or 4 pin really doesn't matter since your motherboard supports both on all of it's case fan headers by configuration in the BIOS, as you know.

The fans that come with cases are ALWAYS of the lowest quality. The profit margin on cases is pretty low already, so they are not going to include something of any real value, for free, along with the case, just to make the end user happy, when for 75% of buyers they can just put a cheap fan in there and they will never know, or care, about the difference. But for US, the enthusiast and gaming community, the performance and quality of the fans is moderately important. Sometimes it's HUGELY important.

Your finances are none of my business, but I must ask, can you afford to purchase four fans, two intake and two for exhaust (Being the rear and top-rear locations) and if so, how much can you afford to budget for this purchase. While I realize you COULD reuse some of the fans you currently have, I'm going to assume quite assuredly that they are cheap models and should probably be stashed for an emergency or for use with a less important system. Or simply sold, the ones that work, to somebody else.

I gotta say, I am not a huge fan of Cooler master, in general, but I do like that case because for me it ticks all the right boxes. Budget oriented, full mesh front panel, PSU shroud, tempered glass, good features, halfway decent cable management. One of FEW Cooler master cases I would, now or ever, recommend. I actually have a much older Storm enforcer that I am currently in the process of doing heavy modifications to in order to modernize it and bring it up to date for use with an entry level gaming system for my nephew.

Anyhow, that case can support 140mm fans in the front and top, but only 120mm in the rear. I would very much recommend that you DO use two front 140mm fans, one top-rear 140mm fan and a rear 120mm fan. I would suggest that you go with something that has decent or high quality, such as those made by Noctua, Thermalright, some of the Be Quiet fan models, some of the Corsair fan models, the Aerocool DS series DC controlled fans are good AND you can get the same color LED fans in both 140 and 120mm models so that they all match, but you can also do that with many other fans as well. Others that might be good and fairly cheap include some of the Fractal design and Arctic fans, as well as a few of the models still made by Scythe.
 
Sep 17, 2020
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I really appreciate the help and understanding. I figured the fans weren’t going to be the greatest, and I’m glad that you can verify that. I did plan to get new fans in anticipation for the RTX 3070, as I’m going to be doing EVGA’s step up program and swap cards out.
I’m in college and trying to save a little bit of money, but I’d rather do this right and not skimp out considering the investment I’ve already made. Additionally, my friend has the same case and claims that the cutouts for the 140mm are very odd and wouldn’t fit some noctua fans he got, so he got 5 120mm for intakes and exhaust.
Based off of that, my plan was to get 3 new intakes, a new exhaust, and an additional exhaust on the top-rear. I don’t know a whole lot about fans, but I’d like to save money if I can. LEDs aren’t a big deal to me as long as they work, but if something as premium as say noctua really makes a difference I suppose that’s what I’ll do.
Also while I’m at it, do you think it would be overkill to try a new PWM fan for the heat sink? Bearing issues seem to be the only logical reason for noise in a brand new product, but I know nothing about cooling.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
The only "odd" Noctua fans are the NF-A15's, which are 140mm fans that use 120mm mounting holes, but I don't recommend those anyhow as they have a funky harmonic in a specific range that is annoying to me. The NF-A14 fans are fantastic, and are also available in the black chromax editions.

I would NOT recommend using 120mm fans, because they must run MUCH faster to provide the same amount of airflow AND you don't want five fans in that case while using an air cooler unless you plan for them to be 3 intakes, one top-rear exhaust and one rear exhaust. Putting a fan in the middle or front location in the top of the case is a poor decision for an air cooled system in most cases because those fans tend to "steal" the ambient airflow coming into the case and send it right out the top, with no benefit to the CPU cooler (Which then has to rely on the warmed air rising from lower in the case, coming off the graphics card) or in a few cases where I've seen people use the front or middle fans as intake, which is wrong, it tends to simply come in that location and then go right out the top-rear fan, bypassing the cooler entirely.

Putting a different fan on the heatsink is NOT a bad idea, it is a GOOD idea, but ONLY if you get a quality fan as that fan will run faster and more often than any other fan in the case. For that, there are basically two really good choices. There are others, but they are not really comparable to these.

The Noctua NF-F12 or NF-F12 chromax.black.swap, OR the Noctua NF-A12x25pwm. Both have good CFM for a 120mm fan, but more importantly, both have good static pressure and low noise levels for a fan with this kind of CFM and static pressure.
 
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Well the cutouts supposedly don’t line up nicely for the 140s, despite the claims that they do work with the case. It’s mentioned in this review at around 4:52. Do you think that would still be preferable to 3 x 120mm intakes? I think I’m misunderstanding the whole air flow pressure concept.

In either case, do you think it would be beneficial to put a 120 on the top in the back right above the rear exhaust as a supplement exhaust? I read that the front was more for a radiator, but temps can drop quite a bit on the CPU and GPU as they help assist that rising air. I can live with that CPU fan’s light noise, but I just want to make sure that I’m not screwing up the air flow.
 

Darkbreeze

Retired Mod
Ok, well a simple case modification would fix that, but if that is not something you are comfortable with doing, understandable, and just stick to the 120mm fans.

As mentioned, most of the PWM fans and some of the 3 pin DC models offered by Noctua, Thermalright and Be Quiet are very good quality and have excellent performance.

These Aerocool DS fans, for the price, are practically impossible to beat though. Certainly any of the Noctua or Thermalright PWM fans are better, but they are also significantly more expensive. Also, these Aerocool fans I can personally vouche for as I have two full sets that have been running in some systems for many years now. Again, not as good as these others, but almost half the price though. Very good for a budget fan, actually, very quiet compared to any other fan in the price range, and they also are available in four different colors AND while they are not RGB, they do have LED lights that look fairly decent.

https://pcpartpicker.com/product/4kCwrH/aerocool-case-fan-ds120mmwhite
 
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So since the price is fairly similar to the noctua ones, would a set like these work well?

Assuming airflow wouldn’t be hindered, I’d just get 5 of these (3 intakes, one rear exhaust, one on the top farthest back as another exhaust).
 
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Okay, I ended up buying 5 of those and a 3-way splitter for the intakes. Hopefully those will help remedy the noise. I'm going to contact CoolerMaster and see if they can't provide me a new fan for the cooler. Worst case I'll get a noctua one with high static pressure to replace it. I appreciate the help!
 

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