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Powercolor 4890 makes whining noise under load!

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  • Graphics Cards
  • PowerColor
  • Graphics
Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 15, 2009 1:40:39 AM

I recently purchased a 4890, and well, I'm not all too pleased.

For starters, I tried putting it onto a tiny 19 inch monitor and ran a few programs, F@H, ATI tool, and I was going to proceed with real benchmarks and video games until I noticed that it continually made an annoying whining noise whenever under load.

It became apparently in F@H - when I turned on the display for F@H, the card would stutter horribly (pausing for seconds at a time and then resuming for much lower times) anad each time the card stuttered, the whine would vanish and each time the display resumed, the whine returns.

It constantly whines during 3d view for ATI tool.

I have it on 50% fan speed (relatively loud) which manages to drop the 4890 down to sub 50 temps, and then I tried running a stressor... and the whine returns instantly. The temperatures aren't a problem.

I'm running a q9550 at stock speeds at the moment (was going to overclock once 4890 proved itself satisfactory... but it didn't) with 4gb of OCZ ram.

In the end, is it normal for GPUs to whine like this? And to stutter in a program like F@H? Maybe I was being foolish, but I was hoping the 4890 would revolutionize my computer, not lag in a program thats supposed to operate in the background.

More about : powercolor 4890 makes whining noise load

a b U Graphics card
April 15, 2009 3:21:15 AM

Well, the 4890 is really a noisy piece of hardware. Regarding your problem with F@H, I think the app is pretty intensive.
a b U Graphics card
April 15, 2009 8:16:54 AM

50% is pretty high and you don't really need sub 50 temps. The cards are capable of running higher than that so I would try decreasing your fan speed. Is that 50% at idle as well? Because that is totally unnecessary.

I imagine the card is fine and your speeds are set too high. But if on lowering them it still bothers you, you may want to look at an RMA to be sure it isn't the card.

April 15, 2009 10:26:56 AM

Looks like I've been misunderstood quite a bit... I understand that the reference card's stock cooler is noisy; and I understand that at 50%, the fan is going to be noisy.

I did some more research: what I'm having a problem with is something that's apparently called "coil noise." I understand that the FAN will be loud, but this high-pitched buzzing noise that comes out ONLY WHEN THE CARD IS UNDER LOAD is what I'm having a problem with.

The only reason I had the fan cranked up so high was to make sure it wasn't high temperatures causing the whining. The whine will come out regardless of whether the fan is set at 5%, 10%, 40%, or whatever. It'll come out regardless of whether the temperature is 45, 60, or 80 degrees celsius. Of course, at about 80% the fan drowns out the whine noise but I don't see the point of that, haha.

So can someone please answer this question: Is it natural for the 4890s to make a significant high-pitched whine-sound, aka "coil noise," UNRELATED to the fan, and is it normal for the 4890 to stutter on F@H (IE, displays smoothly for a second, and then stutters for ~0.5-2 seconds, repeat)?
April 15, 2009 10:53:35 AM

I think that "buzzing" noise is normal if the fan is running at 50% or higher. No other way than to use other fan.
a c 205 U Graphics card
April 15, 2009 12:31:57 PM

Listen to him please, the noise is NOT the fan.
@OP, what you're describing does not sound normal, at least not when you get it to that degree. In your place, I would RMA the card.
Whether the stuttering is caused by hardware or driver problems, it still indicates a problem with the product. The noise suggests hardware.
Any possibility that the card is being starved for power? What's your PSU?
a c 119 U Graphics card
April 15, 2009 1:11:43 PM

You can RMA the card, but i am not sure if it will be better. I own 2 cards that do the same thing. X1900XT not too bad, but its there during heavy work. 8800GTX this thing is extremely loud to my ears during load. My 4870 makes no noise at all.

One thing I did notice was that this noise was almost un-noticed(I did not notice it at all, now that i know its there i can hear it in that case, but its not too bad) it my Antec Sonata case due to its design but became very pronounced ones i got my more open Antec 900 case.

I can say, i have put load cards under many hours of load(games and folding) and they all still work. I have also encountered this sound from a motherboard and one PSU unit. all still work. Coils do vibrate, just some more then others and some humans can not hear certain frequencies either.

You can try to RMA it, please post the results if you get a new one.
a b U Graphics card
April 16, 2009 2:23:51 AM

mlcloud said:
Looks like I've been misunderstood quite a bit... I understand that the reference card's stock cooler is noisy; and I understand that at 50%, the fan is going to be noisy.

I did some more research: what I'm having a problem with is something that's apparently called "coil noise." I understand that the FAN will be loud, but this high-pitched buzzing noise that comes out ONLY WHEN THE CARD IS UNDER LOAD is what I'm having a problem with.

The only reason I had the fan cranked up so high was to make sure it wasn't high temperatures causing the whining. The whine will come out regardless of whether the fan is set at 5%, 10%, 40%, or whatever. It'll come out regardless of whether the temperature is 45, 60, or 80 degrees celsius. Of course, at about 80% the fan drowns out the whine noise but I don't see the point of that, haha.

So can someone please answer this question: Is it natural for the 4890s to make a significant high-pitched whine-sound, aka "coil noise," UNRELATED to the fan, and is it normal for the 4890 to stutter on F@H (IE, displays smoothly for a second, and then stutters for ~0.5-2 seconds, repeat)?

Sorry bout that mlcloud. This actually the first time I encountered "coil noise". What is it exactly? Does this have something to do with the movement of air through the card? (Just to be clear, I'm not saying it has anything to do with the fan, just with the movement of air in general).
April 16, 2009 3:05:03 AM

I have this problem with my two 4870s...or something pretty close to this problem. I think that my motherboard is involved with it somehow since it started after I got it back from an RMA dealing with a BIOS flash gone wrong.

Before hand, I never had this noise. When I go the mobo back and put the cards in, it started when I opened any 3d app. My GPUS sat in their boxes during the RMA so it isn't as if I put them in a different computer and screwed them up. The fans are on manual control so it has nothing to do with them since there is no fan speed change from 2D mode to 3D mode. When a 3d application starts, the noise starts, when it closes the noise goes away. Completely bizarre.

Overall, it doesn't affect my GPU performance and it is drown out when I have headphones on so I don't worry too much about it. If you can test yours out in a different system that would be a good start but I would RMA it if you feel it is a problem.

Every now and then you hear of this happening but no one ever seems to isolate the problem. I have heard that capacitors can make this type of noise but it can be hard to get in there and pick one out to really tell.
April 16, 2009 10:22:40 AM

r_manic said:
Sorry bout that mlcloud. This actually the first time I encountered "coil noise". What is it exactly? Does this have something to do with the movement of air through the card? (Just to be clear, I'm not saying it has anything to do with the fan, just with the movement of air in general).


From what I've heard from other people online, coil whine occurs when a coil resonance according to the frequency of the signal that passes through it.

http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid=27&t...

Still not sure what the process exactly is.

And yeah, it doesn't appear to affect 3d performance too much. Stock-speed q9550 with this 4890 oc'ed at 890/1120 gives me 15k on 3dmark06. Now my question is, I can't get the GPU clock much past 900 and I've seen people get ~980s. Did I just get unlucky?
a c 119 U Graphics card
April 16, 2009 4:33:24 PM

r_manic said:
Sorry bout that mlcloud. This actually the first time I encountered "coil noise". What is it exactly? Does this have something to do with the movement of air through the card? (Just to be clear, I'm not saying it has anything to do with the fan, just with the movement of air in general).

Coils vibrate and cause this noise. Its kind of like how a florescent light(more noticeable in older 4 and 8 foot ones)buzz when they run yet have NO moving parts so to speak. The ballast is made of coils(Transformer) to step up the voltage to run the lights. This same effect can be seen on CFL(Compact florescent lights) but its is so quiet that unless your room is quiet have an ear to it, you will not heat it.

Many coil makers list then as low noise, but well, some are louder then others.
a b U Graphics card
April 17, 2009 10:03:30 AM

My monitor makes high pitched noises while off but connected to power, not sure if it is related or not. Come to think of it, most of my transformers do.
a b U Graphics card
April 18, 2009 2:00:44 AM

I remember as a kid (that's a very long time ago) we had a television that drove me up the wall. The thing emitted a high whine that could only be heard by me and the dogs.
For some reason I was believed and the guys at the shop knew just what the problem was... This was back in the days when there were TV repairmen.
Had nothing to do with the speaker, or even a vacuum tube. It was one of those new-fangled electronic parts making the noise.
a b U Graphics card
April 18, 2009 2:22:52 AM

CRT TVs still make high-pitched noises.
April 18, 2009 2:30:15 AM

There have been a few people complain about the new 4890's. It's no fault of ATI just the OEM's that couldn't get the heat sinks right.
June 22, 2009 10:33:22 AM

My 4890 also makes buzzing noises while the card is under load. The buzzing noise seemed to change depending on what was being displayed. HAWK and Crysis seemed to be worse. As soon as I exited the game or during loading screens the buzzing stopped. I RMA'd the card, which was a standard XFX 4890. I got a replacement but opted for the XFX 4890 Black edition. Too my surprise I still receive buzzing noises from the card.
Doesnt seem to affect performance, but I worry that it might be a sign that the card is faulty, on its way out or may shorten the life of the card.
Interesting to find out if anyone else is experiencing this with the 4890?

June 22, 2009 4:23:27 PM

Yeah, thanks for reviving a 2 month old topic.

Oddly enough, the coil noise on my 4890 ceased after a few months of video gaming/voltmodding/serious overclocking/fan testing.
a b U Graphics card
June 22, 2009 7:02:52 PM

It's still an interesting subject ;) 
a b U Graphics card
June 22, 2009 7:19:01 PM

mgclman said:
My 4890 also makes buzzing noises while the card is under load. The buzzing noise seemed to change depending on what was being displayed. HAWK and Crysis seemed to be worse. As soon as I exited the game or during loading screens the buzzing stopped. I RMA'd the card, which was a standard XFX 4890. I got a replacement but opted for the XFX 4890 Black edition. Too my surprise I still receive buzzing noises from the card.
Doesnt seem to affect performance, but I worry that it might be a sign that the card is faulty, on its way out or may shorten the life of the card.
Interesting to find out if anyone else is experiencing this with the 4890?


First, it is beyond annoying to ressurect dead threads, necromancer or not the dead should stay that way.

Second, you also made your own thread, which i replied to and expalined what you are hearing. You have nothing to worry about, in the worst case it is annoying, but nothing is being broken or wearing out more.
June 22, 2009 9:21:57 PM

^+1 to both points =).
July 26, 2009 8:28:49 AM

mgclman said:
My 4890 also makes buzzing noises while the card is under load. The buzzing noise seemed to change depending on what was being displayed. HAWK and Crysis seemed to be worse. As soon as I exited the game or during loading screens the buzzing stopped. I RMA'd the card, which was a standard XFX 4890. I got a replacement but opted for the XFX 4890 Black edition. Too my surprise I still receive buzzing noises from the card.
Doesnt seem to affect performance, but I worry that it might be a sign that the card is faulty, on its way out or may shorten the life of the card.
Interesting to find out if anyone else is experiencing this with the 4890?


yes Got a Biostar 4890 makes the same noise as what my Chaintech 8800 GT did, very annoying sound while playing games or when graphics was instense, but did it only on certain games. Wanted to know if there was also a way that one could get rid of the soundor is it just hardware related?
October 28, 2009 10:38:01 AM

mlcloud said:

It constantly whines during 3d view for ATI tool.

Are you sure the noise is not coming from the PSU? Like this thread and these Youtube videos show, here and here.
October 28, 2009 10:42:42 AM

The problem seems to have been appearing as early as Radeon R300 judging by the report in this thread from 2005.
November 6, 2009 12:45:26 AM

daedalus685 said:
First, it is beyond annoying to ressurect dead threads, necromancer or not the dead should stay that way.

Second, you also made your own thread, which i replied to and expalined what you are hearing. You have nothing to worry about, in the worst case it is annoying, but nothing is being broken or wearing out more.


Come on now.... For those who care, the 4890 no longer whines (apparently the coil settled down...?) and the sound never originated from the PSU.
!