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Sapphire Radeon 5870... buzzing?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 2, 2010 12:32:32 PM

So here is the story... I built a new system over the weekend, one of thing I was looking forward to the most was the installation of my 5870 GPU. Everything went together without a hitch. Posted right off the bat, installation Windows seamless. I configure my monitor to get the color balance where I want it. I even ran VantageMark 3D to see where my computer stands.

So comes Monday, I decide I will install the Dirt 2 game that came free with the 5870, so I download and install it. I start things up and BAM... my video cards starts buzzing. Now, to be clear I'm not talking about fan revving up kind of buzzing. I mean somewhere between bug zapper and old school modem noise. I have an Antec 1200, with 6 case fans, a CM Hyper 212 CPU fan, the PSU fan and the GPU fan (40%) speed all running and the buzzing is louder than all of them combined.

I exit the game immediately and the buzzing stops. I stare at my rig for a moment and decide to give it another try. Same thing happen, this time I remove the case side and listen closely. The sound isn't coming from near the GPU fan but from inside the GPU housing. The graphic card itself isn't vibrating; I touched it to make sure.

I call ATI support, he has me unlock the Overdrive feature and rev up the fan to 100%. He asks if this is the sound, it is not-- I'm certain. I get back in the game with the tech on the phone and the card works flawlessly, no noise. He gives me a referral number and I end the call.

Later, I go back down stairs and try the game again. I pay attention to exactly what the system does. First I notice the system is in sleep mode. It comes out when I click the mouse. I then start the game right away. The card starts making noise. I let the game sit at the "start" screen". I notice that when the lighting effects are high, like light reflecting off water the card makes a high pitch screech. When there are a lot of dark but fast moving images there the card emits a lower "zapping" sound.

I exit the game and shut down the system. Next I decide it is worth try to reseat the card. I pull the plugs, unscrew the card and take it out. I then reinstall, watching a listening for the "click" to make sure it is seated. I even pull back on it a bit to make sure that the card lock is engaged. Replace the screws, plug in the DVI cable and restart. The system comes up; I run the game and no noise. Frustrated I walk away.

My wife gets home and I ask her to come listen and see if the computer does it again. Sure enough it does. It appears to happen when the card is cold and high GPU demands are made. If I have been running low to moderate demand GPU programs and then step up to high demand the card doesn't appear to make the noise.

So I'm at the point that I think RMAing the card would be the best solution. I don't think the card should be buzzing cold or hot.

So all that, here is my question. Is there anything else I should be thinking about as a source of the problem? And I mentioned the buzz sounds like an electric flytrap. Which makes me think the card is getting surged, so could it be the wire? Also I don't have a spare GPU to test out. But if there is something else I don't want to subject a RMA card to the same problem source.

Any thoughts?
February 2, 2010 1:34:23 PM

Its your PSU giving your card the juice it needs. Its normal. I get it when I run 3dmark06. Its most noticable when playing Crysis. Even just loading Crysis up results in a high pitched noise.

I've had it with both my previous 4870's it happened with a 4890 and it still happens with my current HD5850.

Oh yeah it happens in Furmark, basically anything that really stresses the GPU.

Don't worry about it, Its annoying but its also normal.
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February 2, 2010 1:44:53 PM

I'm not sure if it is or not, I've got an Antec 850W PSU.

I'm running i7 920, Asus P6X58D, 6GB G Skill 1600 (12800) RAM, 1x sapphire 5870, Cooler Master 212 Hyper HSF, Sony DVD, and 1T Samsung HDD, nothing overclocked inside Antec 1200 case. On every PSU calculator site I could find, 650W was more than enouhg, I got the 850W b/c it was on special with the case. Only peripherials are the keyboard and mouse.

If it is normal that really sucks, that is distractingly loud and a bit fear invoking to a first time builder.
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February 2, 2010 2:00:13 PM

Your PSU is fine, its just normal. I keep my fan speed at 32% which is pretty quiet and unless im playing crysis or running furmark I struggle to hear the whinning.
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February 2, 2010 2:20:12 PM

Interestingly enough, I just came across a discussion on a random tech forum where a user has the exact same problem as me but on a 4870 card. If the responces are to be believed, the cause may be a bad voltage regulator on the card. Apparently "cheap" regulators can emit a high pitch voltage sound under loading. Here is the discussion:

http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r23472435-EDIT-Motherbo...

I am RMAing the card today and going to hope the problem disappears.
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February 2, 2010 2:34:07 PM

It is the power stage on the card and is unmistakable. The choke coils and mosfets are what is making the noise. One can try to cool them by using every thing from thermal pads to scrap metal and arctic silver 5. I did such a cooling mod on several of my cards and is common for those who do vmods.
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February 2, 2010 4:39:46 PM

I bet your RMA will be declined.

I've had it with every card I've owned like nforce4max said its the coils and mosfets.

Anyways good luck with your RMA
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February 2, 2010 6:30:20 PM

As far as im aware there is no fix, I think its just what happens. Its a hardware thing. So I doubt it would be "fixed" by any software.

BTW you say "fix" as if theres a problem. I'm pretty sure its just the way it is, not a defect.
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February 2, 2010 7:34:46 PM

its doing what it SHOULD do. Theres nothing you can do about it.

When you load a 3D application your GPU goes into 3D mode and the GPU and Memory clocks increase and therefore need more voltage. I believe the whinning/buzzing noise is the voltage passing through the coils and mosfets.

Obviously your card needs voltage and it also needs coils and mosfets so theres nothing you can do.
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February 2, 2010 8:01:36 PM

I have never experienced this problem in any box built over the last 18 years ....boxes have either been CAD workstations or gaming boxes. 12 PC's at home, bunch more at office, none make this noise. As most were built with an emphasis on quiet (all fans on lowest speed settings) any noise would be immediately discernable.

How is your source power ? Is it correct voltage ? Using any type of line conditioning via UPS or other means ? UPS's clean up power nicely tho some PSU's with PFC have issues with UPS's that don't have true sine wave output.

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/ocz-ups-battery-backup...

Have you run OCCT or anything similar and looked at voltages for any anomalies ?

If I could rule out the power source, experienced this problem it and could trace it to a particular piece of hardware or vendor, I simply would stop buying that hardware.
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February 3, 2010 12:03:21 AM

This is the Sapphire Vapor-X 5870 right
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February 3, 2010 2:02:00 AM

I have already said it once but will say it one more time for a DIY fix if RMA is unavailable. You need to cool the mosfets and chock coils in order toe reduce the noise. Why try to cool them well one it seams to be thermal related (I found this to be the case on a lot of cards). Thermal pads can help and may work is they make full contact as well have decent thermal conductivity. The last option requires some basic metal working skill and arctic silver 5. I might if I am in the mood might take some pics (crappy quality) or make a vid.
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February 3, 2010 2:51:55 AM

JackNaylorPE said:
How is your source power ? Is it correct voltage ? Using any type of line conditioning via UPS or other means ? UPS's clean up power nicely tho some PSU's with PFC have issues with UPS's that don't have true sine wave output.

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/ocz-ups-battery-backup...

Have you run OCCT or anything similar and looked at voltages for any anomalies ?

If I could rule out the power source, experienced this problem it and could trace it to a particular piece of hardware or vendor, I simply would stop buying that hardware.


Antec CP-850 850W Continuous Power CPX SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC "compatible with Core i7" Power Supply is the power supply I am using.

I am not currently using a UPS, in fact I don't know much about them. I've always just gotten by on power strips with surge protectors and good luck (I know that isn't anywhere close to the same thing.)
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February 3, 2010 2:55:42 AM

Rustyy117 said:
I bet your RMA will be declined.

I've had it with every card I've owned like nforce4max said its the coils and mosfets.

Anyways good luck with your RMA


Well I'm not sure exactly what happens with the RMA process, but I contacted ATI and a tech said that the card shouldn't be emitting any noise that loudly. He gave me a referal number and said if the problem persists to RMA to Newegg where I purchased the card. I contacted Newegg and explained what was happening, they emailed me a RMA tag to ship the product back to them.

I assume that means the RMA is accepted and they will ship out a new card once the old one is received. I wouldn't be real happy if they just sent back the same card.
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February 3, 2010 2:43:27 PM

yeah because poking your graphics card/motherboard/PSU with your fingers and a pencil is a good idea >.<
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February 3, 2010 4:06:01 PM

Ever heard of static electricity?

Can you think of a reason why people tinkering with PC hardware wear an anti static wrist band?.

Come on think it through
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February 3, 2010 4:56:56 PM

Im not the one with plans to touch my PC hardware

My suggestion to you was to wear a anti static wrist band, Although I still don't think its a good idea to touch PCB

But its your PC, You do what you like with it. Like I've said many times, Its not a problem its just what happens.
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Best solution

February 3, 2010 5:25:21 PM

Just use you finger and don't worry about shorting or shocking any thing for the exception of on little chip and if you do touch it the card may switch off. If the card did switch off turn off the rig and power back up no harm done. Use the back of your hand near the back of the card feel for hot spots (piping hot like a fresh cup of coffee or hot tea) then you found the right spot. Choke coils are always recommended if they are running hot since they can degrade over time and had that happen on my Biostar board. Mosfets are to be cooled regardless of temp unless they are fairly cool. If you are unable to get the RMA take the cooler off after figuring out ware the hot spots are. Take some extra thermal pads if you got any on hand ware the plate that attaches to the cooler meets the vrm ware they are absent on a stock card and apply them on top of the mosfet or coil if they meet. If there are under the fan ware there is a small vent through the plate some thick thermal compound like arctic silver 5 and some thin aluminum that won't cause problems with the fan mainly a sheet or thin plate. Cut the scrap metal into small squares that are at least the same size or greater than the intended part. Apply the compound (a very small blob but never to much or little) enough to ware the small home made heatsink does not fall off (the compound will harden like glue while still retaining thermal properties. Apply the home brew heasink make sure it has a firm and flush grip on top of the coil or mosfet. Make sure that it does not get in the may of any other components. Install the cooler in full make sure than nothing has fell or is jamming the fan. If done right the mod will last for years and will probably extend the life of the card for several years more than normal. Don't let any one bull crap you out of either doing the mod or replacing the card since I have done both before my self. I have a 8800gtx, a 1900xt, and two 9800gt 1gb editions with this mod so I know what I am talking about.
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February 3, 2010 5:36:37 PM

Quote:
Last time:
How do you recommend people identify the buzzing part in their PC?

And yes, it is a problem for some people.



Ooooh "Last time:" haha.

All I was saying is use a anti static wrist band if you have one.

And also that the whinning isnt technically a problem as mine does the same thing, but the temps are fine ( below 60C under gaming ) and the card works great. Maybe its an annoyance to some people.

Follow nforce4max's advice, Knows what he's talking about.
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February 3, 2010 5:51:13 PM

I HATE being ignored when I have presented a worth while solution.
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February 3, 2010 5:54:48 PM

Are you referring to me? Because if you are I appreciate your solution, its just I don't mind the whinning personally.
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February 3, 2010 7:38:32 PM

Quote:
Do you have any pics you could post? I'd be interested in seeing your modded cards. In particular your 8800GTX.



OK I will try to take a few pics but they will be poor quality or a very shor vid since my SD card went bad and my cam doesn't have much mem on it.
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February 3, 2010 7:51:42 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G87P6hATadc

Done sorry that is so short but my SD card went bad. Used a SVP cam.

Note that the 8800gtx had to be recapped and was my first such attempt.

I will delete the vid in a few hours till you can download it.
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February 3, 2010 11:34:37 PM

Best answer selected by Mr_E.
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February 5, 2010 2:58:52 PM



I meant "at the wall". Is your power "clean" when it's coming out of the socket ? A UPS or power line condition cleans up the "noise" that is often carried by power lines.

http://www.dansdata.com/sbs9.htm

And I wouldn't worry about the static issue unless you are for example wearing runner soles on carpet. Since it's hard to avoid touching a component w/o 1st touching the PC chassis, you will discharge any static electricity with that 1st touch. I have done over 100 builds / rebuilds w/ no strap and no problems.....but I do use common sense. You are more likely to damage a card unpacking it from its carton than you are following the silentpcreview folks advice.
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