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High pitched whining from PSU

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May 11, 2011 10:20:45 PM

Hi guys.

I've got a very high pitched whining noise coming from my PSU (Powercool 850W) every time I run games. I used to think it was coming from the video card, but on closer inspection it isn't. The noise occurs whenever I run a 3d application, changing slightly between menus and the like.

I've also had a long-standing performance issue with this rig, under-performing in pretty much every game, which is what caused me to be suspicious of this noise in the first place. I even replaced the motherboard, CPU and RAM recently, which only leaves the GPU and PSU. Maybe this noise could indicate a failing PSU or underpowered system? Maybe this is the source of the performance issues. What do you guys think?

Main specs are:

Asrock M3A UCC mobo
4GB DDR3 Ripjaws @ 1600 Mhz
Asus ENGTX 280

Cheers :) 
May 11, 2011 11:03:36 PM

Sounds like a failing PSU. Could be time to upgrade to a quality brand
May 11, 2011 11:17:16 PM

Sounds like the fan in your PSU is dying, High pitched whining is usually a fan bearing going.
Related resources
May 11, 2011 11:42:01 PM

Thing is though, it's been like this since I bought it in 2009, so could it be a problem with the way it's connected, or just underpowered?
May 12, 2011 5:15:40 PM

850W? what do you have connected to it that it could be underpowered? Unless you're running SLI/Crossfire with a juice sucker i'd say you'd be in the clear with a 850W PSU

Try downloading speedfan here http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php
Check if all your voltages are within the +/- .5 range.

Also check for swollen or leaking caps on your board or psu.
May 13, 2011 9:51:43 AM

Okay, I just finished stripping down the PSU and checking for any swelling or leaking. I couldn't see anything, it all looked perfectly fine. Here's a screenshot of Speedfan showing my voltages, do those look okay? :??:  http://www.imgjoe.com/x/volts.png

I also just bought this board recently, it;s brand new, and I had the same issue before replaced it.

Oh and the underpowered thing, I just meant, maybe something is underpowered due to not being connected properly or a dodgy PSU



EDIT: Don't think it's the fan, since it changes between menus and other things in-game and doesn't happen at all when not running 3D apps.
May 13, 2011 9:55:58 AM

The sound is only there when the rig is being stressed like games e.g. ?
May 13, 2011 10:00:26 AM

Hmm, it just makes alternating sounds when a game is run, stressful or not. It's quite bizarre. It does it even on the menus in Minecraft. Also on the login screen for World of Warcraft. Those are the two worst culprits.
May 13, 2011 10:04:04 AM

ok so basically when the videocard is being addressed and is taking power from the psu the psu is starting to create a high pitched sound?

And you are 100% sure it comes from the psu itselfe?
May 13, 2011 10:07:37 AM

I had my ear over each component to confirm, I'm quite sure. And yes, it's only in certain instances where the card is being addressed for a 3D application. It sounds a little like those old 56k dialup modems actually.
May 13, 2011 10:31:58 AM

Only conclusion that i have that under load one of the capacitors or the transformer itself is generating this sound.
If that component is still under warranty i would bring it back, i would not trust it a bit.
May 13, 2011 10:37:59 AM

never heard of that psu brand, sounds like its failing, if its a cheapo brand replace
May 13, 2011 10:49:36 AM

I can't even find anything on the web about 'powercool' though I got the PSU from MicroDirect in 2009. I doubt there's any sort of warranty on it. I plan to replace it at some point, I don't think it's really unstable though, it's last me a long time. I just think it's malfunctioning somehow and underpowering my componenets (performance issue thing).

Also: DHICKS19, that avatar is awesome. Know where I can get a higher res version of it?


EDIT: I found it :kaola:  http://www.mycarefreepc.com/How-to-Avoid-Getting-Ripped...
May 13, 2011 3:27:25 PM

gearbrain said:
Here's a screenshot of Speedfan showing my voltages, do those look okay? :??:  http://www.imgjoe.com/x/volts.png


YIKES!

Your 12V rail is running at 6.18 volts, it should be at 12V with a .5 +/- margin of error (11.5 or 12.5, in between those numbers is acceptable)

replace that bad boy.

Edit: Here's an antec I could suggest for what you're running.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I've had an Antec Quattro truepower 800 for almost 3 or 4 years now, no issues as of yet. I'm not worried about this being a lower wattage than your powercooler brand, off-brand manufactureres tend to fudge the numbers on how much their PSUs can actually put out.

Other brands with good reputations are Seasonic or Power and Cooling. Power Supplies are very underrated in my opinion, and something too many people skimp on. I'd suggest drop an extra 50 bucks over a cheapo, get a little more wattage than you need, and get a reputable brand.

May 15, 2011 2:19:52 AM

Thank you!
Yeah I was very aware about the number fudging.
And at last, some insight into what it is. I'll replace this as soon as possible :) 
I currently have my beady eyes on this one. It looks good, from what I've learned recently. What do you think?
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/Home/Product/51209/Corsair...


Also: I'm no expert at power supplies at any rate, but do you think it could be possible to mod the PSU in a way that it increases the rail voltage? I heard it mentioned here. http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/class-d/167525-class-d-r...
May 15, 2011 3:39:53 AM

gearbrain said:

I currently have my beady eyes on this one. It looks goodl


I'd trust a corsair, and the wattage would be more than what you'd seem to need with what you're running

as for doing any hardware mods, I couldn't really say, as it's not really my thing, TBH i'd be pretty wary of doing any mods to a power supply, one for lack of knowing what i'm doing, and two because a PSU is so darn underrated and important, i wouldn't want it to go and take out the rest of my x000 dollar rig.
a c 275 ) Power supply
May 15, 2011 4:57:19 AM

I'm guessing it's this psu PSUPC850AUBA which is not good.
One shouldn't expect much from an 850W psu priced under £60.
I doubt that psu even comes close to producing 850W.
That's how much a good quality 500-600W cost.
A GeForce GTX 280 requires you to have a 550 Watt power supply unit at minimum if you use it in a high-end system. That power supply needs to have (in total accumulated) at least 40 Amps available on the 12 volts rails.
Personally i would buy a quality 650W psu in around £70.
Antec High Current Gamer HCG-620 - £62.92 inc. VAT
http://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop/index.pl?origin...
Corsair TX 650 V2 650W - £64.69 inc. VAT
http://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop/index.pl?origin...
XFX 650W P1-650S -£59.99 inc.VAT
http://www.eclipsecomputers.com/product.aspx?code=PSX-6...

May 15, 2011 9:13:49 AM

internetlad said:
I'd trust a corsair, and the wattage would be more than what you'd seem to need with what you're running

as for doing any hardware mods, I couldn't really say, as it's not really my thing, TBH i'd be pretty wary of doing any mods to a power supply, one for lack of knowing what i'm doing, and two because a PSU is so darn underrated and important, i wouldn't want it to go and take out the rest of my x000 dollar rig.


Yeah I hear ya, and I agree. I've heard of people's rigs catching fire because of power supplies. Still though, it's worth asking.
a b ) Power supply
May 15, 2011 11:26:42 AM

internetlad said:
YIKES!

Your 12V rail is running at 6.18 volts, it should be at 12V with a .5 +/- margin of error (11.5 or 12.5, in between those numbers is acceptable)

replace that bad boy.
.

I would have thought if the 12v was so low the pc wouldnt power on at all. Check with a multimeter, speedfan may be measuring the 12v from somewhere it should not be. Software voltage readings are rarely reliable.
May 16, 2011 7:33:23 AM

Who makes your GPU?

I have the same issue, but its NOT the PSU. It is in fact the graphics card.

Simple test, take out the graphics card and run the games. Yes I know they wont be playable but you can get to the login screen on WOW at least.

What this noise is the capacitors on the graphics card. When under-load or stressed they vibrate causing this high pitch whine. This is normal and doesn't pose any threat to the card or the system. If you can send the card back then do so and say that its faulty. (why put up with a noise you don't have to) This doesn't happen on all GPU's, MSI use solid capacitors and they don't vibrate no matter what load you put through them.

If the sound doesn't stop then you know its your PSU, as they do also have capacitors.

One trick to correct this issue if its your GPU is to enable vertical sync. Do this in the Nvidia control panel and WOW menu. This will cap you FPS to the refresh rate of your screen. (normally 50-60hz) If you don't have this enabled, your graphics card will try and draw/render whatever it is your looking at as fast as it can. This is when you see people with 100+ fps sometimes 200+!! This sounds cool but it isn't.

When your card is doing this, it is working very hard, and by capping the FPS you can reduce its stress, thus (if it is your GPU) reduce/stop the noise it makes when stressed.

Simples :D 
May 16, 2011 7:35:17 AM

Also to pinpoint a high frequency noise with you ears, when the source's are next to each other is virtually impossible.

It may sound like the PSU but............... I did the same and thought the same. For me it's definitely the GPU.
May 16, 2011 9:29:59 AM

Haphestus, I tried that already. I'm already aware capacitors can make that noise and I understand refresh rates fully. I also always have my vsync on anyway except for benchmarking.. I also tried not having it on too. The same happens. I also tried swapping it out with another PCI-E card I had lying around and could still hear the sound coming from the PSU. The card and PSU are at opposite ends of the case, and it's quite easy to detect if you just move your ear along. I had my ear on the back of the PSU vent itself. It's 100% certain that PSU. The card is an Asus ENGTX280

Interesting revelation this morning btw. The voltages in my bios are showing this
http://www.imgjoe.com/x/biosvolts.png

while the voltages showing in speedfan are 6-something volts on the 12v rail
May 16, 2011 4:05:09 PM

Those seem a lot better than what speedfan was detecting, seems probable those are correct and speedfan was plain wrong on it, for whatever reason.
May 17, 2011 2:32:17 PM

Ok gear, im glad you knew what I was trying to explain, as it is difficult to read and measure peoples understanding on IT hardware sometimes.

So you're looking at a new PSU then?

I would like to recommend ANTEC true power units. They are brilliant. Corsair are just as good, so shop around :D 
a c 275 ) Power supply
May 17, 2011 2:47:44 PM

internetlad said:
Those seem a lot better than what speedfan was detecting, seems probable those are correct and speedfan was plain wrong on it, for whatever reason.

Hint Speedfan sucks,use HWMonitor..
December 5, 2012 10:07:49 PM

I know this was a while ago, but is it fixed. I am now suffering the same issue and am tryin to find a solution
!