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High-pitched noise coming from PSU during high-load

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July 15, 2012 8:55:22 PM

When gaming for about an hour or so on games like Blacklight: Retribution and Dawn of War 40k I will notice a very subtle high-pitched noise coming from what I am fairly certain is my PSU. It only happens under those circumstances (No noise when playing League of Legends, when powered off, etc.) I am under warranty for the PSU, should I consider that a defect and rma it or do I have nothing to worry about?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Here are my specs if that helps...

MOBO- ASUS Rampage 3 Formula
GPU- EVGA 580 SC
CPU- Intel I7 @ 2.8
RAM- Corsair Dominator GT 12 gig @ 2000(Clocked at 1866 or something like that because cpu did not support 2000 RAM)
PSU- Corsair Professional Series Gold AX1200
July 15, 2012 9:04:00 PM

It's probably the GPU fan, which would be normal.
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a b ) Power supply
July 15, 2012 9:19:35 PM

It could also be coil whine from the gpu. I wouldn't point fingers at the psu (which is way overpowered for your system...its definitely not strained).
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July 15, 2012 9:31:12 PM

Temile said:
It could also be coil whine from the gpu. I wouldn't point fingers at the psu (which is way overpowered for your system...its definitely not strained).


The reason for the beefy PSU is because I am going to SLI another 580 when my games start to slow down and for future proofing. I will run 3dmark to get the strain and swap out my gpu and see if the noise persists. The only problem I see here is the replacement gpu would be a 520 and would not draw as much power. Does this still seem a viable test?

Thanks for the input so far everyone!
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a b ) Power supply
July 15, 2012 9:52:27 PM

As power hungry as 580s are, you don't need a 1200w power supply even for 2 of them, but since you have a quality one, don't worry about it. As much as I advocate not overdoing the psu, I haven't found anything actively wrong with it other than people sometimes tradeoff lower quality to get more watts.

In any case, I was simply saying power draw on the psu is unlikely to be the cause of your problem...but diagnosing these sounds is always difficult. It is more likely something is getting warm and you've got a fan issue or coil whine. I'd look at temperatures and see if you can correlate noise to heat.

Get OCCT and try the CPU only test and the GPU focused tests. That may help narrow it down better than 3dMark.

Probably not worth the trouble, but the one app that really makes my 560s whine is Boinc Collatz Conjecture: http://boinc.thesonntags.com/collatz/

Its a tight loop of CUDA code that makes all my nVidia cards whine. If you can run that without the sound, I'd say you can eliminate coil whine from the culprits.
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July 16, 2012 1:20:18 AM

That makes sense, I will be sure to run the hardware specific tests and listen for the noise.

Now as far as coil whine goes, is that something that is potentially dangerous and worth RMA'ing? Since it is an EVGA GPU it has a lifetime warranty on the card but I am ok with dealing with a bit of noise as long as it is not an early sign of potential hardware failure.
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a b ) Power supply
July 16, 2012 3:32:33 AM

Not dangerous and not much you can do about it. I'm not convinced that's what it is...just another theory.
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a b ) Power supply
July 16, 2012 2:09:57 PM

Other theories:

PSUs can whine under any load if you have dirty power (lots of harmonics) coming in from the wall. A line conditioner or ups might fix that issue. There is also the opposite problem: the psu may not like the non pure sine wave output by a ups, though that is usually more of a buzz and also rare.

PSUs can also have coil whine, though it seems to be less common than gpus. For that matter almost any component can have coil whine. It's never worked for me, but people use a tube of paper held to their ear and pointed at various components to isolate the sound.
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a b ) Power supply
July 16, 2012 5:22:07 PM

Quote:

PSUs can whine under any load if you have dirty power (lots of harmonics) coming in from the wall. A line conditioner or ups might fix that issue. There is also the opposite problem: the psu may not like the non pure sine wave output by a ups, though that is usually more of a buzz and also rare.


After I wrote me post a few days ago (remember?), I talked a electronics scientist PHD who's been in the business for like 30 years.

He said that a PSU will either work with a modded sinewave or it won't work. There is no middle ground of harming a PSU or any sort of other issues.

Modded sinewave PSU's have short delays between supplying the different *steps* of voltages (due to lack of capacitors and filtering mechanisms) and those delays may be too much time for some capacitors in PSU's to hold out on. On top of that, PFC PSU's have efficiency and certain standards to hold to, and those modded waves may affect those standards so the PSU simply shuts down to protect itself and components.

PSU's immediately rectify current going in with semiconductor switchovers which absolutely do not care what kind of sinewave they receive.
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a b ) Power supply
July 16, 2012 5:31:23 PM

Did you specifically ask about buzzing? In my research, I've ruled out the psu being damaged, but not the buzzing. As it happens, I had a psu that definitely buzzed when on ups...maybe nothing to do with the shape of the sine wave though.
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July 16, 2012 10:21:51 PM

Thanks for all of the information everyone. As a computer technician I must swallow my pride to make a forum post before solving it myself. You have all been very informative.

Also, I have my computer connected to a ups that regulates the voltage sent to my computer.
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July 16, 2012 10:27:13 PM

baddad said:
It's probably the GPU fan, which would be normal.

It is not the fan, I stopped the fan while the sound was present and the sound persisted.
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July 17, 2012 9:45:28 PM

Best answer selected by DrNinja.
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