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Reducing Fan Noise (Windows Vista)

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This document pertains to HP and Compaq Desktop PCs with Windows Vista.
A computer contains several fans to keep it cool. When a computer is first turned on, the fans normally spin at high speed and create some noise. After 5 to 20 seconds, however, the fan noise stops.
Fans that continue to spin at high speed or make strange noises might indicate a problem. If the fan is still noisy after 20 seconds or if a fan suddenly starts making unusual noises, use the following steps to troubleshoot for problems.

Step 1: Adjust power settings

Some power settings cause fans to spin too fast for a typical household environment. If you are using the computer in a quiet environment where temperatures remain steady and mild (up to and about 30 degrees Celsius or 86 degrees fahrenheit), then use the following steps to adjust the power settings to a more appropriate setting:
  1. Turn on the computer and wait for Windows to open.
  2. Click Start , and then click Control Panel.
  3. Click System and Maintenance and then click Power Plan.
  4. Select Power Saver and close the window.
  5. Restart the computer.
    If the fan is quiet, the problem is solved.
    If the fan is still noisy, continue to the next step.

Step 2: Find the noisy fan

  1. Turn off the computer.
  2. Remove any objects near the computer. In addition, make sure there are no children or pets near the area.
  3. To open the computer case, loosen or remove the screws at the back of the side panel. Then slide the panel to the back and away from the computer.
    NOTE:If you need help opening the computer case, search the HP website for more detailed instructions. In the Search (or Questions or Keywords) field at the top of this page, type the computer model number and the words "opening the case." For example, if you own an HP Pavilion Slimline s3307c Desktop PC, type: s3307c opening the case.
    WARNING: Do not put any part of your body inside the computer. Touching components inside the computer, even when the computer is off, can damage sensitive electronic circuits and expose you to risk of injury from electrical shock.
  4. With the side panel removed, turn on the computer and listen for fan noise inside the computer.
  5. Locate the noisy fan and remember its location.
    NOTE:If the fan noise goes away when the side cover is removed, the problem might be caused by too much heat inside the computer case. See Reducing Heat Inside the PC for more information.
  6. Turn off the computer.
  7. Replace the side panel.

Step 3: Determine which type of fan is making the noise

Use the following information to find which type of fan is making the noise.
  • The noisy fan is inside a metal box attached to the inside of the computer case, usually at the top and back. This is a power supply fan. Go to power supply fan .
  • The noisy fan is attached to a graphics card, a circuit board fitted into a plastic slot on the motherboard. This is a graphics card fan. Go to graphics card fan .
  • The noisy fan is the largest fan on the main circuit board inside the computer. This is a processor fan. Go to processor fan .
  • The noisy fan is attached to the inside of the case, usually at the back. This is a case fan. Go to case fan .
After locating the noisy fan, continue to the next step.
Figure 1: Examples of fan locations on a desktop PC (your computer should look similar)
 Fan locations on a ATX case.
1 - Power supply (might contain a fan)
2 - Graphics card fan
3 - Processor fan
4 - Case fan
5 - Power supply fan vent (back view)
6 - Case fan vent (back view)
Figure 2: Examples of fan locations on a Slimline PC (your computer should look similar)
 Fan locations on a mini-ATX case.
1 - Power supply (might contain a fan)
2 - Processor fan
3 - Graphics card fan
4 - Power supply fan vent (back view)
5 - Case fan vent (back view)

Step 4: Troubleshoot the noisy fan

In the following list, locate the fan creating the noise and follow the instructions.

Power supply fan

Complete the following steps.
  1. Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust from the power supply vent on the back of the computer.
  2. Turn on the computer.
    If the noise is gone, the problem is solved.
    If the fan is still noisy, continue to the next step.
  3. Replace the power supply.
    WARNING:Because of the risk of fire and electrical shock, do not attempt to replace the fan inside the power supply.

Graphics card fan

Find the symptom in the following list and then follow the steps for that symptom.

The graphics card fan stops or makes strange noises

If the fan on the graphics card stops or makes strange noises, service the computer to replace the fan or the graphics card.

The graphics card fan always spins at high speed or fluctuates from loud to quiet

If the fan continually spins at high speed or fluctuates from loud to quiet when the computer is idle, complete the following steps.
  1. Turn on the computer and wait for Windows to open.
  2. Connect to the Internet.
  3. Download and install the latest driver for the graphics hardware.
    Go to the HP Software download page , enter the specific model number for your computer, and follow the instructions to find an graphics update for your computer.
    NOTE:If your computer came with a graphics card, you can check the Web site of the graphics card manufacturer to find a driver that is more recent. However, if you want to install and use a driver that is not posted on HP.com, realize that the driver may cause other problems. Make sure to create a Windows System Restore point before attempting to install the driver.
  4. Restart the computer after a graphic hardware update has been applied (if any were found).
  5. If fan is still noisy, the temperature inside the case might be too high. To reduce the temperature, see Reducing Heat Inside the PC .

Processor fan

Locate the symptom in the following list and then follow the steps for that symptom.

The processor fan makes strange noises

If the processor fan makes strange noises, replace the fan.
NOTE:If a processor fan fails, the processor can quickly overheat and be damaged beyond repair. The fan is inexpensive to replace compared to the cost of replacing the processor.

The processor fan always spins at high speed or fluctuates from loud to quiet

If the fan always spins at high speed or fluctuates from loud to quiet when the computer is idle, complete the following steps.
  1. Turn on the computer and wait for Windows to open.
  2. Connect to the Internet.
  3. Download and install the latest BIOS update from the Software & Drivers section that matches the model of your computer.
  4. Restart the computer.
  5. If the fan is still noisy, the temperature inside the case might be too high. Remove the dust under the processor fan. To do this, see Reducing Heat Inside the PC .

Case fan

Locate the symptom in the following list and then follow the steps for that symptom.

The case fan makes strange noises

If the case fan makes strange noises, replace it.

The case fan always spins at high speed or fluctuates from loud to quiet

If the case fan continually spins at high speed or fluctuates from loud to quiet when the computer is idle, complete the following steps.
  1. Turn on the computer and wait for Windows to open.
  2. Connect to the Internet.
  3. Download and install the latest BIOS update from HP.com. For more information, see Updating the BIOS .
  4. Restart the computer after the BIOS has been updated.
  5. If the case fan continues to spin at high speed, dust in the case vents and other components might cause heat to build up inside the computer case. To clean the computer and reduce the heat, see Reducing Heat Inside the PC and Cleaning your Desktop PC .
  6. Replace the case fan if problems continue after cleaning the computer.

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