A guide to identifying the source of an Abnormal Noise on a Dell PC

Summary: This is a troubleshooting guide that helps to identify abnormal noises on your Dell Laptop. It will take you through where the noise is, what type of noise it is and how to proceed See more

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The following article provides information on identifying and locating the source of an abnormal noise coming from you Dell PC.

Table of Contents:

  1. Can you hear a strange noise coming from your Dell PC?
  2. Identifying the type of noise
  3. Locating the source of the noise


Can you hear a strange noise coming from your Dell PC?


Is your Dell PC making an abnormal noise while it is in use?

If so please follow the guide below to identify and locate the source of the noise.

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Identifying the type of noise


  1. Are you having any other issues with your PC?

    1. Is the system overheating or shutting down? If so go to the link below to troubleshooting thermal events.

    2. Is the system not booting or reporting read errors? If so check out the article below to troubleshooting HDD issues.

    3. Is the system working fine except for the noise? If so carry on with the guide.

  2. What kind of noise are you hearing?

    1. Is it an over spinning noise? If so go to section 2 step 3.

    2. Is it an electrical noise? If so go to section 2 step 4.

    3. Is it a mechanical noise i.e. ticking, clicking, grinding or catching. If so go to section 3 step 1.

  3. If the noise is an over spinning noise then you will need to follow this guide.

  4. If the noise is an electrical noise then you will need to contact your Technical Support as they will need to troubleshoot this with you further.

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Locating the source of the noise


  1. Is the noise you hear appreciably louder than a similar model of PC? If so carry on with this guide, if not then the noise would not be considered to be abnormal. You may want to look at other options to quieten your PC. Such as upgrading the parts to quieter parts.

  2. Any troubleshooting on your system should start with running the built in pre-boot diagnostics if available. (On business systems tap on the F12 key at the Dell splash screen to bring up a menu where you can enter diagnostics.)

    1. If you receive an error go to SupportAssist Pre-Boot System Performance Check to log an issue with your system

    2. If you don't receive an error, go on to question 3

    3. If you can't run the diagnostics, go on to question 3

  3. If you have a OptiPlex, Latitude or Vostro system that was purchased before 2011 you will have the opportunity to run some inbuilt further diagnostics.

    1. These diagnostics will run outside of your operating system.

    2. The tests will test each part in your system individually that can make a noise.

    3. It does this by spinning each part up on its own as fast as it goes.

    4. It displays what parts is currently spinning up onscreen.

    5. When you hear the noise you've identified get louder, it's the part displayed on the screen that is causing it.

      There are three (3) ways to run these tests :

      SLN151663_en_US__1icon Note: For Laptops you may have to run through the PSA and memory tests first, before you get the option to test system.
      1. Press the <F12> key at the Dell splash screen and at the prompt select Boot to Utility Partition for desktops or Diagnostics for portables. (Newer desktops will also use the Diagnostics option.)

        To initiate diagnostics:

        • Select Test System

        • Select Symptom Tree

        • Select Abnormal Noise Tests

      2. Press the <F12> key at the Dell splash screen and at the prompt select boot to onboard CD/DVD drive and boot from the drivers CD you received with your machine. It will ask if you want to boot to the 32bit diagnostics and the rest of the selection is the same as in A.

      3. The third option is to go to the Dell Support Site and enter your Service Tag. Under drivers and downloads you will get a drop down box marked diagnostics, you can download an ISO of the diagnostics there that you can burn to a blank CD or to a bootable USB. The rest of the selection is the same as in B.

  4. If you don't have access to these diagnostics or your system was built after 2011, there are diagnostics online that will aid in some physical troubleshooting to answer the following question. Where is the noise loudest on your system? i.e. Physical location on your PC, front or back, left or right hand side.

  5. At this point it becomes a process of elimination. You can either:

    1. You can go to the Dell support site

      1. Enter your service tag or choose your system type from the product list

      2. Choose Diagnostics from the left hand side menu

      3. You will see a list of devices for your system.

      4. In turn, select each component you suspect of making the noise, while running the test on each device, does the noise get louder and quieter during the testing?

        1. If the diagnostics fail, carry on with the onscreen process

        2. If you can isolate the noise to a device - contact technical support

        3. If you can't isolate the noise to a device - carry on with the troubleshooting

    2. Open your system and disconnect the most logical part that could make that kind of noise in the location you identified as being where the noise was loudest.

SLN151663_en_US__1icon Note: You can get step by step instructions on disconnecting parts for your particular system in your owners manual. You can get a copy of this at the Dell Support Site.
  1. Turn the system on with that part disconnected. Does the noise continue?

    1. If so it wasn't that part, go to section 3 step 5 and try disconnecting a different part in that location.

    2. If it has stopped, then that was the part making the noise.

  2. Once you've identified the part that is the source of the noise you can call in to Dell technical support and have the part replaced if the system is still under warranty. If the system is out of warranty then you can call in to technical support for a quote on a replacement or you can try sourcing and replacing the part yourself.

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Article Properties

Affected Product

Desktops & All-in-Ones, Laptops, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Fixed Workstations

Last Published Date

21 Feb 2021



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