Some laptop models like Dell XPS 13, Asus Zenbook 14, HP Spectre x360 produce a high pitched noise which can be identified as a buzzing or a squealing noise. This high pitched noise is called Coil Whine or Coil Noise.
In this article I will explain everything about Coil Whine and how to fix it.
What Is Coil Whine?
Coil Whine or Coil Noise is a high pitched sound that is produced when a variable electric current passes through an electromagnetic coil that produces a variable electromagnetic field causing it to vibrate at a certain frequency called Resonance Frequency.
This high pitched noise is unfortunately audible to the human ears and it will bother most people who don’t use headphones. Coil Whine can be present in any electronic component that has transformers or Inductors.
Coil Whine is mainly observed in the Graphics Processing Unit(GPU) but it can also occur in the Motherboard, Power Supply Unit(PSU) and also your Hard Drive like the HDD or SSD.
Both Desktops and Laptops can produce Coil Whine and it pretty much depends on the laptop or desktop model you are using. If you use an external GPU with your laptop or desktop then the phenomenon is more prominent for some graphic cards.
Coil Whine occurs in many laptop models like Asus Rog, Asus Zenbook Pro, Dell XPS 13, Dell XPS 15, Microsoft Surface Book 2, Huawei Matebook X Pro, HP Spectre x360 and many others.
The GPUs that are notorious for this coil whine are Nvidia RTX 2080, RTX 2080 Super, RTX 2070, RTX 2070 Super, RTX 2060, GTX 1080 Ti. In the case of AMD, it occurs in AMD RX 5700 XT, Radeon VII, Radeon 3700X, AMD Radeon Vega 56 and many others.
Why Does Coil Whine Happen? Causes of Coil Whine
The GPU, Motherboard, PSU and Hard Drives of Laptops and Desktops contain electromagnetic coils. These coils are basically Solenoid cores with wire wrapped around them and act as Inductors.
When a variable electric current passes through the Inductor or Solenoid core then an electromagnetic field is generated around the solenoid core. This electromagnetic field produces an Electromagnetic Force. This Force causes the Solenoid Core to vibrate at a certain frequency called Resonance Frequency that produces a buzzing or whining noise.
If you increase the current flowing through the core then the electromagnetic force will be stronger and the whining noise or coil whine will be louder.
Coil Whining occurs in most GPUs but the frequency of vibration is different. The solenoid core of Inductors in some GPUs vibrate at high frequency and the Coil Whine Noise becomes prominent. In other cases, the noise is very less and less audible to our ears.
GPU is the most important source of Coil Whine because it operates at low Voltage and high Wattage.
The low Voltage and high Wattage means a strong Electric field(Amperage) is produced. Now, as current flows through the strong electric field of the solenoid core inside the GPU then a stronger electromagnetic force is produced which in turn produces stronger vibrations and louder Coil Whine noise.
Why Does High FPS Cause Coil Whine?
When you play games at High FPS the load on the Graphics Card is more. A higher load means more current is flowing through the different Inductors inside the GPU.
Now, when a higher current flows through the Inductors then a stronger electromagnetic force is produced which in turn produces a louder Coil whine noise.
The coil whining noise was already there but it wasn’t audible at first. Due to the high FPS, the noise became louder and audible to your ears.
When Does Coil Whine Happen?
Coil Whine happens mostly when you put a high load on the GPU and CPU but this may not be the case every time.
The most common Coil Whine occurrence is observed when you play more demanding games at high FPS or perform memory-intensive tasks like 3D designing. Due to the high load on the GPU, the noise is loud and very prominent.
Some people have noticed Coil Whine when scrolling and browsing. Now, in this situation, the load on GPU and CPU is less but still, there is a whining noise. One reason can be that the Coil Whine is occurring either due to a fault in the Power Supply Unit(PSU) or a fault in the Motherboard.
Is Coil Whine Bad and Is Coil Whine Dangerous?
Coil Whine in GPU is not bad and dangerous because it happens in most cases. This won’t cause any disturbance in the functioning of your GPU. You won’t see a difference in performance.
The main problem is withstanding that annoying high pitched noise. Most people find it frustrating when the noise becomes louder. You can use headphones to block the noise.
The situation can get dangerous when Coil Whine occurs in a low-quality Motherboard or Power Supply Unit with high ripple. In this case, you may get problems in the electric supply and your laptop might shut down and not power on again.
In severe cases the power supply may get burnt.
How To Fix Coil Whine In A Laptop and Desktop?
Coil Whine is impossible to fix completely in a Laptop because the main reason for the coil whine is the lower end components used like GPU, Motherboard, PSU, and Hard Disk and we know that you cannot change these components in a Laptop.
The best way to completely fix Coil Whine in a laptop is by sending it to your laptop manufacturer or replacing it with a new laptop.
However you can reduce or limit the Coil Whining noise of GPU using the following methods
(a) Turning on VSync, FreeSync, and GSync. This will limit the load put on your GPU by limiting the FPS.
Due to lesser load on GPU, the flow of current is reduced which means lower electromagnetic force and fewer vibrations which decreases coil whine noise.
Although this can reduce the coil whine you will get low FPS on games which will cause lags during gameplay and severely affect your performance.
(b) Undervolting and Underclocking the GPU. This will also limit the load put on the Graphics Card and reduce the coil whine. You will get low FPS in games and it will also affect the performance.
The above methods won’t work if the Coil Whine is from Motherboard or PSU. In that case, you’ll have to replace your Laptop.
Coil Whine can be fixed in a Desktop because you can easily change the different components of the desktop. Changing the GPU and PSU should do the trick in most cases. Make sure you use high-end components and not cheap low-end components.
You can further reduce the Coil Whine without affecting performance by using a good Case for your desktop which reduces the noise by partially blocking it.
Coil whine is an irritating high-frequency noise produced mainly by the GPU when it is put under heavy load while playing games at high FPS.
Coil whine in a GPU doesn’t affect the performance of your laptop but coil whine in PSU or Motherboard can damage the Power Supply and motherboard.
You cannot fix Coil Whine in a laptop completely but you can reduce this by using VSync, FreeSync, and GSync or by undervolting and underclocking the GPU.
You can fix the coil whine in a desktop by changing the internal components responsible for the production of coil whine.