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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros Laptop Macs
A lot of Macbook Pro users, and some MacBook users, have reported a quiet but noticeable buzz seemingly coming from the middle of the computer. The noise is caused by the dual-core CPU when it becomes idle. Recently this problem has appeared on my 1.83GHz Macbook, and it's annoying. Apparently Apple doesn't consider it a repairable fault, so here are three solutions/workarounds:
  1. Download the QuietMBP application. This simply gives the processor useless tasks when it's idle, and was created by a frustrated Macbook Pro owner suffering from the problem. It works well, and by dragging the program's slider, I found I could even manipulate the pitch of the whine. The only issue is that battery life might be affected, although you could always quit the app when away from main power.
  2. Start PhotoBooth and minimise it to the Dock. For some reason, using the iSight causes the sound to disappear until PhotoBooth is closed. (Other apps that use the iSight, such as ProScope HR or the Mirror widget, also cause the sound to vanish temporarily).
  3. Turn off one of the processor cores. This can be done by installing the CHUD tool from the developer directory of the Tiger install DVD. This will then add a new entry to System Preferences called Processors, and it lets you switch off one of the CPU cores on the fly. I'm not sure this is 100% safe, because you're using the chip in a way that it wasn't designed for. I also find that the fans tend to spin-up when even trivial tasks are being done, because all the CPU work is being loaded onto one core.
[robg adds: I haven't experienced this issue on my MacBook Pro, but I have seen some of the buzz (sorry, couldn't resist) about it on the net. I did have a similar issue with my Dual G5, which led to this hint about reducing the "chirping" noises.]
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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: DEMON on Aug 27, '07 09:09:27AM

A little remark on point 3. Turning off one of the cores doesn't "hurt" the CPU. It does affect the system performance in a bad way and gives you more battery time. A Core(2)Duo may become 60 degrees. The fan on the CPU can cool 2 cores and keep it "cool" at 60 degrees, so the fan would have an easy time to keep one core cool at 60 degrees.



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: Kevin_ on Aug 27, '07 09:45:33AM

Actually when I'm running on battery power I tend to switch to 1 core often when I am performing tasks that are simple enough for 1 core to handle (I also use an app to show the CPU load in the menu bar so I can turn the 2nd core on when needed)



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: donnarshmr2 on Aug 27, '07 09:49:39AM

I suffered from this problem from a week after the release of the MacBook Pros until about 2 weeks ago. I tried all of these hints at one point or another. QuietMBP was my favorite until an Apple software update caused it to stop working. Speaking as someone who used the technique daily, disabling CPU2 in the Processor PrefPane of CHUD tools will in reality cause the MBP to run significantly hotter AND get signifigantly worse battery life. That's entirely counterintuitive, but that's the way it works.

However, about 2 weeks ago, I called AppleCare, described the problem to them including such tidbits as it'll shut up if the CPUs are loaded, shut up if you turn CPU2 off, etc. The laptop flew off to TX on Wednesday afternoon and was back in my hands on Friday morning. The work order in the box said the mail logic board had been replaced. While I still won't call the laptop silent when on battery, it's no so quiet that I don't hear the buzz unless I specifically listen for it in a VERY quiet place.



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: r-spx on Aug 27, '07 10:19:35AM

I would try contacting Apple but it's the hassle of convincing them of what seems a minor fault. What will probably happen is that they'll take it away for a few weeks and then tell me there's nothing they can do. Then I'll have to argue, and it's just too much trouble. This was my experience with my iBook's dim screen.

Plus, I hear that people have had their logic boards replaced and the problem has persisted. Additionally, somebody on another forum pointed out that this is an issue with all dual-core chips made by Intel, and affects Windows laptops too.



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: r-spx on Aug 27, '07 10:10:49AM
I posted this hint and almost straight afterwards discovered a better way of losing the buzz.

You can download ShhMBP from MacUpdate: http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/22091

It's a small kernel module that turns off the CPU power saving mode that causes the buzz noise. Once installed, you can forget about the program—there's no need to run it each login or bootup. There are instructions in the installer for removing it too.

Although supposedly for MBP, it works great on my MB. The only issue is that your battery will drain faster because the power saving mode isn't activated, and there's no easy way of turning it off (unless you know how to manually unload kernel modules).

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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: okalex on Aug 27, '07 12:42:23PM

I had this problem on my Macbook, though the whine, as it's commonly called, seemed to be coming from the magsafe adapter, or somewhere near by. I took it into the Apple store and the techs (I refuse to call them geniuses) had no idea what the problem was. They claimed to have never heard of such a thing, which I thought was odd considering the number of complaints I had read about it on the innerweb. The only thing they could think is that it was maybe the tiny electronics in the magsafe adapter itself. The problem has gone away since they gave me a new power adapter, but I also had my display inverter board and my logic board (due to a botched replacement of the inverter board) replaced, so I can't be positive what the actual solution was.



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: Dolgarren on Aug 27, '07 02:22:59PM

Interested in osalex mentioning the inverter board.

I had no whine/hum from my MacBook Pro (2 GHz Core Duo) until the inverter board was replaced.

Since then I get a faint whine with the new board when I am on lower than full brightness.

Odd!?



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: Fairly on Aug 27, '07 03:46:58PM

There's another way to fix this. Why not just sue? Apple get their money back from their suppliers if that's where the fault is; otherwise Apple absorb this pain. Because after all they caused it. Really: they didn't publish a disclaimer saying "there will be certain annoyances with this product and we're so dirt poor we can't discount it and we're too lazy and indolent to fix it". Had they done that it would have been another story. But they didn't. Seriously: why do people put up with this horse manure?

Wow. I wrote all that? Now I'm thirsty! Someone pass the Kool-Aid!!!1



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: Auricchio on Aug 27, '07 04:07:01PM

Isn't this ancient news? The "whine" problem was first discussed widely over a year ago.

Various "keep the cpu busy" solutions were around, and Apple also repaired lots of noisy systems.

Old news, folks.

---
EMOJO: mojo no longer workin'



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: tripleman on Aug 27, '07 04:48:43PM

This is super old news. At this point continued mentioning of it smacks of people just trying to stir up dirt.

I have a week 12 MBP that had the squeal - but I could only hear it when everything else was quiet.

I took it in to replace a faulty fan and they asked me if I had the squeal and would I like the motherboard replaced. I said I could hear it but it wasn't an issue. He offered to replace the board anyway.

Sure. Why not? In the end, I was without my laptop for 36 hours.

As far as Apple goes, obviously they do consider it a problem and fix it with grace. As they usually do.

It really is a non-issue and has been for at least six months.



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: JohnnyO on Aug 27, '07 08:57:24PM

It may be an old issue, or it may be a non-issue for you, but by now some of the early MacBook Pro's are showing up on eBay, and new buyers might be wondering why their new computer is making odd noises. Posting a few bits on the Internet doesn't cost much. I don't see the harm in re-exposing issues every 6 months.

I suffer from the problem myself. I have a very quiet house, and find the whine very annoying. It depends on many things. For example, at nearly full volume, I can barely hear the Apple Mail chime when I get new mail at the office. The whine is not a problem at all at the office. At home, anything higher than about 20% volume and I get dirty looks from my wife sitting across the room.



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: haloici0us on Aug 27, '07 10:26:50PM

I haven't followed the situation too close, except that my MacBook from August 06 would make said noises.

I simply have had Photo Booth on in the background the past few minutes and the noise is gone.

So what if this is an old news thing? Not everyone spends every day looking at this site.



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: r-spx on Aug 28, '07 01:00:22AM

To all the people who are saying this is old news...

How bizarre. I could understand the comment if this were a news site. But it isn't. It's a hint site.

I posted this tip because this problem started on my Macbook. I found a solution. I posted it on OS X Hints, hoping that others would find it useful. It doesn't matter a jot if this was first happening last year, or 20 years ago.

Should we not provide tips for 10.4 any longer because it's a few years old? Actually, we might want to forget about providing tips for OS X at all, because it's seven years old now!

Get real guys. If you can't help, get out of the kitchen.



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: Auricchio on Aug 28, '07 09:17:20AM

The point is that the problem is a hardware one, and not something that makes sense to cover up by imposing a full-time low CPU load.

The hardware problem was fixed under warranty for all those who wanted it fixed properly. You can run any of a dozen programs to mask the problem, but nothing short of motherboard replacement will actually fix it.

As an example, none of the Core 2 Duo systems ever suffered the problem, and they were introduced a year ago.

So, yes, it is indeed old news, it's long been fixed in manufacturing, and the web has documented many of the software masking techniques.

---
EMOJO: mojo no longer workin'

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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: Asher Langton on Aug 28, '07 12:22:33PM
The point is that the problem is a hardware one, and not something that makes sense to cover up by imposing a full-time low CPU load. The hardware problem was fixed under warranty for all those who wanted it fixed properly. You can run any of a dozen programs to mask the problem, but nothing short of motherboard replacement will actually fix it. As an example, none of the Core 2 Duo systems ever suffered the problem, and they were introduced a year ago.
That's not true. The Core 2 Duo Macbooks DO have a CPU whine, and Apple hasn't offered a solution:

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=5053959
http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=5062861
http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=4638468
http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=4704726

My C2D Macbook makes an awful whine when the CPU is idle. Fortunately, the whine goes away when I use a bluetooth mouse.

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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: rottenchops on Sep 04, '07 02:33:15PM

Thanks for posting this hint... it certainly is a valid issue.

My machine did this - I sent it in for repair and Apple replaced the inverter board, which accomplished nothing. I suppose I could have tried again, but I simply installed ShhMPB and got on with my life. My previous experiences with Apple support have been painful, and judging from some of the threads I've seen, lots of folks have had lots of trouble getting this particular problem fixed (e.g., being told that the noise "falls within acceptable tolerances").



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: silentcrs on Sep 10, '07 01:56:19PM

I question why anyone would want to give the CPU tasks while idle. The whole point of going idle is to save battery life and reduce wear and tear (in this case, heat) on the CPU. I consider myself to have average hearing and the "hum" is no worse than countless other consumer electronic devices I've worked with.

Methinks some Mac fans are too anal. :P



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Reduce buzzing in certain MacBook and MacBook Pros
Authored by: rottenchops on Sep 11, '07 10:09:04AM

I'm guessing you are not using one of the affected units.
I've not experienced anything like the noise my MBP makes.



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