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Troubleshooting the Power Mac G5 noise issue (#4): RADEON 9800 fan noise; More on full fan speed; target disk mode; more

Troubleshooting the Power Mac G5 noise issue (#4): RADEON 9800 fan noise; More on full fan speed; target disk mode; more

RADEON 9800 fan noise In addition to the "chirp," "metallic screech," "overall hum," and "constant tick," issues noted last week, we are beginning to receive reports of an extremely distracting noise generated by the optional ATI RADEON 9800 graphics card.

Marc Marshall describes the noise, and when it seems to occur:

"There is a fan somewhere in my machine that makes a maddeningly loud and annoyingly pitched whine. It's surprisingly hard to pinpoint, but I'm fairly certain it is coming from my RADEON 9800 OEM card's fan (custom ordered at the Apple Store, that is). I have heard many others complaining about the 9800's fan, to the point some have spent a fair sum of money on quieter replacement fans, leading me to believe that my guess is correct.

"This noise seems to be at least as loud as the entire rest of the system combined and is at a higher, far more annoying pitch--it is easily audible two rooms away. Making it worse, the Apple DVI-VGA adapter seems to occasionally start resonating with the vibrations of the fan, making an even more annoying, harsher buzzing sound at the same pitch unless I jiggle it or thwack the computer to shift the weight of the VGA cable."

We found a German site that offers a replacement fan for the ATI RADEON 9800. The product's description claims "The cooling performance even in the ultra-quiet mode is better than most of the original coolers supplied with the graphics-card."

More on full fan speed: FireWire target disk mode We previously noted an issue where putting the G5 to sleep results in the fans revving up to full speed. We've since identified a few additional scenarios where this problem is happening. Namely, when using FireWire target disk mode (G5 as the FireWire volume). UPDATE: This behavior is due to the fact that the fan regulating mechanism is in Mac OS X, and not innate to the G5. While annoying, the noise normal.

Other Macs affected? Our discussion of the various Power Mac G5 noise issues has prompted users to notice odd audible blips on other Macs. MacFixIt reader Grant Wilson writes:

"I like to point out that some of these noises are also occurring on my PowerBook G4 15". I hear noises whenever: Mail accesses the network [viewing the activity viewer dialog confirms these chirps occur when access is happening]. Whenever I select a QuickTime movie in the finder [Note: the movie is not playing, just showing the preview, or front frame]"

In house, we've noticed a similar issue with our PowerBook G4 12". It appears that in one scenario, the "chirping" noise (sometimes more akin to a click) occurs whenever the audio is being engaged on some PowerBooks.

In other cases (similar to the G5), setting the Processor Performance setting in Energy Saver preferences to Automatic or Reduced seems to eliminate the noise for some PowerBooks.

SATA noise Some newer Hitachi SATA hard drives are prone to move their heads around once every 10 minutes, which causes a minimal noise similar to a CD-ROM drive seeking. It appears that this issue is manifesting on some Power Mac G5s, which use SATA drives.

Success with power supply replacement We are beginning to receive some reports of success eliminating excessive fan noise with replacement power supplies shipped by Apple. One reader writes "Apple just replaced my power supply (1.6 GHz single processor) and the loud fan noises are gone. Before the replacement, the noise sounded like a bad ballast in a fluorescent light fixture; now it's just a faint whirring sound, certainly acceptable. The technician at the Apple Store told me that all of the power supplies being shipped now are of the latest configuration, and the success rate of fan noise abatement has been excellent."

Replicating the noise Roberto Castelletta reports on a method of reproducing the "buzzing" noise that utilized Macromedia's Fireworks MX: "You can try yourself a particular action in Fireworks MX that make your G5 sounds like a circular saw. Create an object in the stage, select it and go to change it's transparency in the Property panel. While you're moving the transparency slider you can hear your G5 really whine."

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