Part of powering on a gaming PC is noticing all the changes to components over time or suddenly developing. One of these quirks of systems is coil whine. While coil whine is considered a defect by many first time computer enthusiasts, there is more to the case than meets the eye.
Coil whine is the micro-vibrations in a copper coil that is not secured as tightly as others and emanate a sound under a heavy load. Noise within 15hz-20hz generates when the system is active, creating a high pitch effect. This behavior does not mean the component is dying and cannot deliver the necessary voltage to the system.
Is Coil Whine a Problem?
The only directly interfering result of coil whine is the high pitch noise from the system when under load. If the system uses speakers or is in a more ambient environment where sounds carry, then the noise may get mildly annoying.
There are different steps when it comes to the intensity of coil whine in a gaming PC. Browsing casually online will make the noise very small due to the system not being under load. However, once a game starts, there is a slow ramping up in pitch as the system takes on more of a load. The pitch hovers at around a certain threshold which is uniform to any game launched depending on the load and can only be bumped through certain power settings.
Does Coil Whine Cause Damage?
The interesting aspect about coil whine and its effect on gaming PCs is it is an indicator the components are working correctly and not a byproduct of an “out of spec” power supply or GPU.
Gaming PCs that are often marketed for performance will say that coil whine is unacceptable in any high-performance gaming PC. In the following steps, we address some options to reduce or eliminate it.
How to Stop or Reduce Coil Whine
Moving the PC farther away
Moving a gaming PC farther away reduces the amount of noise carried over a short distance. This temporary solution can significantly reduce the noise from the machine and is easy and effective. If the gaming PC is dependent on wired peripherals, perhaps buying more extended chords or organizing the wires via cable clips will be more efficient.
Sound Proofing the PC
If your gaming PC is against the wall, putting some simple padding on the bottom and wall can drown out most of the sound emanating from the PSU or inside the case. You can achieve this with thin soundproofing layers at the back of the PC or under a desk.
Waiting for a While
Sometimes the sound is a quirk of new PSUs or GPUs. These components may need to be “broken in” and can slowly become performant in their role and disperse the coil whine naturally. Some cases say the noise disappears or dampens over time, but that's not guaranteed. Sometimes coil whine stays with the components throughout their entire life cycle.
Adjusting the Power Limit of Components
There are software programs to control voltage regulation modules on both the CPU and GPU, which directly affect other components like the PSU which can also cause coil whine. Programs like MSI afterburner and Ryzen Master (For Ryzen CPUs only) can change the voltage intake reducing the whine.
A quick way to reduce coil whine in most games is to set an FPS limiter.FPS limiters occasionally work for games if the graphics card produces a marginal number of frames over the specified limit. This limit in frames assists with the voltage required for the system, reducing coil whine.
Sometimes all you need to block out coil whine is a good set of headphones! Coil whining is under 5db, so if you don't mind some white noise in a room while playing video games then ignoring it could be a viable strategy.
Getting rid of Coil Whine Completely
If no solution fixes the problem, some more require additional leg work. Since coil whine is not defective in PC components production, manufacturers will have a hard time issuing an RMA (Return to Manufacturer Authorization) for something like coil whine.
Each brand is different, and every circumstance requires investigation on their part and varies in the result.
Buying a New PSU
This option may be extreme to those looking to get rid of coil whine in a gaming PC. Going with a higher certification quality is a good bet when picking out a PSU when thinking about coil whine.
For example, while not guaranteed, platinum PSUs, the highest certification available, feature exceptional build quality and often consider the potential of coil whine in their construction. With warranties lasting 10+ years, the warranty would surely cover if any coil whine happened in the PSU.
We have covered ways to get rid of coil whine in a given system. Simple solutions like sound insulation to component replacements are all viable options. Whatever the solution may be, it's not the end of the world that a component gets a case of coil whine. While it is most common that PSUs or GPUs get coil whine, it is by no means a marker of their inability to deliver performance.
No matter how coil whine affects your system, Apex Gaming PCs ensure all of our systems are set to a high standard of build quality and will not give any of our custom gaming PCs that go through quality control have a component with coil whine. Whatever your system needs, we hope to fulfill them at Apex!
Written by Will Wilson