View Full Version : GPU 'wailing like a modem'

04-02-2012, 03:17 AM
This is a weird one - not seen (or heard) anything like this before.

I've just rebuilt a Dell Dimension Desktop which had been 'reinstalled' by someone who had no idea about drivers - I eventually found them all and powered-it-off, ready to go back.

Before I give machines back I like to give them a second quick test tho - and when I came to test this one, powering it up produced a loud and high-pitched screaming - exactly like the noise a modem used to make when syncing - and no startup (frozen on the BIOS check statusbar).

When I opened-it-up, the screaming is coming from the GPU (a Radeon HD2400). Multiple reboots won't stop it but when I pull the monitor cable out, it stops.

When it put the cable back - the machine is booting AOK!

When I reboot it, it's screaming again!?

So I pull the GPU out and put it back - cable back in and it's OK now!?!?

Any ideas? I don't want it to do that when it gets back to it's owner and it will look like my fault!

Only thing i can think of is that these Dells have a crappy spring-loaded plastic doodah holding PCIE cards in place and it might not be doing the job properly/?

04-02-2012, 03:39 AM
Could be mechanical, the fan bearing might need a drop of oil. They can make a shocking amount of noise for something so small!

04-02-2012, 03:44 AM
I don't think it was the fan - this was an unholy range of screeches at a volume that tiny fan on these things couldn't possible have made (I don't think - anyway!)

If it does it again before I return it - I'll just pull the fan power header off and see if that solves it tho...

04-02-2012, 04:14 AM
Probably capacitor whine if it's not the fan

04-02-2012, 10:09 AM
Probably capacitor whine if it's not the fan
I'd assume something like that if the noise stops when the VGA/DVI cable is yanked out. The fan would run as soon as the card receives power and won't stop just because a VGA cable is pulled out.

04-02-2012, 10:20 AM
If the monitor has speakers, try adjusting the volume. Something is prodding my memory about DVI carrying a sound channel and if something is sending a signal down the wrong wires then the monitor will still try to play it out loud for you.

Either that, or the PC is haunted by the ghost of the internet past.

04-02-2012, 09:55 PM
No speakers on the monitor - sound deffo from the GPU (no other cards inserted) and it's not recurred all day so fingers crossed.

Further exploration has discovered that one of the 4 dimm slots on this PC is dead (and showing signs of burning at one end!!) and there's a STRONG smell of aftershave which I suspect is what's been poured into it (one of those Dell cases with the cutout at the front which enables exactly that sort of thing to happen!!)

Who knows what damage I've missed - still, it's running for now :)

05-02-2012, 12:04 AM
Hmmm, strong smell of aftershave, probably alcohol based, just what you want in electrical components. As long as it's working now, I presume the owner will find a different way to fry it before any of your repairs come unstuck, so I wouldn't worry too much :)

05-02-2012, 06:44 AM
A lot of GPUs have their own mini speakers (just like a case speaker) to warn of overheating and similar issues. That's probably what was producing the noise, but I wonder what would cause it to continue for reboots and stop when you pull the video cable. If it was going off because of overheating, pulling the video cable wouldn't make a lick of difference, so maybe it was a bad connection somewhere. Dust can cause shorting issues (though it doesn't happen often), and I don't think I've ever heard of such an issue with the pins in a video cable, but it's possible that there was a short going on between the PCIe pins. If one of those pins traced back to the video connector, pulling the cable might have broken the shorted circuit.

Reseating the card like you did would have moved the dust enough to break that short, so it's possible that that's what happened here. If you've still got the PC, I'd recommend pulling the card again and giving the PCIe slot a good clean out with some compressed air for good measure.