Help - unidentified laptop noise driving me insane!

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Help - unidentified laptop noise driving me insane!

Post by iblokh » Thu Jan 24, 2008 11:53 pm

The 4200rpm toshiba in my Dell Inspiron 5100 crashed and burned last month, so I replaced it with a Seagate Momentus 5400.3 120gb HD. Since I was making an upgrade, I got an extra gig of RAM and also opened up the laptop case and sprayed some air on the heatsink/fan assembly to get as much dust out as possible.

A few days later, I started noticing a really annoying, high pitched scratching/grinding noise coming from the laptop. Hard as I try, I cannot tell what part of the laptop it's coming from - it seems to distribute equally.

I'm not sure how best to describe it - it's a high pitched grinding I guess. It seems to be present at all times, even when disk activity is low (according to Filemon). If I try copying a large file though, the sound definitely gets louder and starts alternating in pitch.

Assuming it was the drive, I replaced it, albeit for the same make and model, at the same store - same problem! I then put my old drive back in, since it was working on and off - it worked this time and again, same problem...unless I'm going crazy. Also, the new drive ran completely silent in an external case, when copying files back and forth.

I'm assuming it's one of two things: either I am incorrectly mounting the drives or I damaged something when dusting the system internally. I kind of doubt the second, since I only removed the keyboard and EMI shield below it. It also doesn't sound like fan noise at all - I can hear my fan spin-up and spin-down with a very different "whooosh".

It's not the CD-ROM and I can't think of any other moving parts in a laptop. That leaves the mounting, but again - not sure how I could have messed that up. I've tried attaching the screws on the bracket as tight as possible - I've also tried attaching them loosely; no dice.

Any ideas? The noise is driving me crazy and I'm considering ditching this laptop - which otherwise works very well - because of it.

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Post by kittle » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:49 pm

im not familliar with your laptop - but a couple things come to mind.

-- your canned air knocked something loose. find the internal fans and make sure they spin freely.

-- your canned air pushed some foreign object into the HD area, or other fan area and is causing things not to seat right.

See if you can find a way to run the laptop with the HD outside the unit -- you may need to buy an extender cable. This will tell you if the sound really is comming from the HD.

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