My computer keeps clicking!
July 2, 2011 9:24 PM   Subscribe

My computer keeps making a clicking sound and I can't work out how to fix it or what is causing it...

When I first built the computer a few months ago it was an ongoing problem but then it went away and only in the last few days has the clicking started again. It's a desktop tower case with an intel processor/motherboard and a GTX 460SE graphics card.

It's an intermittent rapid mechanical clicking noise - it'll start, sometimes get louder and then seem to randomly stop again. It doesn't seem to be associated with putting the computer under any extra load, and doesn't seem to affect performance or heating. I initially thought it was a wire being hit by one of the fans but manually stopping the various fans in my case doesn't stop the sound. I think I've isolated the sound to coming from either the power supply or the graphics card but it's really hard to pinpoint the location.

Anyone experienced this before?
posted by Silentgoldfish to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Could be one of the various fans (including one on the power supply or graphics card), could be the hard drive. Which fans are you stopping exactly? Do you have another hard drive you can pop in to see if it's that?

Make a back up of the data on your hard drive just in case. Clicking may be the first sign of imminent failure.
posted by asciident at 9:33 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding making a backup of your hard drive ASAP. If it's not the fans, the HD is a usual suspect.

We always called it the "click of death".
posted by sinnesloeschen at 9:47 PM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

The most valuable part of your computer is the data on your hard drives.
The worst case scenario is that your hard drive is failing. You need to back up your data immediately.
To troubleshoot your issue, you need to replace one component at a time, and see which one eliminates the issue. Without knowing which 'click' you are describing, we can't tell what the issue is, but 'clicking' is a common symptom of failing hard drives.
Datacent helpfully provides a set of sound files for diagnosing failing hard drives.
Have you backed up your data yet?
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 10:11 PM on July 2, 2011

Response by poster: The good news for me is that it's definitely not the hard drives or the graphics card - the sound persisted when I removed them all. The only thing I can think of left is the power supply - it's the only fan I can't stop so would be the only moving part left with the graphics card and HDD's out of the picture. I don't know what could be causing an intermittent clicking noise with the PSU though.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 10:36 PM on July 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Something similar happened to me - there was a stray wire being tapped by a fan. But sometimes the fan would stop or the wire would be tapped just out of range, so that's why the noise wasn't consistent. It was annoying to pin down because I'd open up the laptop, and it would stop, and close it up and it would start again.
posted by lesli212 at 11:33 PM on July 2, 2011

Best answer: The voltage regulator of the PSU can make a rapid clicking sound when the PSU is struggling to supply power to the components in your PC. This can happen when some component or connection in your PC is improperly grounded, shorted out, or defective. This includes the PSU itself. Insufficient capacity of the PSU can also cause this.

You're already on your way to solving the problem by removing all components that can be easily unplugged. If you have known good spare components, you have a great way of eliminating possible problem areas.

If you've made any modifications to connectors or fan wiring yourself, you should of course try to eliminate those as the problem.

You can try to reinstall the motherboard: physically remove it, the standoffs, and the connector shield, and reinstall everything after checking nothing is out of place. Make sure there are no loose screws or standoffs rattling about under the motherboard, or improperly positioned standoffs touching it.

You should also check that the PSU has a good connection to the chassis - tighten all screws that hold the PSU in place.

If your PSU has modular cables, reconnect the cables you need, and remove the others.
posted by Eco at 11:46 PM on July 2, 2011

careful! it might be a short...they'll sometimes do that thing where say the wire is juuuust close enough to the enclosure to arc to it and it will do so with a rapid-fire tapping sound, but the slightest movement and it will just stop, sometimes for weeks or months, and then just as mysteriously start up again. look around for black spots...
posted by sexyrobot at 12:44 AM on July 3, 2011

Response by poster: I essentially rebuilt my computer but couldn't find any suspicious wiring or loose connections. I wound up finding an old PSU in my old computer that has a higher power rating (750 vs 650 watts) and replaced it, and problem seems to be fixed! Thanks for the help.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 6:20 AM on July 5, 2011

« Older Persistant Vista rootkit infection - virus...   |   Alias whatever Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.