Clicking ASUS laptop. What's the matter?
March 6, 2013 4:12 AM   Subscribe

I have an ASUS UX31 laptop - just under a year old. In the last couple of days it has started making a clicking sound. Specifically what I hear are quiet pairs of clicks. The clicks are separated by about a quarter of a second and the pairs of clicks repeat every 3 seconds - it sounds a little like a relay opening and then closing. Any ideas?

There are no other noises and the clicking does not seem to be affected by variations in the cooling fan speed. The clicks start from the moment the laptop is started until the moment it shuts down - they continue if I unplug all external peripherals. I am running Windows 7. This laptop uses an SSD rather than an HD. Everything else seems to be functioning normally.
posted by rongorongo to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Powered or on battery or both?
posted by mattoxic at 4:41 AM on March 6, 2013

posted by rongorongo at 4:45 AM on March 6, 2013

Does it sound like any of the clicks in this video? The video has the sounds of a hard disk failing.
posted by Houstonian at 4:56 AM on March 6, 2013

(Oops, just saw the end of your posting. Never mind.)
posted by Houstonian at 4:57 AM on March 6, 2013

Capacitors can make a high pitch squeal. I had a laptop that did this. Clicking though, and not mechanical, probably a transistor.
posted by mattoxic at 5:15 AM on March 6, 2013

That sounds like a capacitor on the power supply going bad. You'll likely be able to pull the drive in the event of a failure, but still: back up your data immediately.
posted by mhoye at 5:16 AM on March 6, 2013

Was about to post BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP about the hard drive, but, ah, SSD. Does it have a DVD drive? Could be it's trying to open and close?
posted by Sebmojo at 12:20 PM on March 6, 2013

"Capacitors can make a high pitch squeal. I had a laptop that did this. Clicking though, and not mechanical, probably a transistor."

"That sounds like a capacitor on the power supply going bad. "
If you don't know, yet feel you must post, why not just post "I don't know"?

Hint: it's almost certainly neither a capacitor nor transistor, and - despite the seeming irregularity and lack of relation to fan speed - is most likely the fan.
posted by Pinback at 1:03 PM on March 6, 2013

I repair laptops. a lot of laptops.

Obviously, it would help to hear this noise in person, but failing that luxury... yea, i'm going to say the fan. i've seen this problem on everything from little handheld PCs to weird windows tablets. Writing out the possibility of it being the hard drive(which is a distinctive clunky sound with some depth/presence to it) it was always the fan.

This definitely isn't some electronic noise unless it's coming directly from the speakers. Various VRMs(voltage regulators, buzzing) and other motherboard bits can make whining, buzzing, or even very very quiet clicking/buzzing noises, but you have to be in a completely silent room to hear it, and only some machines do. This is definitely the fan if you have no hard drive or optical drive.

Fan speed won't really matter. On my last personally-owned machine that did this, it would do it completely randomly whether the fan was idling or trying to run at max speed. It's either the bearings of the fan, or the fan has lost a blade which is intermittently running in to the remaining blades. In either case, eventually the fan will "stick" and stop spinning. This will either cause the machine to shut down noticing the fan has failed(and warn you when you try and start it), or just shut down from overheating. And yes, until this situation occurs you'll still feel air coming out and hear the fan running.

If it's under a year old, call asus support. Every recent machine of their's i've seen had at least a one year warranty with some having two. If somehow it's not, at least fans are usually one of the cheapest parts in the machine.
posted by emptythought at 3:12 PM on March 6, 2013

Thanks to all those who answered. As emptythought and others suggested I am suspecting the fan - and perhaps a damaged blade - there don't seem to be many other moving parts around to blame. Turning up the volume or muting the speakers doesn't seem to make any difference so I am discounting them. Time to talk to Asus, I think.
posted by rongorongo at 4:15 PM on March 6, 2013

And here is a follow up in case anybody is searching for this: Following emptythought's line of suggestion about the fan I tried using Speedfan to work out what was going on. The UX31 tends to run pretty cool for a laptop and its fan is often inaudible. However the utility could clearly show me that that the CPUs were getting gradually warmer and that the fan speed was rising and falling regularly in time with the clicks: the fan was trying to start but not managing. Since I am somebody unwilling to consign stuff out for repair, even under warranty, if there there is any chance I could fix it myself I decided to try.

The hardest part was getting hold of the very specific size of star screwdriver that Asus appear to use as a challenge to keep bozos like me out of the innards. But I found one in the end and opened up the case. The fan is readily accessible and can be rotated by hand - except in my case its rotation was being blocked by....a crumb. I took out the crumb, put things back together and write to you from a machine that is not about to cook anything.
posted by rongorongo at 4:39 AM on March 9, 2013

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