I regularly get a high speed whine on my desktop Windows PC.

It sort of ramps up from quiet to loud. It sounds like like a spinning object speeding up. I've read it could be the HDD or the Fan.

How can I rule out one or the other?

  • For the fan to speed up, the temperature must be up. Check your sensors: For CPU use Speccy and for GPU use GPU-Z. (Assuming you're on Windows.)
    – harrymc
    May 27 at 19:05
  • Record the noise and put it here? CPU and fan noises sound very different. As its a desktop, if you are careful you may also be able to open it and stop the cpu fan from spinning (eg unplugging it temporarily) to see if the sound goes away.
    – davidgo
    May 27 at 19:25

2 Answers 2


In my experience, your description is consistent with fan noise.

If your computer starts cool and heats up, the fan will follow and quickly ramp up from quiet to loud.

HDD should not make a "spinning up" noise.

I normally associate HDD noise with a distinctive metallic rolling noise of squeaky bearings. That happens when a disk gets old.

HDD noise is typically intermittent; you hear it when the disk is being used on an "on or off" (1 or 0) basis. An old HDD is noisy when the disk usage light is on, and quiet otherwise. It should not produce a spectrum of volumes.

  • 1
    Every HDD I can remember had a spin-up noise. May 28 at 3:24
  • Even a modern high performance HDD still has a spin-up noise, a steady state hum, and grindy-sounding noises when reading. Not every loud HDD is an old disk.
    – Booga Roo
    May 28 at 4:05

Shut down your machine and disconnect all fans. Restart the machine and listen to the different sound.

Shut down your machine again to prevent heat issues due to the lack of cooling. Connect one fan, restart the machine, listen. Repeat until all fans are reconnected. Be aware that there might be additional fans, not just the CPU fan but housing fans or a fan mounted on your graphics card.

If you suspect a harddrive, remove it from your computer and put it into a docking station. Power on the docking station and plug the interface cable into your machine to trigger the startup of hard drive.

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