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Apple Faces Up to the MacBook Whining 107

Whiney Mac Fanboy writes "The Register is reporting that Apple has finally admitted to the 'high pitched whining' problems with it's MacBook line — but only to tell customers to contact AppleCare. From the article: 'MacBook Pro users have complained about numerous noises emanating from their machines since the Intel-based notebooks began shipping in February this year. Audible irritations reported by machine owners include whining sounds coming from the screen, from the body of the notebook, and from the area below the screen hinge when the laptop's running on batteries and both cores of the Core Duo CPU are enabled.'"
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Apple Faces Up to the MacBook Whining

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  • Hyperhidrosis? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy ( 963289 ) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @10:48AM (#15790956) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    The MacBook discolouration took a little longer to emerge, but appears to be a reaction between the laptop's plastic casing and chemicals exuding from sweaty palms. Apple's machine isn't the only notebook out there to show this symptom


    Have a look at these photos [deeje.tv] to see the extent of the problem. (Poor old Mac users, probably stress sweat from worrying about their credit card bills).

    Anyway - good to see Apple finally 'fessing up to the problems - that's what we pay the extra cash for right?
    • there had to be a post from whiney mac fanboy on this article :)
    • I have a PB 17" 1.33MHz which had some nasty pitting where my hands went. Under both palms, with the left one being closer to the keyboard from command key usage, and the right one being farther from the keyboard from arrow key usage. Lots of nice black pitting. And I'm not talking freckles, this was an open pitting mine. Also, some of my keycaps were badly worn down (Z, X, C, V, command, etc.) such that the backlight would just show a big blob. Also, the plastic molding above the superdrive slot had b

      • Wow 1.33MHz. That's like slower than the chip in my clock radio. No wonder you have problems. You should have gone for the much more popular PB 17" 1.33GHz, it's like over a 1000 times more powerful and stuff.
    • haha, my notebook PC has discoloration on one side but it's just a darker gray.
    • I had the same problem with a PB 12". It's caused by sweat, which is corrosive enough that it'll rust just about anything, and disclour plastic, too.

      This is "normal wear and tear", IMHO. It affects all laptops, you just can't see it on black plastic as well (it happened on my Inspiron 8200). The solution is a plastic wrist wrest, either clear or case-colored, from marware.
      • Actually - the solution is to type in the correct position, with your wrists slightly elevated to be level with your hands. (Carpal tunnel free!) No discoloration on any laptop o' mine.
    • My dad (back when I was a teenager... 7 years ago?) had a thinkpad, and the paint (or enamel more likely) and started peeling on the handwrest. Turned out about 5% of the guys at work had the certain level of acidity or whatever in their hand sweat required to react with it. Thinkpad recalled and started using a diffrent formulation.
    • Ha!! As a Thinkpad devotee, I always knew black was the one and only best color for a laptop, somehow or other.

      But seriously, this seems to be a persistent problem with Apple's nice-looking toys. They make the iPods shiny black, so every scratch stands out. They make clear cases so you can see all the dust bunnies inside. They make fresh, clean colors that only look good new. Me, I'm a realist. I buy barf-colored carpet for my living room just to be safe.

  • by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @10:52AM (#15790992) Homepage Journal
    May the screaming is the Mac being in pain from having to run Windows. (I'm a dyed in the wool Windows user, but I had to.)
  • Not to be a appologist but do we really know how many people actually have this problem?

    I have owned a Macbook Pro since March and while I did have the weird battery swelling problem thanks to a parts manufacturer screwing up the battery casing, I never once had the whine, nor did anyone I know or any Pro's I saw at Apple Stores in the area.

    From reading around it also seemed like the same handful of people where making the most noise. While Im glad Apple is now fixing it, I cant help but think its not as widespread a problem as its being made out to be on the internet.

    • by J.Y.Kelly ( 828209 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:15AM (#15791200)
      From what I've seen the problem is very widespread - however it isn't always noticed.

      I'm on my third MacBook Pro (for other problems, not the noise!), and all the ones I've had have made this noise, as has every other one I've seen. However probably more than 50% of people who've listened to my machine couldn't hear the noise.

      The whine is very high pitched and it seems that lots of people just don't hear that frequency. However I can tell you that if you do hear it it's like fingernails down a blackboard. It nearly drove me mad until I found QuietMBP [macupdate.com] which immediately shut it up.
      • by JonTurner ( 178845 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @12:19PM (#15791823) Journal
        It's the sound of a high-voltage capacitor bleeding current. As prior post said, very high pitched -- toward the upper end of human hearing. If you're over 40 years old or attend rock concerts/listen to loud music you probably won't be able to hear it, but children can pick it out quite easily since their hearing is typically more sensitive. Must be annoying as hell for dogs.

        Electrolytic caps tend to reform incomplete insulators with use, and occasionally correct themselves. I suspect this is a polyester or metal film polarized cap so the odds of self-correcting are, well, very low to nil. That being said, the charger on my Macbook (low-end 1.83 core duo, not a MBP) makes this sound. I plan to give it a month to see if it sorts out or gets worse. Not too concerned so long as it continues to charge.
      • I have a similar issue with my work issued dothan based Acer. The speaker leads are picking up some high frequency output, maybe 14-15kHz. It will break up when the processor kicks in to do something, but aside from that it's just a quiet shriek in the background. Starts to wear on the nerves after a while. Does anyone know of a Windows utility similar to QuietMBP?
    • Mine has the whine, very high pitched and probably above the average threshold of human hearing. It is easily drowned out by background noise and only audible when one processor is idle. Users running Windows on their MBP report that there is no whine, indicating that it is not necessarily a hardware issue but something to do with power management and processor stepping.
    • I have the whine when the computer is on battery. It stops after a while, usually, and when it doesn't it's ignorable. I also used to have the mooing problem, but so long as I don't completely kill the ventilation on the computer (e.g., by putting it on a bed) it doesn't make that noise.
    • I have the whine on my system. It occurs while the CPU is idling.

      It's intensely annoying, but I'm also a person who gets really annoyed when people leave CRT's turned on (that whine gets me, too).

      The strange thing is I've never heard it from another laptop, even other core duos. The only other system that has a similar problem is my PowerMac G5 2.7G Dual; and it "ticks" every second or so when both processors are on. The solution on the PowerMac is to put the system on the floor.

      I hope to get a new logic bo
  • by geek2718 ( 990232 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:04AM (#15791107)
    ...finally admit to the incessant whining noises caused by its software?
    • It is actually amazing how much Windows users will endure, if a program is misbehaving under Windows. I'm interested on how this came about. Most users seem unphased when an app crashes and will quickly reload an app.
  • by mhocker ( 607466 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:06AM (#15791125)
    I called Apple, they did a few hocus-pocus troubleshooting moves (like unplugging the power cord, taking the battery out then pressing the power button) on the phone, forwarded me to a senior technical specialist who said it's a candidate, and then sent me a box to ship it back today. They claim I'll have it back early next week with a new mobo in it. Easy peasy.

    Incidentally, the specialist said that the new mobo is going to be not completely quiet, but a lot better.

    Now, I'm wondering if they'll put a 1.83 GHz chip in it like I had before or whether they start at 2.0 GHz like the new models do... here's hoping.
    • CAn someone tell me why a mobo would whine? What that's soldered on there can make any sounds?

      I've never even heard of any mobo making a whine. Certain types of LCD backlighting, sure, but not solid state electronics.
      • If it's a very high frequency noise as another post indicated, it could be resonance in a power converter. Most people over 30 or so can't hear tones that high (find about the "mosquito ringtone" for more info). Then there is the mooing, which was nothing more than bad fan control that would constantly turn the fan on and off.
      • This is just a wild guess, based largely on what I know of the "whining monitor" and "buzzing ballast" issues. I am one of the minority of people who can hear those high pitched noises from certain types of electronics. (120hz for ballasts in lighting fixtures IIRC)Because I can hear them, I once looked up what was causing those sounds. In the case of the CRT and lighting ballasts, it was very fast current switching. The main electron gun in a CRT switches on and off very fast (a function of the refresh rat
      • Ceramic capacitors are all piezoelectric to an extent with some types being much worse then others. Inductors and transformers can also become sound transducers depending on how they are constructed.

        Normally neither of these sources would be an issue because all of the switching power supplies involved run at frequencies well above the audio range but some types can suffer from sub harmonic oscillation. This is normally an issue with current mode topologies that lack slope compensation but occasionally it
    • What do people expect Apple to do? This article makes it sound like "Contact AppleCare" isn't a solution. Frankly, as much as I like to fix things myself, it's actually less of my time to just send it back to them.
    • Just got my MacBook Pro back and - the whining is still there. It's not as noticeable and is well within the "tolerable" level, but it isn't gone.
  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:07AM (#15791140) Journal
    Once I removed the Fran Drescher audio clips from the system sounds, it was smooth sailing from then on.
  • In light of the CPU thermal grease fiasco, Apple went the other way and failed to apply enough lubricant to the hamster wheel. Slap a little oil on there and she'll be right as rain.
  • Call me when somebody gets some reliable statistics on this stuff. Everyone is out to get Apple, but so far they are untouchable. I'm certain they will fix these problems in the near future.

    Sigh... all these people should be waiting for Merom Macbooks anyway.
    • Call me when somebody gets some reliable statistics on this stuff. Everyone is out to get Apple, but so far they are untouchable. I'm certain they will fix these problems in the near future.

      Yes, untouchable as in I won't be touching their Intel-based products for quite a while.
      • Yeah I 3 them but I'm holding out for their high-end 2nd generation Intel desktops (which I sincerely hope will have 2 dual core processors each). No one should buy 1st generation, even from Apple.
    • Sigh... all these people should be waiting for Merom Macbooks anyway.

      I wish I didn't have a problem waiting 'til the Merom MacBooks came out but the PC I'm using now is several years old and on it's last legs. Because of MS's Activation for XP I won't get another PC with Windows. Though I've been only using Windows the last few year I prefer Macs anyway, and because I want something to take with me the next computer I get will be a MacBook Pro, hopefully within two weeks.

  • I bought a new dual-CPU G5 tower a few months ago and it was doing the same thing. It was this absolutely grating, irritating high-pitched whine during certain graphics modes, including the RSS screen saver. Think of the noise a CRT makes, only much much louder and a slightly lower pitch.

    Apple told me to take it back to the apple store. The dumbasses at the store told me the noise (pick one or more of the following) a) was the harddrive b) was a fan c) was the video card d) didn't exist e) was normal. A
    • I was royally pissed. "Genius bar" my ass.

      The caliber of Genius Bar employees seems to vary quite a bit. I've only had to use the Genius Bar twice, but both times the people working there were really on the ball and helpful. Perhaps it's because I live in the Silicon Valley area, and they have a greater pool of Macheads to choose from, or perhaps it's just dumb luck.

      Of course, the problem with anecdotal evidence (positive or negative) is that it really doesn't provide any light on whether the individu

    • Were they old enough that they wouldn't have heard the whine? It was probably a power converter resonating at a high frequency (15000KHz or more).
    • by King_TJ ( 85913 )
      Without hearing your particular system, I can't really say for sure - but I've owned 2 G5 dual 2.0Ghz towers and both have exhibited what I'd call a "slight electrical whine", which varies by CPU load.

      This has been discussed all over the Mac forums in the past, and for many people, doing such things as changing the speed settings from "Automatic" to the full performance mode elimiated much of it.

      I don't find the noise "annoying" at all, really. I considered it a perfectly acceptable noise that my system wa
    • I've sent mine back for another power supply. And disabling the CPU nap worked to kill the noise, also.

      Check out this little program to confirm:

      http://www.bresink.com/osx/SystemLoad.html [bresink.com]
  • by mypalmike ( 454265 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:36AM (#15791418) Homepage
    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=249 48 [apple.com]

    Seriously, all they are saying is: if you've got a problem, contact AppleCare. It's not like a recall or something.
  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@w o r f . n et> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:39AM (#15791449)
    Everyone ought to know to not buy first-gen Apple hardware by now - the large majority of first gen hardware have issues that get resolved in the second revision.

    Of course, this whine sounds more like a power supply issue than anything else - modern electronics use switching supplies to generate the various voltages needed, and they tend to operate anywhere from 10kHz and up, but are well known to drop lower in frequency, or induce noise in other bits of the system. The fact that the noise can appear and disappear as the system is loaded is key to the problem as switching supplies rely on feedback loops to ensure regulation. Increase the load and the power supply works harder and likely generating more switching noise which induces itself in analog lines to speakers and such. And if the switching transistors have to remain on longer, it could reduce the switching frequency to something people start to notice. Most recommendations for eliminating noise comes from reducing system load, turning down the backlight (double effect, since the backlight inverter is yes, another switching supply).
    • I think you understand SMPSs well, but it's not frequency that's changing, it's the duty cycle (amount of time ON) which regulates voltage in that feedback loop you're talking about, not frequency (at least in the SMPS circuits I studied).

      Part of the reason is that I really don't think adjusting frequency will actually be a viable source of voltage control, unless you're taking advantage of the reduced efficiencies in the inductors at "improper" frequencies (generally you design the switching frequency arou
    • Everyone ought to know to not buy first-gen Apple hardware by now - the large majority of first gen hardware have issues that get resolved in the second revision.

      I've heard this from several Mac fans for a long time. However, in my opinion, this is completely unacceptable. First of all, to purchase a Mac, you need to plunk down a non-trivial amount of money. Secondly, Apple doesn't keep selling the old generation of products for very long, so if you use your Mac for work, and you suddenly need a new o
      • I think is this fairly overblown though. There isn't a Slashdot story every time a Lenovo or Dell has some small problem. There are plenty of said problems.

        1. Mac users are generally more anal about this sort of thing and make noise about it.
        2. Macs are quite simply a big topic right now. An issue like this would have never graced the pages of Slashdot pre-OS X.
        3. First gen EVERYTHING is problematic. As much as I wanted a 2005 Mustang, no way. New body styles of the first year are just not my thing.

        What you
      • Secondly, Apple doesn't keep selling the old generation of products for very long, so if you use your Mac for work, and you suddenly need a new one, then you have no choice but to purchase a first-gen machine.

        It really depends on how your works work. If you are spending other peoples money, perhaps the other people demand new top of line machines. This is often an irrational requirement, especially for apples, but hey if other people hold the purse strings, what can we do?

        But the reality is that one

      • The truly correct way to solve the problem is let other people buy the first generation hardware so that Apple can work out the bugs before the next release.
    • Everyone ought to know to not buy first-gen Apple hardware by now...
      The same can be said for pretty much every hardware manufacturer IMO, never buy first gen hardware and you should be fine.
    • You have an interesting post, although the line "Most recommendations for eliminating noise comes from reducing system load, turning down the backlight (double effect, since the backlight inverter is yes, another switching supply)." is wrong. It is actually the exact opposite. On my 15" MBP the high pitch whine occurs when the CPU's are completely idle. If you add a small load (~%10), it causes the sound to disappear. Stop the load and the sound reappears. The solution I have found is to simply run a s
  • by MrSquirrel ( 976630 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:47AM (#15791518)
    And all along I thought that whine was from the users of the computers :]
  • Fesses up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by donutello ( 88309 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @12:28PM (#15791898) Homepage
    It's "fesses up", which means to acknowledge, admit, avow, concede, confess, grant or own (up).

    To face up means something completely different and nothing that makes sense in this context.
    • According to Merriam-Webster [m-w.com]:

      face up
      Function: intransitive verb
      : to confront or deal directly with someone or something previously avoided -- usually used with to "faced up to my fears"

      It seems to me that it has a meaning very similar to "fess up" and makes perfect sense.
  • by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <sherwinNO@SPAMamiran.us> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @12:41PM (#15792003) Homepage Journal
    Personal ego's aside, I do not believe there is a single, current revision (excluding the new logic boards) of the MBP that doesn't exhibit this processor whine.

    Rather, I do believe that it is a "hearing" issue. Much of the populace cannot hear the whine. Given the high distribution of a consumer product, though, the 1% falls through the cracks (like me).

    Being able to, or not being able to hear the whine doesn't make you a better listener or something; so don't take it as an insult. I can't hear musical lyrics properly, I have problems listening to peoples voices in crowded places (bars/clubs, etc . . . I can't hold a conversation). Hell, road noise in my car drowns out my cell phone, while everyone around me never seems to have a problem.

    But I can hear the MBP whine, and I can hear the the "tics" from my PowerMac G5 2.7 Dual. I do not hear similar things from my PB 12", nor from my Athlon 64+, nor from my Acer Core Duo laptop that the MBP replaced.

    This is not a sporatic problem, and IMHO is not even a "technical" issue. It's a design flaw, namely, the engineering team responsible for the capacitors feeding the CPU did not notice the sound, or noticed the sound in a test an assumed it was outside the range of human hearing. The only thing that makes it sporatic is that it is, indeed, for the most part, outside the range of human hearing.
  • Even if they do it under the table, I don't care.

    Just provide an API for the power/thermal control module and let someone else write the control panel with the "Cook breakfast [--------^--] Drown out nearby jackhammers" heat/fan-noise slider.
  • I have a 3 year old, 17" 1Ghz G4 PowerBook (still love it though it's ancient), and occasionally it would make strange whining sounds while I was doing something that affected the graphics, like flipping tabs or moving windows. I assume it was some kind of graphics card issue, but I never had it checked out because it wasn't loud enough to annoy me, and it seems to have gone away (or I've become used to it).
    • I had one of those too, LOVED that machine. Now have an MBP 2.0GHz, I occasionally hear a very, very low whine if it's running hot and the room is VERY quiet -- but it is barely audible. Then again, I'm 38 so my hearing's probably going or something.
  • ...had the same problem. Occasionally, when I was using Blender, GIMP, or some other graphics program, I could hear the high pitched whining. When it was acting up, it would whine whenever I tried to move an object in Blender. Hit escape and it goes away, try to rotate/scale/move it and I hear it again. I always hated it, but it wasn't bad enough to make me get it fixed and it never seemed to happen in World of Warcraft so I just dealt with it. Interesting how it still hasn't been fixed though...
  • When I saw the headline, I seriously thought it meant that Apple was going to face up to all of the whining people have been doing about the numerous bugs in the MacBook, not just the noise issue.

    Call me when Jobs faces down a horde of angry, whining customers disgruntled by sluggish Apple response times.
  • The computer or its user???
  • I think D'ell stopped shipping (and taking orders for) for a month or so in the spring a particular configuration of a core duo notebook for a similar reason. Then some of the ones they did ship still had a noise issue. I haven't heard it myself, but I'm probably too deaf anyway.

    D'ell can pull a product and still have plenty of SKUs to offer. Apple cannot. Especially not now.

    Good for Apple to face up to it.
  • Whenever the CPU is idle, an audible tone is emitted from beneath the left side of the of the keyboard. This tone has a frequency of approximately 6 KHz. Any use of the trackpad or keyboard (i.e. sending interrupts) causes this tone to become intermittent, but still present. As soon as user input ceases, the tone returns to a stable state. Other thing which affect the tone are my Energy Savings setting and whether I'm using any Firewire devices.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."