Subscriber Don Newsham wrote recently with an interesting question…
Terry, thanks again for the tips you gave me a few months ago.
Recently ,while on the computer it will "rev up" for a couple of seconds and then be quiet. It will stay quite for 5,10 , minutes and then rev up again. Is this anything serious?
The computer is 6 years old, e-machine, Vista
I quickly answered Don, telling him that the rev’ing up sounds like it is probably a fan. The typical system fans are the CPU fan, the chipset fan or the power supply fan.
The chipset fan is usually a small, high-speed fan. It’s sound, as it starts to have problems, would tend to be a high whine. The sound would be constant — it would not stop and start, as the chipset fan runs all the time. Note that all computers have heatsinks on the chipsets, but not all have fans on the chipsets’ heatsinks.
The power supply fan will tend to make noise when its going bad, but they’re usually variable speed fans. Some power supplies have variable speed fans, though. It could be the power supply fan, but I don’t think that’s it.
Some computers, again not all of them, have the CPU fan designed to run at a variable speed based on the temperature of the CPU. These designs try to use slow fan speeds to reduce noise, while providing high fan speeds (and the resulting better cooling) when the CPU starts getting too hot.
This fan will speed up to high speed when extra cooling is needed and then quiet down again. If Don isn’t doing something that is putting a lot of load on the CPU, it’s probably not a CPU or fan going bad.
More likely, it’s time to open the case and blow the dust out of the CPU’s heat sink. Get a can of air at your local office products shop or computer shop.
My guess is heat problems from dust buildup in the CPU’s heat sink. You might also want to read my article
Spring Cleaning – Don’t Forget Your Computer.