The Quiet Mac

July 14th, 2006

This post is part of my MacBook Pro Complaints series. Instead of (or in addition to) linking directly to this post, consider linking to the series link, which includes a summary of all findings to date and direct links to the pertinent downloads that users may find useful. Thanks for reading!

It is with a great sigh of relief that I announce the likely end of my MacBook Pro saga.

As recently as a few weeks ago, I expected that the end of this saga would take the form of finding a buyer on Craigslist to take the thing off my hands, but events turned in a more positive direction as I patiently worked my way through the Apple support system.

Eventually I ended up in the hands of a thoughtful representative with a lot of discretion over how best to handle my situation. The amount of bad luck I had endured really accumulated over the past few months. The defects themselves. The repeated failures to fix them. The bad Apple store rep. The slightly mutilated MBP case. Oh, I might have forgotten to mention that. On my last repair shipment, the techies must have put it back together in a hurry, as they left a gap in the case where it meets the DVD-ROM area. I mentioned this in passing to one rep, where it was apparently added to my record.

Finally, after apparently reviewing the list of everything wrong with the Mac and my experiences so far with Apple, the representative offered to send me a replacement. I was wary, at first. Just go through this all again? I’d rather have somebody good at Apple take an honest look at it and replace the parts that are busted. But then I heard rumors of the new MacBook Pro logic board, and couldn’t help but hope that this meant a happy outcome was in sight. I asked my Apple representative if a replacement would be “fresh off the line.” I didn’t want some replacement from March or April, that happened to be sitting in some Cupertino stockpile (as if). He could only say that they tended to be shipped out as fast as they could be made. So I agreed – let’s spin the wheel.

The new MacBook Pro arrived this morning and what can I say? The thing is dead silent. You can trust me, I know what the freaking pain sounds like. Yes Virginia, there is a quiet MacBook Pro. Impressively, I could not even hear a noticeable sound difference with my ear pressed up to the machine while tweaking the slider on QuietMBP. Actually, after plugging the power in I can hear the slightest “sizzle” if I put my ear to the plug where it’s plugged in. And this might be only while it’s charging. Anyway I don’t think it’s loud enough for me to hear from any normal distance, and I bet this amount of sound is present in almost any laptop, ahem, notebook. So after months of negativity it feels good to return to my initial state of just being impressed with the MacBook Pro. Just about everything is “amazingly right.”

Even the surface temperature is slightly cooler than my old MBP. I’m transferring over from the old one right now, so both machines have been turned on the same length of time, and roughly (I assume) doing the same amount of activity. The old MBP’s “hottest spot” (above the function keys) is still so hot that I cannot leave my fingers there for more than a few seconds. The new one is still hot there, but I can leave my finger there indefinitely. Major improvement, even if ideally they could cool things down even more. To be honest, the heat is still frustrating, especially in the summer, but if it’s just the heat, then I’ll shut my whining mouth for a while.

I know at least some of you have been holding off on a new MacBook Pro because of things I’ve said about them here. I’m happy to have helped you avoid a costly and possibly frustrating mistake. But I don’t want Apple to lose customers, goodwill, or sales. I’m a stock holder, for crying out loud! Now that I can happily endorse this (please, nothing go wrong in the next few days), I say get out your credit card and join us!

Update: I’ve been using the new MBP for several hours and my inital impressions are holding up. It’s quiet as a mouse. I love it! But just to show that I’m not completely devoid of crankiness, I have two minor complaints. First, the space bar makes a slight squeaking noise every time I press it. This is definitely new, but it’s so much nicer than the whine. Maybe I can fix it with a little well-placed graphite or something. Second, the lid closes in a way such that unlatching it is slightly clunky. I have to sort of press the button in extra far to get it to pop open. Overall, very minor inconveniences. How minor? There’s no way in hell I’ll risk ruining the happy state of my MBP right now by bringing it in for these teeny issues.

83 Responses to “The Quiet Mac”

  1. Ashley Clark Says:

    So, what are your recommendations for those of us who still rely on QuietMBP?

    Go through the gyrations at Apple to get it fixed?
    or
    Just live with it and continue to use QuietMBP?

  2. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Ashley: I have always considered QuietMBP to be a crude workaround and, frankly, it’s bothered me the extent to which I’ve learned that people use and it “just live with it.” I fear that many people have not complained to Apple about the problem because using QuietMBP or another workaround makes it “good enough.”

    I suggest complaining to Apple until you get it fixed. It seems clear that they now have a way of achieving this reliably.

  3. Haris Skiadas Says:

    Daniel,

    This is great news! I’m glad that your saga had a good end, and that Apple finally did the right thing and sent you a replacement. This makes me very hopeful, and I will soon go ahead and get some sort of macbook myself. I’ve been using an iBook right now, and I am torn between moving to the macbook or the macbook pro. Perhaps I’ll wait for Leopard first.

  4. After thought » Whining about the whining Says:

    […] **Update 2**: [Good news for Daniel](http://www.red-sweater.com/blog/159/the-quiet-mac) Later […]

  5. Rui Carmo Says:

    Great news. You think you could post the first 5 characters of your serial number and compare your MacBook with those in the Temperature Database?

  6. Stephanie A Dole Says:

    Finally, great news! I have been following your MBP saga since I purchased my own noisey MBP in April. Mine isn’t as flawed as yours was, but I have to admit I am “just living with” the whine. Might be time I start complaining to Apple myself. Thanks for your posts.

  7. Johnmcl Says:

    Hey good news…

    I purchased a MBP knowing the pain you were in, but thinking “Oh it can’t be that bad”…. But it is annoying.

    Can you give us current owners any advice on how to get the new motherboard? Do we just call applecare and complain about ‘high pitched squeel’? Is there a magic word that will trigger a shipment back to Apple to get the motherboard replaced or Is there some other recommended way to convince them to take it in for the replacement, or will they now just sort of upgrade you upon request?

    Thanks for sharing and congrats on your new, quiet, computer

  8. Ryan Ballantyne Says:

    So, do you get to keep the old one? Sounds like a sweet deal to me.

    I’m not ready to take the Intel plunge (still holding out hope for the xMacbook AKA 13″ Macbook Pro. Nothing in Apple’s current lineup replaces my old faithful 12″ Albook), but if I were, I would probably be one of those just living with the whine. I had a Lombard once upon a time whose display power inverter made a very perceptible whine. While I could hear it just fine and it was always present, it just never really bothered me. I’m a pretty noise-tolerant person, though.

    I’ve also never heard an MBP, so it may be a different sound entirely. I’m glad to see that they’ve managed to fix it, unlike the infamous G5 power supplies. (I’ve also used one of those, but never heard the whine. Of course, it was in a noisy server room, YMMV).)

  9. Aurelia Says:

    Congrats on your fix, finally! I’ve been researching MBPs for the last couple of weeks, and am hoping to get or order one tomorrow … but I’m a little worried about the noise issues. The store from which I’d get the computer has silent floor models (good sign), but I was thinking of the 7200rpm hard drive–which would have to be ordered in, perhaps from an older stockpile? (Bad sign.)

    Do you have any thoughts on this? Should one just go with what’s in the store?

    I promise to report on noises as soon as I get the thing.

    Thanks, guys!

  10. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Thanks everybody for the positive comments.

    Rui: my serial is a W8627. I don’t have time to do a thorough heat comparison right now but maybe within the next few days I can do that.

    Johnmcl: unfortunately, I don’t have any advice for how to ultimately get the motherboard replaced. All I can say is keep trying and insist that the behavior is unacceptable. I had several instances where I was almost certain that it was the “end of the line,” that they would just say “tough luck.” In fact, if I had listened to the guy in the Apple Store I never would have been able to get a replacement. I just honestly explained to the representatives again and again that the problems were not being addressed and that the product was not up to Apple standards. I guess that’s the only thing I recommend, if you agree. :)

    Ryan: I have to send the old one back. Good riddance! It was so annoying I hardly used it, even though it was more powerful than my Dual G5. And since you mentioned it, I had the G5 whine, too, so I was just about sick of whining Macs. At least with the G5 though, I could just turn of CPU napping and live in sanity (albeit probably with an ever-so-slightly higher power bill).

    Aurelia: I’m not sure but my gut feeling would be that any customization would make it more likely that you’d get a new machine. If there were any stockpiles around at all it seems like they would be the “vanilla” configurations. Just a guess, though.

  11. Tim Gaden Says:

    w00t! Congratulations. I’ve become a little addicted to each chapter of the unfolding saga, always wondering what would happen next. I never guessed that it would be a happy ending :)

  12. AJ Says:

    Congrats. My MacBook is actually in for service. It arrived at Apple’s repair center this morning and within an hour of it be entered into the system, they had it “waiting for part,” which when I called, is the main logic board. So it seems Apple is getting on the ball with fixing the issues on both ends of the MacBook line. :)

  13. Bjørnar Says:

    Congrats, i have been following this story since i found your blog. Unfortunately i have a MBP with the same problem as you have. But i use ShhMBP and it works quite well. I have more problems though, i get sporadic kernel panics when using the wireless card. Thinking about turning in the computer to our local Apple store but they warned me that it could take a while because they are in the middle of vacations :/.

    Anyways congrats with your whine-free machine, it proves that apple fix things for some of the people atleast…

  14. Dave Feldman Says:

    Daniel,
    Glad to hear it worked out. My saga, sadly, is not yet over. Apple offered to do another repair with the newest logic board, but this was about a week after an unsuccessful repair with a new logic board, so I’d pretty much lost faith (sounds like had I held out a little longer, it might’ve worked out). It also developed a tendency to shut off randomly on battery power. I ended up convincing a local Apple Store to give me my money back, and bought a MacBook after seeing how much cooler and quieter my girlfriend’s MacBook was (and figuring that there were enough problems with the whole notebook line that a cheaper machine was a better idea).

    And – you guessed it – mine is much hotter and a bit whinier than hers. For some reason it’s been cooler the last 24 hours, but prior to that it was reaching MBP case temps. I’m traveling for the next few weeks, but I called the Apple Store where I bought it at and they made a note about the problem within the two week return period, so I’ll go in when I get back and we’ll see.

    Keep us posted on how your MBP shapes up over the next month…

  15. Dave Feldman Says:

    Sorry for the double post…one question: How cool is the new MBP? Is it lap-worthy? One of the reasons I ended up returning mine is that the local Apple Store had a tech come out and talk to me, who (with no reference to the new logic board) said that (a) all MBPs will whine, it’s the way it is, and (b) all MBPs will get very hot, because the aluminum case is designed to dissipate heat.

  16. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Dave: I obviously have a great deal of empathy for your situation, so I wish you the best of luck in reaching a positive resolution! Give it one more try with the replacement logic board, if you can. I think “the time is right.”

    The new MBP is not so much cooler that it’s particularly lap worthy. I’d say all-in-all it’s still a “quite warm” machine, but the lines from your Apple store tech sound like BS. One annoying feature I’ve noticed in many Apple store employees is that they tend to speak with an inappropriate degree of authority about issues for which they don’t know the whole story. Come to think of it, I do that here myself, sometimes :) But I’m not getting paid to be the public face of Apple.

  17. viperteq Says:

    Daniel,

    I’d really like to email you about a question that I have about Xcode. I’ve searched all over your blog and I don’t see a general purpose contact form and I’d hate to use your company’s conmtact form for such a trivial item. If you have the time available would you please email me viperteq.info [at] gmail [dot] com. I am not a spammer nor am I trying to sell anything. I just have a question about Xcode that I think you’d be able to assist me with. Thanks in advance for your time.

    viperteq

  18. Teddy Says:

    I must join the others in congratulating you. I too have followed your journey with Apple and your MacBook Pro and have eagerly been waiting for your next report. I have had the same problem but didn’t make the efforts to complain about it (as I probably should have). The reasons being (1) I was pretty content using QuietMBP despite the shortened battery life (2) the quality of service that you got from Apple seemed discouraging (3) I live in a city in Canada where there are no local Apple retail stores. Despite these reasons, I feel an urge to give Apple a call to see if there is anyway I could possibly get the new logic board seeing as how it seems to have worked for you and Rickard Almqvist

  19. John Muir Says:

    Congratulations on the new laptop.

    I’ve avoided the MacBook±Pro by “virtue” of being too skint to buy a replacement for my Rev.A aluminium PowerBook but can add something about the one remaining essentially inaudible sound you have.

    For better or worse I’ve got very high pitch sensitive hearing and so have my PowerBook set to turn off its hard drive after 60s of inactivity for a truly silent writing machine. When it’s in this state I can still pick up, almost at the edge of my hearing, a curious little sound that I’ve heard other machines make in the past. It’s hard to describe and I think it may be either the power circuits for mains / battery, or even perhaps the CPU or graphics processor*. Very, very faint. If I try the “hold the laptop to the ear” trick I can pin it down to my old PB’s upper left corner where all three systems are located. Anyway, I’ve only ever managed to get my brother to hear it so it can safely be written off as a truly inconsequential noise. Thank goodness for all of us!

    * When I was a kid I had a horrible old Amstrad 8086 PC (all of 4MHz) and it used to make this same sound, with characteristic oddly chaotic tremolo included only a couple of orders of magnitude louder, whenever it had to number crunch. It actually seemed to be the direct sound of its processor working! The machine was fanless and in quiet conditions was a perfect testbed for playing with this sound. I had an astonomy app called SkyGlobe which was the best demonstration. The old machine would take a couple of seconds to calculate a new view and for that time you’d have this sound clearly present over quiet room noise. In fact when doing really complex / demanding stuff I used to use the sound to know when it was finished!

    I have a Geforce 5900fx graphics card in a PC which I noticed doing THE SAME noise – nice and loud – when I had to open up the case recently. The noise is present at around the Amstrad’s level whenever a user drags scrolls pages of text in a web browser or you hit the graphics hard. I’d never picked up the noise before from outside the computer because of all the racket from its many fans. Had to laugh that the same effect I’d observed in the 80’s was present in ~2003 hardware in just the same way! And I think a greatly reduced version of this is at play in my perfectly acceptably quiet PowerBook and may well be the thing you can also barely hear.

    Lecture over. I’m off to diagnose other inaudible oddities!

  20. Jesper Hvirring Says:

    Congrats on the replacement. That is just about the best Mac news I’ve heard in a long time! I was just on the phone with Apple Customer Relations two days ago, and they finally agreed to replace my MacBook Pro (a.k.a BetaMac), so I’m obviously very, very excited of the chance that I finally might be getting a quiet and cool MBP.
    I have been following your saga for a while and have had a very similar horrific experience: Bought a week 17 MBP, that had the whine and got extremely hot. Then after about a month it stopped charging the battery. Had the battery replaced, but that didn’t help. It went in for repairs for two (!) weeks, had the logic board replaced and came back with a dent in the titanium frame around the display. With the new logic board it only got luke warm, but the fans were running almost constantly even when 90% idle — very annoying. Made an appointment to have the dented frame replaced, but then the right fan started making a loud noise and Apple Support wanted it in for repairs again… That’s when I called Customer Relations.
    Thanks so much for releasing QuietMBP, though I’m crossing my fingers, that soon I won’t be needing it any more.

  21. Charles Says:

    For god’s sake, no, don’t use graphite to lubricate your sticky key. Graphite powder might be OK for lubricating sticky locks and other physical mechanisms, but there’s one thing you forgot: graphite is an electrical conductor and should never be used near electronic devices.
    Your sticky space bar will probably be fine after a short break in period.

  22. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    viperteq: feel free to mail me via the address you find by clicking on the “Daniel Jalkut” link from the blog’s front page (“About the Author”). I know it’s not very obvious how to get in touch – I should probably make that easier.

    Charles: thanks a lot for sharing that bit of wisdom. I will keep the graphite away from the tech :)

  23. Aurelia Says:

    Daniel, thanks for the input!

    I did get an MBP two days ago, and have been glued to it since, setting it up. I LOVE it.

    Noises: it’s a W8617 serial number, and so far has not started to make irritating sounds. For the most part it runs very quiet; sometimes when it’s been working for hours and/or I’m messing with widgets (Including the mirror) it does do a light mechanical fast-whir sound from the upper left side of the keyboard (not the fan) … is this the whine? It’s faint, though, so far–if I work sitting up straight I’m not close enough to hear it well, it doesn’t do it all the time, and doesn’t seem to be annoying.

    It does run HOT: but Dell is worse, and even they haven’t burned down houses yet. I use a small podium pad with the computer, and that way can set it on my lap sans problems. The fans hardly ever kick on.

    Folks, it’s a fantastic machine, fast, elegant, smooth, highly functional, and I do recommend it.

  24. Matt Peckham Says:

    Do keep us posted if you wouldn’t mind Daniel – I have a week 23 MBP I picked up over the holiday weekend (4th of July) and it certainly seemed to start out defect and issue free, but just last night using it on battery in bed, I noticed for the first time the “whine,” and now this morning plugging it in, it’s loud enough to just be audible over the sound of the air conditioning unit (which in the basement right behind me, is fairly loud). It’s clearly the whine everyone’s been talking about, as I can make it disappear briefly while moving fingers on the track pad.

    QuietMBP blissfully removes the noise entirely! But I’d like the option to have it run without showing up in the dock – is that a simple n00b fix?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  25. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Hi Matt – I never got around to enhancing QuietMBP to run in the background. I think the best thing to do is to pursue a hardware fix from Apple. Hopefully everybody using QuietMBP now will eventually get repaired hardware so the program will be unncessary.

  26. Matt Peckham Says:

    You know, the odd thing is, after that one day of whine, now it’s totally quiet agin. No rhyme or reason. I’m thoroughly confused :-P

  27. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Ah man, I hope the whine is gone for good!

  28. Chris D. Says:

    I’m glad to hear your issues have finally been resolved, I’ve been following this issue on your blog for a while. I unfortunately have not have had as good of luck with mine. About a month ago I sent my 15″ 1.83GHz in because out of nowhere my Firewire port died. They returned it to me a week later. Now Apple again has my MBP because white splotches started forming in the middle of the screen, 5 to be exact, all very similar in size and equidistant from the center. They’ve had it for a week now and all Apple Support tells me is that they are awaiting a part. I called the Apple Store I dropped it off at and they said they sent a message to the Depot to expidite their acquiring a part for my MBP. Out of the 15 weeks I’ve owned this machine, Apple has had it for 2 (this does not include the 2-3 weeks I waited for the machine after paying for it). Thats 13% of the time since the machine first entered my hands. I feel like I should charge them a rental fee. Glad to hear that some are getting their issues resolved though.

  29. Court Says:

    Congratulations on your achievment. Ive heard many horror stories that end up with the Craigslist scenario. I’ll be getting a new MBP at my office in a few days, and am hoping it wont cause me to use my personally-owned MacBook (which shares many of the noise issues) as a pretty doorstop.

  30. Raphaël Says:

    Hey Daniel, congrats on the fix, and THANK YOU for keeping us all informed on your brave crusade. I have a whiner, and now I have to decide wether to go a couple weeks without a computer, just to hopefully get rid of this frustrating defect. But at least I know it has been done, and I have a better idea on how I’ll have to deal with the reps, should I decide to go for it. Good work!

  31. Jack Says:

    I received my macbook pro last week. I talked to a rep about the horrible whine and he recommended that I go to an apple retailer to confirm that it was abnormally noisy. That was confirmed and I’m now sending it back for a repair. Has anyone besides Daniel had a successful repair?

  32. Broad Says:

    Not sure if this link to Apple’s ‘policy’ has been posted: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303365

  33. Jordan Says:

    Looks like apple was paying attention to your experiance and that of many others. About damn time.

  34. Marshall Massengill Says:

    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303365

    We Won!
    We Won!
    Wa-hoo!
    I’ll be sending mine in soon.

  35. Mike Fotes Says:

    Congrats on the replacement, Daniel! I have a story similar to yours (blogged on my site) with my MacBook and the summer-long runaround that I am still in the midst of with Apple. I am now awaiting a replacement MacBook, due to arrive next week, and I’m really hoping that it will be free from the processor whine and other issues as well. I’m very glad that Apple finally acknowledged the problem for MBP owners and are now able to efficiently deal with people sending in their MacBook Pro’s for logic board replacement.

    I’m in the same boat as you in one other way too—if my new MacBook arrives and it’s only problem is heat or some other “minor inconvenience,” there would be no way in hell I would send it back either. Good luck to you; I hope you don’t encounter any problems with your MBP and that you won’t have to deal with Apple’s support or repair for a very, very long time. :)

  36. Randy Says:

    Great site, been looking to get the MBP and will now do it. I have a PBG4 and love it to death, minus the fact I need to have two computers, one for work (PC Based) and one for me (my PBG4). I was previously a PC user, but when I was studying for my MA, my Dell Inspiron 8000 CRASHED and I lost my thesis, and like an idiot, did not have it backed up… hard lesson to learn. I chose the G4 because of what I saw from other students… and have not regretted it until I needed to be in the work place… and working with individuals who only use Windows XP. It seems the MBP is the answer to my dilemna… the only question for me that now remains is do I use Bootcamp or Parallels? Any advice would be helpful… thanks, and congrats on getting your replacement.

  37. Francesco Says:

    i bought a MacBook Pro in March a Week 10 whine a little, but i decided to wait a little before bringing it in for service, because also the reps i was calling told me about “whitin specs… and blah blah blah”, and i had to do a lot of work.
    Now it’s time for service. Today i brought my beloved MacBook Pro to an Apple Center with Service here in Rome asking for the new Logic board and they knew perfectly about it and told me to leave the notebook for service and i will have to wait 4-5 days because they have to order the new Logic Board… so i hope the whine will have a end…
    finally!
    Great site Daniel, very helpful!
    I’ll let everybody know how the logic board replacement goes!
    (sorry for my Inglish… :-)

  38. Peter V Says:

    Great news Daniel, and once again thanks for reports from the repair-hell… I’ve been trying to get in contact with the dansih apple service provider to get my mbp fixed with the new logicboard, but the seem to be very busy these days (maybe the news has spread now and everybody then wants their machines fixed)… But again it is nice to see that we now have had the “end of discolored macbooks”, the “end of the whine” and most recently “end of the poor batteries” – Now we know Apple again :D

  39. Jack Says:

    Got my MBP back two days ago but it still whines!

  40. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Jack: oh no! That’s terrible news. Can you confirm that you received the updated “MLB” that requires 10.4.6? Is it possible they didn’t replace the logic board with the new one as they (we hope) should have?

  41. Jesper Hvirring Says:

    If the logic board was replaced, the serial number will be reset, so that should be easy to answer. I can’t remember the exact value of the reset serial no., but it’s definitely not W86…..

  42. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Jesper: when I got my logic board replaced in the first round of repairs, it didn’t seem to affect the serial number.

  43. Jesper Hvirring Says:

    I guess it’s a bit more complicated than I first thought, then. I reopened the box with my faulty MBP waiting to be returned to Apple, and checked the serial number. It says: “Serial Number: SystemSeumb” in System Profiler. Apparently this isn’t unusual.

    While I had the MBP out of the box, I checked the battery to see if it’s affected by the recall, and IT IS. So that’s one more thing to add to the list of faults — and this was actually a replacement battery.

    Anyways, that’s all in the past now. I have also received my replacement, a week 29 (serial W8629…) and I’m happy to confirm your experiences: It’s totally quiet (fingers crossed). It is also hot-hot-hot and the fans don’t seem to run very often. I actually prefer this to how my repaired MBP worked: It only got lukewarm but the fans were running almost constantly.

  44. Omar Says:

    I’m going to buy an MBP after seeing that it is possible to eliminate the noises, but I want to buy a RAM upgrade for it, is OWC 2 gb pack good for it ? also, is glossy or matte better ? thank you !

  45. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Hi Omar – not sure about the RAM and as far as the screen I ended up staying with matte but lots of people really liket the glossy. I think you should try to see if you can visit a store where they’re on display to help make up your mind.

  46. matt mclean Says:

    i have a faint morse code like noise and when i am web browsing and hold the track pad mouse button down, it stops. its the only way i can get it to disappear. anyone encounter this? if its something that requires repair it will be the 3x my MBP will have gone in

  47. Hunter Ware Says:

    I too finally sent mine in for the whine (second time). Thanks to Daniel and others I figured now was a good time. I must say that with the exception of the silly serial number issue (which I understand will just require a trip to an apple repair shop that does laptops?) this is now the laptop (*coff* notebook) I wanted. It is now silent, and enough cooler to be within reasonable expectations.

    Daniel, thanks again for making a meeting and information exchange point for those of us with problem MBPs.

    – Hunter

  48. Jay Says:

    John Muir: I bought a refurb MBP back in April – mistake! – of course it had a terrible whine. Probably why it was returned and refurbed in the first place. I returned it thanks to a very helpful apple store tech who also noted that my case was not put together properly. Anyways I showed the MBP to my dad before I returned it for a refund and he said that whine sounded like the electrical whine that capacitors make. I’m no electrician but I’m guessing that with all the power management that goes into these laptop processors their capacitors must get quite a workout and so if they aren’t high-quality and designed appropriately then they can make this whine – hence why you’ve had other computer gear – your old PC and your video card that made a similar noise.

    Personally I’m holding out for a Core 2 Duo (Merom) MBP in September. It’s supposed to be 20% cooler so I hope that makes it not-so-hot on my lap and hopefully Apple’s worked out most of these noise problems by then as well. But I’m definitely NOT buying another refurb that is for sure. I learned my lesson there.

    -J

  49. Matt Peckham Says:

    Props to Daniel, as others have said, for compositing information on the issue here, and reporting about the MLB replacement fix. I just received my week 23 MBP back (after it’s absence of only two business days–amazing!), and I can confirm precisely the same experience as Daniel in terms of going in and coming out at the other end of Applecare. All I hear now, if I place my ear right by the power connector, is a soft hiss, which is completely inaudible more than a few inches away. While I have no idea how it’s related, the machine is now idling (in my lap, direct-connected to a pair of pajama pants and therefore not a great conductor) in the high 40s (C). It’s cooler (no idea why), and quiet as a mouse. This, as others have said, is indeed the machine I paid for. Thanks to Apple, and Kudos to Daniel.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  50. Stone Says:

    Hey Daniel, just wondering. Are the MBP fixed now? And if you were me, would you buy one?

  51. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Hi Stone – I basically think they are “fixed,” but that cannot be said without some caveats. They’re still hot. They still make the tiniest bit of noise. I hope a more perfect laptop is on the way, but now, finally, I am willing to say this is pretty darned good. If you’re anxious for a great laptop you can do a lot worse than an MBP.

  52. chaichat Says:

    I got a replacement for my macbook pro. Apple picked me some other old macbook pro for a replacement, but this one didn’t have that much noise for a month or two. Then guess what happenned today? My macbook pro started hissing again!!! (which is why I’m checking this board out again.)

    I’m going to try and go to apple and get them to fix it soon.

  53. chaichat Says:

    hmm its gone again.. I don’t know what happenned! I went to take a shower and came back and the noise is gone…
    lucky!

  54. Sam Says:

    Is there any way to tell what version of the logic board you have? I bought my MBP 15″ a week ago and it has a whine (not terribly noticable — more noticable during charging). Could it be that since my MBP is so recent, that it has the new logic board but still makes the noise?

  55. davide Says:

    I felt like “Marshall Messengill” (cf. post above on July 28: “We won!”) when I read that Apple was asking customers with the high-pitch hissing sound to contact AppleCare.

    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303365

    But now I called them and what I got was the usual blah-blah about “we think it’s within specs” and “you should rather go to an AppleStore so that they can really check whether it’s really so loud as you are saying.” Do you have any kind of advice of how to deal with these people? I have told them hundreds of times that, no, it’s not the buzzing sound due to the inverter; no, it’s not normal and neither acceptable; and: look around, there are hundreds of people with the same problem, they can’t all be idiots — but at some point my language capabilities abandon me (I’m not a native speaker), and I end up being lulled by their talk.

    What do you recommend as the best way to make clear that this is *that* kind of problem, and it’s not acceptable, and others have had it fixed?

  56. Omar Says:

    wow !! I just bought an MBP, and it DOES NOT make any noise, AT ALL. I even put my ear next to it, still nothing, I’m gald I followed through with this post and waited on my purchase. I just bought some OWC ram and am goign to put it in the computer as soon as I get it, thanks for making this, now I have a happy mac and it’s pretty damn good, now all they have to do is release a universal version of photoshop….

  57. James Chalmers Says:

    My 4th Brand-New MBP 15 inch replacement.

    Still no fix for buzz/whine.

    *bugger*

    I seriously, seriously want some compensation now. And the product i paid for.

    Not funny Apple.

  58. Dustin Says:

    @James: Was this a replacement through Apple.com, or another vendor? Can you tell us what the first 5 or 6 characters of your serial number are?

    I’ve been really wanting to order a MBP, but I’ve been waiting for a couple of reasons. First, because of the rumors of updates to the MBP models this week (possibly to Intel Core 2 Duos), and second because of all the problems people seem to be having with them. It seemed like those who got later models haven’t had the problems that have plagued the earlier buyers of the MBP. But maybe that’s not the case…

  59. Nestor Cardozo Says:

    I would like to comment on my experience because is similar to yours, but in another country.

    I bought my MacBook Pro in March, through a Mac Retailer in Norway. From the time I opened the machine I got the problems commented in several blogs: buzzing, cowing, difficulty to awake, eternal fan noise, etc.

    I did the hardware updates, part of the problem (cow noise) was solved. I sent the machine to first repair: 1 new logic board. Eternal fan noise started. Sent the machine again, second repair and this time Apple sends a defective logic board. Third repair: New logic board but no change. By this time the machine was been abused by at least two or three technicians, and started to bulge.

    After about four discussions with Apple support (yes I purchased Apple Care), I was able to get a replacement. I sent my machine back last Tuesday. I was told that it would take one and a half week to get the new machine. They did not even had the decency to let me use Migration Assistant to transfer the data from the old-defective to the new machine. Call today. Machine has not been picked up yet, from Apple Retailer. Prospect: another two weeks without a MacBookPro.

    I purchased the machine for 25,000 NOK, about 4,000 dollars. Consumer laws are pretty strict in Norway. And yet, I am not able to get a properly functioning machine on time, not the money back, because it can even take longer.

    I can’t express in words how much disatisfaction apple customer satisfaction gives me. From this side, at least I start looking for alternatives to MacOS X and Windows.

    Only positive thing to be in Norway: No Apple Stores, and therefore no Apple Geniuses

  60. ann Gross Says:

    Just bought a Mac Book Pro for my daughter for college and it gets very hot and shits off after 30 min when I called apple they denied the problem and would not give me a new one so now im sending it to them and my daughter has no computer until the return it.This was bought 8/3/06 and today is 9/27/06 DO NOT BUY FROM APPLE the do not give you any sort of back up and the lie!!!!

  61. Nahan Says:

    I just updated to 10.4.8 and magicnoisekiller stopped working. Is it okay to revert back to IOUSFamily update like I did when I got 10.4.7 update? What should I do?

  62. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Nahan: I can’t recommend back-dating the IOUSBFamily extension. That seems risky to me. I would probably have to recommend running the QuietMBP application instead of MagicNoiseKiller.

  63. Nahan Says:

    Thanks, I got QuietMBP, I am weird about my computer, I don’t like seeing the icon all day showing that QuietMBP is open, but rather that than the freaking noise I guess. I liked Magic Noise Killer better because it disappeared. Thanks for the advice……..by the way, I am going to Italy in a week, do I need a power converter or just a plug adapter, can my MBP handle 220V?

  64. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Nahan: If at all possible you should really take the plunge and talk to Apple about getting this fixed once and for all. A new logic board could really improve the sound problem a lot.

    Your MBP should be fine in Italy, thanks to the power supply brick, which is capable of converting from a range of power inputs to the much lower voltage required by the MBP. In general you can assume that these, days, but you can verify it for yourself whenever you’re concerned by looking at the power supply for the small print that shows the expected “input” and “output”.

    You’ll just need to buy one of those adapters to make the plugs go into the wall right.

  65. Nahan Says:

    I live in Mexico and will not be in Southern California again until next summer. I bought a 3 year Apple Protection Plan, they will still service it anytime in the future right? What is the quickest and longest time it could take to get the computer back as I am there for a short time?

    Thanks

  66. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Nahan: no idea. You should get in touch with Apple if you have specific questions like that.

  67. davide Says:

    As I was writing above (Sep 5th) I’m one of those people stuck with the first-weeks MBP with that horrible high-pitch noise. I wasn’t able to communicate Apple in a manner eloquent enough that my my MBP was worthy of being repaired by them, and so I’m stuck with that one.

    Anyway: I’ve just run automatic update and now I have 10.4.8 as OS. Did anyone of those using QuietMBP notice that you have to crank down the slider after that? As long as I had 10.4.6, setting the slider on 120 was fine for me. When I updated to 10.4.7, I had to reduce that to 90. Now, with 10.4.8 I need to set it to 60… and I very much doubt that my hearing threshold is getting better…

  68. Scott Stevenson Says:

    I wasn’t able to communicate Apple in a manner eloquent enough that my my MBP was worthy of being repaired by them, and so I’m stuck with that one

    Try again. I have one from the same era, and they fixed it. In fact, this kbase article tells you to do so:

    “If your 15-inch MacBook Pro emits a high-pitched buzzing sound, please contact AppleCare for service.”

    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=303365

  69. davide Says:

    Thanks, Scott. I had called them a couple of times in the spring, but each time I got something like “…it’s within specs… blah.. blah”.

    So I had almost given up when I finally saw the kbase article you’re mentioning. Full of hopes, I called AppleCare sometime in August, made reference to that article, but some slimy guy there told me that he didn’t want me to do without my computer for a couple of days while it was in repair, and that most likely they would not find anything etc etc., and if I was really convinced of it I should go to an AppleStore and they would be able to check it.

    Since I very much doubt that people at an AppleStore, with such a background noise, would be able to hear that, and getting to an AppleStore is a long journey for me (without a car) I gave up once again. I shouldn’t, I know. But I really can never find 5 days in which I could do without my computer, and I’m really sick and tired of calling Apple and fighting. I’m really tired of that.

  70. Scott Stevenson Says:

    Since I very much doubt that people at an AppleStore, with such a background noise, would be able to hear that, and getting to an AppleStore is a long journey for me (without a car) I gave up once again

    I understand, but if you take it in they really should fix it. The guy I talked to just put his ear to the keyboard to hear it.

    If you’re hesitant, print out the kbase page and bring it in. If they don’t agree with that for some reason, ask to speak the store manager. It’s highly unlikely it would come to any of that, just peace of mind so that you know your journey is worthwhile.

  71. brad Says:

    hey has anybody used the new MBP with the 2.16 intel core 2 duo processor? any comments, i looking to buy one? thanks kindly.

  72. aston Says:

    I just got a brand-spankin’ new MacBook (non-pro) and it exhibits the whine. I’m in a pretty quiet room and have good hearing, so I’m not sure how bad it is, but I can hear it from a few feet away.

    QuietMBP fixes the problem, but I’m wondering if I should take it back to Apple…. Anyone know what’s the story with the whine problem on non-pro MB’s?

  73. Scott Stevenson Says:

    I just got a brand-spankin’ new MacBook (non-pro) and it exhibits the whine

    I’d say take it to a genius bar and see what they say.

  74. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Aston: if it’s really brand-spankin’-new, then act quickly before your 14 days or whatever are up. after that, it’s much harder to to get a replacement. I would take it to a genius bar as Scott suggests and demand an exchange. They probably won’t acknowledge the sound as unacceptable, but since it’s so new you might be able to convince them to exchange it so you’ll stop whining :)

    If it’s not quite that new anymore, I think you might have better luck through AppleCare (telephone) support. It might take you a little while to convince them of the severity of the problem, but they won’t outright deny a problem like the Apple Genius is liable to do.

    This is all just my own experience. The Apple Store is no place to evaluate subtle noise problems, and they take them in a “back room” to evaluate, where you have no ability to interact with the computer to demonstrate the problem.

  75. Scott Stevenson Says:

    The Apple Store is no place to evaluate subtle noise problems, and they take them in a “back room” to evaluate, where you have no ability to interact with the computer to demonstrate the problem

    For what it’s worth, the guy I talked to at the Genius Bar in Santa Clara just put his ear right up to the thing and accepted it right there.

  76. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Scott: glad to know that there is at least one hearing-enabled Genius :)

  77. Cliff Says:

    I have read your whole ordeal with a fair amount of trepidation…
    I foresee having to undergo the same thing very soon. I’m a first-time mac user and am pretty ticked off at the company. I was driven to them, and now they are apparently trying to drive me away…
    I bought a 15 MBP at a discount when the C2D’s came out from an Apple Store. I live quite a distance away from the store (2+ hours drive). I got it home, unpacked it, and have since had the following problems:
    1) It was instantly apparent that my right speaker was blown (how this could happen in building or shipping I have no idea)
    2) The computer whines like crazy when on battery power. I use the QuietMBP program you linked to in an earlier post, but am very dissatisfied with having to use that as a fix!
    3) The LCD brightness is inconsistent across the screen, has one dead pixel, and the viewability from different angles is terrible (it is a matte display). You can’t even look at the display straight on without portions of the LCD fading out. Even the parts that are clearly visible are plagued by a grainy pixilation (most accurately described as “if you added 1% noise to a screenshot”)
    4) The screen intermittently makes the hiss on the right side when brightness is increased from nothing (while on battery power).
    5) The display is warped (when closed, I can rock the screen back and forth on the CPU)
    6) Temperature, obviously.
    7) A fan on the right side of the computer is ALWAYS running.
    8) If I shake the CPU around slightly, I can hear something loose inside the computer rolling around!
    __
    In your great experience, what is the best way to resolve this? What are the channels to get to an Apple sales rep on the phone? (As opposed to an Applecare person with no authority)
    I would really prefer not to have to take it to the Apple Store (because of the distance and because of the way a number of these problems are problematically subjective and intermittent)
    I’ve spoken to several dismissive Applecare employees, and they are telling me to take it into the local service provider (where some guy named Evan will “get around to it eventually”).
    How can I have it shipped off? How do I get the personal associate who actually tries to help?!

  78. Joe Turner Says:

    I’ve found all of your articles very helpful, but I think that I need some advice.
    Currently, I have been through a power cord after the last one melted at the cord-little white box connector, and the Apple store replaced it, because they had others with the same problem.
    Right now, i’m hearing the buzzing, and the quietMBP seems to dim it a bit, but it really dosent completley take away the noise. Along with that, the fan in the back-left corner of the computer is reacting horribly.
    Whenever I keep the laptop above 75% brightness, or at full,after a few minutes the fan seems to kick into action and give me a grinding noise, as it goes on, off, on, off, on, off, on, off ect, and it seems that this faulty fan is making my MBP run hotter than usual, and yesterday it just quit out on me, completley shut off the system while I was in the middle of working on a big Photoshop project, that I pretty much had to re-do.
    Should I phone Apple, and if so, who should I talk to?
    The Apple relations or somthing like that?
    Or should I just take it to the store, although with the power cord I had to visit 3 times before they replaced it.
    I am thouroughly dissapointed with Apple at this point.
    What should I do?
    Thanks!

  79. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Hi Joe – not sure I can say what the “right” thing to do is, but what I’d do in your situation is call AppleCare and insist that you have an unusually large number of problems. Tell them you want to have all of them addressed at once. They’ll have you ship the computer to them, which means you’ll have to be without it for a week or more.

    If that’s unacceptable, what I’d do is find a local authorized repair shop to do it for you. They are a lot more flexible it seems as far as timing of repairs and only keeping your computer for as long as they need it to do the repair.

    Good luck :(

  80. Nathan Says:

    I have had the whine problem, after six months I could take it no longer. I sent it in to Apple and they sent it back completely fixed in three days. I am now a happy mac customer once again. The phone techs were helpful and the whole process was quick and painless. Send back your MBP today!

  81. mike Says:

    someone asked about the new C2D MBPs, i am not sure if some of the others referred to are CD or C2D. I am from Canada and actually tried out about five different machines between October and December of 2006, and all had the same problem of noise and heat. I don’t suspect it is the CPU whine others noted, it seemed more a general whine of the fans which run constantly. Nothing seems to make any difference to lower the fans nor the heat. Typically it is running both fans around 6000rmps with a temp of 80c. it is horribly annoying, and, now being in israel i feel unable to pursue anything with apple. you wouldn’t believe (well i suppose Daniel might) the stupidity i dealt with on the phone first phoning Apple US, then being bounced back and forth between them and Apple Canada, neither wanting or saying they are responsible, the number i am eventually told to call for Canada won’t accept my int’l calls, and when explained to applecare US they said too bad. i tried following up with an israeli apple brach but they only speak hebrew which i don’t.

    a friend recently had a mbp c2d shipped here from canada and hers has no fan/heat problems whatsoever, so i imagine between the time i tried out the 4 or 5 units i did (including the portable heater i am stuck with) and now, apple must have resolved the problem.

    If i run smcfancontrol i can lower the temp by a measley 1 or 2 degrees, but no change to the never-ending fans…

  82. duncan Says:

    I have a week 11 MBP15 which seems to be behaving pretty well compared with the machines I’ve been reading about. the case has buckled over the unused slot next to the audio jacks- this happened right after a flight where I had to let the mac go in the hold; I guess that’s the coldest it’s ever been!
    I can just about hear a whine from the top-right area if I run it on battery power; it’s just loud enough to let me know that the magsafe has come out, otherwise it doesn’t bother me. can’t really hear it over the normal background noise in london, anyway. what I can hear is somewhat intermittent anyway.
    the fans are not noticeable on this machine, unless it’s writing a dvd. I use the core-duo-temp app to keep an eye on the temperature & proc useage, & this is the only time the proc gets really busy. the temp’s never gone above 65, as far as I remember.
    this happened once while final-cut was rendering something.

    other stuff I’ve observed:
    the speakers are rubbish.
    it took me about six goes to get the apple-supplied 2Gb ram to go in & work properly.
    I too have the problem with the lid-catch needing a good hard push to let go of the lid sometimes.
    the audio-out jack doesn’t like some 3.5mm stereo jacks, but is fine with optical connectors.
    the display is…. shaded- I have to keep moving around to be sure I’m judging contrast & colour correctly when using p/shop or corel.
    it gets very hot- of course. but it’s tolerable on my lap, especially now I’ve got the speck polycarbonate shells fitted. it gets a lot of looks from people too- a shiny red macbook.
    I run w2k under parallels, allowing the PC about 900Mb of the ram & about 8-9Gb of the hard drive. one thing I’ve noticed is that some windows apps don’t know what to do with the “2nd proc” (the same apps don’t use both procs on my dell dual proc PC either, or rather they use a maximum of half of each), & so there’s some processing power lying idle. the situation improves in parallels’ coherence mode, when the mac resumes control of the graphics driver.

    I cloned my MBP’s entire hard drive over firewire onto the blank HD in a mac-mini with the 1.6Ghz version of the same proc., it worked perfectly except that the mac-mini has to be reminded how to talk to the keyboard every time I restart it. all the apps work fine, even the ones that needed registration & serial numbers originally. the op took about 90 minutes though….

    duncan.

  83. James Says:

    Just want to say thanks for vocally complaining and bringing up these issues, its folks who don’t quietly accept what they’ve been given, and document the issues in detail who lead to these improvements.

    Now enjoying my quiet 17″ MBP as well – My single complaint is also the latch, funnily enough :)

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