How To Stop PC Fan Rattling

The constant whirring of your computer’s fans can become an unbearable distraction when focusing on work. Many PCs have at least one internal fan to cool components and prevent overheating. While these fans are essential for keeping our computers safe, they can make a lot of noise as they spin, quickly becoming annoying.

1. Turn off your computer when it’s not in use

One of the easiest ways to eliminate the rattling of noisy computer fans is to turn off your computer when it’s not in use.

When you’re not actively using your PC, the fans are spinning for no reason. This means that the components inside your computer generate extra heat that the fans must work extra hard to dissipate.

In addition, they’re collecting dust as they spin, which brings other issues to the mix.

It’s common for modern PCs to run hot when they’re under heavy loads, especially when there’s a lot of background software running.

When you’re not actively using your PC, it’s better to turn the power off. This will prevent the fans from spinning and reduce the unnecessary noise they produce.

2. Clear out any dust and debris from your PC fan

Dust, debris, and grime can reduce the efficiency of your computer’s fans and cause them to spin more loudly and less efficiently.

Over time, fans can accumulate a sticky layer of dust that reduces their ability to spin freely.

This means that they’ll produce more noise and less airflow. So it’s a good idea to clean the fans inside your computer every few months.

To do this, you’ll need to open up your computer’s chassis and get everything out of the way.

Avoid touching any internal electrical components, and keep your hands free from the accumulated dust and contaminants.

When cleaning your computer’s fans, ensure you use suitable materials. Never use water or liquids to clean your fans. And don’t use anything too abrasive.

You can use a soft, dry microfiber cloth to wipe off dust and grime collected inside the fans gently. If necessary, you can also use a can of compressed air to remove any tougher particles.

3. Add a vibration-absorbing material to your computer

Another way to reduce the amount of vibration your computer’s fans produce is to add a vibration-dampening material to the bottom of your computer’s chassis.

The best materials for this purpose are synthetic rubber or elastomer. These materials are designed to reduce unwanted vibration and sounds.

You can buy premade vibration-absorbing pads designed to fit underneath computer cases.

Alternatively, you can use synthetic rubber or elastomer to make your own vibration-absorbing pads.

These pads can be cut to size, and you can stick them to the bottom of your computer case with double-sided tape.

4. Uninstall software that you never use

You may have some unnecessary software on your computer that could be causing the fans to spin up more than they need to.

If you’re running unused CPU-intensive apps in the background, removing the programs from your computer may help.

Unnecessary software programs can consume lots of CPU power and slow down your PC.

This means that your fans will run more often than they need to as they try to cool the CPU as it’s being overused. As a result, they may run louder than usual.

5. Tighten any loose screws on the fan’s mounting bracket

If your fans are mounted in a removable bracket or on a nearby component, ensure that everything is securely attached.

Fans typically spin evenly because the rotational force is transferred evenly to their mounting brackets. If a mounting bracket is loose, it will vibrate as the fan operates.

If you notice any loose screws in the mounting brackets or nearby components, tighten them. If a screw is missing completely, replace it with a suitable alternative.

If you can’t find a loose screw inside your computer, try tightening any screws on or near the fan’s mounting bracket anyway.

This will reduce vibration and cause the fans to spin more quietly.

6. Install better fans

PC Fans are running inside a computer case.

Good-quality fans are designed to spin more quietly and efficiently than most standard fans. This is mainly due to high-quality bearings to reduce wear and friction.

This means they draw less power from your computer’s internal components, produce less heat, and spin more slowly.

It’s possible to swap out the fans inside your computer’s chassis and install better-quality ones.

To do this:

  1. Pop open your PC’s chassis.
  2. Locate the fan (usually found near the motherboard).
  3. Find any wires going into and out of the fan and detach them carefully from their sockets.
  4. Unscrew any screws holding the fans in place.
  5. Check the make and size of the fans and order a similar size from your preferred vendor.
  6. Place the new fan in the old one’s space.
  7. Reattach the new fan’s wires and screw them tightly in place.

The exact procedure for installing new fans will depend on your computer type.

If your computer is relatively old, upgrading the fans and installing good-quality ones might be worthwhile.

7. Change your computer’s position and orientation

Sometimes, the computer’s orientation can cause the fan to make noise as the chassis and other nearby components come close to the fan.

For instance, if your PC tower is meant to stand upright, placing it on its side may cause the fan to rattle as it comes in contact with other objects that have been forced into its path by the wrong placement.

Similarly, an uneven surface could bring the fan closer to nearby components and eventually lead to noise.

Additionally, if you’re placing your PC near a wall, it might be better to move it away toward the center of the room.

This is because fans near a wall will transfer vibrations to the wall. Unfortunately, the wall also chokes fresh air from circulating into and out of your PC, raising its temperature.

As a result, the fans overwork and tend to rattle.

8. Install a quality case fan

A case fan is a small computer fan placed inside the computer case. It’s used to direct extra airflow to areas inside the computer case that are warm or hot.

You can install a quality case fan in one of the empty spaces inside your computer’s case to get rid of the extra hot air inside the case.

9. Don’t place objects on top of your PC

If you have a computer tower, you may want to make sure that no items are resting on top. This includes things like books, binders, and other office supplies.

Items like these can add pressure to the PC’s chassis, bringing other components closer to the fans.

They can also block the airflow if accidentally dropped near the vents.

While this is a relatively minor issue, it can significantly impact the noise your computer makes.

If you have objects on top of your computer, you should remove them before concluding that your fans are damaged.

10. Check for any objects blocking the fan vents

There are also times when objects such as paper get lodged in the vents and prevent the fans from spinning as fast as they need.

If you’re finding that your computer is still running loud, make sure that no objects are blocking the vents.

If you find any, remove the object, and the computer will run much quieter than before.

In most cases, the above solutions are enough to make your computer run quieter. However, if nothing seems to be working, there are other things that you can do.

Here are other potential solutions you can try:

  • Avoid placing your computer in a place that gets excessively hot. This can damage the computer and cause it to run louder than normal. Instead, ensure that you put your computer in an area that has good ventilation and is away from direct sunlight.
  • Get a separate GPU fan for your graphics card. A GPU (graphics processing unit) is designed specifically for handling graphics. Keeping it cool is essential, and a separate GPU fan is a great way to cater to its thermal needs without straining the internal fan.
  • Add more fans to your computer. If you have a little technical background, you can always add a few more fans to help the main fan keep your CPU cool and reduce its strain.
  • Clean any dust filters installed in the vents. As the fans rotate, they pull in dust, which gets caught by the dust filters you may have installed inside the vents. Too much dust can prevent smooth airflow, which causes the temperature to rise in the computer and the fans to spin harder. So clean the dust filter every once in a while.

If none of these solutions work, perhaps it’s time to check whether the fans are rattling due to physical damage.

This can be achieved with a physical inspection by following these steps:

  1. Turn off your PC.
  2. Open up the chassis with a screwdriver.
  3. Locate the fan and carefully inspect it for any signs of damage.
  4. Look for cracked or broken fins.
  5. Check for objects lodged between the fins.
  6. Look for missing screws and replace them.
  7. Give the fan a spin and watch its motion; see if you can spot any abnormal rotation.

11. Make sure cables aren’t touching the fan blades

An example of wires that can obstruct a cooling fan enough to generate a rattling noise.

I’ve seen it occasionally happen when wires from inside the case or the fan lightly start touching the fan blades, causing a loud rattling noise when the fan is spinning.

Ensure cables are clear from the fan blades of all the fans and are secured using cable ties.

There are adhesive cable tie mounts that add extra options for keeping wires in place and tidy, so the inside of your computer looks cleaner.

Make sure that you cut the extra unused pieces of the cable ties for extra tidiness and to reduce the risk of more things making contact with the fan blades.

Common causes of PC fan rattling

Noisy fans usually indicate overheating PCs, and they don’t necessarily indicate imminent destruction.

In fact, rattling fans are just a sign that something needs fixing; sooner rather than later. Some causes of PC fan rattling include:

Overheated CPU

This is the most common PC fan problem, and it will often cause your PC fan to push a little harder than usual.

This causes a rattling noise that will increase in volume as the CPU gets hotter and hotter

If your fan is making a loud grinding sound and you notice that your PC’s performance has slowed down to a snail-like pace, your CPU could be overheating, and the fan is working really hard to cool things down.

Dusty fans

This is easy to fix, and it’s often the first thing people think of when they hear their PC fan rattling.

If your PC is dusty, it will overheat, and the fan will start to squeak and rattle as it struggles to rotate in the choking dust.

Defective PC fan

If you hear a rattling sound coming from a specific PC fan, then there is a chance it’s faulty and needs replacing.

If you open up the PC case, check the fan, and find that it’s jammed or broken, you’ll need to replace it with a new one.

You can easily replace the faulty fan with a new one by removing the old one and installing a new one.

Your PC fan has fallen out of place

The blades on your PC fan will be spinning around at high speed, and they can easily come into contact with each other when broken by a foreign object, causing the fan to become jammed.

If this happens, the rattling noise will increase significantly as the blades grind against each other.

Remember, the longer you leave it without fixing the underlying problem, the louder and more frequent those rattles will become.