Why Is My Chromebook Buzzing? Common Causes and Fixes

Like most laptops and notebooks, your Chromebook can make a buzzing noise, and the cause or triggering factor for a specific model varies based on its design and hardware specifications. So, why does your Chromebook make a buzzing noise, and how can you fix the problem?

1. Coil Whine

Chromebooks are distinct from laptops and notebooks because they use different hardware and software, especially the Chrome operating system. However, the fundamental concepts of using baseboards, batteries, chips, and other essential components are identical for all such devices.

These electronic devices have integrated circuits that regulate the flow of electricity. Whenever a Chromebook operates, electricity flowing through these integrated circuits interacts with various hardware components, many of which resonate and vibrate due to the electric current.

For example, resonating inductors can generate an audible noise, which may sound like a buzz. This audible sound is referred to as coil whine. All Chromebooks may have coil whine, irrespective of brands like Dell, Lenovo, etc.

Most popular companies making Chromebooks try to use the best hardware technology available to mitigate the coil whine issue. However, the problem remains a reality for every assembler and original equipment manufacturer.

Many Chromebooks don’t have fans, so nothing inside the chassis can move, rotate, etc. If yours doesn’t have a fan, the coil whine phenomenon is the most likely cause of a continuous or intermittent buzzing.

But even if a Chromebook has fans, the buzzing noise could be due to coil whine. You must assess the source and type of the noise. 

The coil whine may be due to resonance, vibration, or both. Resonance may or may not cause an audible noise, which depends on the frequency. You will hear a noise only when a part resonates at a frequency within the audible spectrum, i.e., 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

Unlike resonance, vibration is a mechanical phenomenon, so you may hear a buzzing noise if a component vibrates, such as cooling fans, etc. Neither resonance nor vibration may be a constant issue for a Chromebook. However, you may have a chronic problem at hand. 

How To Fix

Unfortunately, you can do nothing about the coil whine problem except ignore the buzzing noise or wear earplugs to work normally without distraction. Even manufacturers haven’t figured out how to eliminate or prevent coil whine. 

The other thing you can do is hope that a Chromebook makes little to no audible noise due to the coil whine. Since most brands consider coil whine a normal phenomenon, they don’t cover the problem in their warranties so that they won’t replace a Chromebook or any of its components.

2. Dusty Vents

A manual pump blower is being used to remove the dust from a Chromebook's vents.

Any Chromebook with a fan requires adequate airflow through the vents to cool the hardware. If you have dusty vents, they are effectively clogged, partially or completely. Obstructed airflow can prevent it from cooling efficiently, and the fans might spin faster.

A Chromebook fan is rarely inaudible but isn’t always an unbearably loud distraction. However, a stressed fan will likely work harder to cool the system, so it can operate loudly, causing a buzzing noise. You must inspect the vents to confirm if they are clean.

How To Fix

You must clean dusty vents to ensure sufficient airflow and, thus, cooling. You may use different tools to clean the vents. A clean and soft rag may work. Ensure the piece of cloth is free of lint. You can also use a cotton swab.

A handheld vacuum effectively cleans the vents of a Chromebook with fans. You may use the dusting attachment of a regular household vacuum cleaner. Alternatively, you can use a can of compressed air.

3. Noisy Fan

You may have a noisy fan if your Chromebook has clogged or dusty vents. However, even if the vents are clean and unclogged, you may have a broken or defective fan, which will likely be much noisier than usual. These small fans aren’t exactly sophisticated or very durable per se.

A malfunctioning fan or its misaligned parts may create a buzzing noise. Sometimes, the noise may be more alarming than a mildly discomforting buzz. A deformed fan’s blades may strike the chassis or hardware components around it. Also, the cooling fan’s motor may be too noisy.

Furthermore, a dusty fan is likely to make a constant noise. This dust buildup won’t be visible when you check the vents from outside. The buildup is inside the chassis, so you must open the case to access the Chromebook fan. A failing fan is beyond the scope of cleaning.

How To Fix

You can open the chassis of a Chromebook and clean the fan if dust or other buildup is the only problem. Refer to your model’s design and any available instructions to open the case. If a fan is broken or deformed, you must replace it to fix or reduce the buzzing noise.

4. Overheating

Unlike Windows laptops and notebooks, Chromebooks are not known to overheat easily. But all Chromebooks can overheat in a few circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  • A Chromebook with fans should be kept on a flat, hard surface that allows a bit of a gap under the chassis to facilitate ventilation. This requisite is relevant regardless of the condition of the fan and vents to prevent it from overheating.
  • Stressed Chromebooks can overheat due to overworking processors, including the CPU and GPU. They are more efficient than conventional laptops, but too many active apps, tabs, etc., can overwhelm the hardware, and a device may overheat.
  • Hardware or software issues can overheat a Chromebook. A defective fan is easy to detect. Other hardware problems may need an extensive diagnosis. Likewise, a software glitch may not be evident unless there is news or official updates (more on this later).

How To Fix

The relevant solution depends on the problem you detect in your overheating Chromebook. The following remedies apply to the corresponding causes:

  • Don’t keep a Chromebook on a soft surface like a couch, fabric, or lap. Desks and tables with glass, wood, and other hard surfaces allow heat dissipation and ventilation under the chassis, so they will not cause or facilitate overheating.
  • Review all active apps and tabs, among other programs, by accessing the Chrome OS Task Manager. Chromebooks don’t have a conventional Task Manager. You need to use the ‘three dots’ next to the address bar in the Chrome browser, go to More tools, and select Task Manager from the drop-down menu. There’s a keyboard shortcut, too.
  • Hardware issues require investigating every component, such as the battery. If a battery is too hot to the touch from outside the chassis, something is wrong. You should contact tech support for such issues. Chrome OS glitches are beyond a user’s control.

Shift or Search and Esc keys are the keyboard shortcuts to access the Task Manager. If a battery is overheating, review the adapter or charger and the wall outlet. Ensure you have the right AC adapter and the charger has no physical damage.

5. Static Buzzing

Some static noises may sound like buzzing in a Chromebook. While static isn’t as common as a buzzing noise due to coil whine or cooling fans, you might encounter such unusual sounds in a few circumstances.

Suppose you enable a Chrome flag to enhance your Chromebook’s performance, such as the zero-copy rasterizer. In such a scenario, a faster GPU may stress your machine and cause the system to overheat. You may hear a static buzz and may sometimes crash.

Similarly, you can enable hyperthreading in Chromebooks with processors supporting such an enhancement. Hyperthreading, disabled by default in many models, can lead to better performance, but the system may get stressed, and you may hear strange noises. 

If you use a Chromebook in Developer Mode, changes you make can have unexpected effects, and you may hear a buzzing, static noise, etc. The static sound may sometimes be evident on audio or video calls, such as Meet, Skype, Zoom, etc. You must review the changes you made.

How To Fix

The solution depends on the specific problem. Generally, one or more of the following remedies should fix a static buzz:

  • Factory Reset or Power Wash.
  • Recover Your Chromebook OS.
  • Reset Your Hardware.

6. Whirring Noise

Over the years, Chromebook users have encountered quaint sounds like whining and whirring noises. Although these noises don’t exactly sound like buzzing, they may not be easily distinct if you observe casually. Such noises may have different causes, so focus on the source.

Suppose a whining or whirring noise comes from the Chromebook battery or under the case near the charging port when the charger is plugged in.

In such a scenario, the culprit could be arching, which may be caused by an electric current bridging any gap between the battery and the charging port. Also, a faulty charger might be the problem.

How To Fix

Some users remove the batteries and reinstall them to ensure a proper fit. You may try this after checking whether the battery is hot or not. Avoid discharging a Chromebook battery close to 0% state of charge.

7. Hardware Issues

Hardware issues can cause a buzzing noise, but generalizing them is futile. A Chromebook with a defective baseboard or other faulty hardware can make electrical and mechanical noises. You may hear strange noises when using peripherals, such as external speakers.

How To Fix

Consider removing all the peripheral devices one at a time to check if any of them is causing the buzzing noise. A hard reset or power wash may solve the problem if you suspect an internal hardware component. Otherwise, you should contact tech support and review the warranty.

8. Software Glitches

Chromebooks have an efficient, light, and secure operating system. However, Chrome OS has had a few issues over the years. Some problems have caused a buzzing noise or other strange sounds.

One reported incident was about a glitchy audio driver. The bug in the audio driver caused the speaker to crackle and distort in many Chromebooks. The problem persisted for many users until Google updated the audio driver.

Another reported instance was Chromebooks overheating after a Chrome OS update. Not all brands were affected, though. However, many Acer and Asus users had to endure overheating devices until Google fixed Chrome OS. 

If your Chromebook has fans, overheating due to a software glitch may make it spin faster, effectively making a buzzing noise. A fanless model overheating may have a noisier coil whine problem. There may be other strange noises, too.

How To Fix

You can roll back to a previous Chrome OS version or undo recent software changes based on what you have installed, modified, or updated. However, software glitches causing or facilitating a buzzing noise aren’t as common as the other issues I have explained in this guide.