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Apple Desktops Discussion of Apple's desktop machines including Mac Pro, iMac, Power Mac, and mini

iMac 27 inch hum/buzz/vibration


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Jus_75

 
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I have just come from the new Apple store in Hornsby, having returned the second iMac 27 inch computer with a hum/buzz/vibration noise complaint.

APPLE THIS IS NOT A MYTH AND NOT ACCEPTABLE!

The story goes like this...

I bought a 3.4 Ghz, quad core 27 inch iMac with a 1TB Seagate HDD and 8GB of RAM, and the 1GB video card a few months ago from the Apple store in Castle Hill, Sydney NSW. Took the machine home, set it up, and was extremely happy with it. Upgraded to Lion, had no issues with performance or ambient noise etc... it was whisper quiet. I would leave the machine running all the time, letting it simply sleep when inactive, and it never made a sound other than the optical drive or maybe occasionally the drive heads when reading or writing data. It was dead silent!

I receieved an email from Apple stating that in some circumstances the Seagate drive could fail, and for me to contact a store to make an appointment to have the drive replaced as part of a product recall. I thought 'I'll do the right thing' and made an appointment with Castle Hill Apple store to see a 'Genius'. Here comes my first gripe! I am an IT professional myslef (a CIO with a technical background) I should add, at this point. When I made the appointment I was unable to ascertain the status of stock for the replacement hard drives or how long the replacement would take. I get to Castle Hill and I am advised that the drives are not in stock and it could take a few days to get this completed. I don't want to be without my new computer for that long!? So I take it home and rethink how I should approach this.

Hornsby Apple store opens! I live in Hornsby so that suits me! On talking to a representative at the Hornsby store just this Friday passed I am advised that they do have the 1TB replacement drives in stock so make an appointment quick smart! So I do. It goes downhill from here...

On Sunday just passed I drop my iMac with a Seagate 1TB HDD in for hard drive replacement. As my data needed to be transferred from one drive to the other, I was told it would take overnight. No problem I thought. All good. I pick up the iMac the next day, with the Seagate drive replaced with a Western Digital one, and take it home. Set it up and turn it on. Suddenly my iMac is no longer 'whisper quiet'. From the point the system status chord sounds there is a humming or buzzing 'droan' that resonates through the desk and can be heard even over my television, fridge and fish tank! Sitting in front of the iMac for more than 10 minutes results in discomfort from the sound. It didn't make this noise before!? My assumption was that the new drive was either faulty or incorrectly installed. Dissapointed, and informed by reading countless blogs and forums on others returning multiple iMacs with the same complaint, I box back up my iMac (which I had previously been VERY happy with - previous to it being a buzzing machine that was) and the next morning (Tuesday) return it to the Hornsby store.

At this point I must note that the staff (Manager Kate and Technician or 'Genius' James) have been outstanding in terms of customer support. I cannot fault the staff at this point, just the product.

Tuesday morning the folks at the Apple store advise that they can either try to repair my now noisy iMac, or replace it. I figure, well I'll replace it then. So James sets about that day transferring all my data again, moving my 8GB of Ram from the machine to a new machine. The new machine has in it of course, a Western Digital drive (not that I am attributing the hum/buzz/vibration to the WD drive, but it is an odd coincidence don't you think?). I pick that machine up Tuesday afternoon, thanking everyone for all their wonderful help, and knocking on wood that this new machine is as faultless as my first one was prior to the drive replacement. Guess what!? It wasn't!!!

So I return the second machine this morning. You guessed it... I am now irate. The 'Genius' told me he could not recreate the issue... OF COURSE! GENIUS! You have music in the background and it's a noisy store! I wish I had never let anyone touch my iMac in the first place. As I've said I've read countless forums on this issue - it DOES EXIST! If I pick up the machine when running, the buzz vanishes. You can FEEL the vibration through the stand. If you lean the machine forwards onto the front ledge of the stand the sound goes. It is something to do with a moving component that is creating a vibration and in quiet environments the noise actually becomes irritant. I left my iMac running overnight and from my bedroom, I could hear the droan. The desk is a wooden desk, on tiled floor - but I must impress, MY FIRST iMac DID NOT MAKE THIS DROAN!

Anyone wish to comment? Apple maybe!? The iMac is in the shop for further diagnostics.
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chscag

 
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There's several older posts in our forums that reported the same problem. You can look for them using our search feature. However, if I remember correctly the noise vibration problem was resolved by placing sound defeating material such as a rubber mat or piece of carpet between the iMac stand and desk. I'm sure that's probably not what you want to hear but the noise was stopped by doing so.

(Our forums are peer to peer and are in no way associated with Apple.)
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Jus_75

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chscag View Post
There's several older posts in our forums that reported the same problem. You can look for them using our search feature. However, if I remember correctly the noise vibration problem was resolved by placing sound defeating material such as a rubber mat or piece of carpet between the iMac stand and desk. I'm sure that's probably not what you want to hear but the noise was stopped by doing so.

(Our forums are peer to peer and are in no way associated with Apple.)
Yeah I did try felt feet, rubber, a mouse mat, cloth, and several things under the stand to try and reduce the vibration – unfortunately to little effect.

The thing that really grinds my gears is that this wasn't the case originally – i.e. before anyone touched the first iMac it was quiet as a mouse – not a sound – nada – nuthin – zip :-) I loved it!

(sigh) THAT is what I expect from an expensive computer like this. I recall Mac IIVX rigs and Mac SE units with CRT screens and what have you that I've owned that were quieter, in my past. I mean a Mac is not a clunky clone PC with rattly case fans or something like that. You know? You pay for the quality – it should be up to a certain level of expectation I reckon.
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chscag

 
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Quote:
Yeah I did try felt feet, rubber, a mouse mat, cloth, and several things under the stand to try and reduce the vibration unfortunately to little effect.
It may be the WD drive that's causing the vibration. A bit of info for you regarding this: The drives which are used in the 2010 and 2011 iMac series have proprietary firmware and cables to accommodate the special heat sensors that are part of the drive. Without those, the fan which cools the drive ramps up to full RPM.

Why Apple chose to replace the Seagate with WD was based on premature drive failures of the 1 TB Seagate drives. There really should be no reason why the WD drives do not run as quiet as the Seagate drives. And in fact, I'm not sure if the WD drive is at fault or something else that Apple changed out when replacing the drive.

If I were you, I would not give up on this. Be persistent but polite, and ask them to rectify the noise problem as it is not acceptable. Elevate it to the store manager or higher if necessary.

BTW, I own a new mid 2011 iMac with a Seagate drive and it's whisper quiet. However, my machine has the 500 GB model installed and was not part of the recall.

Let us know how it goes and good luck with it.
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Jus_75

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chscag View Post
It may be the WD drive that's causing the vibration. A bit of info for you regarding this: The drives which are used in the 2010 and 2011 iMac series have proprietary firmware and cables to accommodate the special heat sensors that are part of the drive. Without those, the fan which cools the drive ramps up to full RPM.

Why Apple chose to replace the Seagate with WD was based on premature drive failures of the 1 TB Seagate drives. There really should be no reason why the WD drives do not run as quiet as the Seagate drives. And in fact, I'm not sure if the WD drive is at fault or something else that Apple changed out when replacing the drive.

If I were you, I would not give up on this. Be persistent but polite, and ask them to rectify the noise problem as it is not acceptable. Elevate it to the store manager or higher if necessary.

BTW, I own a new mid 2011 iMac with a Seagate drive and it's whisper quiet. However, my machine has the 500 GB model installed and was not part of the recall.

Let us know how it goes and good luck with it.
I've been taking your advice prior to seeing this :-)
I have politely pushed on and the Apple store have now said they can either refund my purchase, or I can settle with this second machine.

I picked up the machine this morning.
So I ponder...

I really like and want the iMac. I COULD try to deaden the noise (got it at work with a mouse mat under it - seems to be doing the job) - but I don't feel I should have to. All Apple offer as an SSD is a 256GB one and at a ridiculous price - not keen on that. A MacBook Pro has a lower spec processor. I want the power so that's not a choice.

I don't know - going to try it tonight with a mouse mat under it LOL
Apple - I once thought bigger things of you - my iPhone and iPads are great things! - with this iMac, you disappoint me :-(
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BrianLachoreVPI

 
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If the noise/vibration methods don't suffice - you could always tackle a drive install yourself. It's definitely not for the faint of heart - but for someone with your background - I'm sure it would be quite doable. You could install the drives of your choice then - including an SSD. There are workarounds for the proprietary cable issue that chscag references. There's an entire write up somewhere at OWC's site - I just haven't checked in a while as I'm in no hurry to open my iMac up.
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Housekat

 
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Try downloading the smcfan utility, it is mac osx native. That will give you a perspective on your fan speeds as well as heat dissipation. That way you can see how high your fans ramp up and that may be the cause. If you really do want to install a secondary hard drive, if your imac didn't come with one, than you may need to buy the bracket as well as the power cord. The sata cord is already preinstalled. If you love your mac a whole lot, and really want to get to the bottom of it, you could always chance taking your imac apart yourself, but its a real pain. Since you have a it backround, there are alot of write ups and you can at least pull the glass off, remove the screws to the display, run the machine and see where the noise is coming from. The hard drive is located within view and ear shot if you tilt the display out of the casing. I had to do this recently due to the apple tech not connecting my airport card, and i'm not driving more than an hour to get it repaired, so I did it myself.

iMac 2.93 i7 8GB 5750
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SLOimac

 
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Bought a 27" iMac this Saturday. I5, 12GB RAM, I believe WD HD 1TB.

I can only confirm the problem. It's a pain since I expected ultra quiet computer. Now I have to deal with all the stuff from seller/service. I've search forums and problem def. exists. I didn't find any solution apart from dampening vibration which is a hack and not a solution.

I bought the iMAC in Slovenija i-store.si from FMC company. Be ware future iMAC users!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLOimac View Post
Bought a 27" iMac this Saturday. I5, 12GB RAM, I believe WD HD 1TB.

I can only confirm the problem. It's a pain since I expected ultra quiet computer. Now I have to deal with all the stuff from seller/service. I've search forums and problem def. exists. I didn't find any solution apart from dampening vibration which is a hack and not a solution.

I bought the iMAC in Slovenija i-store.si from FMC company. Be ware future iMAC users!
If the problem is of such a magnitude that you find it bothersome, and putting a piece of foam under the stand to eliminate transmission of vibrations isn't good enough for you, you should take the iMac back. I have a 27" iMac that has only sat on my wooden dining room table since I bought it - pedestal directly on the wood - and have never had vibration issues. - knock on wood -
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianLachoreVPI View Post
If the problem is of such a magnitude that you find it bothersome, and putting a piece of foam under the stand to eliminate transmission of vibrations isn't good enough for you, you should take the iMac back. I have a 27" iMac that has only sat on my wooden dining room table since I bought it - pedestal directly on the wood - and have never had vibration issues. - knock on wood -
What HD do you have?
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SLOimac

 
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Ok, I can now concur it's a HD issue.

sudo pmset disksleep 1

will put your HD to sleep after 1 minute of inactivity. Wait for a while and magic appears as iMAC suddenly becomes silent. Almost silent. I can still hear fans from power supply but those are ok.
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SLOimac

 
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Oh, HD is WDC WD1001FALS-403AA0:

Wasn't Seagate always years ahead of WD?
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I'm pretty sure mine is a Seagate - but I'd have to check.
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longtermmacuser

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLOimac View Post
Ok, I can now concur it's a HD issue.

sudo pmset disksleep 1

will put your HD to sleep after 1 minute of inactivity. Wait for a while and magic appears as iMAC suddenly becomes silent. Almost silent. I can still hear fans from power supply but those are ok.
Thank you SLOimac for this suggestion - but pardon the ignorance, what does it mean?

I have the same problem with humming sound in 27-inch 3.4 GHz iMac, was getting ready to take my mid11 iMac, also brand new, to the Genius bar but thankfully read this first. If there is some kind of solution would be very happy to know.

The other thing my iMac does when it starts up is that the superdrive does a bit of an angry whirring sound, as if it's checking to see if there's anything in there. Does anybody have a similar experience with the mid11 iMacs?

Thanks in advance for any comments!
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My mid 2011 iMac has a WDC WD1001FALS-403AA0 1TB HD. Never any vibration/buzz/hum issues at all.

My Original Music:
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