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  • Reports of “coil whine” in new Surface Book 2 machines

    Posted on January 7th, 2018 at 07:51 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Some folks love their Surface Book 2 PCs — Paul Thurrott certainly does — and at $ 2,000 or so for a well-aspirated model, Microsoft’s certainly hoping you will, too.

    But there’s one feature that’s drawn a fair amount of attention that you should take into account. Coil whine.

    If you’ve never seen, uh, heard coil whine in action, watch this video:

    There’s a thread developing on the Microsoft Answers forum that says the Surface Book 2’s coil whine — at least for some people — drives them nuts.

    Microsoft’s Arnulfo Avi posted:

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Surface Book 2 has just been released and should be in perfect working condition upon receiving your device. We understand that it may be causing the undesired noise when using the device. This is normal given the high-powered component and the specs of this model.

    Nonetheless, if this is giving inconvenience on the way you utilize the Surface, we suggest that you drop by the same store where you’ve purchased it. Our staff will assist you and should replacement be required, there should be no issue at all.

    That seems like excellent advice.

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    Home Forums Reports of “coil whine” in new Surface Book 2 machines

    This topic contains 8 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by

     Ascaris 1 year, 1 month ago.

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    • #157112 Reply

      woody
      Da Boss

      Some folks love their Surface Book 2 PCs — Paul Thurrott certainly does — and at $ 2,000 or so for a well-aspirated model, Microsoft’s certainly hop
      [See the full post at: Reports of “coil whine” in new Surface Book 2 machines]

    • #157129 Reply

      anonymous

      I hate coil whine. I know what they’re going through. My power supply has coil whine sometimes. Usually seems to happen when I play certain games. It truly is annoying, but not much you can do unfortunately.

    • #157131 Reply

      Noel Carboni
      AskWoody_MVP

      I had a workstation once (Dell Precision T5400) that would pipe a tiny bit of power supply whine through its audio system. It was only audible, presumably either through induction or because of poor filtering, through earbuds plugged into the front port of the system, not through the speakers. I could hear it, for example, when I would move windows around, and I can confirm that it truly is annoying. Thankfully I don’t get a bit of it from my current Precision T5500 workstation, either through speakers or earbuds, and I SURE don’t miss it!

      You’d think modern system designers would work to eliminate this wouldn’t you? Especially in tablets since such a huge money-making channel is through the sale of media, which we are encouraged to enjoy via our mobile devices. I wonder what the financial impact on advertising is when someone chooses to watch fewer videos or whatever because of nearly intangible irritation with the whine… On the other hand, if your device irritates will you buy a new device sooner?

      -Noel

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #157518 Reply

        Ascaris
        AskWoody_MVP

        I had a workstation once (Dell Precision T5400) that would pipe a tiny bit of power supply whine through its audio system. It was only audible, presumably either through induction or because of poor filtering, through earbuds plugged into the front port of the system, not through the speakers.

        Induction AND poor filtering, I’d think.

        What you describe doesn’t sound like coil whine.  In coil whine, the inductor itself resonates and acts as a transducer, turning electrical pulses into physical vibrations.  In your case, something in the system was acting as an antenna, turning electrical pulses into RF pulses, which for some reason your earbuds picked up (but not the speakers).

        I’ve listened to these coil whine videos before, but I’ve never actually had it in any of my devices myself, at least not bad enough to be heard over the other sounds I’ve often had.  My tinnitus is like coil whine all the time, and it’s been constant for 30 years, so maybe such things just vanish into the noise floor for me.

        I followed Woody’s link to YT, and one of the suggested videos was of a Dell XPS 13 with INSANE coil whine (according to the poster).  I didn’t hear anything in the start of the video that was supposed to be showing this “insane” coil whine, even with the YT player at full volume… so I went back and played it again with the master volume turned up to 153% (which Linux allows me to do) and it still sounded just like the quiet bits in any video, just hearing ordinary ambient noise as on any video not recorded in a studio with sound-absorption materials.  So I sent the sound to my main PC (I am using my laptop) over A2DP bluetooth and cranked those speakers up to full (only 100%, as I’m in Windows 8.1 on that one), with the laptop master volume still at 153%, and I juuuust heard a slight crackle that sounded like a rust-spinner hard drive performing seeks, which is confirmed in the comments as being what we were supposed to be hearing.

        I guess that’s one benefit of being so old… the high frequency response of human ears declines with age, so we get to miss out on a lot of annoying noise.  I remember when I was a child, we used to shop at Montgomery Ward’s a lot, and in the store we usually visited, the TV department was just inside the main entrance.  This was the 1980s, so all the TVs featured cathode-ray tubes.  As soon as we would walk in, the squeal of all of those CRTs together was nearly intolerable.  Neither of my parents could even hear it; I must have complained about it every time we went in there, and I could not believe they couldn’t even hear what was making me want to hit myself in the head with a hammer until I was unconscious to be able to avoid the noise.

        That was before my hearing was damaged enough to cause the tinnitus.

        You’d think modern system designers would work to eliminate this wouldn’t you?

        The prototypes the engineers use as test builds of a new design may not have exactly the same setup that eventually makes it to production.  Someone along the way may decide that substituting different coils that have the same specs on paper is a good idea to save a bit of money, but even a slight change like that could introduce whine that wasn’t there before.  Or maybe the engineers are old, and they can’t hear it!

        On the other hand, if your device irritates will you buy a new device sooner?

        Perhaps, but if I am buying anew because my old (whatever) is annoying, I doubt the new one is going to be from the same company.

        Group "L" (evaluating KDE Neon Developer/Stable 5.15.1; Kubuntu 18.10)

    • #157153 Reply

      BobbyB
      AskWoody Lounger

      Well that’s a new one on me. The whine on a regular Workstation while trying to actually do some work that requires a good deal of thought would be, to say the least, be distracting to driving me “nuts.” I would imagine the average gamer these days that’s all to busy blasting, blowing something up and or a myriad of special sound effects wouldn’t even hear it. (not an avid gamer but those that are, seems to me are generally engaged in something along those lines)

      I just looked at that Graphics card, as admittedly not a gamer, Freecell’s my limit, Do Graphic’s cards really come that big??? Yeah the cables I recognise from various industrial systems at work hooked to some of our “production machines” but that card’s  bigger, almost, than some laptops.

      As Surface 2 is promoted as a “productivity” Machine as well as other chores that may require a modicum of noise free or limited noise environment with a Premium price tag, it goes as another reason not to buy a Surface laptop. Unless your one of those who delight in buying Christmas gifts that annoy the living daylights out of the recipient like those Horrendous Christmas Sweaters, then in which case the Surface is the perfect gift if you got a $1000 or so to splurge.  😉

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #157230 Reply

      anonymous

      An answer from Microsoft that is somewhat helpful and not something that involves teaching their new artificial intelligence how to hum!

      Seriously, have these users tried disabling the Nvidia gpu to hear if it stops whining?

      • #157258 Reply

        woody
        Da Boss

        Good point. I haven’t seen any reports.

    • #157363 Reply

      Anonymous

      Interesting. Computers making a distracting noise is an old issue for me. I had an IBM PC back in 1983 with a monochrome monitor that had a flyback transformer that “screamed”. Apparently it was a common problem at the time. Some things never change they tell me.

    • #157379 Reply

      anonymous

      One fix if you have access to the offending component is to use a special kind of nonconductive silicone putty to dampen the noise.   Its something that has been around for decades and has been used mainly in older TV’s which would screech like crazy from their power supplies.

    Please follow the -Lounge Rules- no personal attacks, no swearing, and politics/religion are relegated to the Rants forum.

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