Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Solved: Lenovo ThinkPad W510: High pitched squealing noise

I recently got a Lenovo ThinkPad W510 laptop, which is a bit of a beast (PC Advisor Review). There's an Intel Core i7 CPU running at 1.73 GHz, 3GB RAM and a nice 15.6" LED Screen. It's very well put together and feels like it will last for a long time, especially with the hard disk shock detection technology which turns off your hard drive if the chassis detects that the machine is dropped onto the ground

However, I had an issue with the laptop where it would make a constant high pitched squealing noise, almost so high pitched that only dogs would hear it, but unfortunately not quite.

I thought I could live with it but when you're sitting next to it for 7-8 hours a day and the sound is drilling into your mind, it becomes quite annoying. But fortunately, unlike many others who had the same problem, the answer proved to be achievable without making any support phone calls or having any parts replaced.

There's a very comprehensive suite of Lenovo settings which are preinstalled on the machine, and in particular there's an application called Power Manager.

Since it's a high performance machine designed for development or graphics editing and therefore has heavy battery usage by default, it gives you fine grained control over the balance between performance and power. You can slow down the CPU, dull the screen and switch off optical drives if you're running on battery power, and when you're on AC you can disable all that and let it run at full tilt.

These types of controls are nothing new, but in there was the answer to my squealing problem.

As part of Power Manager, there's a setting called 'Deep Sleep' which is some kind of CPU power management function. This was the cause. So I created a new 'power management profile' within the Power Manager applet and set Deep Sleep to off, then saved it.

After activating my new profile, the noise immediately went away! Thank goodness for that, because I had to get rid of the noise one way or another before it drove me nuts.


Anonymous said...

I too was having the same issue. It got to the point of wanting to return the machine. I've launched the Power Manager application and went to "Global Power Settings" tab, and made a modification to "Advanced options", under "Power management", "CPU", I changed the selection to "Disable".

So far so good, no noise. Hopefully this setting will keep the high pitch noise down. Thanks for pointing out the solution.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for your clear and concise post! It was exactly what I needed (deep sleep off).

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!!!!! It was driving me crazy!

Robert Belleman said...

All very well, but you do realise this settings reduces battery run- and lifetime significantly. I don't see this as an option for a laptop that has a 3 hour battery runtime to start with.

I decided to give Lenovo a chance to repair my brand new W510. They returned it two weeks later, (replaced motherboard, fan, camera, LCD cable): the noise is still there.

I am very disappointed with this laptop and Lenovo.

Phil said...

You're correct of course, and my post is just a workaround and not really a permanent solution.

But as someone who works with the machine plugged into the socket or on a docking station 99% of the time, for me to try to get Lenovo to fix it seems more hassle than its worth.

joshperry said...

There is a built-in power mode already, called "Power Source Optimized" which has Deeper Sleep disabled when you're plugged in to external power.

It is enabled when on battery so you get the boost in run-time that the options provides. And the sound isn't that big of a deal, the most you'll have to suffer with it is 3 hours.

Robert Belleman said...

The sound may not be a big deal for you, it is to me and a lot of other people that complain about it.

A laptop should not be making this noise. Period. The fact that this happens with a system this expensive and with this brand's reputation makes it all the more frustrating. Even more so as it appears that Lenovo is incapable (unwilling?) of doing something about it.

Anonymous said...

This reduces the noise quite a bit. I'm satisfied with the workaround.

Anonymous said...

GENIUS! Thanks, it helped a lot.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot, exactly the solution I needed.

Of course it's just a workaround and will cost battery but if you need a laptop with long battery time then don't buy a w-series machine...

Anonymous said...


Steve said...

I had a squeaking noise on my laptop too and after adjusting the brightness I got rid of it. Hope it doesn't return back!