A power supply or PSU is one of the most important components in a computer. It plays a huge role in keeping the juice flowing to each component of your system to make them work properly. Because of this, maintaining a power supply and making sure it is in the best working condition is a very critical part.
A well-maintained power supply will surely suffice all the power needs of your hardware, but a PSU in poor condition can be harmful to your entire PC. Not only it can cause system instability, but it can also burn your components and can even be a fire hazard.
One indication that a power supply unit is in bad shape is when you hear a clicking noise. Common reasons for this are busted fans, loose screws, or wires that got caught in the fans.
However, a PSU clicking noise could be as serious as might think that would require immediate attention. In this article, we will discuss more on what causes a power supply clicking noise and how to fix it.
- What is a Power Supply Unit (PSU)?
- Power Supply Clicking Sound (Causes and Fixes)
- Check the Other Components for Possible Sources of Clicking Noise
- Disconnect Unused Peripherals
- Conclusion: Is a Power Supply Making Clicking Noises Necessarily a Bad Sign?
What is a Power Supply Unit (PSU)?
From the word itself, the power supply unit is responsible for supplying the power needed in order for a computer to run. In addition, your computer components and accessories cannot use the power straight from the wall since power outlets produce AC or alternating current. With this, your PSU will play a huge role by converting AC to DC or direct current.
Each power supply also comes with different wattage. Using an overkill power supply that is more than enough for your PC needs is fine, but using an insufficient PSU that did not meet your overall PC wattage requirements may cause system instability or may even fry your beloved components.
Power Supply Clicking Sound (Causes and Fixes)
Why is my power supply clicking? Clicking sounds from the PSU may range from a simple problem to a more complicated issue that should be given attention immediately. Here are the most common causes of a power supply making a clicking noise and how to fix it.
Improper or incorrect connections from the PSU to the main components can be a source of clicking noise. It is your PSU’s way of telling you that something is not right and should be fixed immediately. When this happens, your PSU will automatically shut down, along with the PC itself, to prevent further damage.
To fix this, make sure that all the PSU cables are plugged into the correct slots, such as the 24-pin ATX power connector and 4-pin or 8-pin CPU power connector, depending on the type of your motherboard. Some modern motherboard like the Z690 requires a 12-pin (8+4) in order for them to work properly.
Additionally, if you also have installed a GPU, make sure to check if it requires additional PCI-E power connectors and that they are attached properly.
Improper PSU Installation
Improper installation of your PSU can also cause bugging noise when from your PC. This happens every time the PSU is not seated tight correctly on the PSU slot, causing vibrations when you turn on your computer and the PSU fan starts spinning.
To avoid this from happening, make sure to check your chassis and PSU specifications first to make sure that both are compatible with each other, as some chassis are incompatible with some power supply sizes. The most common dimension of a PSU is the standard PS2 ATX power supply that fits almost every computer case.
When assembling your PC, it is important to check that each cable is attached properly to its corresponding power slot. Loosen cables may get in the way of the fans which can cause buzzing sounds from your system. In addition, it is also important to manage your cable properly, as this can get tangled by the PSU or CPU fan which can also produce ticking noise.
Always remember that loose cables may damage your components in the long run, so it is important that you check them whenever you hear something from your PC when you use it.
Overclocking or Overusage
As soon as you overclock or overuse your PC, this will make your components work harder than usual which could result in excess heat. And as the temperature on your PC rise, the fans also tend to spin faster. During these situations, power requirements needed in order to maintain system stability will also rise. If you happen to have a substandard or mediocre power supply, this might cause damage to your parts or even to the PSU itself which could cause a clicking noise.
Also, additional devices and accessories, such as fans, external drives, and lighting strips will also require more power from the PSU, and clicking might happen if used along with a cheap power supply.
So to avoid further damage to your PC, it is recommended to reset to default optimized settings as soon as you hear clicking sounds. You may overclock your system again, but gradually, until you reach the sweet spot without sacrificing the power supply.
Busted Fans or Filters
Busted fans can also produce bugging noise from the power supply as it will vibrate constantly while spinning. This happens when the PSU fan gets loose. In instances like this, it is highly suggested that you bring them to a qualified technician since this is more likely just a fan issue rather than the PSU itself, except if you have extra money to spare for a new power supply. Although in some cases, fan noise also happens because of dust build-up within the fan blades.
As for the filters, clogged dust can also produce noise as the wind passes through it. This can easily be fixed by clearing the dust carefully using compressed air or a paintbrush with soft bristles. In addition, clogged filters can also cause poor airflow, which could result in overheating that cause the power supply to break down after long use.
Faulty Voltage Regulators
For extra protection, we often use UPS or AVR for our computers. But aside from these devices, our power supply also has a voltage regulator built inside them. Their job is to regulate the voltage that passes through it to maintain constant power output and avoid fluctuations. Just like any other component, expensive good quality power supply units regulate voltage better than cheaper ones.
But sometimes, no matter how good our PSU is, it can get faulty or damaged after long use. This will cause voltage fluctuation that could result in abnormally high voltage that can be harmful to the power supply and other computer components and can even potentially fry them.
Unfortunately, the voltage regulator is a major component of a power supply, so whenever it becomes damaged, it is highly suggested to replace it with a new one. You should never risk your entire PC by using a questionable PSU.
Another common reason for the ticking sound from your PC is loose screws in the power supply. These loosen screws will vibrate a lot as soon as you power up your system. This can be bearable at times but can get annoying in long use, especially in a quiet environment.
For computer cases with top-mounted power supplies, it is very critical if there are loose mounting screws, as it can pose a risk of falling and harming all the other components below it.
Luckily, this can easily be fixed by tightening the screws and making sure that the PSU is mounted properly.
Check the Intake and Exhaust Ports
Dust build-up in the intake and exhaust slots is very common, especially if your computer is placed in a dusty environment. This dust buildup could result in poor airflow, which in turn makes the temperature of your power supply rise. On occasions like these, the power supply fan will have a hard time cooling the components inside the PSU which sometimes results in clicking.
Fixing this is pretty easy since all you have to do is to clear the dust in the air filters, fan blades, and as well as in the exhaust port of the PSU.
Lastly, the reason why your PC produces clicking sounds could be a result of a faulty PSU. Especially if you have already tried all the solutions and fixes mentioned above, then it is more likely that the problem is the power supply unit. Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed fix for this, unless you know someone who is a qualified and highly skilled technician that knows his stuff about electronics.
However, it is still highly suggested to buy a new one while using power supply units that have undergone repair are still prone to future damages. Also, the role of the power supply is to feed all the necessary power to your system, so make sure that the unit is in top condition.
When shopping for new parts, never ever cheap out on the power supply. You might do it for peripherals and other components, but not on power supply since cheap ones usually have poor capacitors that can be harmful to your system.
Check the Other Components for Possible Sources of Clicking Noise
After trying all the possible fixes mentioned and you are still no luck finding the culprit of that clicking noise from your PC, then it is highly possible that the noise is not coming from the PSU, but from your other components. After all, there are still other components and devices in our PC that spins which can cause clicking sounds.
Below are the most common culprits of other sources of clicking sounds other than the PSU.
CPU and GPU Fans
CPU and GPU fans can also be a source of a noise coming out from your PC since both use fans in order for them not to overheat. These fans can get noisy when under heavy load. But sometimes, clicking sounds can be heard if it has busty fans or if there’s an obstruction such as improperly installed cables. Sometimes, a CPU fan can also spin louder than usual if the fan or heatsink used is not built for the processor’s TDP.
Luckily, CPU fans can be replaced easily and are available almost in every computer shop. They are also easy to install and are cheap, depending on the model.
As for watercoolers, since they used radiators, they can get louder compared to an air-cooled CPU. In this case, regular maintenance like dust cleaning might be needed.
Hard Disk Drives (HDD)
Mechanical hard drives can also get easily loud since it contains a small disc inside that spins non-stop whenever your computer has to access specific data in the disk drive. Although this noise coming from the hard drives is normal, busted hard drives are also known to produce clicking sounds. This may cause the system to slow down, and sometimes, random freezing. If this is the case, it is recommended to replace the hard drive with a new one to save yourself from corrupted files in the future.
Also, if you want a quieter and faster operation, you may also opt-out to solid-state drives (SSD). SSDs are more expensive than traditional mechanical hard drives, but they will significantly improve your system’s performance.
Optical Disk Drives (ODD)
If you are using optical disk drives, whether internal or external, you may also check if the clicking sound is coming directly from the ODD. Clicking sounds from optical drives are usually caused by a faulty drive or an unreadable disc. You can fix this by making sure that the cables attached to the drive are properly secured and your disc is still functional.
As for external ODDs, clicking sounds can also happen if the drive is receiving insufficient power from the computer. If this happens to you, try plugging the USB cable from the motherboard’s I/O slots located at the back instead of plugging it into the case’s front panel.
Speakers produce clicking sounds mostly because of faulty connection wires. In most cases, the problem can be located near the tip of the wire that connects to the plug. It is because this part is often gets folded when we plugged it into our devices.
So if you ever hear clicking sounds that are coming from the speakers, try checking the cables to see if the problem still persists. If the problem persists, you might consider replacing your speaker, though a skilled technician may still be able to replace the damaged connector wires.
Disconnect Unused Peripherals
As mentioned, a clicking sound from the power supply may happen when it starts to struggle in feeding a sufficient amount of power to your system. Although it’s rare, it might be worth a try to disconnect any unused or unnecessary peripherals and other accessories. This may include unused external drives, flash drives, RGB strips, RGB mousepads, and maybe some extra fans that you think are overkill.
Conclusion: Is a Power Supply Making Clicking Noises Necessarily a Bad Sign?
Whenever we hear an unusual sound from our computers, the first thing that comes to mind is that there is something wrong with our PC. Luckily, as mentioned above, a clicking sound does not always necessarily mean that there is something wrong with our PC. It might be caused by loose screws and connectors, or cables obstructing the fans.
However, as soon as you hear a clicking sound from your PC, especially if your power supply clicks when turned on, you must check it immediately to avoid further issues.
On the subject of PSUs, I have written a report discussing the top power supplies for the GTX 1080. This is still a great card although a little old so maybe have a read.
James Cosgrove has been the lead writer at GizmoFusion since 2019. He has a huge passion for the latest technology and gadgets. He loves to talk and write about this interest. He hopes that visitors to the website will find his reports informative and helpful when it comes to making the best choices for their needs.