How to Reduce/Fix GPU Coil Whine

How to Reduce/Fix GPU Coil Whine

Coil whine can get extremely annoying and maybe even painful to your ears if you’re a young person – mostly because the younger you are, the higher the frequencies that you’ll be able to hear.

The good news is that while we can’t completely get rid of coil whine, we can still manage to reduce it – often at the cost of performance or money. Here’s how to reduce coil whine.

How to Reduce/Fix GPU Coil Whine

  1. What is coil whine?
  2. Get a soundproof case
  3. Limit the frame rate of your games
  4. Lower the graphical quality of your games
  5. Underclock your GPU

 

What is Coil Whine?

 

inductor coils

 

Coil whine is an annoying high pitched noise. You’ll mostly hear it from components that use big amounts of wattage – in our case, mostly the GPU and the PSU. GPU stands for Graphics Processing Unit and PSU stands for Power Supply Unit.

As for how exactly it happens, without getting too technical, it comes from inductors. Inductors resist changes to the power that gets delivered on your GPU which results in a more stable power delivery.

When large amounts of wattage get delivered to your card, these inductors will start vibrating due to the high electromagnetic forces and these vibrations are what essentially the cause of coil whine.Coil whine mostly occurs in GPU intensive tasks like gaming and is generally not considered harmful. Do keep in mind that some GPUs produce more coil whine than others and there are also a lot of GPUs where you can’t hear any coil whine at all.

While we can’t eliminate coil whine, we can most certainly reduce it – hopefully down to an acceptable level. Let’s find out how.

Get a Soundproof Case

Computer cases are relatively cheap and help a lot in reducing the coil whine that you can hear. Getting a case which is specifically made to isolate the noise of your computer will help even more.

There are various options to choose from, but be quiet  is an especially good choice. Soundproof cases are a little bit more expensive than your average case, but if you need a silent computer, then you can take advantage of them for sure.

Do keep in mind that if build quality and airflow are essential for you, then the “be quiet” cases might not be the best deal that you can get. They’ve got a bad reputation for their build quality and their airflow is also not the best out there. However, that’s to be expected with the silent approach.

Limit the Frame Rate of your Games

 

Framerate Limitation to reduce coil whine

 

Most GPUs will produce more coil whine when the frame rates are high. If you limit your frame rate, then chances are that you’ll be able to reduce the noise that comes from coil whine.

That happens because when the frame rate is unlimited, your GPU draws as much power as it can to produce as many FPS as possible. By limiting the frame rate, you’re limiting the power draw – thus reducing coil whine.

Yes, I know. You got a GPU so that you’ll be able to get high frame rates. We shouldn’t need to sacrifice our performance for obtaining a pleasurable experience, yet, here we are. Coil whine is not considered a defect, so, don’t bother asking for a refund or anything like that.

Back to the subject. When I’m saying to limit your frame rate, I’m only referring to doing that for as long as it’s not completely ruining your gaming experience. The trick is to find the sweet spot between performance and noise.

How to Find the Sweet Spot

For most gamers, 60 FPS is the golden standard. If you get more than that, consider limiting your frame rate to 60. You will still be getting a pleasurable experience while reducing coil whine noise.

Casual gamers may find 30 FPS to be a nice experience as well. In fact, most console games run at that frame rate. So, do try that out as well.

However, do keep in mind that some games will need way more than 60 FPS – particularly competitive ones like CS: GO. In cases like these, the more frames that you can get, the better that your overall experience will be.

Your average competitive player aims for at least 120/140 FPS. I was able to get an alright experience in CS: GO by limiting my frame rate down to my monitor’s refresh rate which is 75 Hz.

How to Limit your FPS

 

vsync limit fps

 

The process differs from game to game. So, for the most part, you’ll have to rely on Google for that one. I’ll give you a couple of examples, though, just so that you’ll be able to understand what we’re talking about.

In CS: GO, you can limit your FPS by opening the game’s console and typing “fps_max 120”. You can change “120” with your own maximum FPS value.

Other games like Dirt Rally will not allow you to limit your frame rate, but they give you the option of using VSync. To enable VSync in Dirt Rally, go to your Graphical settingsVideo mode → VSync “On”.

There are also games that force VSync to be enabled by default – such as Skyrim. Forcing VSync to be disabled in Skyrim usually messes up the physics engine so don’t do that.

Careful, limiting your frame rate and enabling VSync are two different things. A limited frame rate only restricts your game from hitting a higher frame count than the one that you specified. VSync on the other hand syncs the frame rate of your game with the refresh rate of your monitor to eliminate screen tear.

Reduce the Graphical Quality of your Games

 

reduce graphical settings

 

Your GPU doesn’t only use power for pushing frames to your monitor but for rendering shadows, textures, light, etc. The more demanding that these are, the more power that your GPU will have to use. More power means more coil whine as well.

Most of the games that I’ve played give you at least a few options when it comes to graphical quality. Reducing the graphical quality and your frame rate at the same time will lower the overall wattage that your GPU draws which results in less coil whine.

The process of changing the graphical settings differ from game to game. In most cases, you’ll find this option in the settings of the game under a category that’s called video settings, graphical settings, or anything like that.

More often than not, the most demanding thing in games are the shadows. They take a lot of power to produce, significantly lower your performance, and they don’t improve your overall visual experience all that much.

Speaking of visual experience, it goes without saying that lowering your graphical settings will make your game look a bit duller. How much? That depends on the game and how much you’ll lower your settings.

Underclock your GPU

 

underclock to reduce coil whine

 

Underclocking your GPU is a more direct way of reducing the overall power usage from your GPU. There’s no need to worry – underclocking sounds like a big deal, but it’s really not. It’s actually quite easy to do with MSI Afterburner which should work for most GPUs.

All you got to do is download MSI Afterburner from its official website, install it, then lower a bit your clock and memory clock speeds.

Keep on fine adjusting these values until you still get an acceptable level of performance without having too much coil whine. You can also fine tune the voltage of your card but I would advise against it. I personally don’t feel comfortable with touching such things.