Possibly cpu-whining with Linux distros

Hello everybody,

I would like to install a new operating system on my laptop Medion Akoya E6222, since WIN7 is no longer supported.
This is my second device, so I was able to take my time with it.

At the moment I have installed Ubuntu alongside WIN7 as dual boot.

I now want to set everything up again with a single OS. Of course, a Linux distro should be on it, and I have already created a multiboot stick with ventoy (https://www.ventoy.net/en/index.html) and the Distros BodhiLinux 5.1.0 (https://www.bodhilinux.com/), LXLE 18.04.3 (https://lxle.net/) and Lubuntu 20.04 (https://lubuntu.me/). All 64 bit.

Here I noticed the following:

A very quiet bright humming tone can be heard (when everything is quiet, it´s noticeable). It´s a bit hard to describe.
I did some research on the net and think it should be “cpu-whining”.

I don’t think it comes from the hard drive. I know its access noise; and it is as always. With “smartctl” I also checked the disk: everything ok.

I can also exclude the fan. So I believe it´s “cpu-whining” or something like that. The description of this phenomenon on the net fits.

Oddly enough I never noticed this with WIN7, only with the Linux distros (both with the currently installed Ubuntu and with the live systems).

It is strange that this cpu-whining occurs more often with Ubuntu and BodhiLinux than with LXLE and Lubuntu. Possibly I’m just imagining it but I’m almost convinced of it.

An example of the occurrence of the phenomenon is this:

I open the file manager pcmanfm in LXLE for the first time (since booting). Now this noise can be heard for about 2-4 seconds.If I close the file manager and reopen it, the noise doesn´t occur again!

I have already tried to switch off the C4-state when starting the live system by using processor.max_cstate=3 as an additional boot parameter.
But it seems not to have any effect.

Can someone help me with this “problem”?

Thanks a lot in advance.
Rosika :frowning:


i had never heard the term so i ran a search and the first three results (result 1, result 3) all mention “coil whining” and basically explain that there are multiple possible causes most likely related to more systems using more power these days but probably no actual fix. the second result was a lifewire piece. it does suggest some possible physical fixes from trying to use compressed air to blow out any foreign material to reseating or connecting anything that might be loose to using ?insulating varnish? :unamused:

not a whole lot of pointing you in any helpful direction i know. i just figured i would share finding the term “coil whining” in case that might be of use.


Hello. Nice to hear from you again.

Thanks a lot for your views and for the links.
I read them and am more or less convinced that the phenomenon I expereince with my laptop should be “coil-whine”.

Coil whine is really nothing to be concerned about. It can be annoying, of course, but […] the noise is a byproduct of your PC and graphics card’s normal operation. Your system isn’t losing any performance or longevity because of coil whine.

(https://www.howtogeek.com/297166/what-is-coil-whine-and-can-i-get-rid-of-it-on-my-pc/ )
Well, that at least sounds good.
It´s not a real annoyance with me. I just noticed it and wanted to ask around.

I´ve also been experimenting a bit with the C-states (https://gist.github.com/Brainiarc7/8dfd6bb189b8e6769bb5817421aec6d1 ).

When starting my live-distro (as an example I took LXLE) with the additional boot-parameters
processor.max_cstate=1 intel_idle.max_cstate=0
I definitively experience less coil-whining. At least I think that´s the case.
It´s difficult to be sure about the varying degree of difference between different parameters. After a while of experimenting you get really paranoid and don´t believe your ears any more. :wink:

Further good reading can be found here: https://wiki.ntb.ch/infoportal/_media/embedded_systems/ethercat/controlling_processor_c-state_usage_in_linux_v1.1_nov2013.pdf

I think I´ll leave it at that at the present.

Cos´ one curious fact/question remains: Why don´t I experience this sound when running WIN7 but only when running Linux distros?

Thank you so much for your help.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:


thank you for the informative reading. i had never heard about c-states before.

it feels like a bit of an oversimplification of those pages, but i find it interesting that setting your state to zero (effectively turning off the sleep-when-not-busy option if i am reading things correctly) would improve things. i say that because the quick read i did of the pages about coil-whine seemed to indicate it might be about greater power consumption.

that being said, as one with tinnitus and a thinkpad X61 with a fan that intermittently makes noise like an airliner about to take off i fully endorse

the principle of definitively . . . maybe? :smiley:

have you looked into how (or if at all) win7 deals with c-states? maybe it is set to 0 by default? or just addressed differently.

greetings :slight_smile:


Hi again and thanks for your renewed feedback.

Me neither. I stumbled upon those while investigating on the net.

Yeah, o.k.
I got a bit confused myself. So I´d rather go for :
I think I experience less coil-whining when using the boot-parameters processor.max_cstate=1 intel_idle.max_cstate=0 .

I have to admit: no, I haven´t. Wouldn´t know how and where to look anyway.

BTW: On https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/405645/coil-whine-on-kubuntu-when-idle there´s a user who experiences “coil whine on kubuntu when idle”.
Interestingly he also remarked:

Needless to say it doesn’t happen on windows 10.

Thanks again and many greetings.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:


this is an interesting topic. i’m glad you brought it up and that i read what you shared :slight_smile:

i just ran a quick web search for “how does windows deal with (i tried “implement” as well) c-states” and didn’t come up with anything that looks helpful or even minimally informational. which i suppose isn’t that surprising given win’s closed source and proprietary-ness.

i did come across this intel page about c-states (and more) which i haven’t read thoroughly, but seems to have some added info compared to the links you shared previously in case that is of interest. there were also these two pages (one about windows 10 system freezes, another focused on gaming but no particular os) that mention turning off c-states in bios. an interesting common factor in all of these so far is that they specifically reference intel.

of course that makes me wonder what amd might do (if anything differently) about c-states.


piqued my curiosity so i ran another search. this time i tried “coil-whining when using windows”. this page (though a few years old) actually states the opposite:

First of all, this noise is produced only while using windows (not in ubuntu, where I can only use GTX 950M GPU), specially in the screen that appears when an application needs special permissions

this page mentions only hearing whining after upgrading from 7 to 10 (which might account for why you don’t hear it on 7?). this hp forum has a member experiencing whining with 10 and another person (who says they have seen plenty of other posts about both intel and nvidia) says it affected a couple of their hp systems to the point that they chose to return them.

all of that to say that if

that seems like a good thing :slight_smile:

thank you as well for the interesting reading and engaging posts.


111 what is the significance?

of cpu-whining or c-states or ?

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Hello again.

Thank you for helping me to deal with that matter. :+1:

Yes, that´s clear. I also thought it might be difficult to get some WIN-related info. Yet interestingly enough you came up with that WIN-site about c-states. Quite an accomplishment. :smiley:

Yes, quite interesting.
Thank you for your new links as well.

But recently I had some new thoughts:

Looking up the page https://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Talk:Problem_with_high_pitch_noises I realized that there are quite a number of other sources of high-pitched noise a computer/laptop may emit:

Talk:Problem with high pitch noises


That got me thinking. Perhaps it is something other than coile-whining after all? :question:

So I tried looking out for “harddisk related noise”.
First of all I checked my laptop-HDD with smartctl and everything seems o.k.

sudo smartctl -A /dev/sda

By chance I now found out how to reproduce this slight high-piched humming noise.

During the smartctl-query this noise could be heard and at the end of the query the status LED indicating HDD-access blinked once.
Here´s part of my laptop-manual and it´s point 3 “Zugriffsazeige” (HDD-/optical drive-access)

As I said I could reproduce it any number of times. That made me believe that the noise might be HDD-related after all.

Curious thing though: Everybody knows the crackling sounds a laptop HDD makes when accessed.
But this high-pitched noise seems different. No crackling sound but just this temporary humming.

Well, that´s all I can tell so far.
Thanks ayway for putting up with my adventurous attempts of explanation… :blush:

Many greetings.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:


Can you record it and post it?

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Tnx for the suggestion. But I already tried that. It´s a really quiet “noise” which can only be heard when everything else is noiseless around me.
Every attempt of recording failed so far.

I can only describe it as I already did: like so:

“zzzzzzzzzzzzzz”, high-pitched. Never longer than a few seconds, perhaps 10 sec max. Definitively no crackling sound like the one that can be heard when data is intensively written/accessed.




Check, if something sounds familiar.

Check out the WD Passport hard drive data transfer. sound:

Also this may be helpful:

sudo apt install -y smartmontools inxi
sudo inxi -aD

Hi @Akito:
Tnx a lot.
As for the sounds database I still have to look into it. But in the meantime I can send some other infos:

sudo smartctl -H /dev/sda 
    SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

(sounds good, I think)

Then I did a short test with smartctl (long would have taken over 140 mins.)

smartctl 7.1 2019-12-30 r5022 [x86_64-linux-5.4.0-40-generic] (local build)
Copyright (C) 2002-19, Bruce Allen, Christian Franke, www.smartmontools.org

Model Family:     Seagate Momentus 5400.6
Device Model:     ST9500325AS
Serial Number:    5VEL34QQ
LU WWN Device Id: 5 000c50 045ae0322
Firmware Version: 0003SDM1
User Capacity:    500.107.862.016 bytes [500 GB]
Sector Size:      512 bytes logical/physical
Rotation Rate:    5400 rpm
Device is:        In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is:   ATA8-ACS T13/1699-D revision 4
SATA Version is:  SATA 2.6, 3.0 Gb/s
Local Time is:    Mon Jul  6 16:36:59 2020 CEST
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED

General SMART Values:
Offline data collection status:  (0x82)	Offline data collection activity
					was completed without error.
					Auto Offline Data Collection: Enabled.
Self-test execution status:      (   0)	The previous self-test routine completed
					without error or no self-test has ever 
					been run.
Total time to complete Offline 
data collection: 		(    0) seconds.
Offline data collection
capabilities: 			 (0x7b) SMART execute Offline immediate.
					Auto Offline data collection on/off support.
					Suspend Offline collection upon new
					Offline surface scan supported.
					Self-test supported.
					Conveyance Self-test supported.
					Selective Self-test supported.
SMART capabilities:            (0x0003)	Saves SMART data before entering
					power-saving mode.
					Supports SMART auto save timer.
Error logging capability:        (0x01)	Error logging supported.
					General Purpose Logging supported.
Short self-test routine 
recommended polling time: 	 (   1) minutes.
Extended self-test routine
recommended polling time: 	 ( 142) minutes.
Conveyance self-test routine
recommended polling time: 	 (   2) minutes.
SCT capabilities: 	       (0x103b)	SCT Status supported.
					SCT Error Recovery Control supported.
					SCT Feature Control supported.
					SCT Data Table supported.

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 10
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000f   112   099   006    Pre-fail  Always       -       45694309
  3 Spin_Up_Time            0x0003   098   098   000    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  4 Start_Stop_Count        0x0032   099   099   020    Old_age   Always       -       1068
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0033   100   100   036    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  7 Seek_Error_Rate         0x000f   081   060   030    Pre-fail  Always       -       132193146
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   097   097   000    Old_age   Always       -       3349
 10 Spin_Retry_Count        0x0013   100   100   097    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   099   099   020    Old_age   Always       -       1066
184 End-to-End_Error        0x0032   100   100   099    Old_age   Always       -       0
187 Reported_Uncorrect      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
188 Command_Timeout         0x0032   100   095   000    Old_age   Always       -       25
189 High_Fly_Writes         0x003a   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
190 Airflow_Temperature_Cel 0x0022   065   056   045    Old_age   Always       -       35 (Min/Max 25/35)
191 G-Sense_Error_Rate      0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       29
192 Power-Off_Retract_Count 0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       50
193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032   097   097   000    Old_age   Always       -       6838
194 Temperature_Celsius     0x0022   035   044   000    Old_age   Always       -       35 (0 8 0 0 0)
195 Hardware_ECC_Recovered  0x001a   048   041   000    Old_age   Always       -       45694309
197 Current_Pending_Sector  0x0012   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
198 Offline_Uncorrectable   0x0010   100   100   000    Old_age   Offline      -       0
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    0x003e   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
254 Free_Fall_Sensor        0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       0

SMART Error Log Version: 1
No Errors Logged

SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
Num  Test_Description    Status                  Remaining  LifeTime(hours)  LBA_of_first_error
# 1  Short offline       Completed without error       00%      3349         -
# 2  Extended offline    Aborted by host               90%      3349         -
# 3  Short offline       Completed without error       00%      3174         -
# 4  Short offline       Completed without error       00%      3021         -
# 5  Short offline       Completed without error       00%       957         -

SMART Selective self-test log data structure revision number 1
    1        0        0  Not_testing
    2        0        0  Not_testing
    3        0        0  Not_testing
    4        0        0  Not_testing
    5        0        0  Not_testing
Selective self-test flags (0x0):
  After scanning selected spans, do NOT read-scan remainder of disk.
If Selective self-test is pending on power-up, resume after 0 minute delay.

(doesn´t look too bad either, I hope)

Finally the following:

sudo inxi -aD
Drives:    Local Storage: total: 465.76 GiB used: 13.43 GiB (2.9%) 
           ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: Seagate model: ST9500325AS family: Momentus 5400.6 size: 465.76 GiB block size: 
           physical: 512 B logical: 512 B sata: 2.6 speed: 3.0 Gb/s rotation: 5400 rpm serial: 5VEL34QQ rev: SDM1 temp: 36 C 
           scheme: MBR 
           SMART: yes state: enabled health: PASSED on: 139d 13h cycles: 1066 Pre-Fail: attribute: Spin_Retry_Count value: 100 
           worst: 100 threshold: 97 

Thanks a lot.


Well, looks fine. Once you listened to the sounds, post an update.


Hi @Akito:

first of all: thanks so much for taking a look at my postings.
I´m pleased that it looks fine. Quite a relief I must say. :+1:

I´ve been listening to all of the 135 hard drive sounds on https://www.soundsnap.com/tags/hard_drive .
That was quite something. I didn´t even know that such a site exists. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

As result I can say: not a single one of the samples comes even close to what I can hear. Almost all of them a inconsistent to some extent. My "noise " is so muche more even and smooth.

I´m at my wit´s end now.

Again I tend to give up the idea that it has something to do with my HDD. This one - God be thanked - seems alright.

The site https://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Talk:Problem_with_high_pitch_noises (as mentined above) suggests so many other possible noise sources, even Backlight .

Well it´s not annyoing to any degree. It´s just that I happened to notice it and therefore wanted to ask around.
It might be one of those mysteries that cannot be solved after all… :confused:

Never mind.
Yet thanks to you, @Akito and @01101111 and all the others for your help.
At least I learned a lot.

Many greetings.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:


That’s weird.

Yes, SMART values seem alright, but does not mean that the hardware is just as fine (sorry, to disappoint you). There are a couple of hard drives, that look perfect on SMART, but still failed. It’s not common, but happens.
The problem with hard drives in general is, that hey are very fragile creatures. Once you research how a hard drive is built and how it works, it is easier to understand why so many hard drives fail, especially when it is happening surprisingly.

The truth is, hard drives are the fish of the computer world. Once you open the package it already starts to smell. Theoretically, any hard drive could fail immediately, even on first use. It is extremely rare, but due to how physically complex those devices are, this could be really the case.

Luckily, hard drives are becoming comparatively cheap and especially since the rise of the demand for SSDs, even a little bigger hard drives, become affordable (100€ for a used 8TB purple WD on eBay).

Therefore, it is always good to have some degree of redundancy in terms of storage space.



That’s weird.

But perhaps it´s not the HDD after all. The more I think of it the less I´m certain about anything. :slightly_frowning_face:

But thanks for your additional comments. Very interesting.

I also have issues regarding network.
For that I posted a separate thread here: Cannot get "barrier" to work .

Anyway thanks a lot for your help. It´s very much appreciated.

Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:


It may be a ‘feature’ of an older Intel CPU that was optimised for Windows (unofficially of course, it would probably be illegal for CPU manufacturer to be bribed by OS maker)
Sometimes they will really strange things when used with a different OS (originally done to show how much faster windows was compared to Apple iOs).
I believe there could be a CPU firmware or microcode update for many Intel CPU’s?
Oh, whoever said it won’t affect the longevity was just plain wrong. Anything that’s going to induce harmonics will set up vibration patterns that can destroy stuff if they get into a feedback loop

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Hi and thank you for your comments.

Probably my laptop-cpu may be regarded as “older”. My laptop is “MEDION® AKOYA® E6222” (MD 98780) and the cpu is “Intel® Pentium® B950” .

Looking up which microcode version is installed if found (for intel):

intel-microcode 3.20200609.0ubuntu0.20.04.2 amd64
Looks like is avery new (if not the latest) version.

Sorry to hear that. Doesn´t sound good.
I´m not familiar with the concept of feedback loop though. :slightly_frowning_face:

Plus: I´m not really sure what´s responsible for the “whining” noise I´ve been discussing here.
At first I thought it might be cpu-whining or coil-whining.
Later it occurred to me that the HDD might be the source or even LED-Backlight.

The thing is: in a laptop everything is so close together so it´s not easy to locate the noise source.

At least one fact remains: When the sound ceases (after a few seconds) a short blink of the blue HDD-access-LED can be seen which might point towards HDD :question:. Alas I can´t say more.

Thanks a lot.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

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What I tried in the meantime was simply to leave my running laptop alone for a while with nothing actively running (besides all the stuff that runs in the background of course).

I wanted to gather information as to when that sound reappears all by itself.
It turns out its exactly 10 minutes.

So the laptop is quiet for 10 mins, then the (very quiet) whing noise for about 8 secs and then no noise for the next 10 mins and so on.

It seems there´s a regular pattern even if I do nothing with the device.

1 Like