Loud whirring noise from Macbook Pro

May 22, 2019
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For several years now my Macbook Pro (early 2011) has been rather noisy.

The noise has generally been intermittent, worsening with intense use, however recently it has become particularly bad and distracting. It is there from the second I switch the computer on and doesn't stop (though does vary in pitch and volume). I had originally thought it was a malfunctioning DVD drive (which hasn't worked for five years), and have tried to disable it to no avail, though I have set all options re the disk in system preferences to 'ignore'.

I am now thinking it could be the fan, though when I hear the fan kick in louder the whirring noise doesn't increase in sync so I am not certain. And even with very little running it is still rather loud. I have done an SMC reset. It's possible it's the optical hard drive but then I would have thought something would have gone more badly wrong by now if it was - given that the laptop has made these noises for the best part of half a decade.

The computer is running fairly slowly, despite only using 3gb out of 4gb RAM and circa 80% idle CPU

The in built attachment wouldn't let me add a movie recording of the sound - so please see the following recording: https://ufile.io/ibykvc7y

Any thoughts welcome before I take it apart and clean the fans - thanks.



Cory Cooper

May 19, 2004
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Hello and welcome.

Yes, that definitely sounds like the cooling fan. Depending on the exact model, there are probably two fans, and one could have failing bearings.

A few troubleshooting questions:
-Which version of OS X?
-How much free space on the drive?
-Do you have any Login Items?
-This happens at cold startup, without any applications running, correct?
-Do you have any third-party applications like MacKeeper, antivirus, etc?
-Any battery issues?
-Have you ever cleared out the fans previously?
-Is the MBP on a hard surface like a desk, or on a soft surface that could be blocking the exhaust vent in the back?
-Any knowledge of liquid spills or physical damage?


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