Mysterious Noise Sparks Mac Studio Complaints

Some Mac Studio owners have noticed that their new machines are making a mysterious high-pitched "whining" noise that appears to be coming from the fan, prompting complaints online.

Mac Studio Display Feature Pink
There are pages of complaints on the MacRumors forums about a noise issue with the ‌Mac Studio‌, suggesting it seems to be affecting at least a moderate number of users.

The ‌Mac Studio‌ features a sizeable cooling system to meet the thermal demands of the M1 Max and M1 Ultra chipsets, but most of the complaints seem to be coming from ‌Mac Studio‌ owners who chose the ‌Mac Studio‌ with the ‌M1 Max‌ chip rather than the ‌M1 Ultra‌ configuration, which may be because the two machines have slightly different thermal architectures and heatsinks.

Users who are experiencing the issues have described the noise as a high-frequency sound that is difficult to ignore, and it is said to be present in addition to expected fan noise. From MacRumors reader sunsetblvd:

Hi, I've been following this thread and wanted to share my experience with the Mac Studio. I ordered the M1 Max version with 32 Core GPU and 64 GB Ram. After a week or two I started noticing a high pitched whining sound. The ordinary fan noise was audible but not disturbingly so. The high pitched sound was sth I couldn't ignore. I have a relatively quite working space and the sound kept being distractive. I decided to take my studio to the apple store after contacting apple support and trying a bunch of software fixes like reinstalling the os. After a day of inspection the tech guy at the apple store claimed it was just normal fan noise within the expected range of noises and said they couldn't do anything about it. Disappointed I called apple support again and they agreed to send me a replacement, which I am currently waiting for.

There are a wide range of complaints, but all of them seem to describe the same general noise. From MacRumors reader h43m:

Just unboxed my Mac Studio with M1max (64GB RAM, 32 Cores GPU, 1TB SSD). There is definitely an annoying noise at exactly 2120hz (I compared it using a sinus wave generator). I am pretty sure this comes from the fan and is not a coil whine, since the frequency changes when the fan speed changes. Definitely not acceptable for a product with this price tag...

In addition to the potential problem with the ‌M1 Max‌ model that causes the whining noise, the ‌M1 Ultra‌ ‌Mac Studio‌ features a much larger copper heatsink that likely prevents the fan from kicking on as often, making the issue seem more pronounced on the ‌M1 Max‌ model.

Nevertheless, not all ‌M1 Max‌ ‌Mac Studio‌ models appear to be experiencing this problem, and some users have said that they do not hear an unusual sound beyond standard, quiet fan noise. There are also some complaints just about the level of the fan noise alone without the whine, but many of the people who are unhappy with their machines seem to be experiencing a distinct high-pitched sound rather than typical fan noise.

‌Mac Studio‌ buyers who are within their two-week return period can get a replacement from Apple, but there are reports that some replacement machines appear to feature the same issue. It is not clear if this is something that can be addressed in a software update or if it is a hardware issue that Apple is contending with.

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