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I bought an early 2011 (the current model at the time of writing) 15 inch, 2.2GHz MacBook Pro.

I had a previous generation model, pre unibody model which I loved and performed like a star.

Performance wise I am loving the machine but the hard drive makes such a noise under normal operation it's untrue. It sounds like a fan, but I assume there is no cooling where the HD is, but it bellows. It's not the fans - they are happy sitting there at 2,000 RPM. It can be reduced to what I would consider normal levels but putting my right hand directly above it. Very gentle pressure is enough to stop this happening. I am not sure if it is pressure or touch (e.g. grounded) related.

There are a bunch of people on the Apple discussion forums with the same issue, but nothing from Apple, not help from the geniuses/applecare and no obvious "fix". I just dropped a big chunk of change on the machine - I don't want to have to open it up or replace the drive just to make it bearable.

Any suggestions?

Examples: http://www.google.com/search?q=early+2011+macbook+pro+hard+drive+noise&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a

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FWIW, my Early-2011 MBP 13" is silent unless I am overworking the CPU and then I can make out a faint fan noise. Anything more than silent would seem abnormal to me. Apple's decision to ignore the issue is troubling. Maybe a non-conductive, heat resistent shim to help reduce the vibration? –  RobPaller Jul 15 '11 at 14:25
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Dan - certainly make a recording of the sound several times it happens. If your drive is really bad - the internal mic in the mac will pick it up. iPhone or other microphones are also nice as you can set them close to the drive. Get it to a tech - they have no reason not to exchange a bad drive. Especially if it happens all the time under "normal" operation. It might just be a bad rubber mount or a crumb ruining the shock isolation if light pressure changes the drive noise. –  bmike Jul 15 '11 at 15:01
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See guide-images.ifixit.net/igi/XoZgBtijMGxLjWhh.medium and ifixit.com/Guide/Repair/… for a sense how small the sound isolation mounts and air gaps are in your mac. –  bmike Jul 15 '11 at 15:46

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I can tell you, this isn't normal.

You shouldn't hear the hard drive very much at all, and only a little chatter when you're using it extensively.

Since you've clearly established that it's a hardware problem (because pressure fixes it), you should probably try to get it fixed. Rather than open the machine and do it yourself (violating your warranty), you should get Apple to fix it.
Since your computer is pretty new, it should definitely be a free repair.

You can take it to the Apple Store and tell Apple what happens. They'll take it and do some tests, then replace the drive (or whatever part they think needs it).

Make sure you back up all your data first; you won't get your old drive back.

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The unibody housing can act as a resonance chamber and the current generations hard drives do ping and emit more musical sounds than in the past. Do take it in to a technician that hears many of that model. Some people have great ears and worry over normal sounds. Others are too permissive and let signs of major imbalances go unaware their drives are out of whack. The Apple store will have a quiet room and a tech that can compare your mac under operation to several others. If your drive is out of normal, they'll want to swap it so back up your data before arriving. –  bmike Jul 15 '11 at 14:57
    
Thanks @bmike. I have awful hearing - so it cannot be that. I'll take it in. –  Dan Jul 18 '11 at 8:38

I forgot to recommend this earlier - but there is a free application on iOS devices that over simplifies storage for the technical crowd, but it's great for anyone to listen to some amazing sounds of what each failure sounds like.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/drivesaver/id317700244?mt=8

Yes it's an advert for the company's service which is data recovery - but it's clear and free and actually correct. The same information is on the internet, but this app just packages it all in an easy format.

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