Dell XPS 13 cracking sound – solution

Few days ago I made a switch from Lenovo x200s to Dell XPS 13. I was always a ThinkPad fan. I really think these were the best laptops ever. Again, were. Unfortunately, Lenovo joined a mindless hype of copying Apple. They didn’t stop there, they went even further. They actually managed to remove function keys (F1, F2…) and, in general, they managed to destroy the best laptop keyboard ever. Just take a look at that nonsense they put on X1 Carbon. Ah well, long story short, ever since Lenovo took over ThinkPad, that brand degraded in every possible way. Too bad.

New XPS 13 is in no way better than ThinkPad. It’s even worse (TrackPoint is best invention ever), but I’ve decided to give Dell a chance since they do ship Ubuntu and cause XPS 13 really looks good! It also has decent specs and in general is a decent laptop. I can’t imagine myself doing any serious work on it, but that’s becoming a common theme on laptops – they have become movie players (too bad; they will lose that war with tablets). Funny thing is that I got myself a Lenovo workstation for that serious work :)

Anyway… Dell continues to ship XPS 13 with really nasty sound coming from these machines. With default setup, on Ubuntu welcome screen, one can hear cracking. The noise is very bad and provides very unpleasant experience. It makes me wonder if Dell actually powered on one of these machines and at least check if sound and screen come up. Upgrading to 14.04 didn’t resolve the problem. Googling revealed that the same problem exists even with Windows. Oh my, my…

After some testing I found a solution for the problem. Since I’ve noticed lots of peoole have that same problem, I’ve decided to write this blog, even though I haven’t written anything for 2 years :) Pretty much, all you have to do is enable power saving for Intel HDA:

echo “options snd_hda_intel model=dell-headset-multi,dell-headset-multi power_save=1″ | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/omg-dell.conf

sudo depmod

On next reboot, cracking sound will be gone.

I’ve also noticed that idle cpu and enabled keyboard backlit also produce different noise. Hopefully, solution for that one will come in an update to this post.

3 Responses to “Dell XPS 13 cracking sound – solution”

  1. Paul Mellors says:

    Hello :)

    I don’t know if it’s a problem with the XPS, but with the dell lattitude I had an issue with the WIFI lamp constantly flickering. Don’t know if you have the same but [sorry for the Fedora reference, but it's the same with Ubuntu] I wrote this – http://www.paulmellors.net/fedora-wifi-flashing-led/

  2. Ted Gould says:

    On Dell’s support site you can find a long thread about the sound tracing it back to the motherboard. They’re working on a replacement, supposed to be out in June.

  3. @Paul xps 13 doesn’t have wifi led. I did make sure that driver loads without enabled led. No change.

    @Ted I’m a bit skeptic. There’s a lot of laptops around the world they would have to replace.