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This “popping noise” from your laptop is NOT a good sign

After mixed reviews and battery issues out of the gate, Apple’s latest versions of the MacBook Pro were not the runaway hits that fans hoped them to be.

The new laptops are touted as the thinnest and lightest MacBook Pros ever made and with the addition of significant hardware upgrades, like the OLED TouchBar and the Touch ID sensor, they are certainly the most advanced.

Earlier on, a few of Apple’s design decisions, mainly the removal of the traditional USB ports in favor of Thunderbolt 3, were highly polarizing points of debate and punching bags of users complaining of “dongle hell” – the necessary use of external adapters to use older peripherals. According to fans, this betrays the portable essence of a MacBook Pro. Additionally, to the dismay of long-time Apple aficionados, the new MacBook Pros removed the iconic startup Mac chime sound by default.

Later, inconsistent battery life forced Consumer Reports to not give the new MacBook Pro a “recommended” line. Fortunately for Apple, Consumer Reports revised and upgraded its rating for the laptops to “recommended” after a software update.

The battery woes may be have been rectified but this new emerging issue is something a software update can’t fix.

Popping Sounds

According to Apple’s Community Forums, a growing number of MacBook Pro owners are noticing a strange “popping” sound emanating from their machines. The sound is described as something similar to what one may hear when a plastic bottle is slowly squeezed. Some users claim that the noise occurs at random times with no discernible pattern but others said it ramps up when their MacBook Pros are occupied with resource-heavy processes and the cooling fans activate.

Michael DN notes on an Apple Forum post:

“The sound occurs rarely, there may be several days or more straight that I don’t hear it, though when it occurs, it may happen 2-3 times in a half hour period. There is no association I can make with what I’m doing at the time, so I’m unable to recreate it. The sound is a single hollow ‘popping’ noise, similar to if you slowly squeeze a plastic bottle until it crinkles.”

The user’s computer was described as the 15-inch MacBook Pro 2016 with Touchbar and a Radeon Pro 460 GPU, 2.9GhZ i7 CPU and a 2TB solid-state drive.

“The sound is not very loud, but clearly audible, and sounds as if it is coming from approximately behind the trackpad,” Michael DN continued. “I’ve had no other notable problems with this computer to date, have made no modifications to any hardware, or used it in any abnormal way.”

Another MacBook Pro owner, “mac-dude,” posted that his machine “only exhibits the popping sound when it warms up under processor load, then I don’t hear it again until it cools down.” His particular model has a 2.7Ghz i7 CPU, Radeon Pro 460 GPU and 512GB solid state drive.

Possible causes

There are a few plausible causes for the popping sound are being thrown around the forums.

Some are speculating that heat is causing the glue on the MacBook Pro’s screen hinges to lose its adherence. Supporters of this theory claim that they can reproduce the sound by “pressing right at the bottom of the screen assembly in the middle.” Since the issue affects mostly the 15-inch version of the MacBook Pro, this actually makes sense due to the fact that this model has a larger and heavier screen.

Others have contacted Apple to diagnose the strange sound. One user said that a tech at the Apple Genius Bar blamed a small dent on the bottom of his MacBook Pro that was hitting the fan. Since the Apple Genius concluded that it was “user inflicted” damage, he was charged $130 for a bottom casing replacement.

Another owner said an Apple Genius went the software route and advised to reformat the hard drive/reinstall the operating system. This solution did not fix the issue.

Fortunately, although there is a growing number of MacBook Pro owners who are experiencing the said “popping sound” issue, there are no reports that it’s causing serious problems to the computers themselves.

No one really knows for sure what’s causing this sound, if it is indeed caused by heat and thermal expansion/contraction, then the issue should be covered by Apple’s standard warranty. If you’re experiencing this issue on your 2016 MacBook Pro, have Apple take a look at it but explain that it is becoming a widespread problem.

To read more about the user complaints, check out the entire Apple Community thread.

Does your 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro have this strange popping sound? Drop us a comment!

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