The kind in the 90s with a giant CRT monitors and noisy hard disks & fans. I think "buzz" and "hum" are not loud enough because nowadays laptops still hum when overheated. But I don't know a stronger word. Thanks for any help!

  • My new mini-tower computer with its hot CPU and three cooling fans is far noisier than those old-school computers from the 1990s, when the bearings on the fans begin to fail. But there is far less vibration from the modern solid state hard drive! :-) The 6-inch floppy drives made a clicking and clunking sound.
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 12:27

2 Answers 2


You might consider whir, which Collins defines as:

whir (or whirr) (n.) a prolonged soft swish or buzz, as of a motor working

Another possibility is drone. The word drone has many meanings, but it can be used as a noun or a verb to describe the noises you mention. From Wordnik:

drone (n.) a continuous low humming or buzzing sound

drone (v.) to produce a low-pitched hum or buzz

As a side note, I'm not sure I agree that buzz is "not loud enough," because buzzing covers a wide spectrum of noises, some of them rather loud:

Though we spotted tracks, we saw very little wildlife; the buzz of the machine tended to scare animals away.

Source: Snowmobiling Mont Tremblant, Quebec, by Ben Abramson, special to The Washington Post, Sunday, January 28, 2001


As mentioned, the words: whirr, drone, buzz, hum describe the nature of the sound - but don't say much about its volume. You could opt for a word that is less descriptive but implies loudness like "clatter", or you could use hyperbole (which is a tendency of many US native speakers) as in: "That old computer sounds like a helicopter."

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