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. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 29 '14 at 12:27

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."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.