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My Little Heat Problem

By rockerdom
Aug 25, 2005
  1. Recently, my computer had begun acting very strangely. I noticed an increase in the sound level of the internal fan, and there were constant restarts and lots of stuttering, usually resulting in one un-ending stutter (that sounded absolutely wonderful when I was playing music) that required a manual restart. At first I brushed it off, but it became so annoying, I decided to troubleshoot it.

    After going through just a few articles, I came across one on CPU heat. This article informed me that if my CPU's heat level was too high, it could cause exactly the type of problems I was experiencing, and even kill my computer! Thuroughly worried now, I downloaded the program it suggested, and checked out the numbers:

    Motherboard Temp: 39*C
    Hard Drive Temp: 32*C
    CPU Temp: 54*C

    Now, I am not an overclocker, and before this little journey, I was more computer literate than the next person, but had very little knowledge about the insides of my computer. Before I go any further, allow me to give you my PC specs:

    Brand: HP Pavillion
    CPU: Pentium 4 HT 2.6 Ghz w/800Mhz FSB
    250W PSU
    ATi Radeon 9600 Pro 128MB
    1024 MB DDR Ram @ PC2700
    120 GB Hard Drive
    Sound Blaster Live 24-bit
    DVD-R Drive
    CD-R Drive

    Not a bad little system, so you can understand my worry when it started to mess up. I didn't want to have to buy a new computer, after all.

    So, I researched. I went to every "Build Your Own PC!" site I could find, and read as much as possible. This was about educating myself.

    I decided the solution was more cooling. HP makes decent stock PCs, but with one 180mm case fan and all the components I had installed, I could tell tht one way to get my heat lower was to get a cooler case.

    The Pavillion is a mini-ATX standard. This doesn't provide much room for airflow, especially when the PSU's fan is right up against the optical drives. I looked and read every review I could find and settled on RaidMax's Storm. It provides one side fan, one front fan, two reare fans, and is a full-sized mid-tower, plenty of room for all those components to get some breathing room.

    I decided to buy an upgraded PSU as well, and grabbed a 550W Thermalplate. It has dual fans that light up blue (like two of the ones included with the case), and provided more power for all of those extra components I had.

    So, after waiting a couple of days, all of my stuff arrived. Oh, I also decided to buy some extra blue-LED fans so the case would light up, and made two of them aluminum fans, as I've heard they are both quieter and cooler. I opened up my old case, and my new one, transferred everything over, hooked up all the fans (7 case fans, plus the two on the PSU), smiled happily, and flipped it on.

    As soon as the computer loaded, I hit F1 to open the BIOS, and found the hardware monitor page:

    CPU temp 79*C

    This was getting bad. Temperatures that high can, quite literally, fry your computer. I tried to underclock the CPU, but my BIOS doesn't have a corresponding screen, and all of the so-called "overclocking programs" only let you increase speed, not take it away. I was getting desperate.

    I had noticed, however, that my front case fan was not working. It was supposed to light up, but apparently I had done something wrong, so in desperationg, I opened my case back up and checked it out. It was easily solved, I hadn't plugged it into my fan daisy-chain. Also, the wires were everywhere, so I carefully rubber-banded them together to give the CPU and motherboard as much breathing room as possible. Just as I was about to close the case back up, a thought hit me:

    "What if my heatsink isn't fully attached?"

    It seemed trivial. Something that simple should have been the very first thing I tried. I unlatched the CPU casing, made sure everything was lined up, and closed them back. I touched the side of the CPU with a small push, and made sure it was seated perfectly, then fired my PC back up and entered BIOS.

    CPU Temp: 32*C

    I literally smacked myself on the forehead. I couldn't believe that such a small, simple thing could make so much trouble, but it had. Since I reattached the heatsink properly, here are my new temp numbers as of this moment:

    Motherboard Temp: 29*C
    Hard Drive Temp: 27*C
    CPU Temp: 29*C

    As you can see, they are much, much better. My heatsink had been running around 3000 RPM to try and keep the CPU Temp down, now it sits at about 1050.

    Just remember, that the KISS principle always applies. Never let yourself do more than you need to do to get something done.

    - Dom
  2. Blakhart

    Blakhart TS Rookie Posts: 353

    Nice work and thanks for relating the story, maybe save others from the same thing.
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