Problem: Heat Sink, Power Supply, or others?

By Dataslycer ยท 7 replies
Dec 16, 2007
  1. I'm currently fixing a computer for my mom's friend and may require assistance from more professional technicians. Here is my dilemma:

    The client said that her husband said that the fan was broken (he has knowledge of computers himself). I went and check the inside of the computer and it was quite dusty within as it is. Seeing the dirtiness, I used compressed air to blow out much of it before giving it a test run.

    After running it several seconds, it shut down by itself and there was an odd hissing or grinding sound coming somewhere in the computer. I think I've seen this situation before where the computer shuts down by itself if the temperature rises above a certain point (this was an AMD Athlon XP Processor) and I had thought was coming from the fan. Going with the signs, I swapped out the old heat sink with a new one (Foxconn, AMD approval for Athlon XP 2000+) using Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound, using about a tiny bit more than a grain of rice amount. The process itself is a learning experience for someone that hasn't dealt with the more heavier task such as processors and heatsink.

    I ran another test on the computer again and the same thing happened with the same sound heard when it starts up again. Listening closely, it was more oriented towards the Power Supply actually making my first presumption wrong.

    Now I have two possible thought:

    - The power supply is defected and needs to be replaced
    - The Heat Sink I purchased isn't enough and needs to be swapped with a
    new one.

    What I'm asking is people's thought and advice of this as well as possible advice on what I can improve on in the future. Thank you.
  2. Daveskater

    Daveskater Banned Posts: 1,687

    A grinding sounds could only come from a storage drive, PSU's have no moving parts apart from the fan. It may be possible for the PSU to hiss if its overheating, so if the fan is broken and the PSU is overheating, this could be your problem.

    Follow this tutorial to find out if the PSU is dead: Suspect a Dead PSU? How to be sure

    The only other place the griding could dome from (assuming the optical drives and floppy drive are empty) is a hard drive.
  3. Dataslycer

    Dataslycer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 31

    The PC runs for several seconds so I don't think the PSU is dead but possible malfunctioned. I suspect this computer hasn't been maintained for a while (the dust on the old heat sink was actually clinginn onto the edge of the fan edge despite my attempt to remove it.

    Now that I think about it, it'ss more of a hissing sound, possibly a screech..
  4. Daveskater

    Daveskater Banned Posts: 1,687

    That sort of sound is most likely to come from a hard drive. Try putting another one in and see if it boots.

    If you're unsure where the sound's coming from, take the side of the case off and turn the PC on, and move your head around the case to see if you can locate the sound. Don't get too close, mind ;)

    Try the PSU tutorial if you can anyway, it will help rule it out as the problem.
  5. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Did you actually use "compressed air" or canned air with an antistatic component, such as Dust Off or Clean Safe Dust Remover?
    You likely have a problem with a bearing failure on your CPU fan, or on another fan... perhaps even inside the power supply.
    But I think the husband is right on. Respect his judgment first.
    If it is a cpu fan problem, you may be able to observe the fan moving and stopping, fast and slow.
    Download the drive fitness test from the manufacturer of the hard drive... all manufacturers except Toshiba and Tri-Gem have one... and in a few minutes you can likely rule out the hard drive.
    Replace both PSU and fan, your problem will likely disappear.
  6. Daveskater

    Daveskater Banned Posts: 1,687

    You can find your hdd's drive diagnostic program here as well: Drive diagnostic utilities compendium

    Does this matter? I've ordered a can of compressed air but it didn't say anything about being anti-static. I don't want to ruin my pc with air ;)

    Here's a link to the one I ordered:
  7. Dataslycer

    Dataslycer TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 31

    Actually, I don't think any testing is needed. I unplugged the old PSU and plugged in an Antec and I hadn't had the auto-shut down so I think I found the actual problem. Luckily I got the new CPU fan for only $7 (2.99 + 4.00 shipping) so that addition isn't very expensive at all while the PSU itself was about 69.99.

    However I am running into one very minor but embarassing problem. It seems that there is a small tab, jutting from the case that is preventing me from removing the old power supply. Here are two pictures I've taken to show where it is.

    I've tried every way of trying to manipulate the PUS to get past it but the case itself blocks the mobility of it and I can't remove any part of the wall since it's attached to the case itself (not the power supply).

    Attached Files:

    • ps1.JPG
      File size:
      32.8 KB
    • ps2.JPG
      File size:
      35.9 KB
  8. Thrudd

    Thrudd TS Member Posts: 47

    Hm, looks like a cheap solution to not needing and extra mounting screw.

    Have you tried compressing the tab back into the rail its cut from?
    You can use a pair of box nose or linesman's pliers to do the job without doing any permanent damage. The tab should bend back easily on aluminum or with some effort in a steel case.
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