Computer Help forum


computer overheating - next step?

by maeganc / February 25, 2012 8:42 AM PST

Ok typing on a tablet bear with me Happy My computer started randomly shutting down, in conjunction with the fan going crazy - video seemed to be lagging too. So I checked temps with speedfan - all very high like 100... opened it cleaned out dust (not much), replaced power supply and video card. Still not working - shutting down and temps still up at 100. Next step? Cpu or motherboard? Flash bios? I'm not sure how to check heatsink grease? Oh resource use is only 2 percent so not being taxed that way. I'm running win 7, dell computer. Any advice would be great thanks!

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All Answers

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Heatsink compound is never checked.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 25, 2012 8:50 AM PST

We remove the heat sink wipe off the old, apply the new and button it up. There are many tutorials on that so let's hear more about this machine (age, model, etc.)

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by maeganc / February 25, 2012 8:58 AM PST

Its a dell studio xps 435T - Intel core i7 - 920. Purchased 11/09.

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Looks like it's time to do that work.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 25, 2012 9:01 AM PST
In reply to: hello!
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replaced heat sink paste
by maeganc / February 25, 2012 12:21 PM PST

Thank you! I checked the heat sink paste and it seemed like there wasn't much so I removed it and put new paste on there. It might have helped a bit because the temps are in the low 80's if I don't use more than one program at a time... which isn't ideal but good for me to at least get a few things done without it rebooting on me.

So, the problem still exists. What would be my next step? CPU? Motherboard? I'm sort of on a limited budget. I was told not to try and attempt to install either of these on my own, but I don't think it would be impossible.

Thoughts? Thanks again!

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80 what? C F?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / February 25, 2012 2:17 PM PST

Big difference!

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I see you bought it in 09 ...
by Edward ODaniel / February 25, 2012 2:40 PM PST

so there is a chance that the fan on your heat sink isn't actually working real good. Try this test:

Cut a strip of paper from a sheet of paper (regular 20 pound laser or inkjet paper) about 1/2 to 5/8 inches wide and at least 5 inches long.

Holding the strip UNFOLDED between thumb and finger about 2 inches from the end nearest the fan poke the strip of paper between the fan blades WHILE THE FAN IS RUNNING. Do not attempt to force the strip between the blades if it doesn't go!

If the strip of paper doesn't go between the blades and slow or stop the fan, the fan is likely OK but if the strip of paper does go between the blades and does slow or stop the fan replace the fan as the bearings are worn and the fan needs replacement.

As an added note, did you blow out the heat sink while you had it off? Quite often I see computers brought into shops that have been cleaned and new thermal paste applied but since the heat sink had been taken off while blowing out the case it was left full of dust and lint.

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heat sink fan
by maeganc / February 26, 2012 1:47 AM PST

hello! Thanks for the reply - I tried the paper test and the fan seems to be working ok because it almost tore up the paper (and it wouldn't go between the blades). It's definitely spinning quickly and with some force. When I replaced the heat sink paste I cleaned the inside as best as I could but I didn't have any air at the time. Although it really didn't look to me like it was clocked or overly dusty. According to speedfan right now my temps are averaging around 88 degrees with no cpu usage. If I use anything besides a browser or minimal-use programs it hoovers around that. If I do anything more intensive all hell breaks loose. Happy Could it be that my computer isn't really that hot and the senser is broken? In any case I guess I get the same result of my computer shutting down when it reaches that critical point.

Sort of at a loss now at this point - guess I need to take it somewhere because I don't have any cpu chips to test or another motherboard...

No possibility I guess that this is software related right?

Thanks for all your help!

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Yes, High
by mopscare42 / February 26, 2012 8:57 AM PST
In reply to: heat sink fan

I have that same computer except I have a i7-960 processor, mine idles at about 39-40 c. under load it may get into the mid 60s, that's with the stock heatsink and fan that came with the computer.
Mine is using Windows Vista.
What do the rest of your temps look like in Speedfan, such as HD, case, motherboard etc?
The latest bios on that is A16, but I don't think that would cause your problem.

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OK, it is good to see that ...
by Edward ODaniel / February 26, 2012 1:03 PM PST
In reply to: heat sink fan

the fan is still good even though it still leaves us looking.

There are other chips on the MB that have heat sinks and that can overheat and if your wiring and cabling inside the case block airflow that too can cause heat issues.

Try this quick test (I am only saying quick because it doesn't take much of your time but it takes a while to do). Take the side off the case and direct a fan into the case so it blows across the whole motherboard and RAM and Graphics card. Use the computer as you normally would with that large (I use a 18 inch floor fan) fan running at a medium speed and see if it stops crashing. If it does then heat is indeed the problem but if it doesn't it is ether power or software and you said you replaced the power supply.

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changeing MOBO
by tedtks / March 2, 2012 9:08 AM PST

if you change the mobo - check with MS first to see what u need to do to maintain registration.
I dont know if Vista is as tight as W7 , but if it is you would run into hell the next time you did
an update. Its the main reason I am still on xp - said I had to cough up another $199 for a new
key after a mobo change..
I just bought a book on Ubuntu so you can see where I am headed hahaha.

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How much will the BIOS let you do?
by cahartley / March 2, 2012 11:32 AM PST
In reply to: changeing MOBO

I had an AMD machine with an Athlon XP 2800+ cpu that ran hot from day one.
The ONLY way I could tone down the temps was to lower the cpu voltage by .2 of a volt.
Your DELL may not allow you to do such things....... Sad
Have you tied clearing the BIOS and going back to square one?

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Computers and Heat
by Hforman / March 2, 2012 10:40 AM PST

Dealing with heat is a big issue. There are a LOT of critical components that can go out if heat gets too high. Let's look at some causes:

First, did you get your computer from a reputable place like Dell or did you do a lot of customizing? I say this because, while some people think you can slap together the basic components, you can't always guarantee that you won't have this issue. For example, one guy at work replaced an ordinary old hard drive in an old PC with a 10,000 RPM drive. The drive was dead about a week later. He got a new 10,000 RPM drive. Same thing happened. What he didn't realize was that the computer was NOT designed for the heating produced by a 10,000 RPM drive. It did NOT have the correct baffling. It overheated and died.

So, first let's look at you case. Some people think cases are all the same no matter how old but you also need to match not only the power supply and it's fans but also the baffling technology and the extra cooling fans. Are all of your fans running OK?

Then there are AMD processor chips. It is written in many places that AMD chips run a lot hotter than the equivalent Intel chips. So you need to look at your processor cooling, as you seem to already have done so.

Finally, where are you using this PC? Do you leave it on at night? Does it have air conditioning in the room 24 x 7?

So the question remains, is this a stock system from a Dell or HP or have there been changes and what was changed? If it was something to make the system faster, you better believe there will probably be more heat.

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More than one fan and more than one heat source
by Bob_Meyer / March 2, 2012 1:24 PM PST
In reply to: Computers and Heat

Looking at the pretty pictures on the Dell website, it looks like you've got at least 3 major heat sources with fans. The cooling tower on the cpu is pretty impressive, but it seems like you've all but eliminated that as the source of the problem. The power supply is also a heat source and has a fan that can fail. Check it out The graphics card in the picture looks like it has a fan and shroud, too, and it's located below the cpu. That could be the culprit, too.

Are you running it with the covers off? That can give you a lot more air flow.

Good luck with that,
Bob Meyer

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Fixed? Maybe?
by maeganc / March 2, 2012 1:05 PM PST

Hi Everyone. Thanks for all the replies and help. I eventually called Dell support to get another opinion and was told to restore the computer (even though I did that a couple weeks ago). I did a restore and it seemed to fix the problem. The Dell guy said something about the bios being the problem and that I should reinstall windows at some point and that it wasn't a hardware issue. So far it's running fine, but sucks that I didn't try a restore again before I spent $350 on parts. Ugh.

So, the question remains - reinstall windows? It's really a pain to do that but I will if it's a good idea.


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Have you updated your BIOS?
by Doh_1 / March 2, 2012 4:59 PM PST
In reply to: Fixed? Maybe?

Fan problems can relate to having a BIOS that needs to be updated (after all the dust is vacuumed out, you've verified that all the fans are working, and it isn't because you've upgraded your graphics card and put in a card that produces more heat than your cooling fans can remove...some graphics cards dump the heat into the computer rather than pushing it out the back of the computer, so that provides another cooling load inside the computer that you have to take care of).

So I would go to your OEM's web site and check for a BIOS update for your computer that you can do in any case...on the other hand, if it's running fine now, just back up the state of your system as it is so that you can restore it (like an image and/or data backup, your preference). I don't see any reason to re-install unless you're having problems. It might be a good idea to uninstall programs that you're not using, as has been suggested, and thin out the startup stuff as much as you can using msconfig as well.

You can always be ready to re-install if you need to, but it doesn't sound like you need to. I'm not at all sure where that re-installation recommendation came from if the guy thought that it was a BIOS problem...I would have good backups, though, sounds like you may have future problems as well, and you don't want to lose your data.

You can also look into putting in higher airflow compatible fans (look for quiet ones *smile*), Dell is known for putting cheap fans in their computers. I gave my daughter an XPS 435MT, and I remember putting the fan on silicone sound isolators, since it really was cheaply installed. That quieted down the hum from the fan a lot.

There's really a lot that you can do that's not expensive and doesn't require re-installing. Although, if you have backups. re-installing is really pretty easy, just takes some time.

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by microwavedave / March 2, 2012 1:13 PM PST

I have had the same problem with my Gateway desktop running Vista. One time it appeared to be a program that came with a Samsung printer to help utilize the printing functions. Have you tried going to Start... then Run... type in msconfig... tick Selective Startup, then open the Startup tab... you can probably uncheck everything here, but at least leave only the bare minimum enabled. Then click the Services tab. Tic Hide all Microsoft Services, then stop everything else except for say antivirus. Restart the computer. Did the trick for me.

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Lots of ideas, I see
by C. Scott Jackson / March 2, 2012 11:46 PM PST

I see that the problem was resolved with a restore. Yes, sometimes the odd solutions are the simplest and best, especially when free.

As a Dell certified field tech, I see many similar issues, but AS a field tech, I am called to replace hardware parts after the help desk's software solutions didn't work. With 20 years of experience, I can say that one must try both, sometimes, to find the real solution.

The cases are engineered to optimum air flow while all the sides are on it. If it were more effective, the case would not come with a side at all. Air must be moved through the machine so the hot air, from the various internal heat generators, is removed as quickly as possible. With this, the PC or laptop acts as a mini vacuum, sucking in all the dog hair, food particles and lint from you pants/skirts, bedspread, couch and floor. Keep the PC at least 4 inches off the floor with the same amount of space front and rear, and use a lap desk for your laptop computer (something flat and hard)

Dust is a big enemy that leads to overheating. Keep the PC at least 4 inches off the floor, and blow out the dust with canned air, not with the compressor in the garage, which contains moisture. (On metal/electrical parts?) Never a vacuum cleaner, unless design for computer equipment, as regular devices generate a lot of static. Dust collects under the mobo, inside the power supply, on the system and CPU fan blades, and between the CPU fan and heat sink.

Of course, these are preventative measures for the hardware itself, and the list could go on.

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