In need of hardware advice

Hey all, I'm kinda torn on a hardware issue I seem to be having. I have a roughly 2.5yr old Alienware system, and I'm concerned that I could be having some serious thermal issues in the not too distant future. Within the past 2 months, the ambient case temp that my gpu is reading for me has steadily increased from around 39C to 45C where it is now. That's the temp when my system is idle. My gpu seems to be hovering somewhere around 55C at idle. Now, my issue is whether or not I should take some minor steps to fix the temp issues or if I should salvage parts of my system (HDDs, RAM, dvd drives) and build a new one from scratch. I want to be able to do something before there's any type of major hardware failure (a few of my friends have already been stuck dealing with burnt out systems). Here's the specs:
Intel i875P chipset
Intel P4 Northwood HT @ 2.8Ghz
Samsung DDR-SDRAM PC3200 (2x512)
nVidia GeForce FX 5900Ultra 256Mb
Alienware 420W PSU

The factor thats pushing me along to just say the hell with everything and build a new system is the fact that my motherboard doesn't support PCIe so it's pretty outdated in terms of future expansion (I'd love to get my hands on a 7800GTX). So basically, I'm not exactly sure which way to go about all this. Any advice?
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  1. Have you thoroughly cleaned the dust out with a can of air by opening the case?
  2. Make sure all the fans are working first of all.
  3. Also, if still hot after dusting, might want to replace the thermal paste on CPU heatsink with something like Artic Silver 5.
    Your PC should not continually get hotter over time, so something is up like either dust, fans not working or slowing down, or thermal grease is not as effecient as it once was...
  4. The dust issue has been the first thing I thought to look in to. One of the plastic grilles on the front of my case came detached a few weeks ago and hasn't been the easiest thing to put back in to place (the folks at Alienware wouldn't even reply when I asked what the easiest way to fix it was). So it seems like there's a decent amount of dust on the inside of the case. The Arctic Silver route was something that I had looked at over the past few days when a friend of mine suggested some new thermal grease. Thanks for the help. Part of me wants to just invest the cash in a new machine, mostly because I can't really upgrade much with my current setup, but this is more than enough info to make me just try and work with what I have instead. Thanks.
  5. I have a Antec Sonata case (2x120mm fans). It's quiet, but I was always worried about sufficient cooling. I asked around and somebody turned me on to a slot fan ... it's a simple, quiet and very cheap solution to some problems. The fan in the link fits into an available PCI slot and is powered by a 12v connector. Heck the shipping costs more than the fan. When I put it under my vid card, and connected it - I could instantly feel a tremendous amount of heat blowing out the back. Seems a cheap solution if you want to give it a shot. :idea:

    PS - It's very quiet ... I can't hear it ever.
  6. Wow. Yeah, this exhaust fan just might do the trick from the sounds of it. I have 5 fans going now (1 front, 1 side, 3 rear) but I get the feeling that this enormous plastic shell Alienware uses on their cases just serves to keep all the heat in. I'll keep my fingers crossed that this slot fan takes things down a couple degrees. At least that way I can rationalize putting off a new motherboard/processor/vid card for another few months. Thanks.
  7. did wonders for me ... :D
  8. Just installed the slot fan yesterday. So far, there's been no sustained drop in internal temperature. I'm hoping maybe a little more time in the case will change things, but I'm trying not to get too optimistic about it. Looks like the only avenues left are trying some Arctic Silver or scrapping the majority of what I have in favor of a new setup (looking at an Athlon64 3700+/GeForce 6800GS based system)
  9. You did say something about having a front cover issue ... if you can't get air into the box, you sure as hell can't get any heat out ... but yea, try all the suggestions. Sorry I wasn't of more help. :(
  10. 1. Have you installed anything into the system within the past few years? (More HDDs, Optical drives, anything that can cause extra friction)

    2. You have A LOT of fans in that case, do you have mostly 60-90mm fans? A new case would help alot, but if you buy one I suggest you buy a case with a 120mm fan in the bottom front of the case and 2 90mm fans in the back. Side fans don't help and from what I've read (and personal experiance) only assist to disrupt good airflow through the case.

    Over time a case will begin to show signs of heat increase as the thermal compound that holds solder points degrades, this is very common and honestly there is little you can do. Your system will continue to operate and your GPU can reach temps above 80c without any danger (would be a damn hot room though from that little heater).

    To compare, I had an old Dell Optiplex I used as a back up file server; ran just fine with a ambient idle temp case of 74c.
  11. 5 case fans if not overclocking is more than enough cooling for any rig, even Prescot's. It is either dust, thermal paste (I recomend Artic Silver 5), or a bad temp sensor or a buggy bios/software reading.
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