1GB PC2700 Ram
on a Soyo KT400 mobo...
right now its idling at:
51C CPU External
59C CPU temp on Die.
I think high temps are due to 3 factors:
1) The computer is in a desk.. closed environment very little circulation
2) Summer... hot as hell (Souther Cali)
3) Gf6800GT generates a TON of heat...
either way in BIOS default the default threshhold temp is set to 85.
problem is that over time as dust gets in... and maybe running some CPU/GPU intensive apps it may reach the 85 degree mark.. and i gave this PC to my dad... who wouldnt know what to do if that happens... i told him if PC shuts off and make a long beeping noise to flip the switch on the PSU on the back...
but id like to avoid that.. so i need to set the threshhold a little higher.
What is the safe limit? the default is 85.. however it goes up to 120C as max...
Sounds like a socket A chip there and they did get very hot and if you are using a stock cooler those temps sound pretty close to normal considering the other factors you mentioned. Max on that chip I am not sure. Only thing you can do is explain to your dad some very basic maintenence such as cleaning everything out with a can of air and such. Honestly everyone should know such things so it would be a good thing to show him and educate him on.
1. Install a better HSF like the Zalman 7000 or 7700. The 7000 is smaller and quieter. Get Artic Silver 5 thermal paste. Besides the current thermal paste is too old and probably started to deteriorate (i.e. cracking). I reapply thermal paste every two or three years.
2. If the motherboard allows you, try to undervolt the CPU while keeping it at stock speed. Drop the voltage by 0.1v then run some intensive apps or a game for a while.
When I undervolted my Athlon XP-M, I encoded video for a couple of hours and played a game for a while to test for stability.