Overheating: Improper Mounting and/or Stillborn Config?

Hi all,

I have done quite a bit of research on my problem, reading reviews and threads on many forums, testing what I have learned… I have reached a point where I think I need some external advice.

This is my second build. My first one, 4 years ago was not such a success but that is another story… To sum up, I am a newbie in this field but I had a lot of fun choosing all the parts after reading too many threads.


- Antec Sonata II
- Zalman ZM850-HP 850W PSU
- Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P Motherboard
- Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz
- Corsair Dominator 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel
- Xigmatek HDT-S1283 Cooler / Arctic Silver 5
- ATI Radeon HD 3870 512MB
- Western Digital Caviar 500GB 7200RPM SATA
- Antec Tri Cool Fan 120mm (backfan)

See highres picture of build:

This system (Vista 64 Family Premium) was build with 3 ideas in mind:

1) use my friend's almost free ATI Radeon HD 3870 and his Sonata II case (without the airduck) because I liked the outside look of it…
2) keep it quiet to a certain extent…
3) keep the budget under 1000$ Canadian (the only thing I managed to achieve ;-)


My Quad Core 6600 CPU is overheating (without any overclocking):

Idle: 37C-42C
Full load (with Prime95): 88C-92C (it would go higher if I didn't stop it…)
Room temperature: around 21C

I tested my build with Prime95 after my motherboard's overheating alarm went on (set to 80C) while playing FarCry2, without affecting its stability (yet).

I am able, tough, to play COD5 with high settings without any stability issues (CPU reaches around 82C…).

I read my temperature with CoreTemp, HWMonitor Pro. I have also tried reading it with Everest, Speedfan… with similar results.


- I first used the standard CPU cooler HSF by Intel. I felt insecure about the heat (see earlier point)
- I did some research and I bought Xigmatek HDT-S1283 Cooler with Arctic Silver 5, little change
- I have tried to manually set my CPU fan to full speed (around 1500RPM), not a real change in temperature
- I have tried the 3 speeds of my back fan (Antec Tri Cool Fan) but, not a real change in temperature
- I have try to run Prime95 or play Farcry2 with an open case, not a real change in temperature
- I have taken off my cooler, cleaned it with isopropyl alcohol, etc. resettled it with Arctic Silver 5, not a real change in temperature, but I am never sure if I put the pushpins the right way…
- I have bought another Antec Tri Cool Fan to install it in the front of my case but I have not done it yet…


I see 2 possible explanations:


I don't set my CPU HSF properly. The pushpins are a horrible invention…

I should get retention brackets such as

but they are not available on Newegg.ca



My Zalman PSU is so close to my CPU Cooler (see picture) that it is blowing its hot air directly over it and creating this overheating problem, meaning that my build cannot work with this Sonata II case…

I should get a P182 ANTEC case which has a very different configuration for the PSU (isolated chamber) and still is quite nice aesthetically…

Your advices are more than welcome.

Ixtop a.k.a. Kikcola
10 answers Last reply
More about overheating improper mounting stillborn config
  1. did you install the cooler with the motherboard mounted in the case?
  2. Yes, I installed every time (3) the cooler inside the case.

  3. I know what I'm going to say is a bit of nitpicking, but airflow depends on clear space--try cleaning up some of the clutter in there, definitely. And yes, I know it's a nit.

    That said, are you sure you applied the correct amount of thermal paste? Too much or too little will certainly have detrimental effects. I'm reluctant to say the mounting is improper given that you've done it several times, but it may be worth it to remove the board, mount the CPU cooler, and verify that it is physically attached correctly in all 4 corners. Have you completely cleaned off both cooler and chip before adding new thermal paste?

    Those idle temps are definitely high, though. I'm using a Thermaltake Spin-Q at the moment (I wanted something more artistic in the case) and I'm currently running my Q6600 at 27c. The Xigmatek should outshine my Spin-Q. While the PSU is close to the Xigmatek, it's by no means abnormally so. Let me know some of the answers to my questions and see if we can track down the real cause here.
  4. Thanks Cache for taking the time and providing so data to compare.
    27C is nice idle temp for a Quad!

    Nitpicking is why I posted this here so yes I agree I need to clean those cables. I actually imagined the temp were so high that the cables mess could not be the real origin...

    I think, after watching a couple of videos, that I applied the correct amount of thermal paste and cleaned the whole thing well.

    This brings me to the initial question: can this problem be caused by the PSU too close to the CPU? I think I need to get the board out, clean the cable & rebuild the whole build to see if it's the reason. I should be able to do that tomorow evening.

    I will keep you posted.

  5. Please do! I'll investigate a bit on the airflow for your case (sorry I'm not up on the Sonata II). Good luck!
  6. You have at least ONE 120mm fan in the front? And one in the back sucking air out? What fan do you have on the CPU?

    Your cabling isn't the issue, it's clean enough.

    Last most important question. You removed the Mobo to install the HS? Or did it with it installed? If with the mobo in, you CANNOT be sure the pins are locked down unless you inspect the bottom of the mobo. Getting the screw in kit is always the pro way, no question with a better pro-like CPU HS mount. Mobo always comes out every time I reinstall a HS with pushpins, every time. I'm past pushpins now....

    Do that first. Remove Mobo with HS installed and inspect the pins, you'll be amazed.

    If not that, locked down, remove HS with Mobo out and check TIM application and if not to what we consider smooth proper paste pattern. Do it again if wrong or right. Check pins, install Mobo.

    If that don't work, you need better fans. Buy quality Medium fans, and possibly a 38 mm thick better fan for the CPU HS.
  7. Hi Conumdrum,

    I have only 2 fans in the case:

    1) back fan (the original tricool 120mm that came with the Sonata II case)
    2) the fan that came with the Xigmatek cooler (120mm controlled by the Mobo)

    I don't have a front fan pushing the heat towards the back. There is an issue there. I bought one and I will install it: another Antec Tricool 120mmm.

    I didn't removed the Mobo to install the HSF. Clearly another issue.

    I'll be back with the results...


  8. Hi all,

    Here is an update on my problem... Actually, I think I may have solved it with your help.

    I took everything out, cleaned up the case with pressured air.

    I cleaned up my CPU and HSF with isopropyl alcohol, reapplied Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste with my finger inside a plastic bag (some use other ways such as the credit card but I prefer this one).

    I installed the HSF with Mobo outside the case to make sure the #!*$#!@- pushpins were really set right. I think they probably were not set properly the first time...

    I installed a front fan (see picture) close to the hard drive rack, since I only have one HD, this is not a problem for me. An Antec Tricool manually set at full speed.

    I reinstalled everything trying to leave the space as open as possible (taking care of cables...).

    See new build:

    I discovered my back fan (the old Antec tricool fan that came with the Sonata II) wasn't working properly. I just took it out and will buy another from the store.

    Here at the new temps:

    Room temp: 21c

    idle (with fan at full speed):

    idle (with fan at autospeed):

    Full load with prime95 (for around 20 minutes, it's not a lot but still is way better...):

    I am very happy with the results. I feel confident about my build, except for the higher GPU temperature (idle at 50c, load at 80c, peak at 90c) but I will have a closer look at that. Maybe the problem will be solved when I install the missing backfan. Another small thing, the build makes more noise now but I will eventually lower manually the frontfan speed to reduce it.

    What did I learn? The most important would be to install HSF outside the Mobo (thanks Conumdrum...). That's the key for pushpins.
    I also discovered I don't like the Sonata II case: it's too small to work in it, the airduck sucks...

    Thank you all. See you later.

    Ixtop aka Kikcola
  9. Just to conclude (I just installed a back fan Cooler master 1200RPM):

    New temps:

    Idle (with HSF fan at autospeed):

    Full Load (with HSF fan at autospeed):

    Room temperature: 21c

    My system is ready for overclocking!
  10. Congrats!
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