What do you think is too hot? (Phenom II X4 955 BE - C3 Revision)

To the resident experts:

After reading from forum to forum, I haven't been able to find a comfortable answer to the following question: How hot is too hot?

Here's the lead-in:
Phenom II X4 955 BE w/ multiplier set to x18 in BIOS (bringing it up to ~3.6 GHz)
Artic Freezer Pro Aftermarket Heatsink mounted on CPU
ASRock M3A770DE
16 GB Patriot Xtreme RAM (4 x 4 GB sticks)
Seasonic X750 (80 plus gold certified, modular, just got it, baller PSU compared to my $50 Rosewill)
Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 (due for an upgrade)
Antec 300 case (all case fans installed - 3x 120mm fans blowing in, 1x 120 mm & 1x 140 mm fans blowing out near the top.

To say I'm cautious about overclocking would be an overstatement. I recently purchased the Seasonic PSU and three more fans to ventilate and I reseated the heatsink a few months ago (which didn't make a discernable difference).

Here's my thought process, please feel free to correct my errors:
1.) CPU Voltage is set to 'Auto' on my board, which seems to be a no-no on some forums. Should I do this manually? If so, any suggestions?
2.) Idle sits at around 42-44° C, hits about 53-55° C with iTunes streaming, Vuze downloading, and Borderlands running simultaneously. The nerve-wracking part is running Prime95, which seems like a good "stress test" for a full load. From idle, the temp just from 44-52° C in a heartbeat, and 60° C within a couple minutes. I'm unsure what the max temp reading should be, does this sound too hot?

I imagine the airflow is good, the heatsink is good...maybe my nerves just aren't.

Please advise, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

29 answers Last reply
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  1. 62C is the max recommended temp for your cpu.

    No you don't want voltage on auto. Use the lowest stable voltage you can for your desired clock speed.

    It seems you may also have too much intake fan and not enough exhaust. The machine cannot intake more than it can exhaust, which will cause turbulence if your trying to force it in.

    On the other hand, your exhaust fans don't really need intake, they can passively pull air through the openings without intake fans.

    I would suggest:

    1 front fan intaking (at bottom)
    1 rear fan exhausting (at middle or top)
    1 top fan exhausting

    Also is your psu mounted fan up?
  2. 62C is the max recommended temp for your cpu.

    It seems you probably have too much intake fan and not enough exhaust. The machine cannot intake more than it can exhaust, which will cause turbulence if your trying to force it in.

    On the other hand, your exhaust fans don't really need intake, they can passively pull air through the openings without intake fans.

    I would suggest:

    1 front fan intaking
    1 rear fan exhausting
    1 top fan exhausting

    Also is your psu mounted fan up?
  3. I filled the PSU upside down so the fan is pointed upwards.

    Here's the current fan configuration:
    Two 120 mm fans in the front of the case as intake (air flows over and under the HDDs, cables are managed decently along the back "wall" of the case)
    One 120 mm fan on the side of the case as intake (blows above the HD 5770)
    One 120 mm fan on the top back of the case as exhaust (relatively close to the cpu cooler)
    One 140 mm fan on the top of the case as exhaust (inches away from the exhaust fan on the heatsink)

    I wish I took a comparison of heat from before (just the top and back fans) and after the new fan installation (adding the three, 2 front and 1 side)

    Thank you for the speedy response geekapproved, if you don't mind me asking:
    1) Will explicitly setting the voltage provide less energy wasted as heat and cool down the chip a bit? I'll check the spec sheet to find the default core voltage
    2) How does the fan set-up sound? The three recent additions are lower in the case, so I figured that hot air rises, put the exhaust as the rear and top fans and the intake as the side and fronts.

    How would you (or anybody else who'd like to chime in) approach the situation?
  4. yes lower voltage = much less heat

    I think you have way too much intake and it's messing up the airflow. Try removing the side fan, you don't need it, it can passively pull all the air it wants through that hole anyways without the fan forcing air in and disrupting your bottom to top airflow over the motheboard.
  5. Sounds like a solid suggestion

    I'll store away the side intake and set the voltage in BIOS when I get back to the rig this evening

    I'll post the results, thanks for the insight
  6. Think I found the problem geekapproved...

    Got home, immediately ran CPU-Z...my cpu has been running at 1.448 V (!!) on 'Auto'...very not cool!!

    That probably has something to do with it being so hot lol

    Changing the voltage in BIOS now, I'll keep you updated

  7. After tooling around with the BIOS, for more than an hour, I can seem to get the core voltage to stabilize. It's manually set to 1.35v, but still fluctuates between that and 1.384v. This motherboard is by no means "top end", so out of all the components, I'm trying to point the blame at something and it's falling on ASRock.

    In the BIOS:
    -Disabled 'Cool & Quiet'
    -Anything that said 'overclock' or 'cpu multiplier/voltage' was set to manual and not auto
    -Already had the latest version of the BIOS on the motherboard
    -Now looking at a 52° C reading from CoreTemp at damn near idle

    I'm tempted to just go back to stock, but I didn't get these fans for nothing. Anyone out their with experience on the ASRock M3A770DE board?
  8. What you are seeing is called V-Droop. It is normal on almost all motherboards.
    Only the very high end motherboards have circuitry to stop this from happening. It ia actually designed to function that way.
  9. When you dissable C&Q the processor does not downclock when idle. So you have higher idle temps.
  10. I also have a 955 BE. Mine is on a ASUS M4n98TD and I have OC'ed to 3.8 GHz stable. I idle at 34 - 36 C and max at 53 C under full load with Prime95. I use the Sunbeam Core Contact Freezer with 120 mm fan for cooling. My case has 5 120 mm fans configured as such, 2 top mounted (exhaust) 1 Rear (exhaust) 1 Side (exhaust) 1 Front (Intake). The side fan is really overkill, I just like the look.

    Your temps seem very high to me. If your BIOS is reporting idle temps in the 40 C range, you may have a problem. I would check the heat sink to ensure it is properly attached. Also check that not too much, or too little, thermal paste was used in the application of the heat sink.

  11. Funny you said that Rick...I was just tinkering and decided to drop by cpu voltage down another step to 1.335. My Core Temp shows the VID as the voltage I dropped it down to, and the cpu-z shows slightly fluctuating v-droop

    Would it be wise to see how low it can go while staying stable? Is there similar dangers to undervolting as their is to overvolting?

    Thanks Rick, I thought I was going crazy for a minute there
  12. Puff3r, thanks for your input. I do agree that the temps are high

    I need to do a heat sink reseat. I'll grab some Arctic Silver 5 from Best Buy or RadioShack (don't feel like waiting for NewEgg to send it to me) during my lunch break tomorrow and give it a shot tomorrow

    Rick, you'd absolutely right. I just did a lil' experiment and saw the difference of load and temps with C&Q on and off.

    Thanks for the input gents, I'll update the post tomorrow or later tonight with any further updates. I will say though that the BIOS set to 1.3375 have decreased the ramp-up on the Prime95 temp significantly. It still gets too hot, but not nearly as fast. Kudos to everyone for all your help so far!
  13. P.S. I'll rummage around the forum to find the perfect heatsink FAQ. Already know I'll need isopropyl alcohol and q-tips
  14. I definitely would keep C&Q on, otherwise it'll never cool down even when your not using it.
  15. Just got some Arctic Silver 5, 91% isopropyl alcohol, and q-tips for ~$15 during lunch today

    Think I can get away with leaving the chip in the mobo or should I remove and hold it on its side (definitely not on the pins) to get all the gunk off? Opinions?
  16. take the processor out completely when cleaning it. Don't toss any chemicals onto it, use the q tip with a small amount of rubbing alcohol or wd40 to gently clean the surface. Make sure your holding it carefully and don't bend any pins. As the other posts state don't use to much paste because when the pressure of the heat sink is applied it squeezes out thermal down the side of the chip. Sufficient contact is needed however. I have c&q dissabled and it causes my 965 be to throttle aswell. Last night after much gaming my temps were 32 and gpu 60 after playing wow for hours. I'm running a df35 case 5 fans a h50 CPU cooler and a 6950 gpu
  17. Thanks for the advice undercovernerd6

    After seeing a bunch of the videos around the Web, I'm certain I used entirely too much thermal paste when I originally installed and previously re-seated the heatsink. I'll make sure I get it on there centered (I'm thinking 1/2 to 2/3 the size of a pea) and screw the heatsink down snug.

    How's that 6950 treating you? I've got a 5770 right now and I'm considering either an SSD or that card for the next upgrade in a few months...
  18. **Status Update**

    -Embarassed by how much thermal compound was on my chip after removing the heatsink.
    -Carefully cleaned the copper bottom of the heatsink
    -Cleaned the cpu (took it out completely, carefully cleaned with q-tips and 91% isopropyl alcohol, thanks for the tip undercovernerd6)
    -Put about 1/2 pea size dollop of Arctic Silver 5 on the bottom of cooler
    -Used a tip I found on NewEgg feedback to easily drop the cpu cooler squarely on top of the cpu
    -Completely tightened down the mounting brackets
    -Fired it back up
    -Impatiently waited...
    -...initial success! After a start-up process temp flare, idle temp bottom out a leveled in a 38-40° C, down from 42-44° at full idle. Right now it sits at 42°-43° while I type on this forum via Mozilla FireFox.

    -From what I understand, there is a "break-in" period for the Arctic Silver 5, so I'm guessing it's too early to tell how it will finally set.
    -Should I stress test a bit to see how temps react or should I wait a week or so (Arctic Silver 5 .pdf says ~200 hours break in) for the compound to set...
    -2° difference (for the time being)...over the long run, will I be looking at sub-40° at light workloads

    Yet again, thanks to everyone who's chimed in so far. All your insight has helped ease a nagging concern, and I'm happy that everyone's so receptive to my endless line of questions.
  19. AS5 takes like 100+ hours to cure, that's why I don't use it or recommend it.

    Your going to have to wait quite a while to see what your results are I'm afraid.
  20. Fudge. Guess its too late to simply take it off and switch the paste i'm using...Wish I asked what paste would be best before purchasing some, but so far, the AS5 is doing the trick

    I'll give it two weeks and post the results, luckily school's on break and work has kicked up a notch so I'll be busy

    Thanks again for everyone's help
  21. I have the exact same processor and motherboard.

    My oc was maxed out at 3.8Ghz, 1.45v(in bios) running prime95 at max cpu temp of 56*C with the thermalright ifx-14 cpu cooler and max mobo temp of 48*C. Ram timings at 6-6-6-15-20-1T.

    I downclocked it to 3.7Ghz @ 1.40v, ~50*C so that it'll live longer but thats just personal preference. See how high you can go and settle at a temperature that you think is a good balance between performance and lifespan. Id recommend staying as far below 60*C as you can afford.

    You have a good case as far as cooling is concerned.
  22. jbseven, thanks for the advice and screenshots

    My RAM is timed at 8-9-8-24. Too be honest, I'm not sure what all the numbers mean and whether that has any bearing on my heat issue

    I think I pulled another rookie mistake...I have a top fan pulling out from the top, but I think my CPU fan is pushing air through the heat sink and towards the bottom of the case

    Quick question:
    -I should assume the heat sink fan is pushing THROUGH the component, so I CPU fan should be on the BOTTOM side of the heat sink if I want the heat pushed UP, any comments

    If that's the issue the whole time, chalk it up to newbie trials lol
  23. If you can take a picture of the fan configuration, we can tell you which direction its pushing air. it should definitely be pusing air to the top or rear of the case.

    with my setup, it was 2 degrees cooler pushing air to the rear 120mm fan than pushing air to the 2 140mm top fans. try both if you have enough thermal paste and can be bothered with the extra work.

    from what i remember, with ram timings, lower is better; cas 6-6-6-15-1T at 1333mhz is the same as cas 12-12-12-30-1T at 2666 mhz. for me, cas 6-6-6-15-1T at 1333mhz was better than cas 8-8-8-24-1T at the same frequency.

    its not necessary to overclock your ram, although if you did it would add to heat- i was lucky i got a really good pair of crucial sticks that allow me to run them at better timings at the same rated frequency and voltage. i wouldnt have overclocked them if there was too much of a difference in voltage as that reduces the lifespan of the sticks.
  24. jbseven:

    I'll take a picture when I get home this evening. I'm guessing the CPU is a "push" design that's pushing the air through, which would be perfect since there is a 140mm exhaust up top.

    I have ample AS5 left (now that I know less is more when it comes to application), so if I have to remount again, I'm sure it's be better than the last time

    Sounds like you've got some experience with RAM timings, I'll tackle that issue once I cool down the brains behind the whole operation (CPU). My RAM sticks have these huge heat spreaders on them, so I hope I'll be able to manage temps when I get to that point

    Thanks again for your input, stay tuned for the pics (I'll posted them either very late tonight or early tomorrow)
  25. Sorry for the long delay on follow-up....

    Here are some pictures of my set-up:

    It doesn't feel like much air flow is pushed underneath the heatsink (towards the Radeon HD 5770 sitting below) and when I put my hand above, I 1.) nicked my finger on the top fan (ouch) and 2.) couldn't really tell what was going on

    Can you tell from the pictures? Any suggestions on how to confirm the direction of the airflow?
  26. Any final opinions? I know the topic has been sitting out there for a while, but I just wanted to make sure I'm running my CPU at the lowest temperature possible...

    Thanks for any further input and all the comments up to this point!
  27. From the pictures, it looks as if your top fan is exhausting and sitting directly over the processor fan. If this is the case, you are seriously hurting your cooling. If possible, I would rotate the CPU cooler so it is exhausting to the rear fan, 90 degrees clockwise, or you could simply unscrew the top fan and turn it over. This could, however, hurt overall performance as well dependent on airflow. If you are pulling more air into the system than you are exhausting you are creating a "positive" pressure cooling environment which is less effective than a "negative" pressure cooling system. The concept is to push more air out of your system than you take in. I.e. more exhaust fans than intake fans.

    I personally think the best solution would be rotating the CPU cooler if possible.
  28. Thank you for the response

    I'll take a look at the different orientations of the CPU cooler closer when I get a minute. If memory serves me right, I believe the way the bracket is designed for the motherboard, I only have the option of keeping the fan where it currently is (facing upward) or facing downward.

    I definitely will take into account your advice. The first thing I'm doing when I get home is flipping the side-mounted fan from intake to exhaust, creating that "negative" pressure you were talking about
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