Just yesterday, I decided to clean my whole PC, dusting off every possible part. Naturally I took all the pieces out and cleaned them individually. So all was well and I was able to it back in again.
Then, I noticed my idle temps were at 55ºC for my CPU. The fans were working fine, so I thought I just placed my heatsink badly. And it turns out one clip was loose. I realigned the heatsink and added new thermal paste, and the CPU went fine at idle temps of 41-45.
Then, my eagerness to tinker with stuff led me to read about the proper orientation of fans for optimal airflow. My previous fan set up was as follows:
1 120mm fan in front as intake
1 80 mm fan in the rear as exhaust
1 120mm fan at the side (near the GPU) as exhaust
PSU fan as intake
CPU HSF as intake
I learned that the rear fan has to always be exhaust so I reversed it. I also learned that it is usually better for the side fan to be intake as it feeds cool air to the GPU.
After doing the adjustments, I noticed that my CPU temps are now at 50-52ºC. However, my GPU did cool from 57º to about 53º at idle. I didn't notice what my motherboard temps were before, but now they hover from 36-40º.
Right now I'm running Prime95 and temps play in the range of 65-70ºC.
Is it possible that this current set-up is actually worse for my system even if it's considered as optimal by many?
What can I do to reduce my CPU temps without spending on a new cooler?
My current specs are as follows:
Core 2 Duo E6550 Mild OC at 2.80 GHz (from 2.33)
4 x 1GB Kingston ValueRAM DDR2-800
Asus P5QL-Pro Mobo
ATI Radeon HD 3850 256MB GDDR3
Corsair CX400 PSU
they usually stock it at Radio Shack for like $7.99 or so, this alone will help in CPU temps by about 5 degrees celcius also, if it is the stock cooler you are using, this may explain higher temps but still, you should be a bit lower.
Be absolutely sure to clean the cooler and CPU from any previous thermal paste before re-applying as well...
When applying thermal paste to the stock cooler, just use a little amount (like the size of half of a sweet-pea (the small ones)) and apply directly to the middle of the surface of the heatsink of the CPU cooler, then apply the cooler to the CPU and lock it in.
I took out the cooler again, and just wiped off excess thermal paste that spread on the sides, then carefully placed it back in. This time I rotated the cooler 90 degrees, with no real reason. I did become more particular about the clips and how tightly they're locked. Now, my CPU temps are at 45-47ºC at idle. Perhaps it was just a case of bad cooler placement.
And I realized the rearrangement of fans didn't really affect the CPU temps much, though it has an impact on the motherboard and GPU temps
lower voltage should help with temps but higher clocks will add higher temps, so all-in-all, you should be fine, in my opinion, get an Arctic Cooling Freezer pro 7 with ArcticSilver5 and watch the temps drop, it should cost about $40.00 total...