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Why is my cooler so hot?

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December 13, 2012 10:04:47 PM

I am running an Intel Core i3 540 with the stock cooler (yes, I know REPLACE IT) in a relatively cramped case.

When I originally installed the cooler, I was idling at ~30C and loading at ~55C P95 load, which is great. Now that I've had to reinstall the cooler, I haven't been able to get it below 40C idle and 90C+ load.

Any tips on what might be wrong?

More about : cooler hot

a b K Overclocking
December 13, 2012 10:07:30 PM

Did you clean off the heatsink and CPU and put on new thermal paste? If not; there's the answer. Without thermal paste you risk burning up the CPU. It sounds like you may have pulled it off and then just slapped it back together. If so you need to go get some thermal paste. You can pick up the cheap crap at radio shack and it's even better than nothing at all. But once you pull a heatsink; you HAVE to replace that thermal paste.
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a b K Overclocking
December 13, 2012 10:44:00 PM

i totally agree with steddora.

fyi those temps are high but arent in the dangerous zone yet. you definitely need to look at this though.
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a b K Overclocking
December 13, 2012 11:57:44 PM

90C is pretty dangerous actually. He's probably hitting the throttling point. I'm not sure on the exact numbers but I believe those CPU's throttle at 90C and shut down completely at 102C if I'm correct.
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a b K Overclocking
December 13, 2012 11:58:19 PM

Stock fans are the devil.

Not because they suck… they do, but because the mounts are most often plastic grommets that twist to lock.

Once removed they never go back in correctly.

Look hard at the fan you’re going to put in not only from a space perspective but also from a cooling perspective. Corsair and Antec (even thermaltake is jumping in) make some very nice closed loop liquid cpu coolers. My computer has an Antec 620 and I could not be happier with it. 18-24 normal temps, mid thirties under load. Not typical but that’s what I get. The mounts are metal and come in both intel and AMD. Less than $60 will take care of an i3, no problem. That’s what you’ll pay for a premium air fan anyway.

They are quiet and the CPU mount is fairly small. You’ll need a place for the reservoir/fan but the smaller ones are made to fit in a 120 mm fan slot. Also, they are sealed, don’t leak and are advertized as no maintenance.
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a b K Overclocking
December 14, 2012 12:08:44 AM

Actually, the stock cooler is more than enough for the i3-540 as it's not a hot running chip. He's probably pulled the unit off and didn't redo the thermal paste. This is a one way ticket to disaster.
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a b K Overclocking
December 14, 2012 12:30:35 AM

+1^ the stock cooler was implemented for stock clocks, so basically it is perfectly compatible with his cooler. I would agree with steddora to double check the thermal paste. Anyways this may sound stupid, but did you plug in the fan?
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December 14, 2012 12:39:36 AM

The problem with the prevailing theory is that I have used 99% Isopropyl alcohol and coffee filters to wipe off the thermal paste, and I slapped varying amounts of Arctic Silver 5 on, from a grain of rice to 3, spreading and not spreading, and they didn't make a difference (from eachother).

Of course, the fan is plugged in too, and it's running at the ~2000RPM it's supposed to.

I actually purchased a Corsair H60 cooler for dirt-cheap ($40 on Black Friday), but I forgot to check my case, and my case has basically 1 usable 80mm fan area and no others.

I'm thinking the issue is more with CPU contact and push pins, but I could have bent a fin ever so slightly as well.


EDIT: The only thing that has changed between the initial installation and now is that I swapped out my Radeon HD 5670 video card for a 7770, which actually runs slightly cooler. That shouldn't make a difference, but I thought I should mention it.
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a b K Overclocking
December 14, 2012 3:48:47 AM

Ok, the stock cooler push pins have a locking mechanism. Now, they are twist locks and aren't extremely hard to break the lock for the twist mechanism. What you need to do is pull it off of the CPU and check that they still will fall to the lock and twist and actually lock while off of the motherboard. If you broke one, there is a way to pup them out of the retainer and use a bolt-on method. HOWEVER, it requires a drill, 2" or longer machine bolts that will fit through the mobo HSF holes, felt washers, rubber grommets, and other non-typical household items LOL. I actually have an old E5200 with the stock cooler bolted on. I'll see if I can find that machine tomorrow after work. I believe it's in my attic of death storage area.

Eitherway, you need to double check those retention pins. Remember, the twist should unlock/lock it only when it's depressed. The rest of the time it should spin freely.

Now for my second question here. Does that unit have the copper or aluminum insert on the coolers bottom? If you knock that loose; that can be part of the problem and you'd have to TIM that and the CPU during installation. I haven't seen the 540's stock cooler but if it's solid without an insert like the Exxxx series was, then it's pretty much guaranteed to be the retention clips.

As for bending a fin, you didn't hurt that HSF. The one single advantage of the stock cooler, aluminum takes longer than copper to heat up. This means it actually can work better than copper until it actually heats up. So it takes more time to heat it up and if the fan is running correctly; a few bent/broke fins won't hurt it's performance all that much; especially how bad you're showing.

Take that cooler off and make sure you're setting the clips right. If I had a stocker left here I'd show you how they break and how to "remedy" it.
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December 14, 2012 7:11:30 PM

I think the pins work right.

As for the insert what do you mean?

Look at this pic:

except instead of the copper circle in the center, it's a continuation of the aluminum from the edges.
It's perfectly smooth to the touch, and there was never any insert on top of that.
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a b K Overclocking
December 14, 2012 8:01:47 PM

Ok then it is a non-insert style. Most of those were on the later end of the core2duo chips as they progressed towards 45nm.

Those pins have an open and closed position and require tension to operate. So press on the base of the clear base. Twist with the top black top and watch the action. If they turn and open the "claw or latches" on the clear side and you feel a click; the pins are operating properly. If there's no "click" they can come loose and drop the effectiveness of the cooler. You "can" run with three operational but I don't recommend it. If there's two shot, you'll have to mod them. to lock by either "rigging" and wedging them shut after install or doing some drilling and installation of some machine bolts/rubber grommets/felt washers.
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December 14, 2012 8:07:47 PM

steddora said:
Ok then it is a non-insert style. Most of those were on the later end of the core2duo chips as they progressed towards 45nm.

Those pins have an open and closed position and require tension to operate. So press on the base of the clear base. Twist with the top black top and watch the action. If they turn and open the "claw or latches" on the clear side and you feel a click; the pins are operating properly. If there's no "click" they can come loose and drop the effectiveness of the cooler. You "can" run with three operational but I don't recommend it. If there's two shot, you'll have to mod them. to lock by either "rigging" and wedging them shut after install or doing some drilling and installation of some machine bolts/rubber grommets/felt washers.

Unfortunately, I think all 4 are operational, as they open and close properly when putting them through the mobo holes.
The twisty things also work properly, and they are turned away from the arrows when installed.
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a b K Overclocking
December 14, 2012 8:10:44 PM

Ok that should have enough pressure on the CPU to keep the HSF from moving without medium force applied. If they aren't working, it'll move with just a bump. If they are, there's definitely a problem somewhere else.

Since I haven't asked, what are your idle temperatures with it installed, new paste of course when you idle in the BIOS?
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December 15, 2012 10:45:40 PM

steddora said:
Ok that should have enough pressure on the CPU to keep the HSF from moving without medium force applied. If they aren't working, it'll move with just a bump. If they are, there's definitely a problem somewhere else.

Since I haven't asked, what are your idle temperatures with it installed, new paste of course when you idle in the BIOS?


I doesn't budge a millimeter when I apply medium force.
It initially idles at around 30C, but leaving it idle for an hour, it settles at 50C. Ambient is ~24C.
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a b K Overclocking
December 15, 2012 11:26:00 PM

How hot is the case itself while it's running? Have you tried idling with the side panel off of the case? Are all of the case fans operational? There's something causing the heat and I can't see it being the i3 making that HSF that hot. Aluminum takes longer to heat up than copper does, so initial temperatures will stay lower longer than they would with copper, however copper transmits the heat better.

With all of the variables I see, there's something else heating that processor up. In your BIOS, is the entire CPU setup set to automatic? BCLK, voltage, CPU PLL, and everything? Maybe you could try loading the defaults in bios incase it's pushing extra volts into that chip. Like I said before, that i3 shouldn't be able to get that HSF to 65c+ unless you're running IBT.
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December 15, 2012 11:48:44 PM

The whole BIOS is set to optimized defaults, along with a few tweaks like Boot Sequence.

The case, video card, and hard drives are all running at normal temps. Having the side panel off does not change temps, and having the computer horizontal does not change temps. To help the temps a little, I changed the case fan to suck air in (so PSU and CPU blow out, case fan sucks in), but that didn't help much.

I guess I can reset the BIOS to see if it's pumping 1.5V in or something, but it's unlikely.
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a b K Overclocking
December 16, 2012 1:59:57 AM

I would just incase a setting got borked. Still there's something wrong with that picture you know? How can it idle its way to 50C. There's something causing it.

Let's make sure all of the following is true:

New TIM with each install and once it's applied no pulling up on HSF
Clean HSF
All case fans operational
BIOS settings are reading the processor correctly as an i3 540
Idle in BIOS even idles extremely high


Ok get me these factors out of the BIOS

Vcore
BCLK or FSB or Host Clock or all three whatever floats your boat
Actual name of processor as reported by board i.e. My board shows Intel i7-2600k @ 3400Mhz
Anything else that may have a factor in the temperatures like case/cpu/power fan speeds; thermal fan settings, and maybe even the voltage ratings off the psu.
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December 19, 2012 6:30:49 PM

All of the conditions are true.

Vcore: 1.184-1.192V (from what I hear, slightly lower than normal, but that should make it cooler, and it always ran fine like this)
BCLK: 133MHz (stock)
Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
CPU Smart FAN Target: [Disabled] (Had it like this for a while since it didn't appear to do anything)
SYS FAN 1 Control: 100%
SYS FAN 2 Control 100% (note it's not installed)
CPU Temperature: 44C/111F (After idling for maybe 7 mins after a COLD boot)
System Temperature: 25C/77F (Case temp)
3.3V: 3.392V
5V: 5.087V
12V: 12.232V
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a b K Overclocking
December 19, 2012 7:59:47 PM

Everything looks absolutely fine... I'm confused.. I'm going to research this. I must ask how old is the processor?
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December 20, 2012 10:47:49 PM

steddora said:
Everything looks absolutely fine... I'm confused.. I'm going to research this. I must ask how old is the processor?

It was purchased off a brick-and-mortar shelf on December 24, 2010, and it's a Costa Rica chip.
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a b K Overclocking
December 21, 2012 2:20:20 AM

It has to be one of the following things...

Thermal paste (I know, we've tried this numerous times)
Thermal paste spillover, maybe on the motherboard causing a rogue socket reading?
Bad heat spreader on the CPU itself? (I know we've accomplished that it didn't do this until you had to remount the HSF, but you never know...)
Bad Speed reading from the fan?

Since the motherobard/System temperature is reading 27C and the processor is idling at 40C here's what we're going to do.

I want you to idle inside of Windows... Run your software you read the temperatures with like CPUID Hardware Monitor, Realtemp, or even Coretemp. After 10 minutes of idle, record the processor's temperature and the system. After an hour, and if you have time a few hours. If it's sitting fully idle in windows (Double check with task manager), there's no way it should be higher than 35-40C in a 80F room, even on the stock HSF.
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a b K Overclocking
December 21, 2012 2:37:03 AM

its prolly just a bad heatsink. RMA it and see if the new one is better. sometimes the base and heat pipes are properly soldered
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a b K Overclocking
December 21, 2012 3:04:02 AM

He's using a stock heatsink, there are no heatpipes.
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a b K Overclocking
December 21, 2012 3:27:02 AM

steddora said:
He's using a stock heatsink, there are no heatpipes.

yes you are correct. i got similar threads mixed up. my mistake.
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a b å Intel
a c 150 K Overclocking
December 21, 2012 8:07:21 AM

Read the guide? :p 

Yeah, those stock coolers do have a ton of mounting problems....
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Best solution

a b K Overclocking
December 21, 2012 7:38:47 PM

I don't know bnot. If the dang thing is sitting right on the chip, the thermal paste application is good, and it's all working properly with good ambient air, there's a problem. I'm going to suggest getting an aftermarket heatsink. Doesn't have to be anything insane as that chip isn't going to push heat like a 3770k will.

Try that and see what happens. I'm stumped. There's an issue and I honestly cannot figure out for the life of me what would cause it to go over 40C sitting in the BIOS for an hour... I left my system in the BIOS all day while I was at work. My fans on my Hyper212 were completely off and my case fans were at minimal (2 off and one at 600rpm)......

System temperature was 32C while the CPU was at 33C.... ALL DAY

That little i3 has earned a nickname from me, "Thy hot one". I don't get it, I'm confused, and I'm done. Toss another HSF on that thing and see what happens. If it doesn't stop rolling heat like that; send it to me and I'll buy a motherboard and clock that thing and let it burn for irritating my brain cells so much.
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December 21, 2012 10:22:42 PM

In case you still wanted to know, it stays at around 45C doing light work (using NetBeans).

Also a weird phenomena that may have something to do with it: it seems the first core is always ~3C hotter than the second core. That makes it sound like a contact issue after all, but you'd think the cooler would budge with force if that were the case :/ 
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a b K Overclocking
December 22, 2012 9:07:59 PM

One core is always going to be used more than the others. Windows will only use a single core for most tasks. And if you have HT enabled on that i3, that will cause the second core to be parked even more as it will simply just run two threads on the first core instead of actually multitasking across the cores.

What kind of temperatures does it get when you hit it with some real stress?
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December 24, 2012 5:00:42 PM

Too high.
It hit 90C at about 60% load, and I wasn't about to let it go higher.
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a b K Overclocking
December 25, 2012 5:45:15 AM

Is the voltage set to automatic in bios for the CPU?
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December 26, 2012 12:41:26 AM

Yep, and it was idling at the listed voltages.
The load voltages seemed normal too.

I am the lucky new owner of a Cooler Master Elite 311 case, so I'll probably be good with my H60.
If it so much as breaks 40C, that chip is going to 5GHz on the spot.
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a b K Overclocking
December 27, 2012 2:44:02 PM

LOL let me know how it goes. That chip has a death wish I think. If you installed the HSF right, you shouldn't have any issue.. And with an H60, I could see it breaking 50C at max usage with IntelBurnTest.
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December 29, 2012 5:21:27 PM

So, my H60 is now fully working, albeit it's scratched up and there's thermal paste everywhere because I'm a n00b.

Even in its battered condition, my CPU never hits 50C even under P95 Large FTT!

Oh, and I was wrong about my temps on stock when it worked well: it idled at 30C and loaded at 73C. Maybe I'll have a bit of room for overclocking!
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December 29, 2012 5:22:32 PM

Best answer selected by bnot.
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a b K Overclocking
December 29, 2012 9:55:15 PM

Nice. Good to hear. Founds like you found that little chip a nice home under that water block. :) 
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