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Will a case solve my heat issue?

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Last response: in Systems
May 6, 2011 12:07:40 AM

Greetings, I am not certain this is the right place, but since this is a home built computer, I thought it would be a good place to start. My core question is about a computer case, but the graphics card is the root of the issue, or at least the issue that is making me want to get the new case.

Recently I have noticed that some games I have been playing lock up or crash on me. I started taking the side cover off of my tower to allow more air flow (or at least that was my thinking). This has partially helped, but not very much. I have even gone as far as placing a desk fan on the ground pointed at my computer (about 2 feet away) to blow air more directly. This does seem to work, but the noise is a little distracting.

My current case has one fan on the front panel (seems useless because it is covered by the front panel) and the only other fan that is case related is on the power supply. My video card (GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB) has a built in fan, and of course there is the fan on the CPU.

I downloaded MSI Afterburner to monitor the fan of the graphics card, and the GPU temp. I have the fan set to 75%, and with no load (only web browsing or Office apps) my GPU temp is at 87 C. If I set the card fan to 100% it will drop to 78 C. If I turn on my desk fan, the temp takes a drastic drop down to 53 C.

I was running Portal (the first one) in windowed mode, with the Graphics card fan at 100%, but no desk fan, and saw my GPU temp go as high as 108 C before the game would crash. I think this is rather hot, but am not sure if it is too hot.

Part of me thinks that the graphics card fan may not be putting out enough to keep the card cooled, but it is also obvious that I need more air flow.

Financially I don't want to replace the video card, other than the random crashes, it works awesome for any and all games I play, I haven't had a game not work thus far, but higher end games (Crysis 2 and RIFT) tend to cause the more crashes.

I am trying to figure out what a good case replacement option would be.

My current system is:
Tower - Mid Size (I don't know the name off hand)
Power Supply - 550 W
CPU - Intel Core 2 - 2.40 GHz
RAM - 2.9 GB (I need to upgrade to Windows 7 so I can use the full 4 that is on there, two 2 GB sticks).
OS - Windows XP Professional
Video - GeForce 8800 GTS 640 MB (for some reason "can you run it" indicates I have 1.1 GB Video Ram)
Motherboard - ASUS P5B

Many thanks for your time and input.

More about : case solve heat issue

a b B Homebuilt system
May 6, 2011 12:18:07 AM

You may not need to buy a new case, simply modify the one you have. Does it have ventilated holes on the side? if so, just throw a couple cheap case fans in it. Also, break it open and dust everything off real good. You can get a can of compressed air, and blow the dust off the heatsinks and stuff. Could you post some pictures of the case, inside and out? that would help alot.

Hope we can help you.
May 6, 2011 12:50:03 AM

Striker, thanks for the reply.

I did find out when I was taking pictures that there is a fan on the back of the case that is NOT the power supply.

Ok, here are 4 pictures I took.

1. Side Cover. It looks like there is holes for at least 1 fan to be mounted on this cover.

2. Front. Front of case. That is an external HDD on the top, I use it for work.

3. Back. The mess that is the back of my case. Yes, that is a cardboard box ... part of my "dog wall" to keep the Pug out of part of the computer room.

4. Side-Inside. The mess that is the inside of the case.

I use canned air once a month, or when I notice it is starting to have issues again. It was last "blown out" this past weekend.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 6, 2011 12:59:43 AM

108 C is much too hot. I think the issue is narrowed down to your GPU fan not cooling adequately. At 100%, what does the GPU fan sound like? Are you sure it's still able to spin at its original speed?

One possibility is that the thermal interface material between the card's heatsink and the GPU has degraded over time and is no longer effective at transferring the heat from the chip.

I think your best bet is to take the heatsink off of your 8800 GTS, clean the GPU with 90+% isopropyl alcohol, let it dry, then apply some thermal compound, then reseat the heatsink.

Or, get a GTX 560 Ti, lol.

Best solution

a b B Homebuilt system
May 6, 2011 1:03:09 AM

Yeah, My guess is poor ventilation. You could go the redneck route and start drilling holes and mounting fans, but your best option would be to get a better case, as you will be able to keep it for your next build.
I have 2 recommendations.
The antec 300, a beloved steel case:
The HAF 912, the larger and better ventilated plastic challenger:

I personally would opt for the HAF, based on looks and size. However, many people swear by the 300.
They both cost the same, and both would be able to be used in your next build. It's really all up to which style you like!
a b B Homebuilt system
May 6, 2011 1:05:54 AM

Morton, did you check out the case? No front fan. The only intake comes from those little holes on the side panel.
May 7, 2011 2:23:25 AM

Thank you all for the feedback. I was hoping that the case (the cheaper option) would solve my issue. I am going to look into the two cases you suggested striker and get one ordered.
Looking at my desktop now, nothing other than this web page running, fan at 75% and GPU at 85 degrees.
May 19, 2011 6:29:31 PM

Best answer selected by jburmingham.