Cpu/heatsink issue amd phenom II x4

My setup is as follows
Amd phenom II x4 940
ASUS M4A88T-V motherboard w/ onboard HD 4250 onboard graphics
12Gb Kingston DDR3 1333mhz ram
Seagate 500gb HDD
Asus Wireless NIC
650 watt psu

The symptoms of my problem seem to be common, as i have seen many posts on this site that seem to be close to my problem, but all the causes seem to be different so I figured I would ask you guys your opinion on my specific case.

The issue started with my computer locking up entirely. no bsod or other warning, just a screen that wouldnt respond. after this happened i rebooted my pc, and my bios kindly told me that my overclocking had failed, which was odd since it had been running just fine for months, and it was just a minor performance boost, and was until then very stable. so i clocked down my cpu and started the computer back up, it worked just fine some time, and then when left running, powered off unexectedly. I attempted to power it back on and it wouldnt post, but after powering it off and then back on, it posted and up came that same friendly bios message that overclocking had failed.
This time I set it back to the automatic stock settings, saved and restarted my pc.

When i restarted the computer would agian not post, unti I manually powered it off and then back on agian, when it again told me that overclocking had failed. I checked and it appeared that the bios had set itself to a manual clock speed that was not the stock speed, or a speed that i had set it too.

At this point I pulled the cmos battery and reset the system. It immediatly posted, and asked me to configure the bios date however, in the middle of setting the date the computer froze up once again. Upon restarting it I let the cpu sit at idle and watched the temperature of the the cpu in the bios. it started at 35 degrees and steadily increased to the point of power shutoff. When i underclock the cpu to half its stock speed it will hold temperature ~45 degrees. which is hotter than it has ever idled before. Now at stock speed the pc will barely last a few minutes turned on, and will eventually with enough restarts, hit a point where it will only power on for a few seconds.

It seems pretty clear to me that this is a heat issue, but im unsure what the culprit is, the fans in the case and cooler are all spinning fine, and I made sure to clean all the dust out.

so my questions are these
A: what could cause heat issues to come up so suddenly that were not apparent before

B: Is the overheated cpu affecting my bios and making it act strangely, or could there possibly be something else at work here.

C: what should my next steps be, i have some spare thermal compound, so I was thinking I would reseat the cpu and apply some new stuff. beyond that i have no idea about how to test if its the cpu thats faulty or the board or maybe something wrong with the sensors. without having to find replacement parts, what would be my best strategy for finding out what the problem is?
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More about heatsink issue phenom
  1. A. Its hard to say. Computers can be very tempermental (I know as I fix them all day long)

    B. If the CPU overheats, it will slow down to cool down but it wont make the BIOS act strange. That alone points to a mobo issue as CPUs are hard to kill, I have even dropped one from about 5 feet up and it still works fine to this day.

    C. Without any parts to test with you are stuck. You can try reseating the CPU and applying some new thermal paste, make sure to clean both CPU and heatsink with 99.9% alcohol first. But it may not make a difference.

    I would also make sure the CPU voltage is set to stock instead of auto. The BIOS may be putting it too high and causing high temps. Also checking for a BIOS update wouldn't hurt at all.

    BTW, are you using the stock AMD fan? If you are I wouldn't overclock with it. Its not bad but they get very noisy even at stock and are not a good cooler compared to after market ones.
  2. did not think about the voltages I will try that, also will try reseating the cpu. the cooler is stock but it seemed to hold a minor overclock quite well, at this point i just want the damn thing to work again. I can borrow some parts but that will take a few days, just would like to get this taken care of asap.
    I know that the cpu will shut off automatically when it overheats, but i have never had my computer lock up completely like that, is that normal with cpu heat issues?
  3. Yea over clocking with your Stock CPU cooler is bad idea. My case for example im using a AMD Phenom 955 Stock cooler to cool my FX 6100. its idleing at lowest 47c. I just ordered a Corsair A70 because it is easy to install for AMD (Sorry Cooler Master)
  4. Well i still dont know whats was wrong, but i seem to have the system back up and running stably, the temps are solid and I dont have any freezing issues.

    Things i did:

    Re-applied thermal paste
    reseated all dimms

    rolled back video driver
    updated bios

    will post back if problems persist
  5. and hey are back. computer is again refusing to power on for more than a few seconds
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