New heatsink, same temperature...

So recently I've been having problems with overheating, to the point where Just Cause 2 wouldn't run for more than five minutes without dropping to around 5-10 FPS. After establishing that overheating was, in fact, the problem (I took the side of my case off and it ran just fine), I decided to buy a new heatsink to replace the god-awful stock one that came with my CPU.

I went down to CompUSA and selected a CoolerMaster Hyper N520, which got pretty good reviews on Newegg. Getting home, I took apart my case, popped the motherboard out, and went to town with a can of compressed air. Having nice clean hardware, I reoriented a few of my case fans to better increase flow through the system.

Finally I installed the new heatsink, cleaning off the old thermal paste with a coffee filter and some rubbing alcohol, carefully spreading a thin, even layer of thermal paste on the contact point of the new heatsink (I used the stuff that came with it), and being very careful when screwing it in not to lift up at all for fear of messing up the paste.

I turned the computer on - clean components, better fan direction, new heatsink - and upon staring CoreTemp, discovered I was idling at anywhere from 40-55 Celsius, the same temperature I'd been getting before any of this. But now the real test - I stared up Just Cause 2, and after about five minutes, the FPS drop came back. I checked CoreTemp again, and was now running around 63-64 Celsius, or the same temperature I'd been getting FPS drops at before.

So two hours of work and $53 later, I've gotten absolutely nowhere. Surely I did something wrong, there is no reason it should be running as hot as it was before. Suggestions? I'm thinking it might have something to do with the thermal paste, perhaps I should buy some Arctic Silver 5 and use slightly more? Slightly less? HALPZ.


- K9N2 SLI Platinum motherboard
- AMD Phenom II Black Edition quad-core CPU @ 3.5 GHz (stock, not overclocked)
- Nvidia EVGA 9800GX2 dual-GPU
- 8GB RAM (four @ 800MHz, four @ 1066MHz)
- Apevia X-Cruiser mid-tower (five 80mm fans, two pulling air in from the front, one pulling in from the side, one pushing out the top, and another pushing out the back - yes, the heatsink is aligned correctly)
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  1. Clean off your thermal paste and start again. you only need a tiny amount, and I always let the heatsink spread the past for me. Use a tiny drop in the centre of the CPU. Too much paste is a bad thing. You might want to check for a BIOS update for your motherboard also.
  2. Your cpu temps sound about right.

    I'm gonna suggest you download a utility to monitor your graphics card. A couple I know of are EVGA Precision and MSI Afterburner. Graphics cards are are prone to dust collection as well and I suspect your card will have a carpet of dust clogging up it's heatsink.
  3. EVGA Precision is showing my GPU idling at 80-81 and maxing out around 97-98. I don't know what a typical GPU temperature is, though, how does mine compare?

    As for the CPU, from what I understand the Phenom II is known for running pretty hot, but surely after cleaning, fixing my fans, and dropping in a bigger heatsink, the temperate should have decreased at least a little bit.

    When I put the thermal paste on I manually spread it out over the contact point on the heatsink, but I was sure to use a very thin layer (it was slightly transparent in patches), about as thin as you'd get on a stock heatsink.
  4. That GPU is running pretty dang hot. I don't know if thats normal for that card, but most cards I've seen run at 36 to ~50 degrees idle, including the GTX 480s (which are very hot cards!)

    What case are you using? You might not have adequate airflow.
  5. A 9800GX2 is pretty hot. Dual GPUs.

    But it sounds like there is no air flow in the case. I know Phenom IIs are older 45nm tech but still most should idle at 30c load at 50c on the stock cooler.
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