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Did I damage my CPU with improper thermal paste installation?

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April 4, 2012 7:54:08 AM

I am an uber noob and I got my thumbprint on the thermal grease when I installed my CPU over a year ago. I recently learned that this was fatally stupid and I re-applied Arctic Silver 5, but unfortunately this was only a couple of weeks ago. I cleaned the old, dried up factory stuff and followed the instructions exactly, but could it have been too late? Might I have burned my CPU cores? My computer still works, but has stability issues often (freezes, requiring hard reboot). Is it possible there was permanent damage done to the cores?


CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 (645)
Mainboard: MSI 870-G45
RAM: 4x2 GB DDR3
GPU: AMD Radeon HD 6900
HDD: Seagate 2 TB
PSU: Corsair GS700w
April 4, 2012 8:09:11 AM

When did the freezing start?
April 4, 2012 8:14:12 AM

Pretty much with the new build, over a year ago. I started out with a faulty graphics card that I got used (I knew it was faulty because it caused artifacts on screen) so I assumed this was the cause of the freezing and just waited til I could afford a better one. Then I got the one I have now (original post), wich solved the artifacts but the freezing continued. This is why I wonder if the CPU could have been affected by my thumbrpint from the very beginning.
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April 4, 2012 8:14:32 AM

at any rate you need to upgrade
dl some monitoring software such as core temp to see where you stand.
April 4, 2012 8:17:17 AM

I have HWMonitor and my CPU core temps read as normal (22 C on idle and 37 C max during games or multitasking). This was true before applying the arctic silver 5.
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April 4, 2012 8:18:06 AM

what is it after?
those temps before hand are perfectly fine what is the problem youre having.that is making you suspicious of your.cpu
April 4, 2012 8:19:26 AM

same actually
April 4, 2012 8:25:04 AM

The issue is random freezing and sound loop (no BSOD, no shut down) but only during:

-web browsing
-itunes
-games

But the main reason I suspect CPU is that memtest does not report any errors but Prime95's blend test freezes within the first couple of minutes. The blend test stresses memory and CPU as I understand it, so I wasn't sure how to read into this result.
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April 4, 2012 8:26:19 AM

have you considered your power supply?
April 4, 2012 8:29:27 AM

Funny you mention it, I actually had a pretty shoddy one until this week. I am really trying to get this problem behind me so I've been attacking it from all angles. Yesterday I got the Corsair GS700w power supply and, while it enhanced my computer's performance, the freezing hasn't stopped.
April 4, 2012 8:29:43 AM

Do you have another processor to put in it to test it?
April 4, 2012 8:33:58 AM

In a situation like this, unfortunately, there are many things you can and may have to do if you want to diagnose the problem.

A few things I would do would be update the video card driver, if you are running off it, or before that try unplugging the video card and running the tests without it.

Confirm other component drivers are up to date.

Verify that 700Watts is more than enough with your system. If possible, test the power supply using a basic power supply tester.

Run disk clean up, registry error and dll error fixing programs such as CCleaner or Glary Utilities.

If none of these prove useful, you might be looking at a faulty CPU... which may or may not be an aftermath using with lack of thermal.

-Edit: Oh your PSU is new? is it more wattage than the last?
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April 4, 2012 8:38:39 AM

his psu is fine a corsiar is top notch and will do the job just fine theres another issue here

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April 4, 2012 8:39:56 AM
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or there could be a problem with one of your RAM sticks
April 4, 2012 8:44:43 AM

I don't have another processor to switch out unfortunately. The PSU is new, yes, and even on a crappy brand at 450w my computer ran decently, I don't do anything too intense with my machine so I think PSU is out.

I thought it could be RAM trouble. Is there anything I can do besides running memtest and Prime 95? Both of these show no memory errors (except when I do Prime's blend test, where it freezes every time).
April 4, 2012 8:45:51 AM

Oh and the graphics card driver is up to date. No point in rolling back since the problem was present before updating.
April 4, 2012 8:52:27 AM

what model and speed RAM are you using
April 4, 2012 8:57:12 AM

also, what OS are you using? 64bit right?
April 4, 2012 9:04:27 AM

Sorry I don't remember the model of the RAM. I'd check inside but I'm running malware scan on that machine right now. It is four sticks of 2GB DDR3, which used to be two sticks until a friend got a new comp and gave me his RAM. I know that his sticks are the same model as mine and I know that the problem existed before and after the addition of the two extra sticks.

64 bit windows 7 is my OS.
April 4, 2012 9:07:08 AM

Have you tried removing one or both of the original two sticks of RAM and testing it?
April 4, 2012 9:11:28 AM

No, should I test it in a particular program or just do what normally freezes it with one stick installed? I'd like to isolate all four but I know that could take about four days and I really want to put this problem behind me this week because I'm off work this week only. I will try one stick at a time and see if any of them are crash-free, but what's the fastest way to test them?
April 4, 2012 9:25:20 AM

Hmmmm, try googling "memory diagnostics" or more generally for your problem "system diagnostics". The memory programs don't take long at all, although the system diagnostics take a long time usually due to big hard drives. Problem is, I use specific software from my company so I'm not sure what to recommend you right now. I use a boot to disk which runs diagnostics, easy to obtain if you know how. I'm trying to remember if windows has diagnostics built in, i'll look into it for a few minutes
April 4, 2012 9:29:05 AM

if you click start and type dxdiag.exe in the box and run that program it literally takes a few seconds and may or may not display some useful info. i'd say probably not but it's just something quick and easy
April 4, 2012 9:37:58 AM

Ok... dxdiag showed me "no problems found" across the board. Someone told me to run memtest for about 10 hours on each stick to ensure that one is not flawed. Is there an abbreviated version of this action or should I just bite the bullet? I'm only concerned if that doesn't reveal the problem and then 40 hours were wasted.

I guess I could start by running Prime 95 on each stick in isolation as that is the action that most instantly causes a crash.
April 4, 2012 9:46:36 AM

I changed that link, it's just a list of different benchmark programs not even actual memory testing programs i was just trying to throw stuff out there. What is prime 95 ? that sounds like the best bet actually. And no way dude, 10 hour per test is insanity. it's either way too slow or way too much checking which i didn't know could even take that long. My memory diagnostics programs don't take more than an hour or two
April 4, 2012 9:52:39 AM

Well that's a relief. Prime 95 runs "torture tests" on RAM, CPU processing speed, temps, etc. So far it is the only diagnostic tool that has actually frozen my computer (it just did it again a few seconds ago) with its testing, other than that the freezes have all occurred during games, web browsing, etc. so I suppose I'll go with that on each stick. If it freezes as quick as it just did then I'll be done with all 4 sticks in no time. :lol: 
April 4, 2012 9:53:29 AM

Of course if it freezes with all four sticks then I'll be back to square one, but we'll see.
April 4, 2012 9:54:51 AM

I leave the one stick in the slot nearest the CPU correct?
April 4, 2012 9:56:34 AM

Yea, typically, but in most newer motherboards it doesn't really make a difference. Process of elimination bro, that's really all you can do. Alright man i'm going to pass out, good luck with everything!!! :D 
April 4, 2012 9:58:57 AM

Yeah thanks so much for the help. I'll post the results.
April 4, 2012 10:28:18 AM

to me it is your RAM playing you...

are those sticks matched?
also try putting 1 or 2 in different locations and check... (maybe you can try to see the timings (all of them) to see if they are the same...
April 4, 2012 10:46:48 AM

So far it looks like it is the RAM. The stress test that often froze with all 4 sticks in place (Prime 95) did not freeze with just one. That is not the only situation my computer ever froze in but it's a start. I'm going for stick 2 now.
April 4, 2012 10:51:38 AM

Oh and btw they are not matched. 2x4GB Corsairs (1600 MHz) and two 2GB ADATA (these were my original sticks) I think also 1600MHz but it doesn't say on there.
April 4, 2012 3:27:14 PM

Best answer selected by Ludo_Down.
April 4, 2012 3:38:18 PM

robertnewton said:
or there could be a problem with one of your RAM sticks


That was it apparently. I unseated all 4, tested each one individually. Got some weird results: 1 stick (corsair) froze the stress test in slot 1, the rest were tested in slot 1 just fine. Then I moved the bad stick to slot 4 and no crash... then the two corsairs together dual channel slots 3+4 and tested fine, then one of the ADATA's in slot 2 plus the corsairs, tested fine, and finally added the last stick to slot 1 and no crash in Prime95.

WTF? All I did in the long run was switch the pairs from 1+2 to 3+4 and vice versa but hey, it seems to have worked. Hopefully it stays that way.

Either way it was definitely a RAM error causing the lockups.
April 4, 2012 9:37:41 PM

that's a weird problem man, so basically one specific stick would not work in one specific slot when stressed?

well i'm glad you figured it out bro, awesome! :) 
!