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Athlon 64 X2 6000+/MSI 7374 Heat/Stability

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June 3, 2012 2:49:22 AM

Please forgive the length of this. I'm compressing a week of frustration into a few paragraphs.

I have decades of experience building my own PC's. Only one (from the late 90's) of the few dozen I've built over that time gave me heat problems, until now. I built the following rig in Dec 2008, adding the 10k RPM hard drive in the interim.

Motherboard: MSI 7374 (K9N2 SLI Platinum)
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ (3.1 GHz Brisbane G2 89W)
RAM: Corsair TWIN2X4096-6400C5
Video: XFX GeForce 9800 GT 512MB
Primary Drive: WD Velociraptor 300GB 10k RPM
Secondary Drive: WD RE3 Green 1TB 7200 RPM
Case: Antec P180
Power: Antec NeoPower 650

My preferred motherboard brand is ASUS, but at the time I built this particular rig, MSI had the combination of features I needed, so I bought my first MSI board. This box remains XPSP3 bare metal to match the corporate desktops for which I build Windows software and provide tech support. It shares a home office with a Win7-64 Phenom II x4 945-driven box that at 100% BOINC load for hours straight runs 8C below AMD’s stated upper temp limit.

I do no overclocking.

Until last weekend, I had never purposefully pushed this CPU to 100% for an extended period of time. The problems started after I installed WCG BOINC on my Phenom rig and successfully ran it at 100% for several hours, and decided to add it to this XP rig. However, after about 15 minutes of running BOINC on the XP rig, the system unceremoniously shut down. Bear in mind that I can run Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare at 1920 x 1600 with all the quality settings ramped up, and have no heat problems (unless I let the temp get 79F or above in this room), and that is usually the known-hot video card and not the CPU.

One of the stranger parts of this maddening process is trying to determine the temps of various components. I have run CPUID Hardware Monitor (HM), PC Wizard 2012 (PCW) and SpeedFan (SF). For some mind-boggling reason, HM and PCW, despite both being from CPUID, disagree on the core temps. The TMPIN0 listing is the same, but the listings for the cores can differ by 20C or more. Additionally, where PCW is relatively steady, the temps jump can jump up or down 10C between each momentary refresh in HM.

After reading my butt off in forums all week, I ordered a new CPU cooler, thinking the stock one wasn't up to snuff. Got a Thermaltake TR2-R1, since my processor's 89W and the TR2-R1 supports up to 95W. Bought Arctic Silver 5 and the ArcticClean kit, and carefully followed the cleaning and “middle dot” instructions, including tinting. The temp difference now averages 3C or 4C lower on TMPIN0.

According to AMD, max temp for this chip is 62C. But right now, maxing at 50% CPU running BOINC, HM says the cores are 71C and 76C, while PCW says 51C and 48C. Both say the CPU (TMPIN0) is 55C, while SpeedFan says it is 56C. The TMPIN0 reading is within 1-2C of the BIOS reading. When allowed to idle, I get a TMPIN0 of 40C, with the cores at 50C/52C in HM and 29/30 in PCW.

Also, during all this, I noted that the CPU VCORE hovers around 1.45V, but AMD says this chip should run 1.1V to 1.4V. When I reviewed the BIOS, the voltage was set for auto, and didn't offer manual settings within that range. I updated my BIOS, thinking maybe that would offer me more choices, but the lowest available manual setting is 1.425V. When I manually set it to 1.425V, I could run XP no more than a few minutes before apps started locking up, so I put it back on auto.

I've love the Antec P180 case, despite its large size, because of the quietness and the ventilation. Two 120mm fans, currently running on high, sit near at the top of the case -- one blowing out of the top of the case and one blowing out the back. (This case would be almost totally silent if the 120mm fans weren’t on high.) Both fan put out air only slightly above room temperature. As a reference, identical WD Velociraptor 300GB 10k RPM hard drives are installed in both this box and the Phenom box. In this box, the temp is 32C, while in the smaller-cased Phenom box, it’s 40C. The WD 7200k secondary drive in this XP box also reads 32C. So I don't think it is a case ventilation problem.

I have read in various forums that this particular processor is known to run hot. I also saw a couple of posts that hinted that this chip is known to give off false temp readings.

Can anyone shed any light on how I might proceed? I'm inches from buying a Phenom II X4, since this motherboard can host it, and then also allow 1066 RAM, and since this PC will migrate to Win7 as soon as my corporate dev/support targets finally all move to Win7.

I would appreciate any input.
June 3, 2012 4:07:26 PM

Thanks for the response.
!