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What can make a PC overheat (besides thermal grease)

Last response: in Systems
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July 2, 2012 6:52:53 PM

My PC is running too hot. Are there any reasons this might happen other than...
-Not enough thermal grease
-Too much thermal grease
-Too few fans/inadequate cooling
-Dirty (needs some canned air)

Has anyone had the experience of your thermal grease drying up or something and needing to be replaced? I am going to clean the case and replace the thermal grease, and might go buy an extra fan for it, but is there any other possibility, because I really don't think any of these apply in my case.

Motherboard is running between 41 and 46 C and processor is running between 64 and 65 C.
July 2, 2012 7:31:46 PM

Specs? Is this a new build, or has it been working for a while, and the temps are creeping upward? Many times on a new builds the heat sing does not get attached properly(some are hard to get just right). make sure all the heat sink connectors are completely latched. I haven't had an issue with thermal grease drying up and going bad. Not that it can't or doesn't happen, it hasn't happened to me. There could also be a fan(heat sink fan) starting to wear out and not moving air like it should. Dust imbedded in the heat sink clogging the fins and blocking airflow?
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 2, 2012 7:35:49 PM

Stock thermal paste is usually crappy and will dry up over time. 64-65 centigrade idle temps are alarmingly high.

One other cause is an improperly mounted heat sink or a heat sink that has not been properly tightened.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 2, 2012 8:12:11 PM

Better heatsink and fan.
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July 2, 2012 10:53:57 PM

The thermal grease has been on there for several years, but the pc has not been used for a few months, so I thought maybe it could dry up sitting? But it turns out that there was a little lint in the heat sink! (Heat sync? Not quite sure since I've never seen it wriiten!) The temp has not gotten even gotten to 50 degrees since, but I still think I need another fan (1 on processor, 1 on case, 1 on video card, I think I could use 1 blowing in the front, I wonder if they make them to go in an optical drive or floppy drive bay...).
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 2, 2012 10:58:40 PM

anonoymah said:
The thermal grease has been on there for several years, but the pc has not been used for a few months, so I thought maybe it could dry up sitting? But it turns out that there was a little lint in the heat sink! (Heat sync? Not quite sure since I've never seen it wriiten!) The temp has not gotten even gotten to 50 degrees since, but I still think I need another fan (1 on processor, 1 on case, 1 on video card, I think I could use 1 blowing in the front, I wonder if they make them to go in an optical drive or floppy drive bay...).


That'll happen. One of my friends had a PC that was so clogged up with dog hair and tobacco residue that the fan wouldn't even move. Got a case of beer for cleaning that nasty thing out.
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July 2, 2012 11:29:32 PM

Well, I was wrong. My CPU is 20 degrees C cooler and doing well, usually between 45 and 49 degrees now, but my motherboard keeps spiking at 45 C and that makes PC Probe II sound an alarm. So what else? I think I may need a new case, one with front fans. It's an old case. I do have a fan on my processor, one on my graphics card, and one case fan. Maybe water cooling or just a new fan would make the difference? Because how can it be thermal grease when the processor is no longer overheated? Please correct me if I'm wrong; I've repaired many pc's, but this is the only one I've ever actually built.

Wow, Pinhedd, that's...disgusting (and very nice of you). I wouldn't touch a smoker's PC, but that's b/c I'd go into anaphalaxis (I have a terrible tobacco allergy, and oh happy day, we just got a local tobacco ban in businesses yesterday!)
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 2, 2012 11:59:34 PM

anonoymah said:
Well, I was wrong. My CPU is 20 degrees C cooler and doing well, usually between 45 and 49 degrees now, but my motherboard keeps spiking at 45 C and that makes PC Probe II sound an alarm. So what else? I think I may need a new case, one with front fans. It's an old case. I do have a fan on my processor, one on my graphics card, and one case fan. Maybe water cooling or just a new fan would make the difference? Because how can it be thermal grease when the processor is no longer overheated? Please correct me if I'm wrong; I've repaired many pc's, but this is the only one I've ever actually built.

Wow, Pinhedd, that's...disgusting (and very nice of you). I wouldn't touch a smoker's PC, but that's b/c I'd go into anaphalaxis (I have a terrible tobacco allergy, and oh happy day, we just got a local tobacco ban in businesses yesterday!)


Yeah I'm no fan of smokers myself, it only bothers my eyes though. 45C isn't a big deal at all. That actually sounds pretty normal if the measuring device is in the right spot. The PCH on my RIVE hits 60C under gaming conditions. What motherboard do you have?
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July 3, 2012 12:29:16 AM

It's an Asus M3A78-EM. I have 4 gig of Ram, a Phenom Black dual core AMD processor, and a 1 TB hard drive. I don't do much gaming (Myst, Riven, and Neverhood are still my favorite games!), mostly just web browsing, MS Word, playing music, musical notation programs, music recording programs, Photoshop, and some video streaming and editing. Nothing that should really make it overheat (in fact, I get those temps at startup, but it never really gets much hotter, and sometimes get slightly cooler). Another fan wouldn't hurt, but I'd have to buy a new case to add another fan.
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 3, 2012 12:31:15 AM

The chipsets on Asus motherboards usually do get a little bit warm because they generally cool them passively unless active cooling is absolutely necessary. There is nothing to worry about though because the chipsets can easily handle the same 80+ degree temperatures that the CPU can handle.
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July 3, 2012 2:40:04 AM

That is a relief! Nothing ever got above 60-some degrees. I guess PC Probe II is just hypersensitive and wants to blare out unneeded warnings. I tried to look up the temp maximums but couldn't find them, so thanks. I did decide to install a 3-fan grouping in my spare 5.25" bay because I heard it was good to blow air in the front and out the back for better cooling. I have 7 old pc's in my parts closet, and I did not find one of them with a fan anywhere but on the heat sink/heat sync/however you spell it! Even though 3 of these came pre-installed with XP, I guess back in the day a PC never even got hot enough to need a case fan! (Or maybe that's why all of them got dead motherboards and everyone decided to give them to Anonoymah because she can always use them to fix other PC's!)
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!