Dell XPS 420, quad core, 4gb ddr2 memory, ATI Radeon HD 3800 gpu, standard dell 375 watt psu, used for gaming (LoL, WoW, D3, CS:S, MW2, BFBC2, Skyrim, etc etc), website preference, dell, since i am broke and dell conveniently gives me lots of credit with high interest and crappy customer service and products, but thats the price to being a poor gamer lol. problem started out of nowhere, computer runs fine, though with gpu fan speed at about 65% im running 62 celsius idle, when i pull up a game like LoL or Skyrim i get about 10-15 minutes of play before my computer shuts itself off, which im assuming is from the overheating gpu. Ive cleaned all the main dust out though i havent had a chance to go buy a can of air to get the nooks and crannies, though it should be dust free enough not to be causing this big of a problem. room temp averages 80F, rest of the comp averages about 30-35 celsius, its possible this problem isnt even being caused by the gpu, but the computer only shuts off when playing a video game, and from what i understand (which isnt much) the idle temp with the high fan speed is way too high as it is, since cleaning the dust and using msi afterburner to help cool the gpu down i can last about 5-10 minutes longer in a game than before but the problem persists. I dont want to spend the money (credit) on a new gpu or new computer entirely unless i know for sure that that will fix the problem or the problem is unfixable. any help would be appreciated, never had any problems with this comp before, though i did get lazy with the dust and had quite a cleaning job and the comp is almost 4 years old. thanks!
Open up the machine and remove the card for cleaning. If it is a single slot just blast it with compressed air and it would help if you went further by replacing the old compound. Second check the psu to see if it isn't full of dust and has bulging caps. Be sure to clean the cpu heatsink and system fans. That should lower your temps and help at the very least reduce the crash issue.
I woud suggest you do two things. First take out the graphics card and remove the heatsink, clean off the old heatsink compound and reapply with a small amount of new compound. Then Put it all back together.
Second, while you have the heatsink out and disassembed check the fan to make sure it is not getting sticky. Make sure that it moves freely when you move it with your finger. It should move very easily.
Then put the graphics card back into the computer and see if that helps your temps.
thanks all for the help, i dont know a lot about taking apart the graphics card, but i have more than a knack for learning how to disasemble computer parts with a little google help, i should be able to figure it out
It's not difficult, just be careful not to get into a hurry, don't try to pry anything apart with a screwdriver and make suure you actually remove ALL of the screws before pulling it apart. Googling how to do it is a good idea. Be careful to read and understand before you actually do anything.
replacing the thermal paste seems very simple, from the youtube video i watched it seems that it is best to use rubbing alcohol, any recommendations for the cloth? i remember something about using a coffee filter, is that true? also do you have a link for a recommended thermal paste for the hd 3800?
It's not really that complicated. Just use a few q-tips with 90% rubbing alchohol (the 70% will work too) to clean off the old compound. Since it is likely the factory applied compound that's on there you might have to work at it a bit to get it clean. Any quality compound will do. I use arctic silver 5 because I can get it at my local Radio Shack.
When you take off the heat sink don't throw away any strips of tape that may be in there. I haven't actually disassembled a 3800 card but most newer graphics card have two or three strips of thermal tape that are used for the memory and voltage regulators and you will need to reuse those if you can. Don't put thermal compound on the tape if it's there.
Don't bother with q-tips, just get a paper towel or some napkins, even toilet paper if you have to use it and some rubbing alcohol. Higher the % the better it will work. Q-tips really suck for general use when it comes to cleaning compound away except when it gets into small or very delicate spaces.
fan speed from 70% down to 30% idle temp from 70c down to 40c, overclocking real quick then gonna test it out in a game or two, but i think I'm all set! thanks again for all the help everyone, ill try to be a regular in these forums