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CPU Coolers: Initial Startup And Test Run

How To: Properly Plan And Pick Parts For An Air-Cooled PC, Part 2

The Very First Test Run

You can never be 100% certain that the cooler is installed correctly until you power up for the first time. Thus, it is important to quickly check the CPU temperature. Boot up the PC, enter the BIOS, and seek out the monitoring information. One advantage of checking the processor's temperature in the BIOS is that its power-saving technologies aren't yet enabled, forcing the chip to run at full speed. Keep an eye on both the fan speeds and the vital temperatures.

Adjusting the Fan Speed

Once you have verified that the CPU temperature isn't spiraling out of control, and that the cooler is doing its job, you can go ahead and optimize the fan speeds. If you are not familiar with your firmware, check the manual for more information on where to find each setting. PWM-controlled fans with a four-pin connector can be slowed down based on thermal thresholds by setting a target temperature and a fan speed. Even fans with a three-pin connector can sometimes be controlled, albeit through their voltage. In either case, the fan speeds up in response to processor loading and heat, saving your ears from a constant drone.

Stress And Stability Test

After setting each fan parameter, you can conduct a stress test. In Windows, you can use Linpack (Windows executable: LinX) or Prime95, and monitor the CPU temperature with a program like CoreTemp or HWMonitor.

When reading the core temperatures, make sure that the Tjunction parameter is set correctly; otherwise the readings won’t make much sense.

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