This Old House Dust
AMD CPU retail boxes have always come with generic cooling fans, and, if you’re not overclocking – I’m not – I have found them adequate in the past. So I quit looking for the “perfect cooler” like the Swiftech MCX462, which I experimented with in 2002. (I yanked it, because it sounded like a NASA liftoff. See the preceding link to my article).
So when the alarm went off last week, I searched this room in the apartment until I found the ceiling smoke alarm, and its 9V battery indeed was shot, but when I replaced it, the alarm didn’t stop.
In desperation, I turned to my computer. Hey, this is a CoolerMaster Cosmos, but I turned on ASUS Probe and checked the CPU temp anyway: 67 degrees centigrade, enough to cook a CPU or drastically shorten its lifetime. I turned the machine off and let it cool for an hour, and watched the temps after reboot. CPU temp crept back up to 67 and set off the temp problem alarm.
How could this be? Well, for one thing, I turned on project SETI at 100% CPU as a test when I built this project in March, and left it that way for the rest of this year. The machine has been running almost 24/7 for over 9 months, and accumulation of dust is inevitable.
I was surprised to find out how inevitable. I recently noticed excess surface dust on exterior filters. I just dusted it off and forgot about it. But 24/7 for 9 months is the equivalent of several years of normal usage. I finally bit the bullet and took it apart and tackled it with a vacuum attachment and a can of compressed air. (Be careful with the vacuum – do not touch the electronics on the mobo, because of possible static electricity discharge).
The result is that the machine is now operating in the 47 to 50 degree centigrade range – still high, but an honest 10-15 degrees cooler than this morning.
Talk on the web is that the AMD kit coolers are marginal. I’m running a dual core 6000+ which has that heat potential, and I’m running it at near max all the time. So I checked out the AMD Processors Forum. As a result of my reading, I, too, ordered an ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler, and I ordered it from NewEgg as they get almost 100% of my business anyway.
In fairness to AMD, I still think their kit coolers are probably adequate for most users, who don’t run at 100% CPU all day, every day. I have a couple of other machines that are running under those conditions unattended, or nearly so, so I better start thinking about beefing up their cooling too.
If I plan to continue running up the electric bills for good old Project SETI in Phoenix this summer, where the house gains +30C degrees (reaching 110-115F in July) when I’m not there and the A/C is off, I’d better start looking into thermoelectric coolers, as well.
Another 10-20C degree drop in cooling temps gives that extra reserve for heavy CPU loads, that really hot day or overactive baseboard heaters, or the next time I don’t think it should be time for cleaning out all that old house dust.
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