The Big Chill

In reporting on my building of a new PC for SWMBO, I noted a
problem with the Intel 2.80E “Prescott” setting off the
overheating alarm (based on Intel’s monitoring software).

For no particular reason, the temperature of the CPU would
jump from about 59°C to 69°C in a matter of seconds.
Sometimes, the temperature would then fall back to 59°C but a
couple of times it just stayed there with the CPU fan spinning
at high speed while making all kinds of noise.

As you may remember, the Antec case (model 2650-BQE) comes
with a single 120mm fan with provisions for two more 80mm
fans. Over the weekend, I went to CompUSA and bought a couple
of Antec
SmartCool
fans. Each has built in temperature controls
which regulate fan speed. Antec also makes something called a
SmartCool Plus fan that has a temperature probe that can be
placed where you want it. For now, I’ll stick with the
regular version because I’m trying to minimize the rat’s nest
of wires that infest the case.

When I got home I installed one of the fans in the side
panel (the 2650 has a vent and “chassis air guide” (looks
like an upside down funnel) built into the side panel) and
found it helped keep the temperatures down. However, I still
got an occasional spike where the alarm went off. So I added
the second 80mm fan to the front of the case and so far, all
is well.

I haven’t exactly been running any processor intensive
applications so I can’t say for sure whether these fans have
solved the overheating problem. If I do start to get
overheating, I may order the SmartCool Plus fans and place
the sensors along side the CPU or perhaps get a different
brand of CPU cooler.

As you might guess, having three case fans, the CPU fan,
and the power supply fans whirling away does create some
noise. So I also installed the Antec
Noise Killer Kit
which consists of two 80mm fan gaskets,
one power supply gasket, and a bunch of screws with washers.
All of the gaskets and washers are made of silicone and are
designed to reduce vibrations and therefore noise.

While I don’t have a sound meter, they do seem to work.
But even so, I think I’ll need to place the case under the
desk to try to muffle the sound (truth be told, it’s not all
that bad but if you are particularly sensitive to noise you
might want to think about another solution like a fanless
heat pipe or water cooling).

Overall, I am happy with the new PC and hope it will serve
SWMBO for a couple of years before I have to build another
one. <G>

Aloha!

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2 responses to “The Big Chill

  1. Dan,

    Glad the system is running cooler! You have a setup very similar to what I have on my 3.0E-based system now; P/S fan, big 120mm fan in back, one 80mm fan in the front, and one 80mm fan blowing air down onto the processor in the side panel air intake.

    My system now idles at about 42-43C; it seems that letting it crank CPU-bound (which takes the system to about 59C) helped to seat the thermal material and improve thermal transfer. If you can run the system flat-out without going too hot for 30-60 minutes I think you will see an improvement.

    I assume you fastened the 80mm fans to the motherboard fan connectors? This helps on noise as they typically idle at 1500RPM, but when the “System Zone” temps go over a certain temperature the fans will speed up (it seems like only two possible speeds – medium and fast).

    Right now, my system is idling at 43C, system zone 1 is 29C, and system zone 2 is 32C. The processor fan runs at 2600RPM, the front fan an 1460, and the side fan at 1500. It’s very quiet. I’m set up with the P/S and 120mm fan exhausting air, the other two fans blow air into the case.

    When looking up information on this sort of thing, I did discover that third party heat sinks might be able to reduce the temperature 6-10C if you find the right one.

  2. Have you thought about under-clocking the system?
    I know it sounds silly to pay up for a fast processor and then not use all of it’s capacity but that is likely to cut down the heat generation.
    I am running a 2.4GHz Celeron box with no case-fan at all and it stays cool (around 45°C) and quiet.