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Need some cooling tips

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I would like to have some tips from tech experts here since I'm not that good at it :)

I made my computer exactly one year ago, with some help for choosing the parts on another (dutch) forum. It has been running great but I need some cooling tips. Except my interest in malware removal I like to game too. I just bought Starcraft II and when I checked my GPU temperature it was about 80C. I has never been that hot before, but the CPU was cool enough I think (about 45C or something). Nothing is overclocked.

My computer is relatively clean, I clean it about one a month using compressed air. Unfortunately I find that the pressure for cleaning isn't high enough and that these things are empty very fast. For example, I have a Scythe Mugen 2 on my cpu and I don't like to unplug everything, get it from the motherboard and then clean it. I read about portable vacuum cleaners, but I haven't found any decent. Are there portable vacuum cleaners specially made for computer cleaning or something different that's good to use? I use the Antec Nine Hundred II case, with the front fans on max, the upper one on medium and the back one on high too when gaming. So normally this should be enough cooling I think when not overclocking...

I played Starcraft with everything on ultra, witch ran great except for the temp. I then put it to middle but it still was like 75C. When I look in PC Wizard the GPU fan is always on 40% I think, can I raise this?
I was thing maybe SLI may lower the temp or should I get another card?

Some information about my system (on idle most fans low/med):

Hardware Monitoring : Winbond W83627DHG
Voltage CPU : 1.03 V
+3.3V Voltage : 3.25 V
+5V Voltage : 6.12 V
+12V Voltage : 11.35 V
Processor Fan : 1339 rpm
Processor Temperature : 30.5 C
Mainboard Temperature : 42 C
Processor : Thermal Diode
Intel Core i7 (Core 1) : 38 C
Intel Core i7 (Core 2) : 38 C
Intel Core i7 (Core 3) : 36 C
Intel Core i7 (Core 4) : 36 C
Processor : Current Power
Intel Core i7 : 130 W
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275 :
GPU Diode : 47 C
GPU Fan : 40.00%


Mainboard : Asus P6T DELUXE V2
Chipset : Intel X58
Processor : Intel Core i7 920 @ 2666 MHz
Physical Memory : 6144 MB (3 x 2048 DDR3-SDRAM )
Video Card : NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275
Hard Disk : Nucia (2000 GB)
DVD-Rom Drive : TSSTcorp CDDVDW SH-S223B
Monitor Type : Idek Iiyama PLE2208HDS - 22 inches
Network Card : MV88SE614x PCIe to SATA2 controller Yukon 88E8056 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet Controller
Network Card : MV88SE614x PCIe to SATA2 controller Yukon 88E8056 PCIe Gigabit Ethernet Controller
Operating System : Windows 7 Ultimate Professional 6.01.7600 (x64)
DirectX : Version 11.00
Windows Performance Index : 5.9


Picture, I tried to hide as much cables as I can but I do not have much space left on the other side. Any tips here are welcome to ! :)

Posted Image

Thanks in advance!
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    Grumpy Ol' MSgt (Ret.)

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Your temps are fine. Even 80C for a GPU is not bad - they generally run much hotter than CPUs. And your cleaning discipline is to be commended. :) Here is an extract from my canned text on cleaning - note the part about using a vacuum.

Safety First. It is common practice, as taught in any electronics course, to ensure safety first, so that's what we are doing here. Fuses and circuit breakers are used to stop excessive current events in overload situations. They react to, but do not prevent such events. They are fast, but not instantaneous, and they do not make any device 100% safe. Anything that plugs into the wall can kill! We must never assume a power supply unit (PSU) is safe and working properly, that the wall outlet is wired correctly, or that the building has a good "ground" ("Earth" in some countries).

There is some confusion as to whether it is necessary to unplug the PSU (power supply unit) from the wall when doing maintenance inside a computer. When doing any kind of maintenance (routine, preventative, or unscheduled) when potentially lethal voltages are present, safety dictates that it is essential to unplug when digging around inside.

There are only three exceptions:
  • IF the PSU has a master power switch on the back of the PSU (many do not) - but that assumes the power supply and $.50 switch are not defective, or damaged
  • When necessary to have power applied for troubleshooting
  • When inspecting fans to ensure they are spinning
The problem with those exceptions is they all assume the power supply is functioning properly, has no manufacturing defects, and has not been physically damaged by some external force (dropped in shipping, a prime example). You should not assume with something that can kill. I have no doubt millions of off-brand, generic PSUs in use today were made under horrible working conditions in filthy unsafe factories under the watchful eye of corrupt third world governments. Some by children in slavery. :) You cannot trust the quality of the materials and components used in construction, the training or skills of the assemblers, or the integrity of their quality control. And remember that even name brand, quality PSUs can fail, or be damaged.

It is necessary to unplug before doing maintenance even with a perfectly functioning power supply to prevent damaging the motherboard or other components. The ATX Form Factor Standard, as indicated on page 21, paragraph, requires +5VDC @ 2 amperes "standby voltage" (normally designated as "+5Vsb") be applied across several motherboard points whenever the computer is in "Standby Mode". Standby Mode is enabled whenever the power supply is plugged into an AC power source (the wall - or UPS), and if equipped, the rear master power switch is turned on. If the PSU does not have a master power switch, and many PSUs do not, Standby Mode is enabled whenever the power cord is simply connected!Standby Mode allows for such features as "soft power control" enabling the case's front panel power switch to power up the computer. It also allows other features, such as Wake on LAN, Wake on Modem, Wake on Keyboard, and Wake on Mouse.

While it is true that the exterior (output) side of a properly working PSU does not present a hazard to humans, if the supplied +5Vsb comes across the wrong contact on a critical component, it can easily destroy the device.

It is important to remember that RAM modules, CPUs, cards, etc., have many 100s of exposed electrical contacts/pins in very close proximity to each other. The likelihood of electricity jumping (arcing) from one conductor to another is dependent on 2 simple factors:
  • The greater the voltage the greater the chance of arcing
  • The smaller the gap the greater the chance of arcing
So even though the highest voltage we are talking about on the motherboard is 12VDC, the close proximity of the conductors (contacts/pins) on vulnerable devices greatly increases the chance electricity will jump the gap (arc) to an adjacent contact (and circuit), and destroy the component or a device in the related circuit. Even if there is no arc, the mere proximity of the closely grouped contacts and pins DEMANDS perfect (straight in/straight out) steady-hand alignment by the user when inserting or removing such devices so that adjacent pins/contacts do not physically touch the wrong insertion point. If no voltage is present, damage from accidental contact is avoided.

Therefore power MUST be completely removed before doing maintenance to any computer to ensure a simple distraction or less than rock-steady hand does not cause that +5VSB to contact the wrong point.

The Problem with ESD.
Electro-static charges (static electricity) easily builds up in the human body. The "potential" (voltage) of the static electricity in humans can easily exceed 30,000 volts!! The threshold for human awareness is only around 3,500 volts, depending on many factors, including dryness of the skin, sensitivity, etc. Electro-static discharge (ESD) sensitive devices used in sophisticated electronics, such as computer processors (including CPUs and GPUs) and memory integrated circuits (ICs), can easily be destroyed by static with potentials as little as 30 volts! This means that a static shock can totally destroy a sensitive device without you even being aware a discharge occurred!

So how do we prevent such damage? It is simple actually. The key is to remove the "difference in potential" between the two conductors - you, and the device.

Notice I did not say you have to "ground" the static. I said you must "remove the difference in potential between the two conductors". What this means is that it is not necessary to have the computer case connected to the facility ground to effectively eliminate static. Just as you can eliminate static in your body by touching the doorknob of an ungrounded, wooden door (or the dog's nose :)), simply touching the case will work just fine. When you touch the case, you equalize and eliminate that difference, thus eliminating the chance of a static discharge to a sensitive component. Think of a "floating" ground - such as used in avionics - (airplane electronics). Continually touching the bare metal case (through a wrist strap, or dangling pinky finger) will prevent static caused by wiggling around in your clothes, moving on the carpet, sliding on the chair cover, etc. from ever building up. If you can't stay in constant contact with the case, frequently touching the case to discharge any build up before reaching damaging potentials is generally considered a sufficient precaution as long as you are self-disciplined enough to discharge yourself often.

Heat, Cleaning & ESD.
Heat is the bane of all electronics. To control heat, computers use fans to pull cool air in, and expel hot air out. Unfortunately, this same process also draws in heat trapping dust, dirt, hair, dander, microscopic critters that eat dander, and microscopic droppings from those microscopic critters.

Cleaning the insides of the computer presents a problem because sticking your hands or cleaning tools in the case without care can result in ESD damage. Yet it is a user responsibility to keep heat trapping dust from blanketing heat sensitive devices inside the computer. And today's computers generate a lot of heat. In particular, the CPU and increasingly, the GPU (graphics processor unit). Both can generate as much heat as 100 watt (or more) light bulbs!

I recommend inspecting monthly, and cleaning if necessary. While observing ESD precautions, I take my systems outside and use a soft paint brush and compressed air from an air compressor. With compressed air, you can blast out the PSU (make sure you do it from inside the case). WARNING: If using an air compressor, ensure it is of the oilless type, configured for use on electronics. It must be equipped with a suitable in-line moisture and contaminant filter or risk spewing rusty water and other contaminants. Alternatively, you can use cans of compressed dusting gas to clean the PC. (Note: Even with cans of dusting gas, I still recommend cleaning outside. There's no need to blow the dust back into the room, ready to be sucked back into the computer by the fans). Note I said, "dusting gas" instead of "canned air". This is because these cannot do NOT contain "air" but a hazardous mixture of difluoroethane which can damage your lungs. Sadly, these are now being abused by people who cannot obtain can of spray paint to "huff".

With care you can use a vacuum cleaner and a soft paint brush. But it must be remembered that air and dust particles zipping past the nozzle of the vacuum will generate static in the nozzle, which can then be discharged through, and destroy ESD sensitive devices. So using a vacuum does raise VERY SERIOUS and legitimate concerns. But so does heat! And using some sort of forced air is best at removing heat trapping dust, so if compressed air is not possible, vacuuming is the next best thing.

Because of this static, it is absolutely essential ESD precautions are observed to prevent static buildup and damage from ESD, as well as physical damage from banging the nozzle into fragile devices, or scratching the motherboard. But the process is simple. With the computer powered down and unplugged, and with a soft brush in one hand and the vacuum nozzle in the other, extend a finger on your nozzle holding hand out past the tip of the nozzle and plant that finger on bare metal of the case. Then simply use the brush to sweep the dust into the vacuum. With your finger(s) touching metal, and your hand wrapped around the nozzle, no static can build up, no ESD damage can occur. Every time you reposition the nozzle, touch metal with an extended finger before moving in close.

Note: With compressed air or vacuum, resist the temptation to see how fast you can make the fans spin. You can make them spin faster than designed limits and damage the bearings. I use wooden Popsicle sticks, available at any crafts store, to hold the fans, including those in the PSU, stationary.

So the bottom line here is this: When doing maintenance (cleaning, installing and/or removing components) on your computer, ALWAYS remove the +5Vsb voltages from the computer by unplugging the power cord, or setting the master power switch on the back of the PSU to off. Keep yourself in contact with the case to ensure there is no difference in potential, and to prevent/eliminate static buildup in your body. This will prevent standby voltages from destroying your components and provide efficient ESD control as well.

Static comes from our movements in our clothes, across certain floorings, and even by moving through the air. To minimize the buildup, do not work on carpeting. Sitting naked on unfinished hardwood flooring in a draft-free room works best. Or on a wooden bench. :)
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Many thanks for your reply, and that excellent canned. I learned a lot from it :)

Would you mind to answer these 4 questions?
- When I look in PC Wizard the GPU fan is always 40%, can I increase the fan's RPM?
- What is the max temp my gpu can resist - when is it time to something about it (e.g. stop gaming, turn the pc off...)?
- I was thinking maybe SLI may lower the temp or should I get another card? I thought there are water cooled gpu's now?
- Do you have any tips to increase the airflow? Since I took that picture I succeeded to hide that SATA cable going to the first HDD, but I'm stuck with those PSU cables. I don't think there is a way to hide that left cable going to the motherboard (over the GPU). All those cables on the bottom are cables I do not use but I do not know where to put them and I don't think they can be unplugged...

- Maser00
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Are you still there? :)
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