Oh god I think I did my thermal grease wrong

KungFuKungFu Registered User regular
edit: the original point of my thread here was solved, but it seems discussion of applying thermal grease, heatsinks, and cooling discussion has taken over. So discuss that in this thread if you want (how you do it - on the heatsink or on the cpu? do you like the intel method of mounting cpu & heatsink?) etc


tldr my core 2 duo reached like 90C within seconds of turning on and I fear my grease applying skills suck, what are some good ways to do it and fix this.

So I spent the last couple of hours assembling my new computer from parts I got through Newegg. I am quite confident in myself when it comes to putting any piece of hardware in or removing - except for the processor. Im always very nervous that my grease wasn't enough, or too little, or not spread out enough etc and the past couple of times, I had an experienced friend do it.

Well, I was trying to put my Intel E8400 & heatsink/fan combo on my mobo and the cpu went in quite fine. But when it came to put on the stock heatsink/fan, I couldn't get the pin mechanisms down or to "click" in so I spent a long time watching videos on youtube of how other people did it so simply with barely a press whereas mine felt like they weren't snapping in quite the same.

Well, I took it off and looked at it to try again, but now the paste that came with it pre-applied was messed up. So I cleaned up the CPU & heatsink bottom up with some fingernail polish remover & coffee filter and then applied new grease from a tube. I spread it around on the bottom of the heatsink using my finger through a plastic bag and it looked good after a lot of spreading and smearing. So I smacked it down and clicked in the heatsink and assembled the rest of my comp.

Now heres the problem: I turn it on and it is cool to see my plan come to fruition, but Im cautious. I go to the BIOS and look at PC Health and notice my CPU is at 60C. Oh, now it is 63C. Now it is 65C. 70C. And in a matter of 10 seconds, it went to about 90C and I shut it off.

So now Im afraid to turn it on because oh god it is cooking.All the videos look so easy and yet I managed to messed it up.

This temperature is too high, correct? What do you guys do to clean up the old gunk and then what tricks do you use for applying the grease?


edit: For those who haven't read down a bit, one of the clips on the heatsink popped out. Works fine now - though I worry it will pop again...

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  • LittleBootsLittleBoots Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Temp is waaaay too high. when it comes to thermal grease less is more. You shouldn't use more than like a grain of rice sized amount. too much and heat won't transfer properly.

    LittleBoots on

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  • ZxerolZxerol bat tail beaver /w a measuring tape Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Also, double check to make sure the heatsink is really snapped on correctly, and makes firm contact with the processor's HSF. Just one loose corner and kiss your temps goodbye (one of the reasons why I dislike the stock heatsink).

    Zxerol on
  • KungFuKungFu Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Well, all the corners feel tight. it appears to be touching the CPU, and when examining the backside of my mobo the white pins stick out with a black one in between them. They seem tight and out, but I guess it could be still wrong.

    What's a good alternative heatsink/fan to the core 2 duo's defaultly provided one? And is it expensive?

    KungFu on
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  • KungFuKungFu Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Oh dear god, one of the corners of the heatsink IS loose from the mobo.

    KungFu on
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  • ToyDToyD Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    KungFu wrote: »
    So I cleaned up the CPU & heatsink bottom up with some fingernail polish remover & coffee filter and then applied new grease from a tube.

    Usually any chemicals is frowned upon with electronics. You don't know what the chemicals will do to the silicon and copper. Most of the time, a simple, clean, white cloth is plenty good enough.

    You said you removed all the old grease right? Was there any wax material that you removed also? There should be nothing left but the metal heat spreader on top of the CPU and the metal of the bottom of the heat sink.

    You also didn't specify your brand/type of thermal grease. It may make a difference.

    I'll refer you to This page of different Arctic Silver instructions. For a more specific application, try This PDF using their Arctic Silver 5 grease on a Dual Core Intel chip. It shows how to orient the chip and where exactly to put the grease.

    My experiences with this stuff have usually been fine. And usually you don't need much, but "a grain of rice" is a bit understating it I think. The worry is not so much heat dissipation I would think, it's all thermally conductive, it's that you're compressing it between two pieces of metal and if too much is there, it would ooze out the side and short out some things. My 2c there.

    ToyD on
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  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    KungFu wrote: »
    Oh dear god, one of the corners of the heatsink IS loose from the mobo.
    You really have to get it on there tight. I had the same problem as you until I got the heat sink clipped down good. Scared the shit out of me.

    harvest on
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  • MrOlettaMrOletta Registered User
    edited April 2008
    I know how you feel about being confident in regards to all other aspects, but being extremely nervous when it comes to applying thermal paste. I put this rig together a week ago but managed to get it right the first time.

    Someone mentioned earlier that less is more, and I'm inclined to agree. From the AS5 website, I placed an amount equal to about 2 grains of rice side by side lengthwise and didn't even smear it - it suggested just placing the heatsink down and wiggling it around a bit to spread it out. It seems to have worked, as OC'd my processor runs at 38C under load.

    I didn't stick with the stock fan, however, and used a Zalman 9500. Only issue is the size (need to make sure you have the clearance), and you'll need to remove the motherboard to put in the mounting bracket. I got crazy when putting together my rig and took apart my 8800 to apply AS5 instead of the thermal pad it came with (it runs at 45C load).

    I would suggest making triple sure the heatsink is sitting properly. It not seating correctly would easily explain your rather toasty temps.

    MrOletta on
  • KungFuKungFu Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Heatsink back on and working fine! Windows installed and CPU speed at 30-40C!

    Also I used fingernail polish remover because a couple guides for cleaning said to.

    KungFu on
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  • ViscountalphaViscountalpha Registered User
    edited April 2008
    For the record. I HATE intels push pin setup. It feels so flaky. So don't feel bad about it. Cpu's kinda freak me out because its much easier to mess them up now then it used to be. Touch the socket? screwed. touch the underneath of the cpu? screwed.

    Viscountalpha on
  • LittleBootsLittleBoots Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    For the record. I HATE intels push pin setup. It feels so flaky. So don't feel bad about it. Cpu's kinda freak me out because its much easier to mess them up now then it used to be. Touch the socket? screwed. touch the underneath of the cpu? screwed.

    Well, I'd think you wouldn't want to rub the grease and acids on your fingers on any CPU's contacts, present or past. I'm sure if you touched the bottom of the CPU or touched the socket and there was no ESD the CPU would work its just you might have started some corrosion that would take effect after some time.

    LittleBoots on

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  • The-PimpThe-Pimp Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Hey, what's the normal temperature range for a CPU? How hot is too hot?

    The-Pimp on
  • fightinfilipinofightinfilipino Angry as Hell #BLMRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    The-Pimp wrote: »
    Hey, what's the normal temperature range for a CPU? How hot is too hot?

    according to Intel's site, 72.4°C is the maximum operating temp for the E8400. the other chips probably have different tolerances.

    also, ToyD, high-purity (+90%) isopropyl alcohol and "clean" acetone are usually acceptable cleaning agents for computer parts when you have to remove thermal grease or residue or the like. of course you shouldn't be slathering the stuff all over circuit traces or connectors or anything. but on top of the intel integrated heat spreaders or on heatsinks, or on other non-conductive computer parts, small amounts of alcohol or acetone can be useful.

    fightinfilipino on
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  • Matt!Matt! Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Fun story: One time I was cleaning dust off my heatsink and processor and decided to reapply thermal paste. To clean off the old stuff I didnt have any rubbing alchohol...

    so i used cheap vodka.

    Temps were running at like 70C (high i know) after vodka cleaning and thermal reapply: 50C.

    This was an AMD btw.

    Matt! on
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  • Matt!Matt! Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Matt! wrote: »
    Fun story: One time I was cleaning dust off my heatsink and processor and decided to reapply thermal paste. To clean off the old stuff I didnt have any rubbing alchohol...

    so i used cheap vodka.

    Temps were running at like 70C (high i know) after vodka cleaning and thermal reapply: 50C.

    This was an AMD btw.

    This is me giving an example of what not to do.

    Matt! on
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  • KungFuKungFu Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Hmm....now I wake up today and turn on my computer (which as I said was working fine with a 30-40C core temp) and now the fan on the fucking heatsink isn't spinning at all. It's plugged in (I tried re-plugging it in too). So now if I turn it on, my mobo's CPU monitor beeps at me until I frantically turn off the computer (or it does it on its own after a couple seconds).

    I am cursed.

    KungFu on
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  • TM2 RampageTM2 Rampage Registered User
    edited April 2008
    I think the Arctic Silver site said not to use fingernail polish remover specifically, since it may have oils and stuff in it. Rubbing alcohol and such (pretty much the same thing as fingernail polish remover, except I guess it's... with less frills) are better, since they probably do not have scented stuff or oils added.

    TM2 Rampage on
  • 1ddqd1ddqd Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    The motherboard fan pin header may be shorted. That happened on my g/fs Shuttle - also, what brand is the mobo? If it's ECS, return that shit!

    1ddqd on
  • corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I just used a fingernail on my old G4 laptop.

    Back when computers were made for men.

    corcorigan on
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  • KungFuKungFu Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I got a replacement heatsink fan on there and it works now (runs even cooler too). So the heatsink/fan that came with my wolfdale was a failure. And my mobo is a Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L.

    Also, used rubbing alcohol this time (was out of fingernail polish remover, though it is the same stuff really).

    Oh, and my replacement cooler clicked into the mobo so much more easily than the stock one did. It felt too easy.

    KungFu on
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  • DoomulonDoomulon Registered User
    edited April 2008
    I have had issues with the Intel heat sink mounting pins, too. My computer wouldn't even boot until I finally found the proper locking position. The whole thing reeks of cheapness and lame...

    That said, I'm no overclocker... default thermal tape ftw. Running fine since 2006!

    Doomulon on
  • templewulftemplewulf The Team Chump USARegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    ToyD wrote: »
    My experiences with this stuff have usually been fine. And usually you don't need much, but "a grain of rice" is a bit understating it I think. The worry is not so much heat dissipation I would think, it's all thermally conductive, it's that you're compressing it between two pieces of metal and if too much is there, it would ooze out the side and short out some things. My 2c there.
    While thermal paste oozing out and shorting your CPU would be bad, I find it unlikely. The real reason "less is more" is because your copper heatsink is more conductive than the paste. The purpose of the paste is to fill in any porous "holes" in the surface of the metal to give more surface area to absorb the heat. Once you know this, the correct amount to use and how to apply it tend to become easier to discern. If your surface is entirely coated in thermal paste, it would be slightly less conductive than it would be if the paste were just filling those potholes.

    Though I tend to agree that "one grain of rice" is a bit less than I use.

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  • ViscountalphaViscountalpha Registered User
    edited April 2008
    Doomulon wrote: »
    I have had issues with the Intel heat sink mounting pins, too. My computer wouldn't even boot until I finally found the proper locking position. The whole thing reeks of cheapness and lame...

    That said, I'm no overclocker... default thermal tape ftw. Running fine since 2006!


    I just want mounting brackets. Is that too much to ask?

    Viscountalpha on
  • GertBeefGertBeef Registered User
    edited April 2008
    This thread caught my eye.

    My core 2 duo heat sink half fell off my mobo. It's such a shitty piece of shit.

    GertBeef on
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  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I just upgraded my lappy's processor to a Core 2 Duo, and was thinking about using some arctic silver to bring the temps down a touch (they hover around 50C). However, the heat sink fits ridiculously snug to the processor...and also the contacting surface of the heat sink is this really shiny silver metal (not grease or anything like that) and not copper. Is that normal? Should I bother putting thermal grease in there?

    AbsoluteZero on
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  • ViscountalphaViscountalpha Registered User
    edited April 2008
    I just upgraded my lappy's processor to a Core 2 Duo, and was thinking about using some arctic silver to bring the temps down a touch (they hover around 50C). However, the heat sink fits ridiculously snug to the processor...and also the contacting surface of the heat sink is this really shiny silver metal (not grease or anything like that) and not copper. Is that normal? Should I bother putting thermal grease in there?


    did it have thermal paste on it? if it did, go for it. If it didn't, It might be worth contacting the manufacturer to see if that might cause an issue or not.

    Viscountalpha on
  • TM2 RampageTM2 Rampage Registered User
    edited April 2008
    I got a Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz recently. The stock cooler fit on my Gigabyte P35 motherboard just fine. It was a bit weird at first, but yeah you have to just make sure the pins are rotated into the default position according to the pics. Just press down on each pin.... actually a good thing to do is to position the cooler, then press on one pin and the pin diagonally across it at the same time.

    TM2 Rampage on
  • AbsoluteZeroAbsoluteZero The new film by Quentin Koopantino Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    I just upgraded my lappy's processor to a Core 2 Duo, and was thinking about using some arctic silver to bring the temps down a touch (they hover around 50C). However, the heat sink fits ridiculously snug to the processor...and also the contacting surface of the heat sink is this really shiny silver metal (not grease or anything like that) and not copper. Is that normal? Should I bother putting thermal grease in there?


    did it have thermal paste on it? if it did, go for it. If it didn't, It might be worth contacting the manufacturer to see if that might cause an issue or not.

    No thermal paste from what I could tell. It's a Gateway M285-E if anyone has any experience with em... I'm gonna snoop around for some info. Is it possible the silver bit is a heat spreader built into the heat sink? It's a big ass heat-sink/pipes that covers most of the hardware across the bottom of the board, and has a fan on it.

    AbsoluteZero on
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  • DratatooDratatoo Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    For the record. I HATE intels push pin setup. It feels so flaky. So don't feel bad about it. Cpu's kinda freak me out because its much easier to mess them up now then it used to be. Touch the socket? screwed. touch the underneath of the cpu? screwed.

    He, back in the socket A days the upper side of the CPU DIE wasn't shielded - that meant if you applied the heat sink slightly at an angle you most likely destroyed it. - Then there was the horrible bracket system where you essentially had to move the heat sink on the fragile CPU die, so you could get it to the right position. Then there was the issue of removing the brackets, as they tend to get stuck and warped because of the heat. Trying to pry them away with a screw driver without doing a "misplaced shot on the billiard table" - scratch was always an adventure.

    The Shuttle socket A CPU PCs have the best CPU install system ever. Unlock, put CPU in, lock, add spacer, add thermal paste, put the heat sink on it, screw in 4 screws, done.

    To be honest, the Intel CPU installing system is still ass - and not intuitive (at leas not for me). Usually I am used to lock something after attaching it, but tuning the little pins is actually the "unlock position". Took me a while to figure that out during my first install (P4 CPU back in the day). Secondly, sometimes the whole mechanism seems tight, although the heat sink isn't actually at the correct position. Thirdly its often a hell to remove it, if it decided to get only partly mounted. (even worse when the mainboard makes the "I am going to break now" noises while you pull the plastic pins out.)

    Dratatoo on
  • ViscountalphaViscountalpha Registered User
    edited April 2008
    I just upgraded my lappy's processor to a Core 2 Duo, and was thinking about using some arctic silver to bring the temps down a touch (they hover around 50C). However, the heat sink fits ridiculously snug to the processor...and also the contacting surface of the heat sink is this really shiny silver metal (not grease or anything like that) and not copper. Is that normal? Should I bother putting thermal grease in there?


    did it have thermal paste on it? if it did, go for it. If it didn't, It might be worth contacting the manufacturer to see if that might cause an issue or not.

    No thermal paste from what I could tell. It's a Gateway M285-E if anyone has any experience with em... I'm gonna snoop around for some info. Is it possible the silver bit is a heat spreader built into the heat sink? It's a big ass heat-sink/pipes that covers most of the hardware across the bottom of the board, and has a fan on it.

    I would only worry about it leaking out of the socket or something screwy with the headspreader but thats probably nonsense. I'm not qualified enough to say Yea or Nay though. I haven't dealt with nearly enough laptops.

    Viscountalpha on
  • Mr_RoseMr_Rose 83 Blue Ridge Protects the Holy Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Dratatoo wrote: »
    To be honest, the Intel CPU installing system is still ass - and not intuitive (at leas not for me). Usually I am used to lock something after attaching it, but tuning the little pins is actually the "unlock position". Took me a while to figure that out during my first install (P4 CPU back in the day). Secondly, sometimes the whole mechanism seems tight, although the heat sink isn't actually at the correct position. Thirdly its often a hell to remove it, if it decided to get only partly mounted. (even worse when the mainboard makes the "I am going to break now" noises while you pull the plastic pins out.)
    So RTFM is truly a lost art then?
    I've never had trouble with installing the new Intel twisty-pin clips after the first one. And even then that was because I was wary of the noises coming from the MB: Though the crunchy noises the MB makes when you pull the pins out are disturbing, I've known them to make worse noises during installation.
    Personally, I actually quite like the plastic clip things because just this once, there is zero chance of the screwdriver slipping and gouging innumerable small, yet extremely vital, components off your 'board.
    The pinless ZIF sockets are nice too...

    So my own story with Core 2 heatsinks is a tale of three motherboards. Though nothing whatever to do with heatsink problems. Turns out that E6550 chipsjust don't wok without their special magic bus speed and also, when the manual tells you not to reset the CMOS with the board still plugged in, it really means it.
    Anyway, for the third board I replaced the now patchy original goop with five dots about 1/3 the size of a grain of rice, evenly distributed about the centre and four corners of the chip's built in spreader. Seems to be working so far.
    Just remember to press the heat-sink down onto the grease to spread it out a bit before you start pushing the pins in.

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  • eelektrikeelektrik Registered User regular
    edited April 2008
    So how hot is too hot for a processor? When putting the stock Heatsink/Fan on my E8400 I accidentally put it on in the wrong orientation, so the fan cable wouldn't reach its connector on the motherboard so I had to take it off and rotate it. Some of the thermal paste stuck to the CPU already though, so it isn't completely even after rotating it.

    But now sitting at BIOS after about 10 minutes its getting upto 42c doing nothing. I'm worried what it will reach when I actually start playing a game. Or am I just being paranoid here?

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  • ViscountalphaViscountalpha Registered User
    edited April 2008
    unless it spikes to 60 or 70c I wouldn't worry. E8400's run very cool. I noticed the decreased amount of heat out of my computer after switching it out with a Pentium D-920.

    Viscountalpha on
  • fightinfilipinofightinfilipino Angry as Hell #BLMRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    eelektrik wrote: »
    So how hot is too hot for a processor? When putting the stock Heatsink/Fan on my E8400 I accidentally put it on in the wrong orientation, so the fan cable wouldn't reach its connector on the motherboard so I had to take it off and rotate it. Some of the thermal paste stuck to the CPU already though, so it isn't completely even after rotating it.

    But now sitting at BIOS after about 10 minutes its getting upto 42c doing nothing. I'm worried what it will reach when I actually start playing a game. Or am I just being paranoid here?

    why don't you just remove the processor, clean off the old thermal grease, regrease it and reseat it? i know it's a royal pain in the butt, but in the end it's worth it.

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  • fightinfilipinofightinfilipino Angry as Hell #BLMRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    also, thermal spec for that chip is 72.4°C. your CPU shouldn't get above 15°C hotter than idle when on full load as long as you've got decent cooling. you should be fine if you do leave it as is.

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  • DyvionDyvion Holding it down In Gunsan-si ROKRegistered User regular
    edited April 2008
    Interesting stories about crappy fans on chips... my wifes computer suddenly had spiking temps and shut down soon after reboot. So I took it apart... apparently one of the clips broke and it was a bit loose... so I tried to snap it back into place... and the opposite corner cracked and broke, then the whole thing came free of the mounting bracket. So I got some of my wifes crafting wire and safety wired the heatsink/fan to what was left of the mounting bracket after applying a bit of thermal paste. Been running cool and smooth for about 6 months now. Yay for using aircraft repair techniques on home computers.

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  • thejazzmanthejazzman Registered User
    edited April 2008
    I was about to make a thread about this but seems much more efficient to post in this one:

    I'm running a core 2 duo e6600.

    A few days ago I went from super good performance in games to shitty shitty shitty performance, but still stable and playable (i.e. 60fps solid to 10 fps solid)

    Concerned, I check temp and found that my cpu was running at 80 degrees idle, gaming, whatever, always 80 degrees. The system is perfectly stable and responsive, just, bad fps in games. I'm guessing this could be because the system is throttling itself due to the heat, but after d/ling a throttlewatch program, I had absolutely no idea what I was looking at.

    I mounted an additional fan on the MB, no change in cpu temp, I reapplied thermal paste to the heatsink, no change.

    So right now I pretty much have zero clue what's wrong but from reading this I'm thinking maybe the heatsink isnt mounted properly or came loose. Problem is, Ive removed and reattatched the heatsink since then and its not fixed, so clearly I dont know what im doing if that is the problem.

    Driving me crazy! What should I do and in what order?

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  • KungFuKungFu Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Im thinking that it may not be a CPU heat issue (maybe a GPU issue?). Though, 80C is still hot for the CPU...is it really hot in your room by chance?

    What is the temp of other devices in your case? Hard droves and GPU?

    KungFu on
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  • evilmrhenryevilmrhenry Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    thejazzman wrote: »
    I was about to make a thread about this but seems much more efficient to post in this one:

    I'm running a core 2 duo e6600.

    A few days ago I went from super good performance in games to shitty shitty shitty performance, but still stable and playable (i.e. 60fps solid to 10 fps solid)

    Concerned, I check temp and found that my cpu was running at 80 degrees idle, gaming, whatever, always 80 degrees. The system is perfectly stable and responsive, just, bad fps in games. I'm guessing this could be because the system is throttling itself due to the heat, but after d/ling a throttlewatch program, I had absolutely no idea what I was looking at.

    I mounted an additional fan on the MB, no change in cpu temp, I reapplied thermal paste to the heatsink, no change.

    So right now I pretty much have zero clue what's wrong but from reading this I'm thinking maybe the heatsink isnt mounted properly or came loose. Problem is, Ive removed and reattatched the heatsink since then and its not fixed, so clearly I dont know what im doing if that is the problem.

    Driving me crazy! What should I do and in what order?

    Is the temp always listed as 80 degrees? It may not be measuring correctly.
    Are you checking temp in the bios? If not, check it there.
    Does the videocard look alright?
    Doublecheck the heatsink clips?

    evilmrhenry on
  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I can overclock my CPU pretty far but it get too hot for my liking. What is a good aftermarket HSF for a Core 2 Duo?

    harvest on
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  • fightinfilipinofightinfilipino Angry as Hell #BLMRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    harvest wrote: »
    I can overclock my CPU pretty far but it get too hot for my liking. What is a good aftermarket HSF for a Core 2 Duo?

    http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm

    i went with the Thermalright Ultra 120 extreme. it's a freakin' behemoth, but it works exceptionally well :)

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