TIM (Thermal Interface Material)

*Over the past several years, I’ve become a magnet for computers that people no longer want.

I was recently given an 11-year-old old HP desktop machine that was no longer being used because it didn’t work.

Following my normal process, the first thing I did was to boot a Memtest86+ live CD and let it run.

I got a variety of errors and strange behaviors, including lock-ups and stack dumps. This plus the high speed of the CPU fan led me to suspect a thermal problem.

Testing revealed the processor was hitting 70C just idling in BIOS setup, even after blowing the dust out.

I pulled the heat sink, cleaned off the old TIM, and reassembled with some good quality silver-based TIM. The CPU temperature dropped from 70C to 49C. Subsequent Memtest86+ testing over a period of 2 hours resulted in no errors, and the CPU fan never kicked out of idle.

This will make a good Linux machine for someone in need.

Does anyone else have a story to share?

Hm. Not sure I really want to share this, but…

My current computer, running an AMD 5-something and WinXP Pro, was making noises. Scary noises. Hard Drive About To Die noises. Oh, and I was getting Blue Screens of Death every several minutes.

I opened the case and by holding my hand on the hard drive, confirmed it was making the noises because I could feel the noises.

First thing I did was run a full backup. Since I do this weekly, it was quick, and the files verified OK. Whew!

Next, off to the store, got a new 1 TB drive, copied the old one to the new (Norton Ghost is getting long in the tooth, but still valuable).

Removed the old, rebooted…and the noise is still there. :ahh:

…Turns out the 3.5" floppy had died, NOT the HDD. sigh. $80 wasted. (Not completely: I still have a perfectly good 1 TB HDD for my next machine.). BSOD was because the FDD was telling it weird things. Go figure.

The lesson:
Just because you found the symptom you expected does not mean it is caused as you expected.