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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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Seems that my curse has moved away from monitors...
delirium pissed off
Dear LJ Oracle,

My computer appears to be SNAFU. It was making odd noises last night, so I turned it off. Today, when I try to turn it on, I receive the following message during POST:

Warning: Your Computer CHIP Fan Fail or speed too low.

(And then something about disabling this message in setup, which I was too lazy to copy down)

What does this mean? Or rather, I know what it means; how serious is it? Is this an "act now before your computer turns into molten metal" sort of thing, or an "are you sure, sir? it would mean chaning the bulb" sort of thing? In the case of the former, what sort of thing do I need to be doing?


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I think you need to replace the fan. Disabling the message will make the message go away, but it won't prevent your computer chip from overheating.

(Deleted comment)
Why would you take the motherboard out of the case just to take the fan off the CPU?

(Deleted comment)
If there is anything but thermal paste between the heat sink and CPU you have a bigger problem than blowing out some dust.

The BIOS reported that the fan speed was low, not that the CPU temperature was too high; look for horses, not zebras, and do maintenance on the fan first.

My computer does that every so often, it is just dust in the CPU fan and/or heatsink. It is very easy to fix.

Sounds like your CPU fan is running suboptimally slowly. Usually due to dust buildup, which is normally terminal for the bearings. Get the side off the case and have a look. You may find that hoovering / wiping the heatsink and fan blades improves things in the short term, but chances are it'll want a new heatsink/fan sooner or later. Alternatively, it may simply be a case of a dangling cable getting snagged in the blades, which is easily sorted by shoving it somewhere else.

If you have to replace the HSF, try to get one with an 80mm fan (as opposed to the usual 60mm jobbies) - the larger blades maintain the same airflow at lower RPM, which makes for less noise and better dust immunity. It should also be designed to fit the right type of CPU socket, and rated for the speed of your CPU (obvious, I know).

Note that if you take the heatsink off it'll probably need some fresh thermal compound[1] before you re-fit it, so avoid doing that unescessarily. Also note that removing and fitting heatsinks, at least on modern socketed motherboards, is often a complete bastard of a job, requiring screwdrivers with the ability to phase through solid matter, dexterity, elastoplast and about three times the force you think a printed circuit board should resonably be expected to take.

[1] Usually supplied with new heatsinks in the form of a little pad stuck to the bottom, and available in a tiny syringe from all good online computer bits suppliers. Can also be obtained (at vastly inflated prices) from the third small computer shop you ask in on the other side of town, after explaining that yes, you do know what you're doing, and no, you don't want to buy a casemodded Celeron system with free broadband.

As an addendum:
Don't "Hoover" your computer. Ever.

Do you know the difference between a vacuum cleaner and a Really Big Magnet?

Neither does your computer.

Do you know the difference between a vacuum cleaner and a Really Big Magnet?

Neither does your computer.

Eh? I wouldn't have thought that vacuum cleaners had any magnetic parts at the business end of the tube.

In the motor, perhaps, but that's typically about three feet away, isn't it?

The things that magnets and hoovers have in common is that anything that is important and useful for making the computer work which happens to be a little bit looser than it should be will be pulled even looser and probably make the computer stop working. Yuss magnets do nasty things to drives for different reasons but that's not what we were talking about here.

I was assuming the vaccum cleaner in question would have a couple of metres of hose between the motor and the business end. Anything else would be unsuitible for the task due to the limited room to manoeuvre inside the case. So magnetic fields wouldn't be an issue.

More reasonable concerns would be:
a) the risk of airflow turning the fans into mini wind generators and the induced voltage doing badness to the motherboard electronics - easily negated by unplugging them first.
b) the possiblity that the airflow might generate a static charge. Not sure on this one, but I'd have thought that leaving the power lead connected (though the PSU switched off) to ensure a proper ground would be sensible regardless.

Either way, I've vaccumed dust/hair/loose screws/scary looking insect things out of many computers in my time, and never had a problem yet. I'd certainly take the risk of a good clean-out over the risk of damage due to overheating (which is something I have lost hardware to).

For bonus points: compare and contrast the magnetic flux density at the surface of a hard drive platter during a write with that of a few hundred Watts of general purpose motor at a distance of several inches. Consider also the field that one would expect a laptop, placed between the feet of a weary London commuter as they ride home on the tube, to be subjected to.

Supposedly the correct solution is to get a can of compressed air and blow junk out, rather than use a vacuum cleaner. I wouldn't want to take a vacuum cleaner near my computer's innards because of jumper heads...

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