Monday, March 27, 2006

When You Dig

Sometimes a solution isn't obvious till you dig deeper.

I've been having problems with my computer for the last months since I got here. It'd shut down inexpicably, or crash with whenever I'd leave it on too long. I took it to the computer shop and they told me it was because my graphics card was old.

It never occurred to me what the problem was until one day, my wife complained to me that my computer sounded like it was choking.

So today, while my wife is away in Ohio, I opened up my computer casing and found the problem - a thick layer of dust over the heat sink vent. I cleared it out and voila - the computer sounds like it's working normally again.

Proves that sometimes, all you really need to do is to get your hands dirty.


BlackRX said...

This is why I only assemble desktop PCs in tower cases with see-through side windows. It's not just for show; every now and then I look through the window to make sure all the fans are running and there is no excessive dust on any component.

-ben said...

Proves that sometimes, all you really need to do is to get your hands dirty.

Or, a can of compressed air from Fried, er... Fry's Electronics. :-)

Anthony said...


That sounds eminently sensible. I will do so for my next computer upgrade.


When you're broke, you pinch paper clips and mould them into an appropriate shape for cleaning vents.

-ben said...

Ah! I have tried a vacuum cleaner (with extension crevice nozzle) and a Q-tip to dislodge the dust. Very carefully and watch out for static, of course. :-)

BlackRX said...

I thought of using a mini vacuum cleaner with extension nozzle, but decided against it because I was not sure if the presence of such an electrical device was safe for my hard disks.

I do use the following:

Compressed air spray can. As much as I do not like paying anywhere from 6 to 10 bucks per can, it is most effective for blowing dust off the CPU fan and heatsink. you don't want to remove the CPU and heatsink from the socket. I did it once and it turns out the CPU had fused with the heatsink and I was unable to insert the CPU pins completely into the socket again, thus had to buy a new CPU + mobo.

Cotton buds (Q-tips) to clean the air vents on the outside of the case.

"Swiffer" non-static cloth wipes that attract dust, to clean the surfaces of the mobo, removable PCI(-E) and AGP cards, and casings of the storage drives.

Soft bristle medium size brush, to, duh, brush away the accumulated dirt.

Anthony said...

I've actually tried using the extension nozzle of my vaccuum. It doesn't work.

I didn't try to remove the fan. It look stuck, which limited my mobility even more.

I didn't think about Q-tips though.