Crashing Computer from Ebay. Cleaning Out the Dust from the CPU Cooler.

I bought a motherboard from Ebay, from wangrp, new – and I think it really was new – and finally installed it. It was a backup, but I didn’t test it, and should have. The board has been really crashy, and I cannot tell why. The return period is way over, so, I’m SOL, and probably out $50. Next time, I’ll just buy it from NewEgg. For now, I’m stuck with this crashing computer, and I want to see if I can get it stable.

If you haven’t been reading this series, here are the posts in this Crashing Computer drama:


BTW, the board is a GA-78LMT-USB3 sockect AM3+. It’s not a recent screamer. It was just what was closest to my old board, GA-MA790GPT, which had a hard drive chip that started to flake out, and the AHCI feature stopped working.

It’s always hard to figure out crashing computers. I usually suspect three things: heat, the power supply, and aging memory. So, this blog post is the first in a series as I try to figure this thing out.

The old MA790 had only one period of flakiness, and it was when the RAM was going bad. I had some cheap G.SKILL RAM in there, and it was working great. Then, it suddenly wasn’t. So I pulled the bad RAM and ran on 2 gigs for a while, and the problem went away. I bought a Corsair 4G module, and it worked fine.

This new board is flaky and unpredictable.

I Have a Crashing Computer 🙁

My first thought was that the CPU cooler wasn’t working, because the temperature fluctuated from 62C to 70C all the time. I hadn’t replaced the thermal grease that helps combine the CPU and heatsink. (So I ordered some. It’s on its way.)

I just cleaned out the most of the dust in the heatsink. Now, the temperature has dropped into the mid 50C range.

Even while watching video and running backups, it’s only getting to 58C.

Just removing most of the dust from the CPU cooler reduced the temperature by 10C!

The way I removed it was by holding a vacuum cleaner hose to the top of the fan. You shut everything off, and then suck on the top of the CPU cooler so the fan whirls really, really fast. The vacuum will suck up most of the dust.

Here’s a video that shows someone sucking the dust out of the cooler, more or less:

I just turn the computer off before I do that. I don’t bother to disconnect the fan. The fan normally blows air down, into the heatsink. The vacuum sucks air up.

You move the hose across all the areas, to try and get everything out. It won’t all come out, but that’s okay.

If you can, stick a little toothpick into the fins to ease out the dust.

Most other cleaning videos say to blow air into the computer fan, but I don’t do that. It’s not bad to blow air into it: it just kicks up a lot of dust. So I settle for 90% clean, and no excessive dust in the air.

That’s the big difference between sucking and blowing: sucking pulls all the dust into the vacuum cleaner.

Unfortunately, this cleaning had little effect on the crashing. It still crashed intermittently.

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