Photogenic Duke
A decade later

A hot computer

I've been having some computer trouble in the last few days. Windows would randomly freeze for half a minute or more. Restarting the computer would take longer than usual. Internet connectivity would be an issue.

After some troubleshooting I found out that my CPU temperature was shooting over 90 degrees Celsius! So, my processor, instead of melting, was severely throttling itself which would cause the system to become unstable. I cleaned up the PC and reinstalled the CPU heatsink and it didn't help much which means that Intel provides crappy heatsinks with their processors. Not cool.

I went and bought a new heatsink from Noctua. Now, the temperatures are in the 30s. After some CPU stress testing, the maximum was ... 51 degrees Celsius.



There's generally nothing wrong with the stock coolers - it depends more on the TDP of your CPU and the load you're putting on it. The old Pentium-D line - as the first round of dual core processors - were particularly bad for that, clocking in at a 130 Watt TDP. For comparison, the "Pentium Dual Core" line - which immediately followed the Pentium D line - had a 65W TDP. So my old Pentium D, which has a kick-ass aftermarket cooler, runs at around 65 degrees, while my newer Pentium Dual Core with a stock Intel cooler runs at around 30.

A lot of the newer chip lines are starting to push the TDP higher again, but they have much better temperature control features than the old lines, so as long as you're not running it at 100% usage for hours at a time you should be ok with a stock cooler. Still, it's a good idea to look at the TDP of a chip before you buy it; it'll give you an idea of how much power it consumes as well as how hot it's likely to run.

Isaac Schrödinger

I'm using a Core i7 860 with a TDP of 95W. I've had it for 20 months.

That chip shouldn't have temperatures in the 90s. In fact anything over 80 is a bad sign. As I said I took off the stock cooler, cleaned it up -- used compressed air -- and still, after only a minute! of stress testing on a freshly booted computer the CPU temperature shot up into the 90s.

I didn't mention it but in the past few days booting up I would get a "CPU temperature error" which motivated me to find out exactly how high the temperatures were.

The new, expensive CPU cooler right now is at a maximum of 41 degrees Celsius.

I think that with passing time the stock cooler just didn't have good enough contact with the CPU. Even reinstalling it carefully didn't help.

It would be nice if Intel had the option of better coolers or no CPU coolers with a chip.


Weird. You should have noticed something earlier than 20 months after first use. Maybe the thermal paste was breaking down? Or did you notice a fluctuation in fan RPM?

Either way, yeah, you're obviously going to get the odd exception, but most of the time, for most people, the stock coolers work fine. I've been building computers for myself, friends, family, and the odd paid client, since the mid 90's, and in all that time I've only bought 3 aftermarket coolers (one of which was water-cooling for a custom gaming rig).

You CAN buy CPU's without the fans, BTW, it's just rare. Here's one:




TigerDirect even gives you the option to search for CPU's with no fan. However, it doesn't seem to make much of a difference in the price - you're probably saving $10-$20 max.

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