Hardware support – heat issues

My computer has begun having heat issues. I haven’t noticed any preformance problems yet, but this evening it began to smell faintly of the magic smoke they put in computers (if ever this smoke leaves a chip, it smells bad and the chip stops working). I don’t think anything important broke, but I’d like to stop this problem before it gets worse. Currently, I have the side of the case off, and a desk fan blowing into it. What can I do as a more permanent solution? I removed the plastic curvy piece that directs the big cooling fan on the back to the CPU, so the desk fan can reach the CPU. Should I put that back? I could take out the parts I’m not using (floppy drive, firewire card, and 56k modem), but they don’t generate much heat (the main heat sources are the two GeForce2 video cards and the Pentium 4 CPU). I don’t want to install a cooling system that uses something besides air. I don’t want to buy a new case. I would be willing to install more fans, if someone can tell me where they should go and how to install them (I am comfortable soldering stuff if necessary). By removing the side of the case, have I made the airflow worse?

The case currently has 4 fans: one on the power supply, one in the back with the curvy plastic onto the CPU (which has another directly on top of it), and one on the heat sink on one of the GeForce2s.

My apartment does not have air conditioning, and when I’m not here I close and lock the doors (there are no windows in the main room; just 2 doors), so that when I come home it is uncomfortably hot and stuffy, even for me. I’d like to keep my computer running when I’m not home, because I sometimes SSH in to it to get files. Any help would be appreciated.

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  1. inferno0069 says:

    I think that removing the side of the case isn’t a heat problem, especially with a fan blowing in. (I once ran a computer for a little while after a fan or two had died with an external room fan blowing in.) But, I’m not an expert on heat issues.

    Get some compressed air and make sure there’s no dust blocking airflow or insulating components. And make sure all your fans are still functioning. These are the only two things I know for sure about managing heat.

    Does the GeForce2’s fan take an extra slot and blow out of the back of the case? Or just away from the card but still inside the case? A slot fan could help if there’s space. Just an idea.

  2. The whole “you must leave our thing exactly like this or it will overheat!!! Oh my gods!!!” routine that manufacturers like to pull is (pretty much) hogwash. (Unless you’re dealing with $n$-U server cases) A regular fan blasting the side of the case should do the trick just fine. Are the GF2s both PCI cards? Try putting them as far apart (and as far from the CPU) as possible; might help. I ditto inferno0069 about making sure all the fans are working, and there’s no dust, and whatnot.

    Of course, waiting a few paychecks and solving the problem with the “Ooh, new iMacs!” technique is always good, too. :-P

    • #define regular desk-fan-sort-of-thing

    • Alan says:

      The video card with the fan is PCI, the other one is AGP. I’ll move the PCI one down to a lower slot. All fans are working, and the case is pretty clean (I cleaned it in May and then didn’t use it this summer).

      The reason I don’t want the desk fan to be permanent-like is that it makes my computer area pretty drafty and takes up the place where my feet should go. I think I’ll try inferno0069‘s suggestion and get a fan for one of the middle PCI slots.

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