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Old 07-08-2006, 05:53 AM   #1
Registered: Oct 2003
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Question about thermal paste and Athlon XP processors.

My computer keeps shutting down when getting too hot... since this was a computer I bought from a friend, I decided to investigate the processor. This was just a hand built computer and included an AMD Athlon XP 3000+ processor, with a 3rd party fan. I noticed that when I removed the heatsink that the thermal paste that was applied (not a thermal pad) had oozed to the sides and little (no seriously little) remained on the die. I picked up my syringe of artic silver and spread several dabs onto the die and spread it around like pizza sause. Making sure all those little gaps in the die were filled so I can get the best heat transfer out of the die... but I didn't remove any of the oozed thermal paste for fear that I may damage it, more so if it was already damaged. My question, for I have a lan party later on this morning, may I have done something wrong? Should I go back in and remove the oozed paste with a swab? I was told never clean with any alcohol or liquids so that is out of the question. The part about this story that sucks hard is that my computer still shutdowns randomly. I live in Sunny Southern California and I also happen to live in a desert. *pants* {:O" *pants* So having my computer on for more then about 30 minutes will shut it down(no air conditioning) What should I do? I have the case side open and a fan blow adjacent to it not directly into it... but only have two fans inside, one on the GPU and one on the CPU. I have a 500W power supply, probably from some cheapo manufacturer... if that, along with the rest of the following: MSI NX GeForce 6600 256mb, Happauge TV capture card, 1 gig of ram: 1 one cheapo-don't know the brand name stick of 512, the other Crucial.. both 3200. AMD Athlon XP 3000+ used by a UK guy (EBAY), 1 harddrive, 2 disk media drives, and an audigy soundblaster zs. From my understanding, I may have damaged my processor beyond revival. If so, I would like to stop the party before it heads on its way so I don't get stuck playing server admin or be the guy that walks around asking to play a game (that turns into more then the owner would tolerate) on someone elses computer. By the way, it is constant at around 50-55 C, which is about 120-12something farhenheit, when in the BIOS! That is terrible! I knew Athlons (the ones I owned) ran hot, but dam! I'm doing nothing! That is hot! Is this normal? Thanks in advance!

Last edited by RHLinuxGUY; 07-08-2006 at 05:56 AM.
Old 07-08-2006, 01:13 PM   #2
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Well I always use the 99% isopropyl alcohol to clean my cpu's and have never had a problem doing it. For the random shutdowns I would almost go with the cheap power supply you have in it, you have a lot of components in the box that are drawing a lot of power you should see if you can borrow a quality (enermax, ocz, antec ...) power supply with at least 20A on the +12v line and run it with that to see if the problems persist. For the temperature problem I would point the fan directly into the case on its highest setting and would redo the AS application on the CPU you should only have the thinest possible layer on it, my 2600+ used to run regularly in the mid 50s in the summer even with a hefty fan pointed directly into the case to keep it cool oh and if closing the case you should have a few more fans in the case at least one n the front drawing in air and one at the back drawing air out. I would also run memtest on the box for at least a few hours just to rule out memory problems.
Old 07-08-2006, 03:57 PM   #3
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Memtest rulled out. Thank you, since I do not have money to burn I will have to rip some things out including my drivers (with obviouse exception to the HDD). Can anyone give me more info on the alcohol?
Old 07-08-2006, 04:33 PM   #4
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Rubbing alcohol will work just fine.

Ok, there could be a couple of problems here. If you take the side panel off then from experience the temp will usually increase because the case is no longer creating a vacum and pushing all of the heat out of the back.

If you are going to take the side panel off and use a fan. Then blow the fan directly into the PC on medium or high. That should solve your heat problems for now.

Next you need to look at a decent CPU fan and possibly some 80mm fans for the case. How mant fans can you place in the case and are the 80mm or 120mm?

That should solve your problems.

Also look in the BIOS and see where your CPU is clocked. You might need to tone it down a bit because that CPU might be over clocked.
Old 07-08-2006, 07:41 PM   #5
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COuld be the heat has already trashed the CPU, but I'd bet on a power supply problem.
Old 07-09-2006, 10:57 AM   #6
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This exact thing happened to me about 1 month ago.

Complete system freezes during high video (and CPU) load.
Also during long file transfers over NFS as well as internet downloads.

Dual-boot Win2000, Slackware, and (at the time) Debian-Etch.

Ruled out OS.
Ruled out Vid Card (swaped out card)
Ruled out memory (downloaded memtest86) However, could not get through more than one pass without freezing up, but never recorded an error.
Pulled all hardware out and tested adding back one at a time. No change.

Then I pulled the CPU. Athlon 1100. Decided to clean of the thermal paste as it was all over the exposed little switches. Cleaned it with tissue and worked the stuff out of the little grooves and such with a soft bristle toothbrush. Replaced heatsink and fan w/o any coupound. No more freezes.

Ran memtest over-night. Multiple passes w/o errors and no freezes.

CPU runs hotter now, but without any hard freezes. I was under the impression that thermal compounds were not conductive, but I guess I was wrong. Perhaps the heat over time changed the properties?

I don't know. I'll be more careful with my next CPU regarding thermal paste.
Old 07-11-2006, 06:29 AM   #7
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If you're attaching the heatsink (more or less) permanently, you really should use phase change material instead of thermal paste. Generally paste is recommended only for short-term/temporary use.

Here's the PCM I use:
Old 07-11-2006, 11:02 AM   #8
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RHLinuxGUY, first reading through I would say:

1. Applying GLOBS of pizza sauce type paste is a no no.. apply thin, it only needs to fill in microscopic gaps between the HSF & CPU.
2. Always clean the top of the CPU (watch out with arctic silver / silver / metalic based pastes, as if you smear you may be linking bridges on the top of the cpu, and causing problems.
3. Cheap PSU's don't work well (pay a little extra for stability, this is the most important part of your comp setup, since no power = no fun).
4. The motherboard is never right with temps, some sensors are way off, do some reading regarding your motherboard model if others experience this (try some overclocking communities.. they know real well).

This CPU wouldn't / shouldn't overhead @ 50c, I believe an XP's OP temps are up to 75/85c?
it could be temps tho, due to the paste that you added on.

Don't listen to peopel that say you need a TIM, you need paste, but get a GOOD paste, I don't wanna be a arctic silver fanboi but its the best stuff hands down I have used. Spread it light and thin.

Hope that helps

If all else fails, try swapping PCI cards in the PCI slots (may be some freaky conflict)
Old 07-11-2006, 03:46 PM   #9
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Thank you for the responses. Yes I use Artic Silver so that is out of the way. I went to a technician and he told me that if I ran memtest overnight (which I did), with no problems along with a 500 watt PSU, and also the CPU is not damage, (he told me I should have seen sick nasty problems, worse then what I have if it was) then the problem may be with the motherboard not being able to dish out power to all the components in the case. That or some sort of heat issue, which, so far, I have been eliminating. And yes JakeX, I looked around online and the MAX temperature a Athlon XP should be operational at is 90 Celsius, which is close to 100 C which in farhenheight is the boiling point of water, 212 degrees I believe. It may be my motherboard so I'll look into what I can do to prove it correct.
Old 07-11-2006, 04:04 PM   #10
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Some people just never learn...

"AMD Does not currently recommend using thermal compounds that are electrically
conductive. Electrically conductive thermal compounds include most silver and gold pastes. These types of thermal compounds can leak out and contact vulnerable elements of the processor or motherboard (such as capacitors, resistors, pins, etc.), which may cause short-circuits or damage the processor or other components."

"Caution: For lidless processors, such as AMD Athlon MP, AMD Athlon XP, and AMD Duron processors, thermal grease is recommended only for short-term use; for long-term use AMD recommends thermal pads."

But what does AMD know about it anyway, they just make 'em.


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