Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Computer Cleaning and Changing CPU Cooler Guide

It's a long holiday here in Sarawak due to the Gawai celebration. Many who work here are taking this advantage to go travelling, shopping and etc as it is public holiday from 1-3 June. I on the other side decide to do some home improvement and cleaning around my house. I clean the air condition housing and filters. I also clean the computer table and the surrounding areas.

The last time I clean my computer and change the CPU cooler was back in December 2007, which is about 6 months now. I can guarantee it is pretty dirty inside there as I will show later. My computer has the following cooling properties:

- 120mm front fan for cooling the hard drive.
- 120mm side fan for cooling the graphic card
- 80mm side fan vent for cooling the CPU (i did not install a fan here)
- 120mm rear fan to exhaust hot air

I did not install a 80mm side fan as I find out it somehow increase the motherboard temperature and do not assist in the cooling of the CPU. I guess it got something to do with the airflow dynamic inside the casing. The side fan for graphic card is very important. Without it, my graphic card run up to 70 degrees Celsius, compare with 54 degrees Celsius with the fan operational

Take a look at the rear fan honeycomb web. It is now partially been clogged with dust particle. This need to be cleaned and cleared as it will restrict the exhaust air flow in the near future. The same scenario also found at the front and side fan mesh.

All the cooling fans are pretty dirty with this tough stain after just 6 months. The dirt particle will affect the fan blade aerodynamic and cause drag if left at it is. Hence, reduce the life span of the fan bearing and the fan itself.

The tools needed are compressed air, brush, alcohol, cotton bud, portable mini vacuum (powered by AA batteries and not the USB type) and screwdriver (flat and Philips head)

Compressed air has a straw nozzle where it can be attached to the main nozzle to blow dust at delicate area

The mini vacuum has different type of nozzles which are exchangeable to deal with different situation, be it a wide area or narrow area.

Here is the side view of my computer with all the side panels removed. Use the compressed air or brush to blow the dust starting from top to bottom. The dust shall fall to the base of the casing. Us the vacuum to suck the dust from the base. All cooling fans should be dismantled and cleaned with slightly moisture cloth. The cooling fans hub also prone to be dusty and should be cleaned when the cooling fans had been dismantled.

Anyway, as a precaution, before most of this work been carried out, it might be wise to ground yourself as to avoid electrostatic discharge and damage the computer components. You can use anti static wrist strap or simply touching the home water outlet metal hydrant for a while.

After this, I removed the Intel stock cooler from the socket 775 motherboard. See how dusty the cooling fan blade in just 6 months

Now, removing the stock cooler fan reveal the dusty heatsink. Most of the dust trapped between the fins. If left long enough without proper cleaning, imagine the heatsink will be clogged and heat dissipation might be affected.

Removing the CPU cooler will left behind the residue of the previous thermal paste. For the record, I previously used Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste for the stock cooler. This residue should be removed and cleaned and apply with a fresh thermal paste. Note that I am changing the CPU cooler this time with Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro as the Intel stock cooler will be cleaned.

Use the cotton bud and dip it into the alcohol. Use the cotton bud to clean the residue in a circular motion. Arctic Cooling MX-2 is easy to be removed compared to MX-1 and the stock thermal paste.

The CPU should be clean as shown after a few round of cleaning. One should able to see the CPU specification once it is cleaned. For better result, use a cloth, normally the one used to clean the spectacles to give a good wipe after all the cleaning. That cloth should able to absorb the remaining thermal paste.

Once, the CPU is cleaned, thermal paste (I am using Arctic Cooling MX-2) and a card should be on standby. Expired credit card will do but I am using a card supplied by Cooler Master when I purchased Cooler Master Nano Fusion some time ago.

Press a little thermal paste from the tube onto the CPU. Oooops! I put too much accidentally. A little will do as we just need a thin layer on it.

Spread the thermal paste evenly using the card. Arctic Cooling MX-2 is smooth and easy to apply. Some thermal paste is hard to apply and spread evenly. So always make sure you get the quality thermal paste to make your life easier. Excess thermal paste should be removed.

Attach the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro without the cooling fan first. Here, I attached the fan power plug before I install the heatsink. Installation of the heatsink is similar as with the Intel stock cooler The heatsink is quite huge.

Align the fan in a way that the sticker is not upside down. Fix the fan hook on one side and attach the fan hook on the other side to mount the fan to the cooler. Make sure all cables inside the computer case clear from the fan. A high end case should allow better cable management than what I have here. Do some cable management with cable ties if condition allow you to do so.

Fire up the computer and it works wonderfully. Here are some test result from my computer.

Motherboard: Asus P5VD2-X
CPU: Intel Pentium 4, 2666MHz
RAM: 1GB Apacer
GPU: Asus EN8500GT Silent magic
Hard disk: Seagate 250GB, Western Digital 320GB
Power Supply: Sunbeamtech Nuuo Series 550W

Ambient temperature: 25 degree Celsius
(all temperature readings in degree Celcius)
Motherboard :39 (42-43 on hot day)
CPU: 42 (43-45 on hot day)
GPU: 54 (57-58 on hot day)
Seagate 250GB: 33 (36-38 on hot day)
Western Digital 320GB: 34 (36-39 on hot day)
Power supply internal temperature: 43 (46-48 on hot day)

As I am living in tropical climate and the reading taken now is during raining time where temperature is cooler.

Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro do make a difference in the overall system temperature. The CPU remains well below 50 degrees and the rpm is almost constant at 1288rpm. Compare to the stock cooler, the CPU temperature fluctuate and sometime went above 50 degrees. The rpm is around 1400-2000++rpm. Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro also manage to bring down the motherboard temperature by 1-3 degrees compare when I am using the stock cooler, which is quite impressive.

It will be a good think to open your computer once in a while to have a look the condition inside and clean it. Good Luck and Happy Cleaning!


Falcon said...

wah ..you really know your computer stuff very well...

Horny Ang Moh said...

A nice & very detail post! Much better then my 'horny' computer cleaning here
BTW tq very much for dropping on my site! Have a very nice day!