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Thoughts from David Cornelius


Several months ago, I upgraded the motherboard on my main PC. I had it almost all back together and was about to transfer the large heat-sink from my old computer to my new one when I remembered it had a back-plate. The standard heat-sink and fan combo that comes with new CPUs is small and light and simply plugs into the motherboard directly but big ones are heavy enough they require some metal bracing to be put on the back for extra durability. I sighed because that meant taking some parts out of the computer I had just put in and I was running short on the time I had allotted.

So I got lazy and just put the standard heat sink in.

For minimal work requiring little memory or where the computer is waiting for user input most of the time, the standard CPU heat-sink and fan is probably OK; but programmers are not typical office workers. I was reminded about my laziness every time I started overloading my computer, like when I had a couple of virtual machines loaded and three different web browsers running, each with multiple tabs, or when I played almost any video game. The little fan would start spinning faster and trying to keep up with the increasing chip heat, blowing air over it's little heat-sink as fast as it could. But it was struggling--and the inside temperature gauge on the motherboard reached into the upper 90s quite often.

Excessive heat is not good for electronics--and the fan noise is annoying. So I finally spent the couple of hours to get out the tools, open up the computer, mount the back plate, spread the thermal compound, attach the oversize fan, and check the air flow. Now, it running cool and quiet, the temperature hardly ever gets above 65, and I've probably extended the life of the CPU by quite a bit.

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