The Summer Freezes . . .

There’s a story floating around about Intel Macbooks getting a wee bit too hot, with some believing (with reason) that it was due to a bad thermal grease job by Apple.

That’s neither here nor there for most of you, but it does serve as a reminder to all Northern Hemisphere types that warmer weather can sometimes mean CPUs freezing on you.

What may be adequate air and/or water cooling when the room temperature is relatively cool may no longer be the case when the temperature of that air or water goes up, and sometimes it doesn’t take much. This is especially so when you’ve overclocked to the edge. If the surrounding air (or water) is 5C warmer, that means 5C less cooling

If you find that a machine is starting to freeze on you (or for someone else) now and in the next few weeks, this possibility ought to be the first, or one of the first items you should look at, whether you built it or not, whether it’s overclocked or not.

If you or whomever hasn’t seen your cooling fans lately (or ever), they may be dust-challenged (or, more likely if it’s a Sixpack machine, they fought the dust, and the dust won). It might be a good time to clean them out, all of them, even the ones not attached to the CPU.

If it’s an OEM machine, or you initially used some bargain basement glop, maybe it’s time to start living high and get yourself a tube of some of the advanced stuff.

Get rid of the old glop/thermal tape/thermal pads (and I’ve seen some pretty sloppy OEM pastings), and clean the cooler and CPU with tissues and a little rubbing alcohol (but don’t get obsessive-compulsive about any tiny little traces remaining). Then apply a fairly thin layer of the good stuff on it. Don’t get crazed over the word “thin,” the cooler will end up squeezing out small excesses when you put it back on, but don’t plop on a glop, either. Just make sure all of the CPU face is covered at least a little by the stuff.

If possible and practical, finding a cooler spot to put your computer never hurts. There’s an equivalent of “garbage-in, garbage-out” for cooling, it’s “hot air/water in, hotter air/water out.” When you’re overheating, what do you want: cold or hot air/water? Well, your CPU feels the same way.

Finally, for overclockers, if you’ve been living on the edge, you may have to lower your CPU numbers as the temperature numbers rise. Scaling back to default is always a good idea for an initial diagnostic, anyway. If it works at default, you know that heat is your problem; if it keeps freezing, you know it’s something else.


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