Thermal Grease– Optional?

This kind of letter isn’t too uncommon, I’ve gotten about five of these the last few months.

The person had gotten a PIII 500 from a friend and was wondering how far he could overclock with it. Asked a question or two and quickly determined it was a Katmai

The person was nice enough to include a system report from some program, and out of sheer dumb luck, I saw the temperature reading. It was 154F, running at spec.

I immediately sent the following:

“Whoa! 154F???? Is that temperature reading accurate? If it is, you ain’t
doing any overclocking until you address that, else you will have one dead
processor. What are you using for a heatsink/fan? Did you apply thermal
grease between the heatsink/fan and CPU?”

This is what I get back:

“OK. How much can I clock please? The bios shows temp at 140F. This is a CPU
I picked up from a friend – tomorrow I will apply the HTC paste.”

This guy wants to overclock NOW. He doesn’t want to be bothered with annoyances like thermal grease.

Do you understand why I write like such a nanny sometimes?

If this were just one guy, that would one thing, but both Joe and I see this at least once a month.

A few years ago, a friend of mine bought a Celeron 266. I told him to put on thermal grease. He didn’t want to be bothered. So I let him.

A couple hours later, I get a call. “My processor keeps crashing.” I said, “Now do you want to put on thermal grease?” Somehow, his willingness had blossomed. 🙂

We did the deed, and voila, no more problems!

Back then, you or I could afford to let somebody learn from this mistake. Now, we can’t. The AMD processors or Willamettes won’t let us; they’ll burn up.

I would bet a lot of AMD CPU RMAs are caused by just this, people who didn’t think thermal grease and/or proper heatsink placement mattered.

If you didn’t know better, now you do.

If you do know better, this is something to look out for and ask about if somebody’s having problems with a homebuilt system. If I hadn’t seen that temperature reading, I probably would have told him
to do certain things, and it could well have resulted in an ex-processor. I got lucky, and so did he (though he doesn’t seem to appreciate this at the moment). Make your own luck if you’re in my shoes.

Email Ed

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