Mission Cooldown: Reign in on the burning Hellforge! [Aka: How I cleaned up the crud off my CPU heat sink/fan]

It’s been about 4 years since I built Hellforge. It’s gotten some updates:

  • Replaced Gigabyte 7750 with an Asus Strix 970
  • Added on a Samsung Evo 840 256GB
  • Memory upped to 16GB
  • Replaced the Logitech K210 keyboard with a Corsair K70 Lux RGB
  • Replaced the CM default case fans with Bitfenix Spectre

But the one thing that has remained constant: the CPU heat sink and cooler. My old house was dusty and no matter how much I cleaned, within a week or two there’d be quite a lot of dust. I did a  bit of superficial cleaning on the insides but never bothered cleaning the CPU heat sink/fan.

The hesitation comes mainly because I had a torrid time when installing the heat sink the first time and didn’t want to damage it. Off late the processor’s been running hot and the CPU fan’s been on overdrive pretty much all the time. Last week I was curious about the temperatures it was running at and HWMonitor – I wasn’t prepared for this.

Basically the temperatures were close to Tj Max and I wonder how come the CPU wasn’t throttling. With temperatures at this level, I had to do something about this. And egged on with support of Alpha, I decided it’s time to clean it up.

Here’s what I bought to clean up:

  • Compressed air can –  A blast of this can get a lot of dust off but you need to keep this straight, so difficult to use this for hard to reach surfaces
  • Hand pump – really useful for the hard-to-reach surfaces which can’t be reached above
  • Isopropyl Alcohol – You’re going to use this to wipe off the remaining gunk off the heat sink and the CPU.
  • Some tissues/cotton swabs to clean up the gunk
  • CoolerMaster MasterGel – I settled on this after extensive discussion with Alpha. He suggested to get the cheaper one, since the higher priced version is more suited for overclockers

Now, for the pictures. You’ve been warned. This was how it was when I opened the cabinet

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