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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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Keepin’ busy for a month

So when I resigned from CGI, I thought I’d have to stay through the entire 2 month notice period with the org. However, since there was no dependency on me, I was hoping for an early release and thankfully that did happen. I initially thought of joining the new job right away but decided to take a month-long break from work and relax for a month.

A month seemed quite a lot, however the days went by so fast I didn’t even realise that my break was over. So here’s somethings I did to keep myself busy(few of those I had been meaning to do since a long time, never got around to doing it)

  • The first week was pretty much devoted to completing a freelance job I had with SAP – to write a 6-part tutorial series on how you can use SAP Web IDE and Github for collaborative development
  • I also spent a fair amount of time in playing/completing games that I had been meaning to since a while: Tropico 4, Transistor, Just Cause 3, Journey, Pillars of Eternity, Broforce, Uncharted 3 and few more
  • Realised how much working at home without a power backup would be a pain because of BESCOM’s sustained powercuts(couple hours almost daily, if not more)
  • Became what Jo calls, “house husband” – do housework ie get fruits/veggies, chop ’em, do the dishes some laundry(they seem so easy.. took couple of hours easy)
  • Cleaned the wiring clutter in our house, esp the one around my desktop. Bought 1m of velcro, used it to tie around lose cables coming from the landline, Ethernet cable from Act, tons of wires coming from/behind the desktop. It’s not quite pretty, but still loads better than how it was before.
  • More cleaning, this time inside the desktop cabinet, tied up wires coming from PSU(which is not modular) and replaced the fan which came with the cabinet(which are incredibly noisy) with BitFenix Spectre. I’ve been replacing each of the fans in the cabinet with this one, they are pretty silent and for the lighting fanatics, they’ll leave your eyes dazzled.
  • Went on a 1,800km roadtrip across coastal Karnataka and Goa(will post travelogue soon)
  • Did some light reading for upcoming new role
  • And lots of sleep, especially thanks to above mentioned powercuts by BESCOM

Overall, it was a good one month break which went by way faster than I imagined!

 

New desktop for the house

Jo’s been inquiring about a new system since quite some time – her current laptop is in a state of broken mess(half the keys don’t work/battery ded etc) and she’d require me to give up my desktop if she needed to work on something for a bit. She does read quite a bit, but that’s something she’s sorted using the Kindle PaperWhite and her Nexus 5X.

Past Friday, she gave me a reminder about having it would be nice and me being a bit free, decided to come up with a new build. Mandatory things were:

  • semi decent processor
  • 8GB RAM (she’s a webdev, browsers are memory hogs)
  • Budget cap of ₹30,000

That’s about it. I started with a base 6th gen Skylake based i3-6100 as my system build. Since I wasn’t sure about the pricing, these are what I came up with:

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Hellforge: my desktop after a long time

I’ve been tinkering with computers for well over 15 years now – and since 2007 I’ve been using laptops almost exclusively – prime reason being space(or the lack of it) since I moved away from my home, to a new city. Staying in a PG meant there was no space.

Since the past year and half I’ve been in Bangalore, staying in a rented house and though wanted to own a desktop, there wasn’t a decent justification to get it, especially since my laptop, HP Envy 14 was coping well. Till November, my Envy’s main system fan died and my laptop was running on GPU fan – which meant running any application would result in temperatures shooting to 80-90 – could barely run a game for 10-15 minutes.

In mid Jan I finally decided to get a new desktop than fix my laptop. Anyway, after doing some research and settling on a budget(which was stretched by over 6k) here’s what I got: (disclaimer: Flipkart affiliate links follow)

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