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CPU Overheating? Answered

I have an Acer Aspire x1700 that I am trying to fix. I have replaced the 220w psu with a Seasonic 250w because this model is known to have bad power supplies (it wouldn't power on at all with the original psu). I also replaced the original thermal paste since I removed the heatsink/fan to clean it. When I got everything back in and plugged it in, no power. I read that the graphics card (Nvidia Geforce G100) can sometimes fail and cause the pc to not power on. I removed that and turned it on. This time it had power and booted normally to the Windows desktop. After about a minute the cpu fan became very loud, like a jet taking off, then it completly shut down. Could I have not applied the thermal paste properly and it was overheating?


Too much thermal paste will acts as an insulator. You only need a razer thin amount of paste. It's only there to fill in the vary small voids between the CPU and Cooler.

What was the initial problem with the system?

I am pretty sure the problem was the gpu (which I found out now) but initially I thought it was the psu. I intalled a better psu just in case. I put a BB size amount of thermal paste on the cpu and and spread it all over the surface with my finger with rubber gloves. It looked like a lot but I was afraid of having too little. Will a pc shut itself down when it overheats or might it be damaged now?

For the most part the CPU will throttle down so it doesn't overheat and throw out warning that there is a heat issue. But other items like the chip set or RAM can overheat and shut the system down. Use Core Temp to monitor the heat and fans while it's running and see what happens. Also check the event log to see if windows is throwing errors before the shutdown. If any part has been damaged due to a bad PSU that could be the problem. But the even logs may shed some light on the issue.

How do I access these places? I'm not sure if I would have enough time before it would shut down again. Should I re-do the thermal paste and let the pressure of the heatsink spread it out instead of using my finger? Sorry for all the questions; I'm using this pc for learning how to repair them since it's a pretty low-end one.

Redo the thermal paste. Clean the old paste off with rubbing alcohol and a lint free towel. Put a BB in the center of the CPU and place the heatsink on it. Tighten opposite corners at the same time, this will spread the paste evenly. The enemy here is air, spreading it with your finger can create air pockets that insulate the CPU from the heatsink. Less is more with thermal paste, you only need a thin (1/100 of an inch) coating to do its job.

I attached HWmonitor, I hope the attachment works. It will show you the temps, max and min. Run it as soon as the computer boots up to start logging, watch for anything that gets hotter than 80*C (176*F)

I'll put the program on a flashdrive and try loading it from that. When I put the heatsink back on before, I had a hard time getting the 4th screw in (they have springs attached). I do have some 99% isopropyl alcohol which removed the old thermal paste very well. This time I'll just use a little and let the pressure spread it out. How do I know if it spread evenly? Some say to use a dot, a line, or an x shape of thermal paste. Which do you think is most effective for square cpu surfaces?

Use a dot, it spreads into a nice circle covering the processor die. I've tried the line, X, the :), the H. On desktop processors, nothing works more reliably than a BB sized dot in the center of the processor.

When you're screwing in the heatsink, set it on the processor, make sure the screws line up. Thread each screw in a couple turns, making sure they don't crossthread. They should screw in very easy. Screw them in all the way till they stop. The springs prevent damage to the motherboard and allow the heatsink to adjust to the processor's height.

I probably didn't have screws lined up at first, which made it difficult. Out of curiosity, can malware cause a computer to be inoperable? The previous owner was not internet-smart (clicks on everything!)

Yup it can, malware can prevent you from using windows the way it was intended. Download malwarebytes and run a threat scan. Quarantine everything found and reboot. See if that solves anything.

For the screws, push down on the head and turn the driver backwards, wait for a click, then screw in the screw. This will make sure the threads line up and don't cross thread.

I know a few people that are click before they think.

I removed the heatsink to clean everything and start over and found the problem: the heatsink never touched the cpu at all! Not sure how that happened but I tightened all four screws and didn't use as much force this time.

I know the cpu heatsink is not right (too much paste) but I think there might be malware problems too. I suppose this a good learning experience for me. Thanks for all the help everyone :)

The pressure will spread it as needed. But if you had trouble getting the heatsync back on and it didn't snap into place it probably wasn't seated vary well and caued the problems.

Thanks for the help :) I'll re-do the heatsink within the next day or so and report on what happened (hopefully better than before). With the screws I was thinking that I needed to press hard on it because of the springs but that probably made it worse.