My PC was already assembled to my specifications, it has an Intel DX58SO motherboard and an Intel i7-920 processor with that appears to be a stock Intel CPU heatsink/fan combination (has an Intel logo).
In the past week the PC has suddenly been giving a lot of troubles, it simply goes to a black screen with running fans. It could happen within a couple of minutes up to 15-20 minutes, not more. No warning, simply a sudden black screen.
The PC operates in a hot tropical climate, there is a fan but even so the room temperature is about 27-28 Celsius, sometimes 29-30C. The PC case however has about 6 fans, several in the case, the graphic card fan, the large CPU heatsink with fan, a smaller IC fan nearby, etc.
I thought it was the memory and bought a single 4GB module but the problem kept on happening. I thought it was the nVidia card (204W) so I bought a cheaper and less power hungry (30W) nVidia card but the problem still ocurred within a couple of minutes of being on the BIOS setup screens.
So, I ran a final test, I turned on the air conditioner (electricity is too expensive to run the airco every day) and let it run until the room temperature was 25 Celsius. I also left the PC case open and installed one of those portable fans for human cooling at max speed (2) to blow air right at the CPU. I booted the OS and used the PC for more than 3 hours playing videos and internetting without any problems, not a single shut down.
It appears the sudden Black Screen of Death (not a Blue Screen) is caused by CPU overheating. This PC was bought in November 2009, so it has been used for nearly 2.75 years of which 2+ in this hot tropical climate. I believe the termal transfer characteristics between the CPU and its heatsink & fan have degraded to a point that it no longer suits the job.
Today I bought a tube of Arctic Silver thermal compound but I have a few questions on how to proceed:
- Does the i7-920 comes with a pre-applied thermal pad? if so how do I remove it to then apply the Arctic Silver compound gel?
- The heatsink/fan has four strange tower pins that go down to the base and at the top they have something with an arrow indicating it has to be turned that way (to close? to open?). I moved it that way but I can't get the heatsink dislodged, nor I see how it can come off the "tower" pins. Where do I find an instruction manual about that stock heatsink/fan?