So two days ago I got invited to participate in the City of Heroes beta test, which I found surprising considering that the game has just gone gold and should be hitting store shelves sometime next week, but I’m not one to turn down a chance to play the game for free for a week so I logged in and downloaded all 755 megs that made up the client. With my broadband it only took a half-hour or so and the next thing I know I’m busy making up a super hero and then right in the middle of customizing her skin-tight super-outfit my PC suddenly shuts itself off.
What the fuck?
I press the power button and it starts to power up again only to shut down almost immediately. I let it sit for a few moments and tried again and went into the BIOS immediately so I could check system temps. Just as I thought the CPU was running hot. It started at around 58 degrees Celsius and started climbing into the 70’s. Oooo. Not good. Max operating temp for an AMD Athlon 2500+ is around 85 degrees Celsius and with as high as this was at idle I’m sure I was hitting that when the processor was under load and that’s why it was shutting down. A safety feature built into the processor. Checking the case I see all the fans are running so I’m confused as to what the problem is. Shutting it down and inspecting things more closely revealed that the CPU fan has collected way more dust than it first appeared. OK, not a problem. Remove the fan from the heatsink and blow it all out with compressed air. Put it back together and turn it on and the temps are much more reasonable at around 53 degrees Celsius at idle and only around 64 or so under load. Not GREAT, but tolerable.
So I get to thinking it’s about time I swapped out the stock heatsink and fan for something a bit more robust and some thermal grease. So today I picked up a new HSF unit on the way home from work and I sat down first thing in the door and set about swapping out the old for the new. I had a little trouble getting the new heatsink on as it was considerably larger than the old one. Hit the power switch and… and… and…
The case is lit up like a Christmas tree and fans and hard drives are spinning merrily, but there’s no video signal and no POST beeps. Is that a burning smell? Shut it off. Turn it on. Same thing. Shut it down. Take out the processor. Turn it on. Motherboard immediately starts playing a “THE CPU IS NOT INSTALLED” sound sample to me so the motherboard is OK. Put the processor back in and remount the HSF and turn it on. Nothing. Just lights and fans. Shut it down and look at the chip closely, doesn’t look like I crushed it though it does look like the thermal grease built up a bit more than I expected when I was trying to get the HSF latched down. About all I can figure is that there must have been too much thermal grease and it ended up having the reverse effect of what was intended and I fried my processor.
Shit, damn, fuck, damn, shit, dammit. I’ve fried my share of hardware components in my time, but I have never, ever, fried a processor. Dammit. Not happy. Seriously not happy. About the only bright side to this whole thing is that the 2500+ is considerably cheaper than when I bought it a year ago and I’ve got a new retail version on the way via 2 day air for a mere $80. I considered getting a bigger processor, but the speed differences between the 2500+ and the 2800+ wasn’t all that much and put the cost over $120. Any of the higher model Athlons than the 2800+ and I’d be close to the cost of one of the new Athlon 64 bit processors which are going for an amazingly inexpensive $170 these days, so there’s no point in buying anything bigger than the 2800+. I’d love to get an Athlon 64 instead, but that would require buying a whole new motherboard to go along with it and I definitely can’t afford to do that right now. So I’ve got the same processor as the one I just fried, dammit, on the way and it should be here no later than Tuesday. So I’m a little less pissed than I was, but I’m still not happy.