You are proud of your computer. It gives you entertainment and productivity, but there are times when it all goes wrong and you’re left with a subpar machine. This is what hit us, our machine, a AMD Ryzen 5 5600X Windows 10 powered desktop computer, had given us a year of service. But then everything went wrong. Our CPU temperatures nearly doubled, even when idling. We had to get to the bottom of it, and fast!
What follows are the steps we take to get our system back up and running.
Identification of the problem
The focus of the project is to determine the cause of a temperature issue with our desktop PC. For over a year it has been running normally, but recently it has been hotter than normal. The desk was built into a Phanteks P360A Caseand we replaced the stock AMD cooler on our AMD Ryzen 5600X with a calm down! Thin Rock Shadow 2 cooler.
Us we check the temperature of our CPU using Core Temp, and it was very far from the norm. Usually our CPU works between 37 and 42 degrees Celsius. Sometimes this can reach the range of 50 to 60 degrees Celsius when we are gaming or editing videos. But the problem we faced was a CPU temperature of 75 degrees Celsius, while doing our daily tasks, which are mostly browser based work, Slack and GIMP image editor.
What was causing our CPU to get so hot and how can we fix it? To understand this we needed to do a little detective work. We start by looking at the running processes with Task Manager.
1. Right click on the Windows Start menu and select Task Manager.
two. Identify the process causing the problem. The identifier could be high CPU usage or it could be power usage. If it’s power, then the power usage trend column can help identify if you’re working harder than normal. In our scenario, power usage was very high, when it typically tends to be low. This is the source of our problem.
3. If the process is importantfor example, Windows Explorer, right click on the process and select Restart. This will restart the process and possibly resolve the issue.
Four. If the process is not importantt, for example, a gaming service, right click on the process Y select End task.
5. Re-open the app/tool that was identified as the problem via Task Manager. If the problem does not reoccur, it has been resolved. In our example, we reopened Windows Explorer and navigated to a folder that contained a project we were working on. After a moment, the fans on our desktop PC kicked on, indicating that the CPU was once again overheating.
A little digging suggested that Quick Access, the toolbar addition that offers quick access to recently opened files and folders, was the problem. To disable quick access, follow the steps below.
1. Open Windows Explorer.
two. Click View and then Options.
3. Under Privacy, uncheck Show recently used files Y folders in Quick Access, and then click OK. We will lose the automatically generated list of commonly used files and folders from Windows Explorer, but we can add our own files/folders to the list.
Four. Check Task Manager to determine if power/CPU usage has returned to normal.
Preventative maintenance is never exciting, but spending a little time now will pay off later. We need to keep our PC clean, both physically and electronically. We also need to keep our system updated and secure. So let’s check off the to-do list and keep our PC running.
Keep PC clean
Dust, dirt, and pet hair will get into your build, filters will become clogged, and your system will get hot. Ultimately, your machine will have to work harder and overall performance will suffer. Once a year it’s wise to give your PC a thorough cleaning, keeping it running longer. Always perform these tasks with the power turned off and the PC unplugged from the electrical outlet.
Clean the outside of the case with a cloth and some isopropyl alcohol. This will remove fingerprints, grease, and dirt.
- Regularly remove the filters from their case and clean them. Clogged filters will restrict airflow, causing the housing temperature to rise.
- Use a stiff brush to clean the fan blades and the inside of the case. Be careful as the components are fragile and expensive.
- Clean the inside of the box with cans of compressed air. Do it outdoors or in a garage, as it will create a lot of dust. A little isopropyl alcohol (IPA) can be used to clean stubborn marks. It will evaporate quickly, but give it time before turning on the power.
- Clean your CPU cooler with the brush, compressed air and a clean cloth. The fan will draw air over the heat sink, so both will need to be cleaned.
- Replace the thermal paste on your CPU. The thermal paste/compound will often dry out and become more of an insulator than a conductor of heat. This should be done every time a CPU or cooler is changed, or if a PC has been in storage for some time.
- Clean your GPU Y replace thermal paste. Keeping your GPU clean and tidy will ensure you get the best bang for your buck. This must be done if a PC has been in storage for some time.
- Make sure the ventilation slots on the power supply are free of dust and debris. Don’t open the power supply to clean inside, there are some big capacitors that can give you a nasty shock.
- Clean the outside of the case with a cloth and some isopropyl alcohol. This will remove fingerprints, grease, and dirt.