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PC Health

Rough DRAFT Notes by Julian H. Stacey

A tale of PC hardware butchery ...

My AMD64 BIOS BIOS has a section marked: "PC Health"

Worth thinking about when, or before a PC keeps crashing !

I hacked 2 big holes in front of main PC & another of same type chassis: power jigsaw on thin steel chassis, to make a circle to match front fan size.

The original fan holes were small (2mm) & sparse & useless, & front plastic holes/slots were miniscule & did not align.

The low noise power supply ran OK, kept itself merely not too hot, but was not adequate to pull air through chassis to keep everthing cool.

Then I hacked a matching larger square hole out of the plastic bezel (square so fan can now be unscrewed & replace without removing bezel, without removing cdrom drives before that etc.

Made an awful doubtless posionous thus well ventilated stink with soldering iron to poke 1st hole to saw from.

Took a 3 wire fan

  • There are 2 types of 3 wire fans:
  • Some report the speed theyre going at on the 3rd green wire.
  • Some use the 3rd green to join to a temp. detector.
  • Theres even 4 wire apparently, though not seen 'em, I guess they do both.
took it from a CPU (athlon) cooler from a dead board, & installed on 1st chassis.

Now finally I hope chassis remains sufficiently cooler so hopefuly the new box wont crash. It kept crashing before, till I took side panel off, (no way was it BSD crashing, it was just a hardware problem.

Much as I criticise MS, even MS may sometimes get blamed for OS crashes that are really dodgy power or heat.

I use (/usr/ports/sysutils/xmbmon) to sample CPU & chassis fan speeds, & voltages too, both on a one off & or permanent graphical icon type. Actually my hardware is not quire fully monitored yet: BSD hasn't caught up quite, & won't display all temps yet on an AMD 64 apparently, just some, more in progress @ Feb 2005. Maybe Redmond's OS may show more at present.

The BIOS too shows fan speeds & voltages before one starts the OS, ie BSD or XP, or more accurately for XP users, if you manage to convince XP not to start immediately, & stay in BIOS.

Whether via BIOS or mbmon, It's a way of keeping an eye on PC health without needing to unscrew case.

Mbmon is very useful for my remote net servers One can remote diagnose a crashing server before scheduling a visit to replace the right part, eg a CPU fan. Armed with knowledge of a failing CPU fan, one can even take action before visiting site, eg:

  • deload processes to another server, back up data to other servers, before scheduling an outage,
  • or to just issue a halt if really worried about overheating CPU.
So my remote servers mail me their health status periodically, automatically.

You may not know what fan speeds & temps you want/ expect, but if you just store the values, then if things start to fail, compare with old values, & see if worse, ie hoter, or slower fan speed, perhaps spindle jammed by dust fluff etc.

When a modern PC crashes one can often take the side panel off & see if it helps. OK, theoretically if the power supply fan is pulling air hard enough, taking the side panel off might reduce air flow, but power supply fans virtually never do pull that much air, so usually taking the side panel off cools a machine.

On a PC, particularly an ATX, there should be no more than 12V exposed, so you shouldn't electrocute yourself. (Some old PC-ATs do have 220/240V runing to switch at front of chassis, that may not be well insulated by rubber boots round spade clips etc.

One should also be able to see in laptop what the temps are, & BIOS &/or OS may also offer low power mode to save battery (& thus over heating too).

A silent commercial PC

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