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Are You Trying to Kill Me?!!

Posted by Miss Knotty on May 6, 2010

How the Knitter tried to make her computer run better, but instead, inadvertently almost destroyed its insides.

Do you know what Thermal Compound is?

I didn’t.

Thankfully, our friend Larry knows just what it is.

To me, it was goo that was probably just old adhesive.  In point of fact, it’s an insulating goo that prevents your computer processor from getting overheated and melting down into slag inside your very expensive computer.

I opened up my computer to blow it out; I do that every couple of months, in addition to blowing off the vents on the outside of the box.  I find this makes my computer run (a little) quieter and cooler.

Now, all you tech-heads need to turn away, because I’m about to tell you a true story that’s going to make you want to slap me upside the head or shake me until my teeth rattle.  I implore you to do neither; it would hurt alot.  Besides, no one could be angrier at me that I am at myself for this little idiot-spree.

But I digress.

So, I opened up the box and blew out two of the fans.  There’s a fan attached to a big metal piece attached to the motherboard, which I learned is called a “heat sink”. This particular fan works to cool the processor.  Oh.  Well, it turns out that there are little brackets on there that allow you to take it off, presumably to clean it.  (Right?)  So I turned the little screw things, unplugged it from the motherboard and freed it from the assembly (under Mr. Man’s very concerned eye.) Well, there was this gray gooey stuff on the back.  So I wiped it off.  I figured (and so did Mr. Man) that it was old adhesive, used to hold the unit in place after assembly, and to keep it still in packing/transit.  (It’s a fair assumption that this “glue” would eventually wear off, since the machine is 7 years old…) Anyway, so we thought it was glue.  I wiped it off.  Then, to add insult to injury (the computer’s insult and injury), I pulled out the processor and wiped it off too, so both surfaces were all nice and clean, and won’t that improve the computer’s performance, I’m so glad I pulled this fan thing off.  This is probably what’s causing some of the problems I’m having.


I got it all back together, plugged all the fans back in, and turned the machine on.  It turned on, and then shut right back off, which is such a good sign that things are all running great, right?! So I turned it on again, thinking it was maybe a false start or something.  It turned on, ran for about 5 seconds, and then shut off.

Oh, goody. I have just destroyed my computer.  (Or so I thought.  I didn’t find out until we were in the parking lot at Micro Center to buy a new laptop (because I just can’t not have a computer, right?!) that the goo was there for a purpose, and that I shouldn’t have wiped it off.   (I should note at this point that I had already come to this conclusion, but didn’t know that the goo was replaceable.)  The bright side of this story is that we talked to Larry the Fabulous, Super, Life- and Sanity-Saving Computer Expert, and he told us, “Yeah, you shouldn’t have wiped that off, this is what it’s called, go get some and it’ll fix the problem.”  We went in, found some thermal compound (oh! That’s what the goo is called!) and had an $8 fix instead of a potentially very expensive problem.  We got home, smeared that stuff on the back of the processor, put it all back together and the computer is running again!  (cue Hallelujah Chorus.  I was so relieved.)

I’m a little sad because I didn’t get a new laptop and I’d kinda like one, but this way I can plan for when the computer actually does die, and I can research the computers and get one I want, rather than having to settle for one of the ones I didn’t particularly want, but needed like right now.

Also, I saw my first Blu-Ray programming at the store tonight.  People really shouldn’t be shot in H-D.  I NEVER needed to see Leonard Nimoy’s nostrils in that kind of detail. I wasn’t prepared for that level of awesome.


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