Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some people have coffee

You'll never forget the smell

If you ever hear your computer making a slight vibrating sound as if two things are rubbing together, it's a bad thing. Similarly, if you put your hand by the rear case fan and don't feel any air, it's a bad thing. If you smell something burning, it's a very bad thing. I've experienced all three in my life. Yesterday, I woke up to the first, quickly discovered the second, and thankfully prevented the third.

I'm not sure what happened exactly. I wake up and hear a faint vibrating-whoom sound, like what you'd expect a fan to sound like in a movie, only at regular intervals instead of constant. Checking the computer I discover that it's coming from somewhere inside. For once I'm actually thankful for the blue LEDs on my case because I can see the shadow the fan is creating, and it's slowly spinning, no more than once per second -- standard is 1200 RPM. I quickly load up a program to check the temperature of my CPU and it's about 10C higher than it should be, and while watching it it ticks up another degree.

Looking at the clock I see that I've only got about 15 minutes before I need to throw on some clothes and go to work. Normally I'd be showering right now but my brother is in there and I know he won't be out for awhile. Much like the Sun rising and France having a foreign policy of "stick it," my brother can always be counted on to shower for lengthy periods of time. When I bought my PC I picked up a 120mm fan for the rear of the case, only to discover it came with one.

It was actually 7:13

Now that spare fan is quite nice to have around. I shut off the PC and begin dismantling it. The only screwdriver I have around is on my leatherman and it's a little too small for the screws, but they come out. I'm about 6 minutes in so far.

I put the new fan in place and begin screwing it in. And the screws don't want to move. After about 3 more minutes of probing and testing I still can't figure why these screws aren't going in -- the only possible explanation is the locking groove they have cut in them not getting along with the fan for some reason. I've only got 6 minutes before I have to get ready for work, so after I get one screw in all the way, another in 80%, and a third in about halfway I figure "good enough" and go to plug the fan in. This is also where I learn that the fan I bought has a different power cable than the old fan and I can't find a proper power source for it.

Pretty, but bright at night

Grabbing the flashlight near me I begin scouring the motherboard for a 3-pin connector for a fan. Nothing. So, I begin looking for adapters somewhere to plug it into the standard 4-pin power cable. Again, nothing. The only connector I can find that fits is the one that goes to the side fan -- the 250mm side fan that I am not willing to turn off. (I already disabled the front 250mm fan because of the LED on it, I'm not about to shut off the other one; there are only three fans on this thing.) At this point I'm 3 minutes over my "you have to get ready for work" time. And I haven't gotten dressed yet. I know that when I was putting together my system there was a spare 3-pin connector somewhere. And I was right. I finally find the 3-pin connector right next to the CPU heat sink and barely accessible, but I manage to get it plugged in. In under 30 seconds I get my system put back together with all fans and cables attached, put back in place under the desk, and booted up.

A quick check of the CMOS ensures I didn't lose anything and a check of the core temperatures shows that the new fan is working swimmingly. The system is again running at about 47C -- maybe a little hot for idle, but it is OC'd by 15%. Furthermore, the system is actually quieter now since the fan I installed only produces 17 dB, even when only partially connected.

So far I haven't finished screwing in the fan yet. Most of the screws are close to stripped and I don't want to do any more damage to them. Although I did find the screws that came with the fan, so if I get ansy over the next few days I may do some surgery on my system again. We'll see. Hopefully I won't need to mess with the fans anytime soon. I still have no idea what caused the fan to fail -- I took it into work and disassembled it and can't find a thing wrong with it other than that something is slowing it down and causing it vibrating in a very un-fan-like fashion.

A good combination

And that was my morning yesterday. Some people had coffee, I got to dismantle and repair my computer.

Then I went to work. Just a little bit late.

1 comment:

p i a c o n e c t a said...

Once I had coffe, but into my keyboard! It naturally stopped working from Q to M. Nevertheless my coffe cup has returned to my computer desk every morning, at risk of that.