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Author Topic: [How To] PC Tuneup  (Read 1544 times)

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Offline Spanky

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[How To] PC Tuneup
« on: Thursday, March 11, 2010, 18:15:21 PM »
This is going to be a tutorial for those who purchased a OEM (HP, Dell, Systemax, etc...) computer. For those that built their own computer, you should know this stuff and if not, you probably shouldn't be messing with hardware. For those that purchased a custom built computer, you probably should have just bought an OEM instead of paying for someone else's hardware opinions. This tutorial is based upon my personal experiences on what works and what doesn't. This is meant for you to restore your computer to a condition as good or better than it was when it was first turned on.


Tools/Accessories:
  • Rubbing Alcohol (higher percent means less water but I've never had a problem with regular)
  • Compressed Air (either hand pump or a motorized air compressor, I don't recommend canned air)
  • Phillips #2 Screwdriver (pretty universal, other sizes may be needed)
  • Sewing Machine Oil
  • Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound
  • Zip Ties

Basic Steps:
  • Disassembling
  • Dusting
  • Heatsink Removal, Cleaning and Re-Applying
  • Fan Cleaning and Lubrication
  • Cable Organization
  • BIOS Update

Windows-Only Steps:
  • Re-Install OS
  • Install All Applications
  • Defragment



Explanation of steps:
Disassembling a OEM computer, especially newer ones, is pretty easy. OEM desktops and servers are built with replacing parts in mind. I've seen some Dell's where it's as easy as rotating a plastic lever and the whole CPU heatsink comes off with minimal effort. Drive slide in and out, power supplies rotate. It's all very easy but this makes each model have a different method of removal. For most typical desktops I don't fully disassemble them. I'll take the heatsinks off (see more later), usually unplug all the cables (make sure you know where they go) and if there's a lot of dust or the northbridge/southbridge heatsinks have a mounting that requires access to the backside of the motherboard, I'll pull the motherboard out. I'll also remove all fans and the front cover so more deeper dusting can be done.

Dusting is easy and almost a little fun, provided you're outside or at least well-ventilated. I use a small hand pump which is a one time cost and hasn't failed on me yet. I despise cans of air since it isn't only air (flammable toxic propellants and the potential to freeze/damage components) and it's a limited use then you have to buy more. If I had a motorized air compressor, I would probably use it but the cost and hassle associated is the reason why I don't :) There's a lot of visible dust which is easy to get but there's quite a bit hidden as well. Places to consider would be under motherboards, in and around fans, in front panels and most importantly, inside power supplies. Whenever I dust a computer, I get a surprising amount of dust blown out of the power supply. It's important to blow air in at multiple angles both on the intake and exhaust end. Power supplies generally run a low-rpm fan for silence but because of this they can get a bit warm and dust only worsens that situation.

Heatsink removal and cleaning is a key part in reliability and longevity of your computer. Stock heatsinks don't generally do a great job at cooling, it's usually only adequate enough to prevent the computer from crashing under extreme conditions (100% load in a warm/hot environment). Combine this with crappy wax or silicone thermal compound and it's just got bad news written all over it. While you don't need a super cool temp to keep your computer stable, the lower it is means a longer lifespan (as well as voltage but it's hard if not impossible to control that on OEM computers). Removing the old thermal compound can be difficult. More often than not I have to use a razor to scrape off the old compound and then sand it to get some finer stuff along with any wax that might be in there. I do this process for all heatsinks including any that might be on the northbridge or southbridge. After sanding, be sure to use some rubbing alcohol and clean off the heatsink and the cpu completely. Finger prints are the enemy so do not touch either surface. From there, I suggest some Arctic Silver 5 which can be boughten cheaply on eBay. Be sure to use the proper application method and remember, less is more. After applying AS5 and re-mounting the heatsink, I apply pressure to the heatsink and the back of the motherboard along with introducing a twisting motion, this spreads the AS5 out and helps guarantee an even coat. Also, it's reported that there is a curing time with AS5 since it will become more viscous at warmer temperatures and get into the microscopic cracks, some people say it could be as much as 5C. I haven't observed this but it's something to keep in mind.

Fan cleaning and lubrication is right up there with heatsink cleaning. Cleaning simply means dusting and you may need to use a cloth of some sort to remove some of the crusted on dust. A lot of people think that fans are just fans and they don't need anything and when they die, you replace them. This isn't quite true. You can lubricate them to improve RPM and keep them running for a long time. A recommended lubrication is sewing machine oil which is pretty cheap and you only need a few drops per fan. Typically, the fan will have a label in the center, under that label can either be an exposed place to lubricate or there may be a rubber cap. In some rare cases, there is no place to lubricate in which case you slap the label back on and forget about it. A few drops of the proper oil (don't use WD-40) then seal up the back, which I find tricky sometimes but a small square of duct-tape does a pretty good job. The lubricant may take a while to get into the fan but it should perform better and should be able to quiet some noisy fans. There have been some rare occasions where I've lubricated and it's made the fan noisier. I don't know if it pulled a piece of dust in or whatever but it eventually will quiet.

Cable organization is key for airflow and can also look good. Using zip ties to tie cables together or close to sides or bay cages works good. I've found that there is always room for improvement in every computer, it may take a while to be creative enough to get it perfect but it's worthwhile.

Updating the BIOS is a significant step. There are many updates released and I have yet to work on a OEM computer with the newest BIOS already installed. I've done HP and Dell updates and they couldn't be easier. You go to the site and look for driver/software updates and there's a BIOS section and you download the latest one. HP and Dell updates are usually done inside with a program inside Windows. While this isn't a preferred method, I haven't bricked a motherboard yet. HP actually flashes inside Windows while Dell initiates a restart and does it before boot somehow. Typically these updates include support for newer CPU's but many can include optimizations and bug fixes. Beware though, flashing any device (unless there's a backup method) is dangerous. Never do it if you are unsure of what you're doing or you don't want to risk your hardware. Make sure all power cables are plugged in fully and don't do it during a storm or other time where you might lose power.

Alright, I'm done with the information for now, I'll add Windows info in a bit. Feedback/suggestions are welcome.
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Offline Spanky

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Re: [How To] PC Tuneup
« Reply #1 on: Thursday, March 18, 2010, 00:57:30 AM »
Not a single comment =\
It's like shaving your pubes to make your junk look bigger.
Might look bigger, but it aint.....

Offline Alex

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Re: [How To] PC Tuneup
« Reply #2 on: Thursday, March 18, 2010, 00:59:49 AM »
I've never even seen this thread before.  :o sorry.

Offline Spanky

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Re: [How To] PC Tuneup
« Reply #3 on: Thursday, March 18, 2010, 01:11:31 AM »
I've never even seen this thread before.  :o sorry.

It's kinda in a screwy spot huh... Well, check it out more when you get on tomorrow if you have the time. My opinion is biased but I think there's quality material in there.
It's like shaving your pubes to make your junk look bigger.
Might look bigger, but it aint.....

Offline Big.Bang

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Re: [How To] PC Tuneup
« Reply #4 on: Thursday, March 18, 2010, 16:42:34 PM »
I though this was a post where u didnt reply too but refer too when you need a little help.
Its great Information.

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Re: [How To] PC Tuneup
« Reply #5 on: Friday, March 19, 2010, 12:59:36 PM »
I really didn't see this either, somehow I missed it. Definitely an interesting read, Spanky. Even though I built my computer, I really do think I learned a few things from this. Like I didn't know you could lubricate a fan.  :)

Offline Knight

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Re: [How To] PC Tuneup
« Reply #6 on: Friday, March 19, 2010, 15:10:35 PM »
Your mom is a fan.



You can lubricate every thing. Lube makes the world go round.
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Offline Big.Bang

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Re: [How To] PC Tuneup
« Reply #7 on: Monday, March 22, 2010, 01:48:12 AM »
I use Corn Oil to lubricate my fans. Never fails me, yet at least.

Offline Spanky

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Re: [How To] PC Tuneup
« Reply #8 on: Monday, March 22, 2010, 02:12:49 AM »
Probably isn't bad but probably isn't recommended. I don't have the proper instruments, time or desire to figure out if it is as good as or better than sewing machine oil. I just know that sewing machine oil comes recommended by many people. I'm sure at least, that it's better than no lubrication :)
It's like shaving your pubes to make your junk look bigger.
Might look bigger, but it aint.....

Offline Spanky

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Re: [How To] PC Tuneup
« Reply #9 on: Monday, March 22, 2010, 18:27:58 PM »
It's a poor lubricant. It's meant to loosen rusty parts and displace water (Water Displacement #40). Same reasons you wouldn't use it instead of motor oil in your car.
It's like shaving your pubes to make your junk look bigger.
Might look bigger, but it aint.....

 

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