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Overheated Intel Core 2 Duo CPU Slows Down Processor Core Speed!

In the topic like “how to improve a computer system performance”, the tips and tricks are mostly centered to how to tune the OS, especially the operating system in question is Windows.

When talk about a CPU temperature, you might came across that some Intel processor could cook an egg or boil water if run without a proper heat dissipation system (such as an efficient heatsink coupled with high performance fan).
So, now you should know what I’m going to tell you. Yes, the truth of a very HOT CPU or central processing unit (hardware) in a computer system could slow down overall system performance, no matter how you fine tune the operating system (software).

My home Desktop has been running for months continuously without power off (except system restart). Thanks to the ASUS P5B-Plus motherboard (that said built with quality capacitors for system that expects to run 24×7).

Then, it was powered off last Friday as I went for a good holiday (almost a week :-)

When it was on again, it hangs after log on to Windows Vista for a while. I pressed the reset button, the system restarted but never boot up to BIOS, and there was no sound/alert from computer speaker.

I guessed that might be CPU overheated. Upon inspection, the original Core 2 Duo heatsink fin and CPU fan were full of deep dark dust that even a 600W vacuum cleaner failed to remove the nasty dust directly (unless working with a brush + vacuum).

After cleaning the dirty dust, it booted up for 3 hours and then the Windows Vista happily threw a deadly blue screen while the Perform Storm casted by George Clooney was about to end :-(.

Before the blue screen triggered, I felt the Windows Vista overall responsiveness and RMVB movie playback apparently lagged.

On the next day morning, I installed the ASUS PC Probe II and Intel Processor ID Utility to check CPU temperature and performance (actual CPU operating speed). To my surprise, the Core 2 Duo temperature was reported at above 90℃ (screenshot shows 80℃) and the actual running speed of Core 2 Duo E6400 was 1.57 Ghz against the expected 2.13 Ghz:

CPU that suffers inefficient heat dissipation could effectively slow down computer system performance.
CPU that suffers inefficient heat dissipation could effectively slow down computer system performance.

After an hour (the hot baby should cool down to room temperature), I opened the CPU casing and found that the heatsink was actually not tightly attached to the Intel processor. Because of my careless, one of the pushpin alike fastener was found “damaging”, which is likely caused by reinstallation of heatsink.

How to fix the damaging heat sink? I didn’t really think about how to “repair” it and bought the Cooler Master Hyper TX2 as replacement, cost me 30 bucks :-( to get a cooler Core 2 Duo processor that’s now running full speed at 2.13 Ghz (without overclock):

When CPU temperature is high, the processor core speed could be lower than expected.
When CPU temperature is high, the processor core speed could be lower than expected.

So, if your computer is running slower or hangs up suddenly (regardless Windows or Linux), remember to check / tune both hardware and software.

Besides CPU temperature, high performance graphic card (of NVidia / ATI) also requires efficient heat dissipation system for its hot GPU (graphics processing unit).

Similarly, the motherboard and chipset could overheated too and cause system performance and reliability issue, sooner or later.

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  3. Yusoff 03-03-09@15:20

    you wrote:
    “After cleaning the dirty dust, it booted up for 3 hours and then the Windows Vista happily threw a deadly blue screen while the Perform Storm casted by George Clooney was about to end :-(.”

    I believe the movie is called “Perfect Storm”, but nevertheless, I take it as you’ve typo-ed. ;-)

    That’s aside, your choice of Coolermaster heatsink (with heatpipes) is a very wise move. Another reliable brand is Thermaltake. You may buy those fancy and expensive heatsinks as they provide more cooling power with few degrees cooler. But Hyper Tx2 is good enough.

    Oh, I just bought a Core 2 Quad system and using Asus PQ5SE mobo, last week. I’m using PC Probe II (supplied by Asus) and ‘Core Temp’ program to monitor the CPU temp. The thing is, both programs reporting the temp differently. At idle, PCProbe reporting at 33 to 35c but CoreTemp program reports: Core1 52c, Core2 55c, Core3 51c, Core4 42c. So, which should I put my thrust in? I take it PCProbe is reporting the correct overall (since Quad had 4 cores, and Duo got 2) CPU temp.

  4. Walker 03-03-09@23:00

    Yeah, it was Perfect Storm and I didn’t notice my typo before posting :-(

    You’re so kind to point out this to me. Thank you very much!

    Regarding the temperature difference in monitoring tools, I think the answer should be based on understanding of how the program reads the temperature sensors.

  5. PDP8 23-04-09@00:14

    Just a suggestion, but vacuuming your unit can generate static on hose-end and damage components if discharged. Best to blow, not suck ;-)

  6. Walker 23-04-09@00:20

    Thank you for the advice. I will take note on this.

  7. Matt 23-01-10@01:49

    Dude, you have the same mobo & processor as I do. I had the same thing happen, too! However, I lived in AZ and did not have an Air Conditioner, so temps in my house were almost 90F, which did not help the internal case temp. So I got a cooler master case and a tuniq tower, then my core was running at a cool 50C even at full load!

  8. Petersen 29-03-10@02:20

    My Core 2 Duo was running above 160 degres while it was installing linux.

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