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Tag Archives: learn from my fail

AMD CPUs run really, really hot.

AMD CPUs run really, really hot.

I recently upgraded the CPU on the media center PC in our living room so we could do a little gaming when we’re tired of watching shows and stuff. The upgrade went well except for the stock cooler that came with the CPU. For the amount of sound it made, we may as well have surrounded the case with box fans and taken a leaf blower to it as well for good measure. That thing was LOUD.

I’ve never really done the aftermarket cooler thing because it’s a pain in the ass. Ripping the machine open and performing brain surgery is enough without also having to screw around with thermal paste and most likely take the whole motherboard out just for a fancy cooler. Stock’s fine, thanks. Except now it wasn’t, and I had to do something.

I ordered a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO because it has lots of really good reviews and seems like a safe bet. When it got here… man, I knew it was going to be tall, but it was really tall. As in I wasn’t sure I’d be able to close the case with it in there. I soldiered on though, hoping that once it was secured onto the chip, everything would be tight but alright. So out came the motherboard, off came the old thermal paste, and so forth… and yeah, no, I couldn’t close the case.



What now? Well, if you look at the heatsink, you can see 8 little copper nubs sticking out the top of it. These nubs were the only thing preventing me from closing the case — if they weren’t there, everything would be great. And so, convinced I was awesome enough to do this kind of thing after four years of generally successful home improvement projects, I took a hacksaw to the little bastards and extracted them.

A half hour or so later, I gave myself a pat myself on the back as I slid the side cover back onto the case. Score! I’m so good. After a few minutes of uptime, however, the machine shut itself off without warning. It had overheated. Hmm, that’s odd. Wonder what I did wrong?

I spent until 5:00 AM that night (morning?) trying to fix the problem. I probably cleaned and reapplied the thermal paste like six times, thinking each time I must have done a bad job that last time and that this time would be it. Nope. How about the BIOS? Maybe the fan speed is too low? Nope. I eventually concluded that I was doing everything quite correctly and that it had to be something else.

Could it be those copper tubes? Naw! They’re just pieces of copper bent in such a way that they help conduct the heat! Right? …right?

GeniusIt was, of course, the copper tubes. Butchering them eliminated a key component of the cooler according to this article I finally found. So that kind of sucked.

In the end, that cooler went in the trash and I ended up using a Logisys MC2002GX instead. It was just short enough to fit, it works, and it’s nice and quiet. But yeah, don’t mess with those damn copper tubes.

Down the Rabbit HoleSome of my time is spent supporting an aging home-grown CRM. It’s not particularly user-friendly and sometimes the error messages it produces are rather cryptic, but it gets the job done.

Today, one of its users told me he couldn’t pull up a certain ticket, so I tried to pull up the same ticket and successfully reproduced the error. Looked like a pretty run-of-the-mill bug so far, though I had to wonder how something that’s been working fine for months (and has had no recent code or database changes) suddenly stopped working.

About an hour later, I was pretty far down the rabbit hole trying to get as much of the ticket page to load as I could. I eventually narrowed the problem down to the query that selects the tickets, but noticed something strange: when I selected all tickets, it worked. When I tried to select only the ticket ID the user wanted… no rows. Upon closer inspection, I realized the user had given me a bogus ticket ID, one much larger than the largest ticket ID in the system so far.

I know that was 30 seconds you can’t get back, but hey — now there’s no way you’ll ever spend an hour of your own life on such a thing.