Computer fixed – for now

I finally had to sort out my motherboard’s stupid chipset fan. I wrote recently about how it stopped completely. I also mentioned that I was seriously thinking about replacing it completely. In the past few weeks, it had begun to make loud, horrible noises (just like the original fan did), and it also started speeding up and slowing down erratically. Normally it would spin around 5000 rpm, but it was fluctuating anywhere between 5000 and 1500 rpm. Last night it went from 5000 to 4000 to 1500 rpm in about 5 minutes and it sound absolutely sick. I switched off the pc right away, not wanting to risk a complete failure and burning out my chipset.

I have been SO ANGRY about this. I’ve been reading hardware forums since the first chipset fan needed replacing and seen that I am well and truly not the only person who has suffered with the A8N-SLI motherboard’s chipset fan. Both the basic and deluxe models have the fan; the premium has fanless cooling. At the time of purchase I didn’t buy the fanless model because 1) I didn’t know the chipset fan was a piece of shit and would need replacement, 2) I didn’t need the extra features of the premium board, and 3) the premium board was around $90 more expensive (why would I pay an extra $90 for a top of the range motherboard with features I probably wouldn’t use, right?). I suppose if I had known then what I know now I might’ve paid the extra $90 for the premium board, but you know what? I used to think Asus was a quality brand for motherboards, but I don’t think that now. Their original and replacement (supposedly superior) chipset fans for this board are both crap. The board cost me $209. And then the time taken to disassemble the computer to get the motherboard out to bring back to the shop, then the train and bus fare to and from the shop, then the time taken to rebuild the computer, then the cost of the Zalman passive heatsink (it didn’t cost that much, but that’s not the point), then the train fare to Jac’s work to pick up the passive heatsink (more on this shortly), then the time taken today to dissassemble and rebuild the computer again. Yes, most unfortunately, the chipset fan could only be removed/replaced safely with access to the back of the motherboard, meaning I had to take the motherboard out of the case each time. My next motherboard will definitely not be an Asus.

I actually ordered the Zalman passive heatsink on the weekend from the same place I bought my CPU from, VTech Industries. I had a bad feeling about the chipset fan and really did not want to replace it with another fan. I also didn’t want to leave buying some sort of replacement until the fan died completely. So I decided I would order one of the Zalmans and have it ready to use just in case. I ordered on Sunday, paid via direct bank deposit, received confirmation of my order on Monday, was told the order had been shipped on Tuesday, and I received it today. Good timing, I thought.

All my online pc parts purchases usually get delivered to Jac’s office, because on days I’m at uni there’s no one at home to receive the deliveries, which usually come by courier. Jac’s co-workers are apparently quite fascinated by the different packages that get delivered for me. “What is she doing to her computer now?” they ask (of course, Jac doesn’t know heheh). So anyway today I took the day off and waited impatiently for Jac to call me telling me my Zalman had been delivered. It’s always the way – when you’re indifferent, the stuff comes super-fast, and you’re really eager for it to arrive it seems to take forever. Luckily Jac rang around 11:30am. I was just hoping that the courier wouldn’t deliver it really late in the day, like 4:30pm or something.

So anyway, I caught the train to Jac’s work. We decided to have lunch together at the lunch bar up the street from her office (the pictures will be in the next post), which was really nice (the food and the company :)) After lunch, I came home and got started on the computer.

I worked very slowly to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong. I also cleaned the case and components with a can of compressed air (Billy Lee was afraid of the spray noise fffffffffttt!). There were tricky bits, like squeezing and pushing the push-pins of the old fan from the back of the motherboard to remove it – very difficult as I had to do it myself with no one to help hold the board steady on its side while I squeezed and pushed the pins. Those pins are a bitch to remove. And then the installation of the Zalman was difficult too – lining up the its push pins to the holes in the motherboard while holding the board steady with the heatsink a little slippery with thermal paste underneath was quite impossible on my own. Luckily Jac was home by then and I got her to hold the board steady while I positioned the heatsink and pushed the pins into the board. It was also hard to do because I have small hands – my finger span wasn’t large enough to hold onto the board to keep the heatsink still while pushing the pins in.

It’s all done now, and so far so good. I was a little worried I’d killed something somewhere (of course, I could have, it could just be a delayed reaction, rather than a catastrophic failure), but the pc seems to be running fine. Only time will tell if the passive cooling is adequate for my system. Fingers crossed. I really don’t want to piss-fart around with it again.

EDIT: Whoever invented push-pins was an idiot.

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