Monday, February 19, 2007

The 2007 Idiot Award: Hello, It's Me

Believe me, you won't even consider any other nominees after you hear this story.

So I was trying to troubleshoot my system after I got back from swimming (I swam on what is normally an off-day so that I would have more time to play Crackdown tomorrow--heh), and I was thinking that maybe I needed a bios update. I had to find out which kind of bios I had (two possible for that motherboard), and rebooting was risky, so I ran Sandra to identify it.

Sandra identified the bios as part of the mainboard information option. However, as I scrolled down, I also saw something new under the "performance tips" section (which is at the bottom of the scroll-down for that screen). It said that my mainboard temperature was too high, and it gave me a reading of 65 degrees Centigrade!

Holy crap. That's around 134 degrees Fahrenheit. That's insane.

Normally, from what I remembered, the mainboard temp was around 45C. That's a huge difference. And I verified the temperature with another program, so it wasn't an erroneous reading.

I'd put in a Noctua case fan about two months ago, and while they are incredibly quiet, I figured the airflow just wasn't high enough. I've got the Antec Sonata II case, and it runs at a slightly higher temperature, anyway.

So surely the combination of reduced airflow and a higher-temperature case was a problem. Maybe not the problem, but I needed to address that temperature issue regardless.

I put my hand to the back of the case, where the case fan opening is, and tried to feel the airflow. Man, it sure didn't feel like much air was being vented out of the case. When I opened up the case and felt inside, it didn't feel like it was taking in much air, either.

I had the old case fan inside the box the Noctua fan came with, so I looked at the back and it mentioned an U.L.N.A. adapter.


There was a little extension cable inside the case that I used so that it could be powered by the motherboard instead of a Molex connector. Very nice of them to include that.

Oh, except that's not what it's for.

U.L.N.A. stands for Ultra Low Noise Adapter. What that little adapter does is basically cut the RPM's of the fan IN HALF.


Now I know what you're thinking: that was incredibly stupid.

No, that was the "smartest" thing I did, actually. Because the OTHER thing I did was INSTALL THE FAN BACKWARDS.

You may be thinking no one can be this stupid. He's making this up. Oh, no, I don't need to make any of this up, becaues I AM that stupid.

So if I had installed the fan in the CORRECT DIRECTION, it would have been even worse.

Incredible. And I've built four systems successfully, although maybe there should be an asterik by all of them now--who knows what's backwards and upside-down.

So I re-mounted the fan, verified that air was blowing in the right direction, and removed the U.L.N.A. adapter, which more than (subjectively) tripled the airflow--but barely increased the noise. Truly, these Noctua fans are superb accoustically, and they move an excellent amount of air considering how quiet they are.

When they're facing in the right direction and technical stuff like that.

I don't think that was my only problem, necessarily, but now the mainboard temp is back to 45C like it used to be, and for now the system is entirely stable. Hopefully I haven't cooked anything.
"Cooked" is one of those technical terms that we system experts use.

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