AMD Athlon XP Running too hot?

Posted on 2004-08-17
Last Modified: 2013-11-10
Hey Everyone -

I am having some trouble with my AMD Athlon XP (Not sure which model, but I know it's rated at 1.8 gHz).  When I boot up, and go into the BIOS, it tells me that my CPU has a temp of ~137 degrees F.  This crazy, because it's currently running at 1.4 gHz (I clocked it down to see if the temp went down), with the Memory Freq and CPU Freq at 133.  I have a Asus A7N8X motherboard and a Volcano 8 fan on the CPU.  I have two case fans, one that blows outward in the back, and one that blows inward in the front, so it's getting postive air flow.  The power supply also has 2 fans on it, one blowing in and one blowing out, just over the CPU.  

I am having trouble with Star Wars galaxies.  It blurrs out, leaving me with crazy polygon 3D graphics about 2-3 minutes into the game.  I thought that it was defective memory, as I just upgraded my memory from 512MB 333MhZ DDR ram to 1GB 400mHz DDR ram, but that isn't the case.  I am only using the 400 RAM right now, but I checked, and Asus says that my Motherboard should support it.  I have been having problems with the game since I put this new ram in.  I noticed that the temp was high, but I have no idea why it would increase just after the RAM was installed.  I didn't check the temp before hand, so I don't know - it could have been this high before.  

I am wondering if there are any suggestions as to how I can get this game to work.  Like I said, I think that it has to do with overheating, but I am not sure what else I can do to fix this problem.  I have a (reasonably) good fan over the CPU, as well as pretty good case cooling, but I was told that anything over 140 deg F is dangerous.  As such, I would like to reduce the CPU temp, but my CPU is actually just running at 1.4 gHZ right now, and I would like to get it back up to where it was at before the new memory was added, which was 1.8 gHz.  

Is it possible my temp guage is messed up?  I can't see how it could be this high of a temp.  Maybe I should try re-mounting the CPU, and re-applying the thermal paste?  Or maybe a new fan?  Any suggestions would help.

Thanks in Advance,

Question by:Topace
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LVL 36

Expert Comment

ID: 11823679
Hi Topace,
137F for a core temperature is a bit high but well within the spec of the processor.

It sounds more like a video card overheating. What video card do you have?
LVL 69

Assisted Solution

Callandor earned 63 total points
ID: 11823683
It doesn't take long for an AMD to reach searing temperatures, on the order of seconds, which is why AMD motherboards cut off if no cpu fan/heatsink is detected.  You should try a very efficient heatsink, like this Zalman:

You can also try reseating the cpu and heatsink.

Accepted Solution

LonV earned 63 total points
ID: 11824192
Clean the CPU and Heatsinks old paste off with Goof Off, then reapply paste to the processor (about the size of 1/2 a grain of rice is all you should use) and reseat it.  I did mine and found a little hair that got between the 2 somehow, and temps lowered 10c.
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Author Comment

ID: 11824344
I will try reseating the processor and heatsink/fan this evening when I get home.  I can let you know how it goes.

As far as the video card overheating, I have thought this could be it, but I don't know.  I have a nVidia GeForce4 Ti 4400 chipset on an MSI board.  (Don't have the exact specs for the board with me here at work, but I can get it for you this evening when I get home).  I wonder why this would only happen when  I installed more memory though?  The game runs fine if I put the old memory back in, and reset the clock speed to 166.  Like I said, I don't know if it's always run at 137 though.  It could be that it has, but I just didn't notice it until now.  

LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 11826564
Good points from all the above Experts! At idle with a Room Temperature of 25C(77F), the CPU core should approximate 50C(122F). With appropriate case ventilation (80 to 100 cfm), these temps can be achieved with any HSF rated approximately .35 to .40 C/W. I agree with reseating the cpu...too much thermal interface material is as bad as none...copper is way better than aluminum as a heat sink material.
As far as you RAM...synchronous operation is more stable and for the most part about as fast as asynchronous. Best to use SPD. Twice as much RAM uses twice as much power, produces twice as much heat. Check that your power supply is up to the task.
I agree with grblades that the video card is the prime suspect. The Ti series heats up quick and doesn't have thermal monitoring. If your gpu has an aluminum heat sink and fan assembly, replace it with a good copper vga cooler...very beneficial to gaming.
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 11827082
Your temp is high but you said that since you put new memory you have been having problems. SO your memory probally is not set up correctly or bad. Let me know Motherboard model Memory specs and we can better help you. As for Reseating the processor follow these instructions.

Author Comment

ID: 11827104
Well, I figured it out.  First off, the BIOS was outdated.  It was originally (rev 1.04) designed to be used with 333 mHz DDR RAM, but with an upgrade could do 400 mHz DDR RAM.  So, it was obviously not configured properly.  I also reseated my CPU and heatsink, and between the two solutions, I am now running at ~95 Deg. F.  Much improved.  I think probably it was a problem with the BIOS not correctly displaying the temp, to tell you the truth.  

I also noticed that there was a LOT of arctic silver on the CPU when I cleaned it off, so it's possible that I originally put too much on it when I installed it.  It's better now.  

Anyway, points to both LonV and Callandor.  Thanks everyone for all your help.  


Expert Comment

ID: 11833293
Topace, you can be fairly confident the BIOS knows its temps. There can be problems interpreting these at the application level, by looking at the wrong sensor or using the wrong conversion, but the BIOS is fairly hardwired.

Much more likely your cleaning and re-application of arctic silver did the job. The purpose of HS compound is to fill gaps between the two surfaces that reduce heat transfer. Anything more than the "partial grain of rice" quantity, spread very evenly and very thin, separates the two and insulates the materials from each other.

BTW, 95*F is good. You can expect some further improvement after a few days burn-in. The HS/processor junction narrows as the compound works into place.

Back up to rated clock speed yet?


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