Vacuuming – Your Mum Was Right

Yes, it IS important to vacuum once in a while… who’d have guessed?

The first computers I ever built (and then disassembled and then rebuilt) never seemed to gather any dust. But over the last 5 years I’ve seen an increasing amount of dust gathering inside my computers’ cases. I have no idea why… it seems to have corresponded roughly to when I moved from the UK to Canada so maybe Canada is a dustier country 😉

Over the last year I’ve seen the internal temperatures in my current desktop PC steadily rising:

Computer internal temperatures before cleaning

Before cleaning

These are the Core0 – Core3 temps and two copies of the hard drive temp.

So last week I opened up the case and vacuumed it. I cleaned all the vents, sucked the dust off the fans, sucked all the dust bunnies out and cleaned the processor heatsink.

The heatsink was problematic. The PC has a Core2Quad processor (big heatsink) in an Apevia X-QPack mATX case (small case). As a result there’s not much space and the narrow nozzle of the vacuum cleaner was never going to get anywhere near the heatsink without me disassembling the case. Rather than do that, I used the poor man’s compressed air duster (ie I blew through a straw) and blew the dust out of the heatsink vanes then vacuumed everything up.

With everything reassembled and allowed to run for 24 hours, the temperatures dropped to:

Computer temperatures after vacuuming the case and motherboard

Temperatures after cleaning

Those temperatures are Core0 – Core3, “CPU temp”, “motherboard temp” and the hard drive. [Actually, at time of writing, they’re 5C below those numbers – but today’s a much colder day]

Not sure where the “CPU temp” and “motherboard temp” sensors are being read from. The case has a front panel temperature LCD and two free-floating sensors which I’ve attached to the top of the hard drive and the chipset heatsink… but those are currently reading 26 and 47 degrees… so apparently not related.

To complicate things slightly, between taking the two sets of readings I also upgraded from Ubuntu 9.10 to Ubuntu 10.04 (more about that later). I’ve seen some reports on the internet from people who noticed the reported sensor temperatures dropping as a result of the upgrade. I did the upgrade a day before I cleaned and didn’t see any fall in reported temperatures afterwards so I don’t believe that that’s a factor in the improvement that I’m seeing.

So there you have it: a year’s worth of dust had clogged up my CPU heatsink and fans to elevate temperatures by approximately 15C. If it’s been over a year since you opened up YOUR computer’s case then maybe you should give it a spring cleaning too?

Comments are closed to reduce the spam. If you'd like to add something, please use the contact form to let me know and I'll reopen comments for you. Thanks