Friday, November 23, 2007


After all this time working on computers, I have yet to replace a CPU cooling system. I've taken a few CPU's out, and have a few extra laying around, but I'd never replaced a CPU cooling system. Until this week.

We got in a nice 1.8 GHz Intel P4 machine. Each time I tried to wipe the hard drive, it froze. I replaced the memory, still the freeze happened. When I examined the machine again, I notice the CPU heat sink was loose. Not good. The heat couldn't conduct from the CPU to the sink. That was causing the freeze. I got out my thermal paste, and went for my first try at fixing it. I used the instructions from this video:

All went well till I tried to put the fan on the sink. The fan was what locked the sink to the motherboard. The fan and the sink just wouldn't stay seated. I looked again, and found the fan connector attached to the motherboard was broken. Luckily, I had a few of the same model in the Free Geek CPU/Heat sink and fan collection. I replaced the connector, and tried again. This time, it worked perfectly. Booted the computer up, and it was ready to go. Dbaned the hard drive, installed Ubuntu as OEM, and it's ready for it's new home.

Machines that we get in over 1 GHz go to volunteers. Volunteers basically get the best of the equipment. They can use use best of what comes in to upgrade their hardware. Machines under 1 GHz are absolutely free for FreekBox recipients. An 800 MHz machine with 256 mb ram and Xubuntu installed runs just fine. With 512 mb ram installed, it feels like a new machine. As long as the user has no mission-critical Windows applications they need to use, the machine is as good as anything on the shelf today. It might be a bit slower if you try to do any deep level photo work or video editing, but other than that, it's more than fast enough.

As a bonus for my efforts this week: I finally figured out how to network our printers. It was much easier than I though it would be. No more USB thumbdrive to print things.

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