CPU Liquid Cooler – Dusty Radiator Can Cause Problems

I recently had an in person computer repair customer. They wanted me to diagnose an intermittent power issue with their gaming computer. They brought in a rather large gaming desktop computer.

They had recently moved this computer from home to home and even room to room. This Microsoft Windows 10 based computer would not power on. Intermittent power issues can be caused by many different reasons.

One being potential electric static discharge. Electrons, especially computers build up electric static. This can cause a desktop or laptop computer to not power on.

Disconnect the power cable from both the wall outlet and computer. Press and hold the power button for at least 30 seconds. Plug in the computer and now try powering it on.

I have noticed with my own personal experiences, that when I just move computer from room to room they will NOT power on, but discharging any electric static discharge works. This gaming computer had two obvious problems. The first one had a broken central processing unit heat sink.

This customer could not afford a new one. Apparently, since he had installed a liquid cooling system, this required a more expensive heat sink upwards of $60 dollars. The second obvious problem, was caked on dust covering the radiator for the liquid cooling system.

You never want caked on dust on heat sinks and radiators. This can and will cause your computer to over heat which in turn will cause it to not power on or shutdown while in use. Heat sinks and radiators need airflow.

They are designed to have gaps of space between the metal. When too much dust builds then air flow stops. These two apparent problems could be causing this gaming machine to have intermittent power issues.

Also, I noticed when powering on the computer that if I moved this gaming case, it would cause power to get cut. Then power would resume and then this computer would try to boot. This could be caused by overheating and or broken heat sink.

The heat sink had a crack on the upper left arm. You want a heat sink to make flush contact with the microprocessor. A broken arm could cause a misaligned heat sink.

Finally, I did not actually fix this customers computer. He just wanted me to troubleshoot. Yes, I charge a fee of $25 to diagnose computer problems.

Cleaning out a dusty radiator or heat sink is quite easy actually. Since this individual had built himself a nice gaming system, then replacing the broken heat sink is quite easy as well. Definitely, cleaning out the caked on dust will improve this overall system performance.

This liquid based cooling system had two fans on each side of the radiator. Obviously, it was not receiving proper air ventilation.