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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting the Processor ]

It is suspected that the processor may be exhibiting problems relating to heat

Explanation: The processor seems to be overheating, causing various problems with the operation of the system.

Diagnosis: Insufficient cooling is probably the number one cause of problems related to processors. Newer processors depend upon cooling devices to ensure that they are kept at correct operating temperature, and if allowed to exceed this value by a great deal, can malfunction in all sorts of strange ways. The sensitivity of the processor to this depends a great deal on what type it is.


  • Test the temperature of the processor. Leave the machine running for an hour. Turn it off and unplug it, then open it up. Touch the processor, or its heat sink near where it attaches to the processor. If it feels very hot, especially if it is hot enough that you cannot leave your finger on it for more than a couple of seconds, the processor is probably running hotter than it should be.
  • Consult your motherboard manual and double-check all the jumper settings for the processor. Make sure it is set to the correct type and speed. Make sure the processor is supported by the motherboard. Make sure the processor is inserted correctly into the board.
  • Verify the voltage requirements for the chip, and make sure they are set properly. Providing too much voltage to the CPU can overheat it.
  • Make sure you are using an appropriate cooling device for your processor. If you are using a Cyrix 6x86, make sure you use a heat sink and cooling fan designed for it.
  • Check your CPU fan to make sure it is still turning and ensure that it will not be obstructed by cables or hardware when the cover is put on the case. Make sure it is not dirty. If it is old or looking worn or close to failure, replace it with a good quality ball bearing fan.
  • There are many other parts of the system that can overheat. These can affect other components by increasing heat in the overall system. For example, a system case that has improper cooling air flow can increase the temperature of the processor by improperly venting the exhaust from the CPU fan. Look here for troubleshooting information in general on overheating.
  • If you do not have heat sink compound between the processor and the heat sink, the heat sink cannot do a good job of cooling the CPU.
  • Increase your processor cooling level. Some typical ways to do this include using a cooling fan if you weren't before, using a stronger fan, or using a larger heat sink. You can in some cases also install additional fans in the case that blow on the processor, but this is generally overkill.

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