Help cool down my graphics card so I can get back to Dragon Age
November 18, 2009 9:52 AM   Subscribe

My graphics card is overheating. How can I make it stop, or alternatively turn off the warning message?

I have a GeForce 7600GT in a system running Windows XP. Recently, while playing games, after 20 minutes or so it pops up warning messages saying "WARNING TEMPERATURE TOO HIGH!", which steals focus from the game and makes them tricky to play. The Nokia temperature monitoring software (NTune) tells me the temperature is getting up to 112C while gaming, and it's running at about 68C while web browsing.

I have checked that the fans are working and free from dust, everything looks connected and seated properly, and the drivers are up to date. What else can I try to get the temperature down? Is it possible that it's not really at 100+ degrees, and there's a fault in the temperature sensor? It doesn't feel like it's 100C in there, and I'm not having any problems except for the warning message. If anyone knows how I turn off the temperature warning that would be helpful to know as well. (I know it might get fried if it continues running at high temps, but I'm prepared to risk it since my only other solution right now is to change the card.)
posted by penguinliz to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
I had a 8800gt that was doing the same thing. Fixed with Rivatuner application, it lets you set video card fan speeds. You can read up on it at
posted by Mardigan at 9:59 AM on November 18, 2009

You could lubricate the fan bearings.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:21 AM on November 18, 2009

I have checked that the fans are working and free from dust

Did you just make a visual inspection or did you blow it out with compressed air? Often the problem is not dust accumulation on the fan itself but on the heat sink, which can be difficult to inspect. Buy a little can of compressed air from an office supply store and give it a good cleaning.

Also, you may want to make sure that the rest of the case is free of dust and cable clutter. The heat sink and fan on the graphics card can only do their job if the hot air has somewhere to go.
posted by jedicus at 10:31 AM on November 18, 2009

I had two of those in a PC running XP. Both died, one after another, and both had popped most of their capacitors. I'd pay attention to the temperature warnings.
posted by trondant at 10:32 AM on November 18, 2009

I've never seen a video card report the temperature incorrectly, so I would heed its warning. Make sure the computer case is getting enough airflow and that the ambient temperature in the case and the room is not too high. If your computer is near a heater vent at this time of year, it might have only just started to show up.

Although the fan itself may seem to be without dust, the 7600GT video cards have a design that can trap dust in the heatsink fins that are surrounding the fan, located near the intake on the card (The plate piece that has a circular hole in it for the fan). These fins are usually covered by a flat piece of metal that probably has fancy logos and brand names on it. 3 to 4 Philips head screws can be removed to reveal the fins and the passage through them. Check these out to ensure there is not a wall of dust between the fan and heatsink fins.

If you don't want to take anything apart, just use a bike pump or canned air and blow on the heatsink exhaust and intake several times, alternating between them, this is important to dislodge large dust and hair buildups. If there is a thick wall of dust there, this may not free it, but it may help reveal the problem.
posted by hellslinger at 10:45 AM on November 18, 2009

Also, there is going to be a rather large temperature delta between the chip and the ambient air so it not feeling like 100C doesn't really mean anything.

1) Blow out the fan and heatsink areas with a can of compressed air.

2) Run your game with your case open and confirm that the fan is running. It should also increase in speed when you are playing. If it isn't then try rivatuner.

3) It's not likely that your component temperature sensor is wigging out on you, but I certainly won't say that it couldn't happen. However if your GPU is running that hot during continuous gaming then you have probably damaged it already.

Serveral things could improve your temperature after doing the above...
Lower the ambient temperature. This could mean running with your case open, increasing your case ventilation, or turning up your AC. These things will vary the temperature linearly so unless you can exact a large difference between case open vs case closed you probably aren't going to buy much here. (The exception would be if you were near the condensation temp of the fluid in your heatsinks heatpipes.)

Check your warranty terms and see if you can return it for a new one based on this performance.

------ Read below only if you are not wanting to RMA this in the future----

-Depending on how comfortable you are working with electronics you could remove the stock heat sink, clean the heat sink and GPU (as directed by the thermal grease supplier), and apply new thermal grease. It is possible it was not applied well initially, and deterioration has led to a poor connection there.

-or buy an aftermarket GPU cooler. They aren't too pricey compared to the cost of a new GPU. You want to look up the Thermal Design Power (TDP) of the card, and find a cooler that will meet that. In your case, especially if your ambient temperature is high, you might want to overshoot that a bit.

As I'm not familiar with this particular GPU you might check some overclocking forums for this specific card and see what people have suggested. Overclockers have to deal with excess temperatures regularly and someone might know more about the quirks of this GPU.
posted by Feantari at 11:32 AM on November 18, 2009

It's not 112C in the case; it's 112C inside (or very near) the main graphics chip. That's way beyond reasonable operating temperature. Since you've already done the free stuff, I would suggest you get a new graphics card. That's going to be the easiest and cheapest thing to do. If you have an emotional attachment to the card, I would suggest replacing the heat sync which may have come loose.
posted by chairface at 11:47 AM on November 18, 2009

How's your case itself? Check there, not just the GPU fan. Clean out any gunk built-up inside your case, check all case fans for lint, etc. and ensure that there is adequate airflow inside the system. The GPU is going to get hot no matter how good the fan on the card is if the inside of your case is caked with felt.

If the system is on the floor, get it up onto something - sitting on the floor will help it get full of lint. You don't have to raise it much, but put it up on a desk if you can. If you have spaces for additional case fans, it doesn't cost much to add one in.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:29 PM on November 18, 2009

I concur with trying compressed air first. It is surprising how much dust comes out of something that visually looks clean. The can works better than any mechanical pump or blowing that you might try.
posted by caddis at 1:22 PM on November 18, 2009

Touch the back of the board, where the chip sits. Don't burn yourself. As others have stated, there is dust in there. Strip the crap off the card and give the heatsink a proper cleaning. Also, the joint may have failed between the heatsink and the chip, lowering thermal conductivity and screwing up thermal transfer. Is it still tight? You may have to take off the heatsink, clean and reapply thermal goop (just a tiny bit - read application instructions).

It's not lying. Something is not working. You can break the card by ignoring it.
posted by defcom1 at 3:16 PM on November 18, 2009

Oh, and when blowing with compressed air, try not to spin the fan too much (hold it with your finger). If you over-speed the fan by blowing it with the air compressor, the bearings could wear out prematurely and fail.
posted by defcom1 at 3:17 PM on November 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Look for a utility that can tweak the fan speed. I have an EVGA card and EVGA has the "Precision" utility that allows you to adjust the clock speeds and fan speeds. Find out what brand of card you have and go from there.
posted by ijoyner at 10:47 PM on November 18, 2009

If you are at all technically minded and not too risk averse, then I think you would benefit from taking out the card, removing the heatsink and re-seating with some new thermal paste.
You're card should not be running 60+ degrees when it is effectively idling.
posted by xla76 at 10:28 AM on November 19, 2009

AAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!...DO NOT blow compressed air on the fan, you will blow dust INTO the bearings and then it WILL fail.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:25 AM on November 19, 2009

AAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!...DO NOT blow compressed air on the fan, you will blow dust INTO the bearings and then it WILL fail.

To avoid this, put the nozzle of the compressed air gun into the heatsink pointing away from the fan. If the fan blades themselves are dirty, they can be individually cleaned with a duster, a (very slightly) damp paper towel, etc.
posted by jedicus at 1:50 PM on November 19, 2009

Thanks for the advice everyone - I did have a ton of dustbunnies lurking in the heatsink fins, which only popped out with compressed air. It's now down to 40C resting/60C while gaming, which is a vast improvement, and I realise the problem showed up not long after I turned the central heating on so it's now sitting further away from the radiators. There's not a lot I can do about airflow in the case because it's all a bit tightly packed into a small form factor case, but I've given all the fans a good cleaning and hopefully it will run smoothly from now on.
posted by penguinliz at 5:54 AM on November 24, 2009

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