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CPU Overheating?? Video Card/PSU Upgrade. Help!!


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I have a Dell which came equipped with a standard 250 watt power supply and a Nvidia 5200 Graphics Card.  Everything was fine with this setup until I decided to upgrade my Video Card to an ATI x850 Pro.  As everyone knows by now, the standard Dell PSU simply can't handle newer, power hungry cards.  I purchased a 420w thermaltake power supply on recommendation from someone who made the same replacement himself on a 4600.

Oddly, I noticed absolutely no difference in performance after installing my new Power Supply.  Performance was still sluggish and I was very perplexed.  Until today.  Something happened which may turn out to be the beginning of a solution. 

My case fan has always been and still is extremely quiet, even when a heavy load is placed on the system such as a graphics intensive Applications.  One day, however, I was playing such a game for quite a long time and I noticed the case fan had revved up quite dramatically.  As the case fan grew louder, the game became faster.  Now this has never to me happened before, and the only thing I can imagine is that the CPU was very hot (unfortunately Dell CPU Temps cannot be measured). 

I quit to the desktop and observed the fan slowly return to normal speed.

I then placed my hand over the back of the exhaust and felt the case fan speed up, when I removed my hand it returned to normal.  I should note at this point the exhaust fan is connected by a housing shroud to the CPU unit itself.  I decided to run some benchmark tests to see how the fan speed affected my performance.

Doom 3 Frames-Per-Second Benchmark test (control):

37 FPS

I then performed the exact same benchmark test while covering the exhaust slightly to increase fan speeds:

48 FPS

I then used a piece of duct tape to close off enough of the exhaust pin holes to bring the fan up to near full-speed. 

the result: 60 FPS!!

When I returned to the desktop the fan then slowly returned to it's normal operating speed once again. I do not make a habit out of doing this as I know the damage it could cause. 

I am very confused by this and would really appreciate some input.  I have a feeling that a heatsink with a powerful fan would give the same effect as artificially increasing the exhaust speeds.... My video card temperatures always remain constant even at max operating temperatures, so I know it has nothing to do with the temperature of my Video Card.  It must have something to do with the cooling of the CPU as the case fan speeds are directly proportionate to system performance. 

As i said I have a feeling that a heatsink with a powerful fan would give the same effect as artificially increasing the exhaust speeds.... Any advice or links would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this,

Best wishes -

Toby Cole

*note: when I say case fan i am not referring to the Power Supply unit. The case fan is an exhaust which is connected to the CPU by a plastic shroud to eliminate CPU heat.


      Operating System                                  Microsoft Windows XP Professional

      OS Service Pack                                   Service Pack 1

      DirectX                                  (DirectX 9.0c)

      Computer Name                                     DELL

      User Name                                         pc


      CPU Type                                          Intel Pentium 4, 2800 MHz (21 x 133)

      Motherboard Name                                  Dell Dimension 4600i

      Motherboard Chipset                               Intel Springdale-G i865G

      System Memory                                     1024 MB  (PC2700 DDR SDRAM)

      BIOS Type                                         Phoenix (08/26/04)

      Communication Port                                Communications Port (COM1)

      Communication Port                                ECP Printer Port (LPT1)


      Video Adapter                                     RADEON X850 Series  (256 MB)

      3D Accelerator                                    ATI Radeon X850 Pro AGP (R481)

      Monitor                                           Dell E172FP  [17" LCD]  (M160943A0LHS)


      Audio Adapter                                     Intel 82801EB ICH5 - AC'97 Audio Controller [A-2/A-3]


      IDE Controller                                    Intel® 82801EB Ultra ATA Storage Controllers

      IDE Controller                                    Intel® 82801EB Ultra ATA Storage Controllers

      Disk Drive                                        ST340014A  (40 GB, 7200 RPM, Ultra-ATA/100)

      Optical Drive                                     HL-DT-ST CD-RW GCE-8483B  (48x/32x/48x CD-RW)

      Optical Drive                                     SAMSUNG DVD-ROM SD-616E  (16x/48x DVD-ROM)

      SMART Hard Disks Status                           OK


      C: (NTFS)                                         38138 MB (20527 MB free)

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have the same case and most likely the same fan, but the difference is when mine is under a load it does increase in RPMs, this definetly effects performance as the cpu will overheat without sufficient cooling, if the fan is not working correctly then i suggest u just get a new and probably better heatsink/fan, that should solve ur problem.

just took a quick look on newegg, this one looked like the best.. not much selection http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16835119058

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forget the one above unless ur looking for somthing light on ur wallet and ok performance, if ur looking for somthing better look here http://www.thermaltake.com/product/Cooler/Socket_775/socket_775_index.html , to tell u the truth though, since u cant overclock the first one woruld be sufficient in the fact that it wont be overheated too much.

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Thanks for the links DP

Thanks for the links. I hope one of these suckers will fit in my case without problems.  I guess that's the next thing I need to figure out.  No way I'm getting anything less than the best.

I was going to go with the PCandP but it was just too pricey... I couldn't resist going with a thermaltake 420w tr2 PSU for 39.99 - but I think I'm starting to regret it.

If anyone else has any ideas shout em out.

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i kno it was pricey, but i thought it was worth it as i wasnt sure if any other would work properly. as for the heatsink, just go into the details of each on from the thermaltake site and it gives u the demensions, i dont think u should have any problems except with the blue orb, or the big typhoon.. cuz they are HUGE!!

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I know what you mean. I had this guy send me pictures of his modded Dell before I would even try the operation.

Hey man.. I'm already confused.. you linked me to the Socket LGA775 Coolers.  According to Everest, I have:

Socket 478 - Intel Pentium 4 - Northwood.

I'm really confused here.

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Hi tobytobes,

[ I then placed my hand over the back of the exhaust and felt the case fan speed up,]

this is caused by the fan no longer moving air,it's just recirculating the air within the fan body,

this  takes the load off the fan motor hence the increase in r.p.m. although the CPU temp. will then start to rise,

are you sure you Dell cannot measure CPU temp. as the case/heatsink fan rpm changes,

it must be sensing temp. somewere  ?

you could use as a temporary measure a cheap diy /garden store LCD thermometer

the type that has a fly lead and thermistor head , that you normally use to measure outside temperature, they range up to 70 deg.C  the thermocouple head is about the size of a dime, and has a self adhesive pad  

sucking air from the heatsink shroud , is not as efficient as blowing air straight onto the heatsink

 Roco   uk

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Hello Rocco,

Yes it's true.  Because of proprietary components on the Dell mobo - cpu, case, and rpm changes cannot be measured.  I only have my Hard Disk, and the sensor on my Video Card to go by.  I really have no clue what is going on temp wise on the cpu... but I dont think it's running above average.  (I don't get any strange crashes or blue screens which would be a tell-tale sign). 

The Fan does respond to my hand on the exhaust, but will not respond automatically without taping over about 3 rows of pinholes on the exhaust.

As far as using one of those thingies from Home Depot - I actually did think about that.  The reading probably wouldn't be a very good indicator of my actual core CPU temps.  I can't help think somehow this 3rd power supply unit is interfering with fan speeds.  Ever since I replaced the old PSU I have not been able to hibernate which lets me know something is amiss.

Dell does sell 400w+ power supplies for 190 dollars.. but you have to call between 9 and 5 between monday and friday, and ask for an XPS gaming PSU.  Even then Choose your words carefully and *might* give you what you want.  It took me about three weeks to get these guys to cough up two sticks of pc2700 256 MB RAM. 

I found a heat-sink that I hope will fit in this unit.  From what I've read it's not easy to install, but it's got some great features.  I'm not looking forward to affixing the heatsink as I've never done dealt with the cement before.

Here is what have come up with from newegg.com:


If anyone knows anything about this subject, please feel free to chime in.  I'm still not convinced slapping a new heatsink on there is the fix I'm looking for... 

I know this computer can run Doom 3 @ 1024x768 on High Quality @ 60 FPS in a timedemo with Norton 2005 running in the background..... that's saying something... I'm not giving up on this rig quite yet.

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there is no need to give up on ur rig, it is capable of running the latest games at decent framerates, i think the best thing to do would to be to buy that heatsink u found, and see if that does the job, if it doesnt come with some thermal paste then i suggest u get some artic silver 5 thermal compund as it is pretty much the best and its cheap. To get the thermal paste off ur cpu after u take the old heatsink off, just take some rubbing alchohol and a cloth and it will come right off.

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I'm back.. did a little research..

OK... Pentium 4 is designed to automatically have its clock throttle (slow itself down) if its core thermal diode reads higher than the maximum safe operable temperature.  Thus, to avoid an unintended shutdown, performance is sacrificed when that critical temperature is reached.

What makes this hard to determine for me is that I can't see my CPU temperature.  BUT.. I've figured a way around that.  If I can keep an eye on my Clock Speeds while the timedemo is running, I will know when and if a high temperature has been reached, because the clock will slow. 

I ran about 20 time demos in a row while running a clock monitoring program.  I took a screenshot of the results when I was done:

50 FPS @ 1024x768 High Quality timedemo1

The Clock Speed never went under 2793.00MHz which is totally acceptable for an Intel p4 2.8 and it appears the CPU is not in any danger of overheating.  After that the fan slows down to low, which is a sign that the fan is getting some type of signal from the mobo.  I just wonder why it never gets the signal to "kick it up a notch" when there is more strain on the system.


What I'm seeing are faster refresh rates and a better draw speeds when the fan is pushing more air.  When air isn't being circulated, it seems to "stutter" more often. 

The only thing I can keep coming back to is the PSU.  First off, the Thermaltake TR2 (my current PSU) is a little bit longer than most PSUs.  It's too bulky for a Mid-Tower Case.. the cables have nowhere to sit happily. The exhaust vents directly into the back of my CD-Rom Drives, just like the old PSU.... Not very efficient.  I am looking into getting a dual fan PSU which pushes air down into the case, and also has a dial for controlling speed manually. 

I'm just so sick of throwing money at this computer.

Dude, you're getting a Dell.


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I dont know why its not increasing the fan speed when u play games, but it shouldnt be effecting it that much, can u try and see if it makes a difference on another game? the best thing i can recommend at the moment is too try the new heatsink, it probably cheaper than the new psu, i dont really think the psu u have now is causing the problem. wut psu were u looking at getting?

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I do have everest, thanks coknuck. 

dilated - Here is the PSU I was looking at:


I do get stuttering in games, it's just more noticeable with First Person Shooters. 

Honestly, the sad thing is I shelled out 270 or something for this card not knowing about the PSU which was another 40.. etc etc... It's like a snowball rolling down a hill that keeps getting bigger and more expensive. My previous card was a Nvidia GeForce 5200 which came with the computer.

The computer was all-around much faster before installing this card.  The drivers slowed down the computer so much I actually put in another 512MB of RAM to make an even GIG.  I made sure to get matching dual channel ram exactly the same as the original.  There's another $90 right there not including shipping..  I noticed a boost in my overall performance, but when it comes to this new PSU and card... It's like it's rejecting an organ or something.

My thermaltake PSU is is more than powerful enough @ 420w. I really don't notice any difference when playing other games such as URU, or Prince of Persia in term of smoothness.  If anything it's worse. And that's sad because that card came with the Dell for free. Right now I'm just mad at myself for even buying anything "ATI".  The ForceWare drivers had a double scan option for lower resolutions which was really useful and were much less resource intensive. ATI Drivers require that you have .NET Broadcasting installed on your computer and the drivers really soak up a lot of resources:

CLI.exe        10,632

CLI.exe        11,940

ati2evxx.exe  2,248

Don't understand why they need 2 CLI apps running. Plus the resources for the .NET Framework.... When I buy a new card it will be a Nvidia for sure, just because they actually know how to write software.

I don't know.... I was looking at the ATI tech support page and they reccomend you install SP2.  I've tried it before and all it really did was slow down my computer and eat up my resources imo. I have a copy on CD and I am willing to give anything a try at this point.  So that may be the next step.  After that I'm probably going to try reformatting *again* and install everything one step at a time.  I use Norton 2005 and that may have to come out of the equation, as it's a real resource hog... But that really keeps my system secure and it's the only software I trust right now. I almost wish this mobo would fry so I would have an excuse to build my first computer from scratch.


ahhh.... well keep the advice coming.. I'm thinking too much,,,, Maybe this is something simple.....

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The installation won't take,  it's asking for ativtmxx.dll and the only copies I have of it are from ATI.

I search my whole HDD for ativtmxx.dll, only could find it in sysbackup.

Maybe I'll try the previous release...

edit: okay it want's more files s*it and it made another internet connection?

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Well I got the drivers installed properly last night... The system certainly seemed a bit less sluggish with the Omega Drivers.  However, my GPU performance didn't change so I rolled back to the original drivers...


Thanks for the info guys. It's a shame it didn't help in the timedemos but I still really appreciate it.

edit: php, I used the ATI uninstall utility.  The drivers it was asking me for were dvd decoder files I believe or something to do with theatre.  I was so tired and felt so defeated last night I just had a night cap and went straight to bed.


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I installed Service Pack 2 and the problem seemed to resolve itself.  My PSU will go into hibernate mode now when I set it up. I have no idea why that would happen? The Case Fan also seems to be more responsive and it actually revved up in-game to a quite a speed.  I still bought the PSU with the better fans and speed dial control...

retail therapy.


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