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RandallR

Keeping a Clean Machine

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Hello all, I'm just getting back into some Fly!ing now after a longer than planned-for hiatus. First, work responsibilities got a little too heavy, then my computer went down. It didn't die overnight, but it slowly sank over the horizon over a few weeks.Now, I've always tried to keep a clean machine - I blow it out and vacuum where appropriate about once a month. Since I had recently done this, I couldn't believe that there was anything clogging up fans or cooling vents - I checked under the hood again and couldn't find anything. However, the performance of the system continued to drop as though there was a heat-related failure. In Fly!II, if there was any weather and I was attempting to work out of an airport with even moderate 3D scenery, my frame-rates became abysmal. At best, maybe 18 fps - at the bottom, down to about 9! Then Fly! stopped running, period!Another look under the hood and we thought we could just barely see some dust bunnies/flotsam stuck in the processor cooling fins. As they were behind the cooling fan and its frame, my vacuum and cleaning tools really hadn't moved it much. We released the lock, disconnected and pried off the fan assembly - this revealed a set of cooling fins absolutely clogged with dirt! After cleaning this out and reassembling the system, we fired it up for a test. Wow - folks, I'm seeing some frame-rates in the 90s with Fly!II now, and average rates under storm conditions in the 50s! Keeping that high-powered processor clean (and cool) has totally rejuvenated my Fly! experience.Be sure to really clean everything when you open up your system, and, if you are competent working around your processor, be sure to get the heat sink fins clean - just be careful. It might make a big difference in your simulation experience. This demonstrated to me that the processor performance is just as important as the video card.

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Terrific tip, Randall - though I'd like to add to remember to ground yourself - use canned air to blow out the dust as much as possible, and avoid a regular vacuum cleaner for vacuuming - I nearly blew out my motherboard once, strictly by using my vacuum and brush attachment. Fortunately, we managed to get the motherboard reset, but was a hairy moment or two (and 75 bucks at the repair shop!) that I could have avoided had I used the canned air. :-rollCheers to all!Ken Wood :-sun1Gateway 700X; Intel P4 2.4GHz; 512MB RAM; NVIDIA Ti4200 4X AGP 128MB; SB Audigy; Thrustmaster TopGun Fox 2 Pro Shock

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Hi Ken,Good point - I always ground myself, then blow out as much as possible with the compressed air. When I use the vacuum, I use a snoot attachment, not the brush, but it might be better to just live with all of the blowing dust, then vacuum the area after removing the computer chassis.To get some of the grunge out of the cooling fins, I used some q-tip swabs, then hit them with the air again.

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Hi there Randall one more reason to spend a little more on a good after market case and not a cheap 30 dollar case that comes with most pre-built systems. Most of the after market cases include things like filters over all air intakes, better placement of the power supply etc. I am willing to bet that most people never even open their cases to simply look inside and see just how much grunge can build up on the fans for the CPU and GPU (video card). Dan Martin

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Hi Dan - how's it goin'?I've either built my machines or had the bare bones custom-built by a very good local firm, then did the final upgrades and add-ons. The cases have all been high-end units, but I only had one with filters. I found that though the filters would keep the dirt out, they would also quickly fill up and cut the air flow, making it necessary to disassemble and clean more often. I suppose that there's something to be said for just pulling out and cleaning the filters over having to go through the machine and over the board.I've gone back to using well-cooled cases with great air-flow, but they will pull in the dirt. This hasn't been a problem, as cleaning hasn't been difficult, but there is a "tunnel" from the left side panel that goes straight to the processor - it literally pulls a column of air directly into the processor. This makes for great cooling but really brings in any dust in the air - it goes through the fan and right into the heat sink fins. As the dirt was mainly under the fan and it's frame, I didn't see it the first time.

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Hi there Randall I'm doing fine. I trust you are as well. On my cases the filters are easy to get at and easy to clean as well so it's not a problem to keep 'em clean. But the point of your post should is a good one as most people never even open their cases to take a look in side. One other point everybody's cases should look like Felix Unger lived inside I.E. route all your cables neatly out of the way of the airflow and use cable ties to keep things were they should be. Dan Martin

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