Computer Fan

As life goes, we all find we must get a new computer at some point. Especially when the only computer you have is 10 years old and running an operating system that even Microsoft themselves won’t support. Yes, good old Windows XP is on my old computer.

I really loved XP. I don’t much like Vista or 7 or 8, they feel like they were made for people who are absolutely clueless about computers and need an “are you sure?” popup for every little thing they do.

I come from the days when deleting a single file could destroy your OS and you did not get a warning you were about to do such a stupid thing, it just happened and you were screwed. XP, for me, was the last of the best generation of operating systems. However, life must go on.

Someone in my life who very much cares for me decided to gift me a computer of my choice. This came during a time when my old machine was falling apart and I was backing up on a very regular basis for fear that any day it would explode. I can’t afford a new computer at this juncture of my life, so this person swooped in and surprised me with their generosity, much to my shock. I am eternally grateful and hope that I can do the same for them someday when they are in a bind.

I am much more of a software person than a hardware person. So when it came time for me to buy a new computer I spent a lot of time reading and educating myself on hardware so I could make good decisions and stay within a reasonable budget.

Instead of going with a Dell computer again, I decided it was time to get a high permanence machine, something that would indeed make me happy for another 10 years. Something that was upgradable as well.

I deeply debated about building my own. A friend of mine tried to encourage me to do this. I just don’t have the confidence and comfort with hardware yet to feel like I could do this successfully. In all honestly, I didn’t want to screw up because of my inexperience and waste the money of someone doing me such a nice thing for me.

Blueness

Pure Blueness

Instead I decided I would go with CyberPowerPC. A couple of my gaming friends have bought computers from them. They told me that the customer service kinda sucks, but that the cost is good for the value and that they are happy with their computers.

If you are not familiar with CyberPowerPC, basically you go through their website and put  together a list of parts for the computer that you’d like and they build the computer to your specifications and ship it out to you. So it is customized however you’d like, but you don’t have to build it yourself. You select the case type, RAM, video card, power supply, etc… absolutely everything.

Being that I love the color Blue, I decided I’d get a nice case with a clear siding sporting a cathode blue neon light. I am a function over form kind of person, but Blue is a must always for me. I would just not be me without Blue.

I am literally wearing only blue right now. Blue shirt, pants and socks. Blue is me.

I do not want to get too technical here, but I’ll mention a few things. For the CPU I got: Intel® Core™ i5-4670 3.40 GHz 6MB Intel Smart Cache LGA1150.  For the video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 2GB GDDR5 PCIe 3.0 x16. I did also select liquid cooling, a first and new experience for me.

I also selected “Maximum case fans” but I did not select any brand name case fans. Brand names are not things I care about in regards to clothes and such, but for computers that is important and I should have known better here. Everything else on the computer is a brand name item.. except this. Which I later learned was a mistake.

CyberPowerPC was a bit difficult in getting the order through. They have fraud protection in place and it was difficult for the person that ordered my computer to convince them that yes the computer is supposed to be going to a different address than the address that is on the credit card. It was a week long battle but eventually this was cleared up and the order got processed. After that, it took less than two weeks for the computer to be billed and shipped to me.

Inside my computer

Inside My CyberPowerPC Computer

When the computer arrived it felt like it was 60 pounds even though the website said it was 35, but it felt like I needed a crane to move that thing.

I got it all set up on the first day and spent the first week or so just transferring my backups and setting everything up the way I wanted it. I also spent much time getting used to the new operating system.

I noticed right away there was a faint sound coming from the computer that didn’t sound quite right. However, having never had a computer like this with a liquid cooling system I was unsure if the sound was normal or not and so I just let it be.

About two weeks into owning the computer I noticed the sound got really loud. I opened up the computer and looked around for loose cords or anything that might be out of place. I tightened up screws and did research online best I could.

I closed it all up and ran it as is but kept researching. I suspected it was a case fan, but I couldn’t quite figure out which one.

Just about at the three week mark the computer started making noises that no computer should ever make. I opened it up and watched carefully. I started up several games and just waited with my flashlight.

Soon the sound happened, it was like a cross between a helicopter and a lawnmower and just as loud. Then I saw it, one of the case fans was unstable. Very unstable. When I tilted the machine to the side it made no sound at all, but when the machine was standing up normally it would go into this unstable flappy motion on and off about once every minute.

I did research. During this, soon enough the fan would make that sound continuously. It was disturbingly loud. Shutting off the computer and back on would sometimes cause it to only do it intermittently, but eventually it would not stop with the continuous disturbing noise.

I found online that the bearings in the fan were unbalanced and it would spin out of control to try and rebalance itself and when it worked.. the fan would run normally.. until it became unbalanced again. This all made sense to what I was experiencing.

I looked at the BIOS and saw the fan speed. It would speed up to 900 RPM, then when it would become unstable it would jolt down to 400 RPM before regaining speed after re-stabling itself.

I decided on a temporary fix – I would lay the computer on it’s side. That fixed it in terms of noise and funny enough the fan would spin at 1200 RPM without problems in that position. So this was a good for-a-while fix.

I decided to check and make sure that this was truly the only issue. So I shutdown the computer, unplugged the one problem fan from the motherboard and turned the computer back on. Everything was silent. So I had found the culprit.

Being that I am nervous about hardware stuff, I decided I needed to make sure I could replace the fan properly.  I familiarized myself with how it was hooked up and how it fit on the case and how the cord was wrapped in the machine. CyberPowerPC was very very detailed and organized with all of the cords in this machine when they built it. I have never seen so many cords nor such extreme OCD-like organization in a computer before. I wanted to make sure I could handle this situation without any weird complications. Thankfully, this all looked really simple. I have changed a fan before.. on a Dell computer, but never on a computer quite like this one before.

New Fan

New Cooler Master Fan

I ordered a nice new name brand fan from Amazon, the Cooler Master SickleFlow 120 and I also ordered a 24″ 3-Pin Fan Cable Extension because of how the cords on this computer are laid out. It needed to loop around the back of the machine to fit along the same cable path the current fan is on. So I decided I’d stay with the neat organized cable situation and make sure my new fan fits the way the old fan fits.

I waited for a week and finally all my things had arrived. During that week, my poor computer lay on it’s side on the floor.. but it was perfectly silent and it stayed properly cooled, much to my relief. I used SpeedFan to keep an eye on the temperature. A neat little program I’m going to keep handy.

As I had fully prepared ahead of time how this would go, I felt confident this would be an easy and simple process.

When the time arrived, I unplugged everything from the back of the computer and set it in the middle of the room. I pulled out my tools and my flashlight and opened the shades to get in some natural lighting. I removed both sides of the case to have access to everything. Unlike Dell machines this computer has two flat panels, one on each side, that are made to be removed easily and individually. I guess they assume if you get this kind of computer that you’ll upgrade it and mess with it in general. Dell computers clearly state if you open them you are voiding your warranty. Not to say bad about Dell, but I do like the CyberPowerPC policy much better.

I cut the old zip tie holding several cords together on the other side of the computer behind the motherboard. Then I carefully removed the old fan.

Looking closely at the old fan, I saw on the inside along the edges were marks showing where the blades were hitting when it would become unbalanced. Amazing how such a little thing could create such a huge amount of disturbing noises.

I carefully put in the new fan, secured it very tightly with the new screws to the case and got all of the cords hooked up. As it turns out the 24″ extension was perfect, I could have gotten the 18″ instead, but I’d rather have more room to make decisions with.

Other Side of Computer, Behind The Motherboard

Other Side of Computer Behind The Motherboard

I grabbed a new zip tie and wrapped all of the cords back together, including the new fan cord. I moved the computer back over near the desk and plugged in the monitor.

The moment of truth arrived. I held my breath and hit power.

The computer started up without issue and went as normal to the Windows log in screen. I took my flashlight and looked. All of the fans were spinning, everything looked and sounded normal. I hit the power button again and it shut down.

I quickly put on the side panels, hooked up everything, cleaned up the mess of stuff I had on the table and put the computer back where it belonged – standing up normally on the desk.

Feeling relief, I put everything away and felt happy that I had managed to handle this one little hardware thing and that everything fit and worked as planned. Yes it sounds simple, but for someone like me who is weary about hurting a very expensive computer, I am always nervous with such things. I have some of the worlds worst luck at times.

Top Inside of Computer with the New Fan on the Right

Inside Comp, New Fan on the Right

I turned the computer back on and checked the BIOS and saw that the new fan was spinning at above 1800 RPM. Everything looked good, so I logged into Windows and started up some programs and got lost in some email and Facebook for a while.

About a half hour later, I heard It. Oh it wasn’t that loud, but I heard Something.

I looked over at the computer. I listened closely. Was that my new fan?!

I heard this whirling vibrating sound. It wasn’t like the old fan, it was a whole other new sound.

I thought… oh well it’s a new fan and it’s going faster than the others, it needs time to be used for a while and such. So I sat and did other things for a while…

But then it got louder.

I gave my computer a look that said “REALLY?!”.

With a sigh, I shutdown and pulled the computer out onto the floor and removed the side panel again. I turned it on and pulled out my trusty flashlight.

I sat and watched the new fan carefully. The fan was moving very fast and spinning perfectly straight. I could not see any flaws in it. The wires were all straight and as they should be too. Nothing appeared wrong.

Then I realized… there was no sound at all anymore. The sound had disappeared. What was the difference really I considered… now that it was on the carpet and I was watching it…

I thought for a moment about that sound and realized it was more like a vibrating sound than any other sound.

I decided to put the computer back on the desk again and listen. The sound returned.

I put my hand on the top of the computer and the vibrating noise stopped.

Well isn’t that just funny… the case is vibrating so much from that new fan that it is vibrating against the wood of the desk and making that noise. Phew.

I am glad the new fan is not defective.

Decisions, decisions… do I keep the computer on the carpet? It’s sort of awkward and in the way on the carpet though.

I looked around my desk and noticed the porcelain turtle. I grabbed it and plopped it on top of the computer.

Problem solved.

Ahhh.. Silence.

I mentioned my little story to my two friends who also have a computer from CyberPowerPC. Strangely enough, both of their computers had case fan situations too. One person got a computer with blue fans instead of red (the company sent her new ones to replace the wrong ones), and the other computer had an issue with a wire being out of place causing problems with the case fan (easily fixable).

Little Ugly Turtle Saves the Day!

Little Turtle Saves the Day!

So 3 out of 3 computers between my friends and I that had case fan issues. Case fans are really cheap. I’d say if something were to go wrong on a computer like this… issues with a case fan would be the best thing to do wrong.

All in all, I can’t really complain, it was a simple fix and I learned a whole lot about my computer in general. I read about so many problems that could have been happening to my computer with those noises. I read through solutions to common problems. I read about liquid cooling and learned how that works in and out. I actually bothered to read through the motherboard manual as well during this whole process. When I didn’t get something, I looked it up online. It’s nice having a library at my fingertips.  And of course I’ve been doing a ton of learning with my new operating system. It has seriously been all very educational from the beginning. I am thrilled I got this specific computer, it has taught me so much in general.

I am very pleased with this computer. It is easily the best computer I have ever owned in my entire life. I am without words to describe how grateful I am to have this, not only is it the best gift ever, but it truly will keep me happy for a long time.  It is a weight off my shoulders as I don’t have to worry about it imploding every day of my life like I worried with my old one. I don’t have to make daily backups. I can play all the games I own on the highest graphics settings without problems. I can make and edit movies without it feeling slow or unstable. It feels really very good to me.

And if something else goes wrong… I will feel more confident that I’ll be able to handle it without so much stress. That educational experience is a gift all by itself.

 

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