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Xeogred
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Cleaning CPU fan?

by Xeogred Mon Dec 24, 2018 3:39 pm

Another PC question for you guys...

I've never gotten this intricate with cleaning electronics, so I was wondering how would I go about cleaning up my CPU/fan a bit? I built my rig in 2013 so it's definitely getting a little old and seems a bit caked at this point. I just did some air blowing today cleaning out the case which I'll do a few times a year, but having to pick away and get some thicker gunk off a fan I'm not sure how to handle yet.

Some phone pics:
https://imgur.com/a/Zp0EUPG
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Jmustang1968
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Re: Cleaning CPU fan?

by Jmustang1968 Mon Dec 24, 2018 4:05 pm

Some compressed air, or little handheld vacuum. Then a barely damp cloth can help clean up the remains.
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Re: Cleaning CPU fan?

by Ziggy587 Mon Dec 24, 2018 6:08 pm

https://www.amazon.com/PORTER-CABLE-C20 ... compressor

+

https://www.amazon.com/Adaptor-Powerful ... duster+gun

Is what I use.

People will say, "You have to be careful using an air compressor because you can damage something with too much PSI," or "There's water vapor in the air that will wreck your PC." These people just like to sound smart. I've been using an air compressor to clean out PCs for over a decade now and never had a problem. Bleed your tank, like you're supposed to, and there shouldn't be much water in there. Also, I've used 90~120 psi to dust (and have been pretty aggressive) and never had a problem blowing a cap off the motherboard or something. Most consumer air compressors max out in this range. Sure, a shop's compressor can have a lot more pressure. But if you're using that, you might know a thing or two about a thing or two.

Anyway, I stay away from the "can of air" because you only get like 5 seconds of dusting before they lose pressure and freeze up. Also, if you don't hold them perfectly upright they spray liquid out and that's never a good thing. Vacuums apparently cause static and you're not suppose to use them to dust electronics for that reason. Personally, I've never had a problem with a vacuum frying a PC or something, but I still don't use them because they aren't very effective.

But an air compressor, even a little guy like the one I linked, makes short work of any dust you have in your PC. You can blow dust out of the hard to reach places, like in a GPU's heat shroud, inside a PSU, and yes, a CPU heatsink. You can also use it to fill your tires, if you need to justify the $100. :D

https://www.amazon.com/EPAuto-Commercia ... with+gauge

Honestly, I couldn't imagine going to the gas station to put air in my tires or using a duster can ever again!

edit: Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention. Use a finger to hold the CPU fan still while you blow the dust out. I've spun my fans with compressed air before (probably WAY faster than they're rated for) and never had a problem, but apparently this is no good for the fan.
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Xeogred
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Re: Cleaning CPU fan?

by Xeogred Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:21 pm

Ziggy going all out. :lol:

Some seriously good information there though. Yeah the simple air can's don't last much at all and it wasn't enough to blow off the thicker layer of dust there. I was on a crunch though and didn't have much time to try before some Christmas stuff today. My fingers might be a bit too big to really get in there though to break off some of the chunks. Any safe utensil or devices I could use to pick away at it?

Any thoughts on an E-Duster?
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BI4UQK0/

Maybe I'll consider your premium ideas though Ziggy, being able to fill up my tires on my own would be pretty nice. (I have that exact tire infiltrator hose haha)
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Re: Cleaning CPU fan?

by Arenegeth Tue Dec 25, 2018 9:44 am

Your fan looks worse than mine and that's saying something!

But yeah compressed air works fine if the dust hasn't settled there for a long time, I would suggest to keep a vacuum cleaner away from the actual parts since it can create static electricity which can potentially fry a motherboard, but unless you are really careless with it and/or use some sort of brush tip at the end of it, you should still most likely be fine.

In any case, vacuum is still great for picking up all the dust, hair and anything else that may fly out.

But since it looks like the dust on yours has settled for awhile, compressed air itself will not do the whole job unless you go for crazy PSI that would be pretty hard to pin-point to the exact area you are trying to clean without professional equipment anyway.

So you may want to invest in some anti-static brushes, they pretty cheap on Amazon and you don't have to worry about frying anything by brushing with those, but the fan itself should be fine if you don't actually touch a circuit board anyway, so if you feeling extra cheap just use an old toothbrush and be extra careful not to rub on anything with circuitry.

The E-duster you linked to, or similar models are actually a great in-between, a full blown compressor and a compressed air-can, most suited for electronic use such as cleaning a PC.

There's actual PCB specific cleaners if you want to go all out, like this one which is also pretty cheap, isopropyl alcohol of high purity can also work on a pinch.

If you haven't done it since you got the system, and unless you planning on upgrading it soon, you may want to replace the thermal paste on your CPU, which is a more complicated process, but there's many how-to's on YouTube to get you over the basics.

Just to to be clear, if you haven't done this before and are generally inexperienced with electronics, you may want to be extra careful and even invest in an anti-static mat/gloves/strap. Though usually people that fry their systems are either living in very dry climates (good luck trying to get static electricity going with 90% humidity), do something really careless, or are just plainly very unlucky, so I always say better safe than sorry, unless you don't care that much if you plan to replace/upgrade the system soon anyway.
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Re: Cleaning CPU fan?

by marurun Tue Dec 25, 2018 10:32 am

Since you are running a stock Intel cooler, maybe consider replacing it with a quieter, higher-performing cooler.
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Xeogred
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Re: Cleaning CPU fan?

by Xeogred Tue Dec 25, 2018 10:54 am

I built the rig myself but yeah, still not very experienced with this sort of thing. I'd love to keep this PC going as long as possible (I want to stay on Windows 7 too anyways haha).

Anti-static brushes sounds like a great idea to get some of the gunk off. And yeah the E-Duster would be a nice one time purchase instead of having to buy those cans every few months or whatever.

Luckily it's looking sparkling clean again otherwise. My tower is pretty big and spacious so the rest of it got pretty cleaned out yesterday.

marurun wrote:Since you are running a stock Intel cooler, maybe consider replacing it with a quieter, higher-performing cooler.

Well, I mention my tower being decently big... but I don't think it has any extra room for a bigger cooler. Maybe just barely, the width of my 1060 is pretty snug in there.

I'll admit touching the motherboard has been the main thing I've avoided while upgrading this thing off and on. That's a bit more daunting to me.

Eventually I'd love to build another rig from the ground up though for living room use or whatnot.
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Arenegeth
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Re: Cleaning CPU fan?

by Arenegeth Tue Dec 25, 2018 2:38 pm

Xeogred wrote:Well, I mention my tower being decently big... but I don't think it has any extra room for a bigger cooler. Maybe just barely, the width of my 1060 is pretty snug in there.


Most liquid coolant units are smaller and at least more 'flat' than the stock Intel fan, stuff like this should be able to fit just fine considering you have space for the fan radiator in the back (you may need to replace wherever fan is already back there).

Keep in mind that in recent years there's been a strive for minimizing desktops with Mini-ATX and all that, so there should be a compact enough solution if you want to upgrade in both liquid and air cooling.

Stock Intel fans are generally not recommended, since even entry level dedicated cooling options perform so much better, but I'm assuming you don't play too graphically demanding games, or at least play in low enough settings and resolutions, to not have experienced thermal throttling so far.
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marurun
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Re: Cleaning CPU fan?

by marurun Tue Dec 25, 2018 4:50 pm

I also found the intel stock coolers to be quite loud.
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