Low performance after cleaning out dusty computer

Hey everybody,
So a few days back, my 5 year old computer was really dusty and I needed to clean it out. I know all the precautions, like make sure you’re not charged with static electricity, use compressed air ect. All I wanted to clean out was the heatsinks, the fans and where the dust mostly settled. I started with the CPU fan/heatsink and blew it with compressed air canister, then moved on with the GPU (And this is were I think I screwed up). I took out the GPU from my mobo and unscrewed the heatsink with the fan, thoroughly cleaned the heatsink with compressed air then I tried taking out the dust around the memory and around the core. I put everything back together, cleaned the rest of the computer and tried operating it again. Everything worked fine as usual, until I tried playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and noticed a huge performance drop, I have the same settings and used to have a constant 60 frames per second, now I’m not even getting over 40 frames. I tried other games like Crysis 2 and noticed massive performance drops, from 60 frames to nothing higher than 20 frames! I have my GPU updated to latest driver; 310.70. I tried reseating my GPU, RAM and other components and nothing worked!

Now this is something I should mention: a few days before I started cleaning, I couldn’t properly boot up my computer, everything would run when I press the power button, I could hear all the fans and Harddrive working but the monitor had no signal and my mobo would start beeping after a minute. Everything was plugged in and I managed to fix it by opening up the case and restarting. All my games were running fine, I played Battlefield 3 pretty smoothly. This problem often occurs now after I cleaned up my computer, but differently; after probably 10-15 seconds no signal on the monitor, windows boots up normally, no beeping noise.

My PC specs:
Geforce 9600gt 512mb
2gb RAM DDR2
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0ghz
Windows 7 Pro 32-bit

I know this hardware is old stuff but for 5 years it has been serving me well.

I have cleaned out my computer before and it worked normally.
I have overclocked my GPU before but I returned its clock speeds back to stock settings.
I haven’t spotted any graphical artifacts or glitches, no crashing or anything.
I don’t reckon my GPU is overheating while playing games, my computer wasn’t beeping from temperature warning.

So please anybody who knows whats going on, please help me :[

When you removed the heatsink from the CPU, did you clean off the old thermal paste and apply new paste?

According to your account, you took out the GPU (graphics card) and removed the heatsink in order to clean it and then put it back together.
GPU heatsinks are usually best left alone, since they are factory sealed so to speak.
CPU heatsinks on the other hand and by their very nature, can easily be removed and cleaned.
It’s always a good idea to use pure alcohol to clean off the old past both on the CPU itself and the heatsink, then apply a small blob directly onto the CPU before re-mounting the heatsink.
I’m sure you have done things correctly, but I have a feeling that the GPU is overheating for some reason. It has to be a very tight fit.
For future reference, I would leave the GPU fan/heatsink well alone except blowing dust from the fan itself.

basically the same as the above

you need to re-apply new thermal paste on your GPU and CPU heatsinks

^This. Every time you remove the CPU & GPU from the board, it is recommended to remove the old layer of thermal paste (clean it with Isopropyl Alcohol) and put a new layer of the paste.

The old layer of thermal paste always get dry and loose its efficiency completely (specially after 5 years of use). The renewal of the paste is recommended at least once a year to keep the heat swap properly.

You can use some software like Speccyor CoreTemp to check how is going the CPU/GPU temperature.

Awesome guys, thanks for replying. I just bought some thermal paste, arctic silver. And I’m in the middle of cleaning the old thermal paste. Does it matter if the old thermal paste gets stuck on the little chips around the core? because I’m having a really hard time trying to clean it off with a piece of cloth with Isopropyl.

most thermal paste is conductive so those were probably coated with something to prevent them from shorting out, I would be more worried about breaking one

arctic silver is a lot more efficient than what used to be there so it should be safe to apply less paste than the manufacturer did

Okay, I cleaned out the old paste between the small chips, placed a small amount of paste on the GPU and CPU, spreaded it evenly. Computer booted up normally and guess what? The games boosted up their frames! The problem is that the frames weren’t the same as the original, probably 3-5 fps difference and I get micro sutters. The temperature seems okay, the GPU is at 42 Celsius (idle). During a game of Crysis 2, temperatures are about 50-54 Celsius.
Thank you guys, much appreciated.

EDIT: Never mind about the frames difference and micro stutters, everything seems to be normal.

EDIT: Also overclocked my GPU to 740/1835/1950 (originally 650/1625/1800). Fan speed increased by 10% just to keep temperatures stabled. Very stabled, stabled temperatures (max 56-57 Celsius during a game of Crysis 2). I gained some extra frames and I’m extremely happy! :slight_smile:

Founded in 2004, Leakfree.org became one of the first online communities dedicated to Valve’s Source engine development. It is more famously known for the formation of Black Mesa: Source under the 'Leakfree Modification Team' handle in September 2004.