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I've build a small miniITX system with Pentium 4 processor. It works fine but there's extremely hot temperature is shown by the CPU sensor, around 120 C. Of course this is causing the fan run extremely fast as well making the whole system very loud. I tried to touch the CPU radiator but it is very cool so this should be some kind of error. Could you please give me an advice on how to troubleshoot this?

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Not same configuration, but this other question could have some pointers for you: superuser.com/questions/55632/cpu-temperature-sensor-wrong –  Gnoupi May 2 '10 at 18:16
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Yeah, I've read this but there's no actual overheat in my case. –  user34300 May 2 '10 at 18:41

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

If the CPU heatsink is "very cool" you may not have good physical contact between it and the CPU. Only way to troubleshoot this particular case is to remove remove/reapply the thermal paste between the two and hope it improves the situation. I would try updating the BIOS first as per Sadface's suggestion.

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What's interesting is that when I completely remove thermal paste from the CPU temperature drops to 112 C. –  user34300 May 4 '10 at 10:29
    
Yes, interesting. What happens when you apply new thermal paste? Lower than 112C? –  Mike Fitzpatrick May 4 '10 at 10:53
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+1: Misapplied thermal paste is a very common cause of this sort of behaviour. You should have a very very very thin layer...It's only there to make sure there is no air between the processor and the heatsink. –  Satanicpuppy Jun 2 '10 at 15:11
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Agreed, you should use as little thermal paste as possible. I find a little "blob" about the size of a small garden pea is about right for most processors. Just put it right in the center of the CPU then bring the heat sink directly down on to it. –  ProstheticHead Jun 2 '10 at 15:35

Have you tried updating your BIOS? In some cases, this fixes sensor readings (or corrupts them, as it did for me once :)

Also you could try verifying that reading with different applications - CoreTemp showed accurate readings for me.

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I updated BIOS but nothing changed. I will try CoreTemp but the temperature data I refer to comes from BIOS "PC Health" section. –  user34300 May 4 '10 at 10:23

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