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I have a self-assembled computer based on a barebone (a Shuttle XPC). Its fans are running at a very high level even under moderate load, and even higher (and louder) if there's work to be done, especially USB related.

This makes me suspect that something about the machine's setup is imperfect, and I'm looking for hints about how to diagnose this systematically.

Some data:

  • The barebone comes with a system fan and a processor fan. The system fan is set at a fixed speed. The processor fan is dynamic. The processor fan seems to be the main problem.

  • System temperatures always seem normal: 41 °C system, 51 °C CPU.

  • I'm running Windows 7 and have already confirmed there are no intensive background processes running.

  • I can see occasional CPU peaks up to 90% when navigating to a Youtube window. That makes me wonder whether this is normal, on a 3 GHz dual-core system with 6 gigabytes of RAM - can the (rather weak) graphics card be causing bottlenecks?

I guess the first step will be to look for updated mainboard drivers from the barebone manufacturer - I'll do that in a second. I'd appreciate any further guidance in how to find out what is causing the load.

share|improve this question
What are you using to see what you call "CPU peaks"? Task Manager? CPU fan speed when it's varying, should be related to CPU temp. So I suppose you're finding CPU getting hot with some USB activity.. Check if that is the case. You say USB activity. I'm none of us think your/a USB mouse and keyboard are the cause. so it may be specific to a certain USB device. Could be its device driver. Find out which device. You should know since you have some device in mind when you say USB related. – barlop Dec 19 '10 at 13:18
@barlop yeah, I use Task manager. The device I have in mind is an external hard disk when under load, but the behaviour is not limited to that. I discovered a BIOS update for the machine though, I'll install that and see whether the behaviour improves. – Pekka 웃 Dec 19 '10 at 13:21
@Pekka What's your graphics card? – AndrejaKo Dec 19 '10 at 21:36
@Andreja system says it's an NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GT. It must be relatively slow, as it's the part that's dragging my "Windows Performance Index" thingy down by two points - but then, I picked a cheap one because I don't do gaming – Pekka 웃 Dec 19 '10 at 21:50
@Pekka First thing to check is for clogged vents / dried TIM - check my comments to @Kronos' answer and this question in general – Sathya Dec 20 '10 at 0:07
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Some BIOSes have options to manage the fans, and some motherboards can control the fans using software. To my knowledge YouTube doesnt take advantage of a GPU yet, and when it does it's going to rely on Flash v. 10 or later, so if you don't have Flash 10 or later, I'm pretty sure that's not the issue.

41 °C is pretty good for regular use; fans shouldn't be going wild like that.

Oh and some motherboards can only control one fan or two so, try connecting the fan in another port if the motherboard has it.

share|improve this answer
Youtube does use GPU through Flash 10.1, which has been out for quite a while. – AndrejaKo Dec 19 '10 at 21:35

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