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I've been looking up after market coolers for my CPU since it has been running hot recently. I see a lot of forums saying that this-or-that product will "Extend the life of your CPU" by making it run at lower temperature. That go me thinking, what signs and symptoms occur before a CPU hits end-of-life?

I don't have a specific problem with my computer, I just want to know what to look for if/when my 3 year old 1g i7 starts to go.

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  • I would think that not booting would be a sign of an already-dead CPU but I see what you are saying. Thanks.
    – Jeff
    Nov 13 '14 at 15:36
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    CPUs don't wear out, they are more like a light bulb. If they run at a temperature above what they are designed for, the circuitry physically deteriorates and then burns out. The parts either work or they don't. However, not every internal component is critical, so some damage may not turn the computer into a brick. The computer could run but experience a glitch or symptom only when the damaged portion gets called on, so you might experience occasional problems. There is various diagnostic software that will exercise all of the functions of the CPU to look for those kinds of failures.
    – fixer1234
    Nov 13 '14 at 15:48
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    Gotta love the ninja downvotes :(
    – Jeff
    Nov 13 '14 at 18:09
  • I would guess the downvotes (not me) are because although the question is clear and well worded, it borders on off topic for some in that it could be too broad or too opinionated, possibly making it a poor fit for this site. Some will downvote instead of voting to close.
    – Dave
    Nov 14 '14 at 8:18
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I have never seen a CPU "age" to the point of not working. I have seen CPUs overheat, which is fixed by removing all dust and lint from the PC, or potentially unseating, cleaning, and re-applying thermal paste to the CPU. I have seen CPUs suddenly fail permanently from lightning strike. And I have seen CPUs fail when Fumblefingers put it in cockeyed and bent the pins (that was me. I was Fumblefingers). Other components do fail - HDDs, RAM, and especially SSDs have suddenly failed without explanation after service.

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    A CPU could be damaged due to too much heat build up from inadequate cooling by design or by age (dust/lint build up, fan failure). That seems like what OP is addressing mostly in the question. As you note, though, resolving the cooling issues may mitigate the damage or at least postpone the eventual failure so long as it has not cooked itself to death already. May 9 '17 at 19:55
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Signs of a dying cpu are that it starts to make more mistakes. A bit flip here. Some corrupted cache there.

The symptoms can range from blue screens of death to the occasional retransmit of a network frame or miscolored pixel. Basically everything has bit that could fail, and the function will determine the severity of the symptoms.

To make matters worse, this is also the same behavior when the power supply is unstable, the clocks are too fast, or its running too hot.

The symptoms are most often linked to bad memory, which is more likely to suffer from problems due to being on a separate board, build to a price and often lacks self correcting mechanisms. (ECC)

In short: the end user can't determine it. You'll need in depth knowledge of the architecture and test methods used to test silicon. A complete test might not even be possible anymore once it has been packaged. (Eg: put on little board with heat-spreader)

Anyway, please let me know when you've worn out a silicon chip by using it inside specifications. The bathtub curve rising section is many years away from the point it becomes obsolete and slow.

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  • @McDonald's You'd have to ask the question at electronics.stackexchange.com for that much in depth answers.
    – Jeroen3
    Jun 7 '17 at 14:29
  • No worries, not sure what I was asking, maybe just a link for a starting point or something but your answer came up in the Review module and I'm sure that's why I commented that... in any case, +1 to you x2!! Jun 7 '17 at 15:27

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