Monday, 2 March 2015

Never underestimate the effects of 10 years of dust on an OldMac.

So, the reason I write this entry is that approximately half an hour ago, my late-2005 G5 sat partially dismembered on my desk in an effort to get to the bottom of an irritating noise which sounded not unlike that annoying chattering sound of an older hard disk read/write operation but it went on all the time... well, most of the time. At first I thought it  was some unknown application doing something in the background but a glance at activity monitor did not support this, and after a bit of a listen with the case side off I worked out it definitely was not actually a hard drive but one of the machine's 7 fans chattering away, either one of the CPU tunnel intake fans, or the expansion slot fan beneath the DVD burner.

having pulled the suspects out, i deduced the slot fan was the culprit, and considered simply swapping it with the one from the June-2004 model G5 that is quiet as a mouse and runs cool as cucumbers... when it actually wants to boot up and not just hang and go full-retard with all 7 fans on full-tilt. Unfortunately however, even though both fan/speaker modules are identical, the early one has a shorter cable to the logic board as the connectors are located in different places, and I didnt want to cut and shut wiring for the sake of a noise, so figured I would just wait till the appropriate G5 part surfaced on eBay.

In any case, whilst I had the machine apart, I figured a bit of routine maintenance was in order, having noticed the offending fan was rather dusty as was the surrounding area and a further inspection revealed the whole machine could use a clean out. so I removed the fans and CPU cover and set about carefully dusting every electrical component, fan, connector, slot and heatsink with a pastry brush to remove what turned out to be a sizeable quantity of dust from the unit, figuring if nothing else it might run cooler and lower the chance of failure... at this point i should point out that Ive never been entirely comfortable with the nominal core temps of my dual-core G5, which would get into the high 60's or mid-70's, whilst fully loaded up to 100% usage on full-performance setting, my DP would struggle to reach 68 degrees celcius.

Anyway, having put the machine back together, and had it running for some time now, the first thing I notice is that the chatter from the fan has actually ceased... the fans still idle a little louder than the DP but it is just the normal whir and G5's were not known for being quiet. However the thing that makes me even happier is this...

Check out those core temps now... well below 60 degrees, in fact in this screenshot core A was just shy of 50, and even now after running for a bit and doing some things, both cores are in the league of around 53-55 degrees. This brings it pretty well into line with the temps I get from the dual-processor machine and I gotta say this makes me a lot happier... the machine even seems like it performs a little better given a cleanout, which I guess makes sense.

Anyway, with that done and dusted (groan), I am going to go off to do something else productive momentarily. But on that I shall say, if you own any computer that seems to run a little flakey, hot, noisey, or even freezes a lot, it doeesnt hurt to take it apart and see just how much  dust has accumulated over the years, as this is an area where many computers get neglected, and in particular, OldMac's due to the difficulty involved in taking some of them apart, particularly the AIO unit's. The Mac towers are actually fairly simple with a few old-world exceptions, as are the 7xxx-series desktops, but even so most people do not bother. Realistically if I spent $5000 on a G5 tower when they were new, I would probably be a little cautious about taking them apart too... but now they are all out of warranty by many years, there is no harm in getting your hands dirty. It could realistically be the difference between your toys lasting another 5 years or so before you need to look at replacing componentry, and having the PSU blow up in a years time from overheating, and it could even be the cure you need for that freezing or kernel-panicking Powermac. :)


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