The basis of my main HTPC is an AMD E350 Brazos in the form of an Asus E35M1-M Pro. I had quite a lot of problems with the system when I first built it, which were caused by issues with the Seagate Momentus XT storage drive I used. These were fixed a good while ago via firmware update from Seagate, and since then the system has largely worked without any issue.
About 6 months ago the system started to exhibit problems again, occasionally crashing and failing to find the boot device, other times becoming sluggish even with under no CPU usage. These instances were rare enough that I ignored them as I plan to upgrade the system in the next year or so anyway. In the last 6 weeks or so however the problems got much worse with daily crashing. This was problematic enough to prevent reliable recording of programmes and so I had to do something. My initial thought was that there was probably still some kind of freak incompatibility between the system and the momentus XT drive, but whilst waiting for a new SSD drive I decided to give the all-in-one motherboard some TLC. To my surprise I hadn’treplaced the stock thermal compound material under the heatsink for CPU/GPU/Chipset. I removed the heatsink and cleaned off all the old compound with some ArctiClean (if you don’t have any I highly recommend it!). I then used some Diamond-7 compound and replaced the heatsink. Finally, I ripped the “asus” logo off the top of the heatsink, as this appeared to me to simply restrict all natural upward airflow fro the middle of the heatsink — reducing it’s efficiency significantly. I then restored the board to the system and reconnected everything. To my pleasure it booted up correctly, the only mistake I’d made was to plug the front and rear speakers in the wrong way round.
Since then I’ve not had a single crash or funny behaviour — here’s hoping the problem was a heat issue caused by badly applied cheap thermal “gunk”. If you’re having stability issues with any PC system it’s always worth reconnecting all the connections to the motherboard, and replacing any thermal compound that shipped with the system.
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