We're a little crazy, about science!

Computer troubles

It’s my baby! The case is unique, but I wanted something that could grow with my needs and this case is not just fun to look at, it’s huge! Unfortunately that makes the computer super heavy.

I had a feeling this may happen, I just didn’t expect it to happen when I was so against the wire to get this project done. I’m having computer troubles. Not my laptop thankfully, but my desktop computer is feeling a little… warm. I’ll explain and then get into what I’m doing to fix it, so today let’s talk about my computer!

She’s a beast of a computer (yes, I call her a she), at the time I built her she was top of the line. I needed something to process a LOT of data so I needed something that could handle a lot and even now I still bump up against the limitations of a desktop computer. I also needed something that could grow with me, something that I could just upgrade as needed without having to buy a new or larger case. While it cost me a little more upfront, I’m hoping it will save me money in the future. Let’s talk specs first then we can get into the problem and solution.

One of my favorite ways to speed things up is to run multiple instances of matlab. Sure I could do it in a parfor loop, but this gives me more flexibility. I had 8 different files I was working with, so 8 different instances of matlab processing the data simultaneously.

At the core of her, she has a 32 core AMD Threadripper 2990wx, graphics are handled via a Geforce 2080 ti, and it’s loaded to the max with 128GB of ram. The case is a DeepCool Gamer Storm Quadstellar (see below) and the CPU is kept cool via watercooling with a massive 360mm Radiator and 3x 120mm fans. That’s where the problem is, because I didn’t have the time or the inclination to do a custom watercooled setup I went with a ready to go solution.

One of my assembly photos I took, look at all that space.

It’s not that it’s undersized, it was designed specifically for the Threadripper TR4 CPU, so it’s full coverage unlike a lot of the water cooling options that were available to me at the time. In fact, it was the only full size option I could go with, so I was stuck… unfortunately the brand — Enermax — had a lot of problems. There were a lot of complaints with the first generation clogging (how that even works is beyond me).

This was the second generation and while I was hopeful, I didn’t get much of a choice if I wanted full coverage so I bought it. And it worked! For the past couple of years it’s been operating without a problem, or at least that’s what I thought, see the CPU temperature has been slowly climbing over the years and I didn’t notice it until I checked the logs recently when I saw that my CPU was overheating. Looking at the reviews these days you can see the same issues, the cooler gets clogged and the block runs hot.

Yep, 2 out of 5 stars, I’m surprised it’s rated that high honestly. Almost all of the reviews complain about the new version clogging, which is what mine is doing! Yay!!! (boo!)

The maximum temp for the AMD Threadripper is a hot 61 degrees Celsius and since I’ve been putting my computer through its paces the last week or so I realized it was hovering right at 61, at which point it autothrottles down in order to keep the CPU working optimally. So 4 hours worth of CPU work turned into 12-16 hours all because the CPU was running hot. Like low 50 degrees Celsius at idle, which for those of you who aren’t computer builders is freaking hot!

Thankfully in the years since its release the TR4 (TR4 is the CPU size, or rather the designation for the size) has several other options for watercooling that weren’t available to me at the time I built it. Long story short, I have a replacement coming today that has much better reviews and should last me until the next upgrade. Here’s hoping anyway! Today I’ll be pausing the data processing to install the new watercooler and with luck that it will make the next few steps that much easier (and cooler for my CPU).

I mentioned I wanted a computer that could grow with me, well this thing holds up to 10 (10!) hard drives. Right now I only have 4 inside it, but that will change as I need more space to hold all the data I collect and backups of that data.

That said, I have to get everything ready for the install so I better get started so my computer won’t be down longer than absolutely needed! Now, hopefully my CPU won’t be angry with me after the install since it’s been running so hot. We’ll have to wait and see about that one.

I know this post seems a lot like me bragging and in some ways I guess it is a little. I know I’m lucky and I’m thankful to be able to afford the setup I have (well afford it at the time of purchase, there was a lot of saving before I bought it!), but I also want to highlight some of the problems that come with working from home and doing the type of computer intensive research I do. I had to think long and hard before writing this post so hopefully I’m not coming off as insensitive.

Not everyone is as lucky as I am to be able to work from home or have the things I do and I just want to acknowledge that before I call this post finished. I’ve come a long way from living in a car to now, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten how hard things can be. In any case, stay safe and I’ll see you tomorrow.


2 responses

  1. I don’t see it as bragging, ’cause if I could fix my own computer, I would shout about it from the roof tops. Hey, it’s okay to be proud of yourself and let the world know about it. You never know who you are going to inspire…not just saying ’cause I see the world through rose colored bifocal lenses.

    Be well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    November 15, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    • Thank you, I think it’s just imposter syndrome, I don’t enjoy sharing things like this because I don’t think I’ve really earned it. Take care!

      Liked by 1 person

      November 15, 2020 at 1:56 pm

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