Chronic Thermal Events on a Dell

My Dell XPS 710 H2C has chronic Thermal events. Has anyone had any experience fixing this? It is out of warranty.

Is that a laptop? And are you letting it run on a soft surface, like your bed? The vents cannot breathe.

No and no.

If it’s a desktop, take a look at the motherboard. Do any of the capacitors look bulged or are leaking? (The capacitors are cylindrical, about a half-inch long and standing vertically on the motherboard.) If so, then that’s the reason for the thermal event errors. There was some sort of problem with the capacitors that led to this problem. And not surprisingly, there is a Wikipedia article on this, with a picture of the capacitors. The fix is to replace the motherboard. Dell may do for free so even if the system is out of warranty.

Interesting. To my untrained eye, none of them look like they are bulging. I have a few friends who are engineers, so maybe one of them will have a look at it for me.


I’ve never heard of a dead capacitor causing thermal events (they just cause the mobo to stop working), and if it were a dead capacitor you shouldn’t replace the mobo, you should just resolder that one capacitor.

I’d bet it’s either a dead fan (particularly chipset fan), or too much dust.

Btw, what exactly is a “thermal event”? What program is telling you this? You can get one of a number of utilities that report the temps inside your computer.

Have you done the usual things like check that the CPU heatsink and fan are not clogged with dust, and that the fan is running?

From the wiki article, I see that the Dell Optiplex GX270 was susceptible to showing “thermal events” when some particular capacitor was dying. But that’s a unique scenario. Why it’s #2 on the list of symptoms, I don’t know. That whole article is a bit crooked.

The BIOS tells me on start up that the last shutdown was due to a thermal event. What that means - well your guess would likely be better than mine.

I have checked and cleaned the insides many times. If a fan is down, I can’t find it and the fans are quite loud, so I would likely know if they weren’t blowing.

It does seem related to heat to me. If I keep the office very cool I have much less trouble with it. It rarely happens in the winter.

However, it also seems related to the hard drive running, as it happens regularly during a virus scan.

Hard drives have temperature sensors too these days. You can try taking it out, or cleaning out the dust around it. Btw, dust-cleaning is very easy. Just take a vacuum and it’s all gone.

Try finding a utility that will let you actually see all the temps. Unfortunately, tho, I don’t know of a good one. (I know of ‘motherboard monitor’, but that hasn’t been good for years.)

Speedfan and drivesitter will both usually pull Hard drive temps. Overheating hard drives is not an unknown problem, the only real way to solve it is with a new drive.

That could just be from high CPU load, rather than heat from the drive. To sort this out, you could try running a CPU-only benchmark or test app such as Sisoft Sandra or 3DMark that doesn’t access the drive.

Some good input here. Thanks all. I will keep searching for an answer.

A quick and easy fix for a lot of heat problems is to just leave the cover off the computer.

Yeah, I started with that. It helped some, but now that it is hot out I am having shut downs again. :frowning:

That worked great on an Apple ][+ but many of today’s PCs need a defined internal airflow - they’re designed so cool air comes in (usually at the bottom front of the case) and flows over the motherboard before exiting via the power supply fan or othe case fans.

I have seen more than one brand of PC overheat on workbenches simply because their covers were off and normal airflow wasn’t happening.

If you need to run the PC open, aim a desk fan, running on high speed, at the motherboard.

Sometimes the thermal interface compound (grease) between the heat sink and CPU can “dry out”, or lose effectiveness. You could try removing the CPU heat sink, cleaning off the old thermal compound, and putting new stuff on.

Ah. When I was having similar problems with my laptop, it was very sensitive to virus scans. It was dust inside, nothing to do with the disk.

As for capacitors, there was indeed a problem with crap capacitors being sold to motherboard manufacturers in China, but if there is a correlation with running virus scan, and none of the other symptoms mentioned in the article, I doubt that is the cause. How old is this machine? Were the fans always loud, or did they get louder from running hard?

The machine is just over a year old. The fans were loud but then would get very loud sometimes. They don’t seem to do the latter anymore.

Have you troubleshooted yet? Just chiming in; what I’d do, personally:

Run your virus scan/stress test/whatever makes it crash with the case open and a box fan pointed into it with as much thermal data as you can open - as mentioned, speedfanis excellent for this. This way you can pretty conclusively rule out (or not) an overheat of component XYZ. Might as well use an air duster on all the fans while you’re down there. Get into BIOS and max out your fan speeds, if you’ve the controls for them. Find out what’s getting hot and why - bearing failures or dust-choked fans are common, as is poor cable management or a rinky-dinky stock heatsink. Just about any problem, though, can be brute-force solved with an open case and a box fan…it’s really a matter of aesthetics and desk space.

If all that fails, next is the grim task of systematically swapping out hardware - I’d start with the PSU, GPU and drives since they’re easiest to install. Keep in mind that a failing capacitor will act up more when it’s hot than otherwise. Fortunately though it sounds like you’ve just got an airflow problem.