Help! Case fan on my Dell 8200 went out. What do I do?

I have an aging Dell Dimension 8200 computer. About a week ago, I noticed that it was quieter than it used to be, but I didn’t give it much thought. Today, when I restarted, I received a warning that one of the fans had stopped working. I got back there with a flashlight and sure enough, the case fan, which is connected via a weird tube to the top of the processor’s heat sink, has stopped spinning.

  1. What do I do? Obviously, I need to replace it, but Dell appears to no longer carry the replacement part. How can I figure out what I need to buy to replace this fan?

  2. In the meantime, I haven’t noticed any performance changes in my PC, but I can only assume that it’s bad to keep using it without that fan running. What are the chances of my processor frying in the meantime if I, say, need to finish writing this damned thesis before I can run out and find a new fan or get one to arrive through the mail?

Thanks for any help - I really don’t know much about the nitty-gritty stuff like this.

Most systems have a heat sensor built into them. If it gets too hot, it will shut it self down. You can leave the case off the system, point a table fan at it, and the system should work fine.

As far as replacing the fan, most case fans come in a few sizes. If you have a large computer type store near by, I’d pull out the fan and take it to the store. A new fan should only run you $5-10

As kinoons said it is an easy replacement. Open the case. The weird tube is held on with a couple clips, and should pull right out. Pull out the fan, and take it to a computer store. It will either be a 80mm or 120mm fan. Buy a new one of the same size, and put it in. Make sure you plug the fan back in the same place you unplugged the old one from. Put the tube back on, and close the case.

-Otanx

After you’ve been using your computer for a few minutes, reboot it and go into the BIOS and check what the CPU temp is (most computers have a hardware monitor or some such in the bios that you can use to take a look). If it’s over 50 deg C, I wouldn’t use the computer until you get the fan fixed.

That’s a really good way to make your system die an early death.

The OP is describing a case that has a cooling duct focused on the CPU. If you don’t get air throuh the tube then the CPU will likely overheat. A table fan was probably adequate for computers built more than 5 years ago, but modern CPUs run very hot and if you don’t get adequate cooling in there you are just asking for trouble. The cooling duct that is there to funnel the air to the CPU will also prevent air from a table fan from getting to the CPU in most cases.

Relying on the heat sensor to shut it down is also asking for trouble. The heat sensor is there as a last ditch effort to prevent the smoke from coming out of everything. By the time the heat sensor shuts the system down you’ve already overstressed a lot of the components with excess heat. The heat sensor may prevent things from going poof immediately, but it’s not something you want to rely on to keep your system safe.

Not sure if this monitoring software is what you want…
Intel® Active Monitor is an alerting utility created by Intel and available exclusively on Intel® Desktop Boards1. As PCs increase in performance and decrease in size, monitoring the cooling and overall system health becomesmore important. The Intel Active Monitor works with specialized sensors on your Intel Desktop Board to constantly monitor the system’s temperatures, power supply voltages, and fan speeds. If temperatures become extremely hot or asystem fan or power supply fails, the user is immediately notified.

Not likely to be useful as Dell uses, well, Dell motherboards that bear little resemblance to any other maker’s boards other than they hold a CPU and RAM.

As for the OP, yep, the fan itself ought to pop out of the ductwork pretty simply - IME, Dell uses a lot of snap-together bits - at worst, the fan is probably held in with plastic push rivets. These dealies have a round head on on end and a somewhat splayed-out other end. Look at the round end closely, and you’ll see a joint/seam. Slip a fingernail or blade into that joint and the round cap should pull out, enabling you to pull the whole thing loose. The cap just pushes in to re-secure things.

If you’re completely buffaloed by it, Dell should have instructions online for taking the thing apart. Failing that, take the PC to your local independent computer shop and they’ll probably be able to fix it for you on the spot for probably $10 for a fan and $20 for labor. (Just guessing on the labor)

Thanks for the advice. It was as simple as described; I popped the fan out, took it to the local store and found a replacement (92mm fan, which appears to be an awkward size as they only had one model in stock). $10 later, and everything is cool!

Dell using a non standard sized part?!? That’s crazy talk;)

This was in response to the OP asking if he can use the computer to get some last minute work done. I would not recommend using a table fan for a long period of time, but it would work, as long as it moves air across the heatsink. The older P4’s did have one hell of a cooling fan over them, which might need to be removed. I believe the the cooling duct he is describing is on a desktop system (not a tower, but a true desktop) and is attached to the case, not the heatsink itself.

In any case, yes, I’d not let the system continue to shut itself off via the heat alarm, and I wouldn’t want my system to run for a long time without a CPU fan, but I do know it can work in a pinch.

Just a note for people reading this after the fact: “normal” temperature varies widely for different processors. My current CPU temperature is 66C, and it has been running stably like that for over three years. The CPU is an AMD Athlon XP, which I think is one of the hottest processors around.

Maximum recommended operating temperature for processors is always specified by the manufacturer, I think it’s usually 70C. It’s true that integrated circuits wear out faster at higher temperatures (due to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromigration ), but with the typical lifetime of PC’s it’s unlikely to be a problem. When I worked as an I.C. designer we designed our products to last 5 years running 24/7 at 90C, IIRC.