First post, by quicknick
Thought for a while if I should post this, and decided it's better to do it as a reminder that things can go wrong when you least expect it.
So today I was in the middle of putting together my second 'lockdown project', a system built around an Abit KT7 (non-A) that has a particular significance to me - it is the actual board that I bought in December '00, used for about 4-5 years and which I considered lost without a trace, vanished, until last week when we were reunited - but that's another long story by itself. The board has the socket mod from back in the day so it can run with higher multipliers, being last used with a Thoroughbred-B at 2200MHz (100x22).
Not having any available PSU with a fat +5V rail I decided to use my best Socket A CPU, an AXMH2400FQQ4C, further underclocked/undervolted to 1500MHz@1.40V. At this very low power I saw fit to use a good looking, all-copper, low profile cooler which I got from the fleamarket in one of the last visits before the lockdown.
I was in the last stages of Win98 setup when I felt the need to check on the heatsink temperature with my finger. But reaching there blindly, and the cooler being so flat, I missed my intended target and ended with my finger in the fan instead of reaching the copper part. I got chopped pretty bad, some blood from under the fingernail, uttered some sweet words and carried on. The Windows setup was complete, I was preparing to copy the install kit from the CD to the SSD and the room was slowly filling with that familiar "new PC" smell. I thought it was from the PSU, as it's a NOS Enermax Liberty. But then explorer.exe crashed, bluescreens were cascading, chaos was taking over. I hit ctrl-alt-del repeatedly until the system rebooted (heard the distinctive sound from the optical drive), but it wouldn't post. Cycled power from the PSU, nothing! The smell was getting more intense and seemed to come from the PSU, and at this point I was thinking that maybe something inside it had shorted, or at least a cap had blown.
So I turned the chassis to horizontal to begin troubleshooting, then I noticed. The horror. CPU fan wasn't spinning. Turns out, my finger wasn't the sole victim - the blade that wounded me was snapped and completely blocked the fan:
Quicky pulled the plug, and again tried to feel the temperature. But there was no need to touch it - I could feel from a distance that the heatsink was scorching hot. At this point I was expecting the worst: not only I did ruin my best Socket A CPU, but probably my beloved board as well. After letting it cool down I noticed that it got so hot that some of the solder that was used to hold the fins to the base plate of the heatsink melted and formed a lot of solder balls:
Also the sticker on the bottom of the fan became crumpled and shrunk as a result of the intense heat:
Not seen in this picture, but the fins left partially melted imprints of themselves on the fan's wires where it touched them. I recovered some of the solder balls, and using my soldering station I found out they have a melting point of about 160 degrees C.
Seeing that the CPU substrate became noticeably darker under the die I was pretty sure I killed it, and I was only hoping that my board survived. But decided to give it a try nevertheless, and to my extreme surprise, after replacing the cooler, everything works! Will do more tests in the following days, check to see if the CPU can still hit it's rated frequency, and maybe leave it for some hours under a stress test, but so far it's looking incredibly good (though I wish it didn't happen in the first place).
So... that concludes my story for now. Stay safe!