Cool Machine – How to Keep Your PC Cool & Stable

Keep Your PC Cool

Everyone wants a Cool Machine both literally & figuratively. We want the fastest and best machine and prefer not to pay too dearly for it. Consequently, we make compromises.  How to Keep Your PC Cool?

AMD or Intel

Keep Your PC Cool

Until recently,  I had always built computers using Intel CPUs but I needed a fast machine to do video editing and AMD multiple processors were the best bang for the buck.

Which Processor?

Once we decided on AMD, we had to decide on a specific processor. At the time our budget focused on the Ryzen 5 1600, so we had it narrowed down a bit. Even here we needed to decide between 1600 & 1600X. Most reviews showed the 1600 was the best deal & it included a cooler so we went that route thinking we probably wouldn’t overclock.

Cool Memory

No cool machine is complete without cool memory so we opted


for 16GB Team T-Force Night Hawk DDR4 3000 (PC4 24000) which was considered a  bargain. We had not considered that the native speed for AMD was 2133 MHz so our 3000 MHz memory would need to be over  clocked (OC)!

Over Clocking Memory

In theory, you can over clock memory a MSI board by selecting an A-XMP  profile but keep in mind that the Ryzen supported MSI boards were very new at the time. After several BIOS upgrades and using special profiles (Try It!), I am finally able to achieve 2933 MHz on my memory.

Over Clocking CPU

At this point, we have already entered the realm of over clocking so we might as well over clock the CPU, right? Over clocking the memory didn’t seem to do any harm but overclocking CPUs that tend to run hot has it’s own risks.

We managed to get a decent over clock on the CPU by increasing the multiplier (CPU Ratio) to 37 which put our 3200 MHz processor at 3700 MHz. Even the auto configuration of the processor ran it at 3400 MHz so this was a modest over clock.

How Hot is Too Hot

Now that we had  out cool machine running memory & CPU at modest

Hot Server

over clocks we wanted to make sure it was stable & not so hot that it would be damaged.

We had to raise the CPU core voltage for stability so this made things a little hotter than we would prefer.

Research showed that most folks were happy with temperatures within the 30C-45C range.

Coolers – How to Keep Your PC Cool

We did a lot of research on possible cooling solutions.

Huge Cooler – Noctua NH-D15 SE-AM4

There are huge solutions like the Noctua NH-D15 SE-AM4  assuming you have the room and budget for it.

The real question is whether or not the stock cooler is adequate. After all our search to keep our PC  cool necessarily included keeping our PC was self-destructing.

Is Our PC Stable – Stress Testing

Putting aside for a moment our search for an adequate cooler, we decided to see how cool our PC was in terms of stability. Our thinking was the PC must be cool enough if it can pass stability/stress tests.

The most mentioned stress we found was Prime95 so we promptly ran the program. When we saw temperatures in the 80C range and a few rounding errors, we aborted the program and made some adjustments.

Prime95 Rounding Errors – DRAM Voltage

The rounding errors were related to memory. It turned out that our memory over clocking was not as cool as we thought. The memory voltage (DRAM) from the BIOS was being changed during boot.

We had noticed this before but figured the lower voltage was probably better on the wear & tear of our memory and likely reduced system heat. As it turned out, system or memory heat was never a concern but getting the DRAM voltage right was.

T-Force Label

The best source of memory voltage is the label on the memory.

While the MSI BIOS Try It feature had been close in assigning the  DRAM voltage (1.36 V), the MSI utility Command Center showed it had been changed drastically (.8 V) upon booting into Windows 10.

Changing the DRAM voltage in the BIOS from 1.36 V to the label value of  1.35 V fixed the issue. Now Command Center showed the same voltage as the BIOS & Prime95 had no errors!

CPU Core Voltage – Re-Addressed

As we found out with DRAM voltage, small adjustments can make a big

Re-Addressing CPU Cooling

difference so we decided to lower or CPU core voltage from 1.4 V to 1.3875 V. 1.4 V is considered teh top threshold for most over clocks so dropping ever so slightly was helpful.

Back to Prime95

With our CPU Core & DRAM voltages lowered we decided to try Prime95 again & stuck out the tests watching out temps run a little lower than the previous run. Ultimately the temperature ran as high as 91 C by the end of the 30 minute torture test (Blended mode) of Prime 95.

This pretty much assured us that the stock cooler did an adequate job of cooling for our needs. We never intend to run Prime95 again so should never come anywhere near those temperatures.

Prime95 safe ? – Real Bench


Research showed that there may be issues with running newer versions of Prime 95 and that a more real life stability test is RealBench.  Our temperatures ran much lower with Real Bench so we are content that our system is stable.

But Is Your PC Cool & Stable?

We certainly think that our PC is cool in regards to over clocking the CPU & Memory. Our latest on User Benchmark shows our CPU “Performing way above expectations (87th percentile” and our memory ” Performing way above expectations (95th percentile)” so that’s not too shabby.

We  managed to run Prime 95 for 30 minutes without errors under temperatures we don’t ever expect to see in our video editing so it’s stable enough.

Cooler Upgrade in the Future?

For now, we are happy with our stock cooler but will keep an eye on

Cooling Dilemma

the temperatures. 40 C no longer seems hot after running Prime95 torture tests.

If we do upgrade the cooler we will need something better than the stock cooler so maybe we opt for Noctua monster coolers.

If so, we will need to ensure that it is either compatible with AMD or that there is a bracket kit available. We also need to ensure that the cooler doesn’t interfere with our memory. We think our system board is can handle a big cooler but we definitely don’t want to be forced into running single stick of our memory.

In addition to the cost of the cooler, we may need to remove the mother board to install brackets which is another downside.

4K Video Editing, Premiere CC & YouTube

The Perils of 4K Video Editing

We have uploaded hundreds of videos to YouTube so we had high hopes for 4K Video Editing. Mostly we used our GoPro Session 4 to shoot the videos and were pretty pleased with the results. The newer Session 5 was reasonably priced so we decided to take the plunge with 4K videos.

Software & Hardware

Software & Hardware

Initially we used GoPro video software and a standard Windows 10 PC for 1080p (1K) video editing but had to upgrade the PC when videos became longer.

Look for an upcoming post on upgrading PCs for video editing.

Premiere CC

GoPro Studio became problematic freezing up on long 1K  (1080p) videos so we reluctantly migrated to Premiere CC. Premiere CC is an awesome program but  very complex with a steep learning curve.

We did have issues with panning  1K videos. There was significant lag between the pan and the edit window.

PC Upgrade

Our upgraded PC was geared towards 1K video editing (1080p) but we figured we would give it a try before upgrading to faster PC that could handle 4K.

Here’s our benchmark tests from October 2017.

Research revealed that editing 4K videos in Premiere was not that much different than the 1K videos we were currently creating so we were hopeful.

GoPro Session 5

The GoPro Session 5 works as expected and does a few things better than its predecessor  including seeing video while shooting. Switching the GoPro Session to 4K mode at 30 fps was straight forward.

We now have 2 Session cameras so we can fire up our secondary camera when the battery runs down.

For those that are not familiar with GoPro  Session cameras, they are sealed units so changing the battery is not an option. The Session 5 will shoot videos while attached to a battery pack so that’s another option.

Our First Surprise

We tried editing the videos in Premiere & it didn’t seem that different from 1K editing.

Our 1st attempt to open a raw file (mp4)  from the Session 5 only in something other a video editor. We could hear audio in Windows standard software but no video. VLC would show the video but it looked awful. Our problem was that our monitor didn’t support 4K so we upgraded once again. Truthfully, it was well past time for a new monitor.

We set up dual monitors using our old 1080p monitor as our secondary monitor. Interestingly it now will open 4K videos now that is tied to a primary video. It doesn’t look nearly as clear as our 4K monitor but it suffices for mundane tasks like email & web browsing.

Premiere CC 4K & Proxies

Editing 4K videos didn’t seem to be much worse than 1K but we figured we would make it as easy possible for our hardware with proxies. With proxies, we are effectively editing at 1K and publishing at 4K.

Proxies require an additional encoding step so it makes our work flow a bit slower but editing is much easier.

It still doesn’t fix our original problem with panning 1K video but that’s to be expected.

YouTube & Our Second Surprise

We were anxious to see our 4K videos on YouTube and checked as soon as processing was done. The available quality was a mere 360 p so we feared something was amiss in our Premiere setup so started reviewing the mp4s we were uploading. Everything seemed in order and a little research showed that 4K could take a bit longer to show up as YouTube has to generate videos for every resolution.

Eventually our videos did show up as 4K  but you still need a 4K monitor to see them.



4K worth the extra trouble?

Our main goal with 4K was to have extra resolution, hoping zoom and panning would be clearer. The jury is still out on that since we haven’t processed enough videos to make a definitive decision.

We still have our Session 4 so we could shoot the same scenes with 1K & 4K for a one to one comparison.  However the Session 5 only shoots 30 fps (frames per second) at 4K while the Session 4 shoots 60 fps at 1K so maybe it’s not a foregone conclusion that Session 5 video will be better. I could always slow down the Session 4 to 30 fps but our goal was to have better videos than the Session  4 provided.

Perhaps the fps only applies to changing the motion of the video. If

Movies Word On Stage Shows Cinema And Hollywood

that’s the case, we won’t see many changes since we rarely adjust video speed.

Without a doubt the files are much larger so we have to make accommodations in cloud storage.

The proxy files are also large but we don’t store those permanently since they can be regenerated. We did the same with huge GoPro Studio AVIs.

Troubleshooting Laptop Video Problems With a Touch Screen

Troubleshooting Laptop Video Problems can be frustrating. It’s not a trivial task to open up a laptop to do anything beyond a memory upgrade or drive replacement.

If you feel daring and working with small electronic components doesn’t intimidate you, then there are videos that make the process simpler.

Even if you have done this on occasion it can be stressful working on a laptop.

There are services that will do this for a flat fee +parts.  If parts are too expensive, they may  charge you for the diagnostics and shipping. Shipping alone can be considerable.

Some places may waive the diagnostic charges if you are willing to part with the defective laptop. Plenty of usable parts for a shop that sells parts or uses them for diagnostics.

Scenario – Video Problems

Dell laptop Inspiron 3521 with  a Touch Screen was dropped. Thereafter the user complained that the video was dim and difficult to read. Otherwise, the laptop seemed ok.

Remote connections to the laptop worked fine.

Is it under warranty?

We knew this laptop had been around for a while but it’s always wise to check if it’s under warranty.

Our 1st stop was Dell support. As expected it was not under warranty but they also had diagnostics and drivers that we could try.

Troubleshooting Laptop Video Problems

We decided to bring the laptop in for some troubleshooting.

No obvious damage was done to the case so we hoped that the issue was a cable was loose.

Troubleshooting Laptop Video – Finding out what’s wrong.

We knew the video was dim but wasn’t sure why.

When we viewed the video from a remote connection it became obvious that the colors were reversed.

Everything that should have been white was black, everything that should be blue was black.

It’s surprising how illegible the video was even when the BIOS screen was displayed.

Colors Reversed – Top to Bottom

A Dell website was all but invisible since they use a lot of blue & white.







Do we really want to open a laptop for troubleshooting?

As mentioned above, opening a laptop is not for the faint at heart.

Laptop with palm rest removed

It’s tedious work and requires considerable patience and time not to mention keeping track of all sorts of parts and screws.

We checked all over the Internet but no-one had posted anything about removing a touch screen. We did find our part though and Parts People confirmed that there were 2 parts involved:

The video below does a good job of detailing the process up to removing the bezel (3:26).

The trouble is that the bezel on our laptop is attached to the digitizer glass.


Our Laptop LCD screen with digitizer

We got it apart

It wasn’t easy but we managed to remove the digitizer glass using low heat on a heat gun and carefully inserting tools between digitizer and laptop case until we could unsnap all the clips.

Unfortunately, the cable was not our issue so we probably won’t invest more time and money into this laptop.

What could be wrong?

The general consensus is that the LCD, video cable, system board could be at fault.

A shop that has all those parts could determine which were defective.


Troubleshooting Laptop Video Problems can take considerable time and still end in frustration.

Unless you have known good parts lying around, it probably is not worth the effort to repair a laptop that is around 3 years old.

Synchronize Your Cloud Files Without Slowing Down Your Computer

Synchronize Your Cloud Files

Clouds are a great storage option to protect your files. Even if your computer dies the files still live on in the cloud.

Issues With Clouds – Synchronize Your Cloud Files

The problem is that Synchronizing Your Cloud Files may slow your computer down to a crawl if you are synchronizing too many files. We certainly don’t want that.

Problem & Solution

Another problem with Synchronize Your Cloud Files is that it’s somewhat limited unless you purchase a premium plan.

Limited Space in the Cloud

When we use clouds with limited space we have to ensure we don’t try to back up unnecessary files.

The best Synchronize Your Cloud Files solution is to back up files that are the most important taking precautions with sensitive materials by encrypting.

Scroll down or click for help with Synchronizing Select Cloud Files

We can also spread out files among various cloud plans by maybe putting family photos on one and business documents on another.

If you have Office 365 you get 1 TB to backup your files so space should not be a major concern.

Slow Computer

The more files you have to synchronize the longer it takes the cloud software to index your files and upload.

Even if you only change one file the software has to evaluate them all. This can make your computer unusable when the cloud software is indexing.

Slow Zone

Synchronizing websites can be particularly bad since they may have lots of little files.

If there are repository file like Git then the situation is even worse.

If Windows Search all by itself can slow down your computer. Add that to cloud synchronization and you may think your computer is broken or infected.

Synchronize Your Cloud Files – Too Many Files

One Solution that addresses speed and space is to limit the files you synchronize.

If you have plenty of space but don’t want to drag your computer down every time it indexes your changes you can select which folders you need synchronized.

In our case, we have lots of websites and customer backups that don’t need to be constantly synchronized.

First we backup these sorts of files to an external drive or internal section of our drive that’s not associated with the cloud.

Test Case

We download a lot of stock photos from that we may want to use someday and we have 1 TB of cloud storage available on OneDrive thanks to our Office 365 subscription.

Initially we download the stock photos to our external RAID (12 TB) into a folder that shows it has not been synchronized to the cloud.

Problem Folder

Then we copy this folder to an appropriate place on our local OneDrive folder which gets synchronized to the cloud.

OneDrive Problem Folder

Once the synchronization is complete we remove the folder from synchronization by opening OneDrive Settings.

  • Start OneDrive if it’s not running
  • Right click OneDrive icon in tray
  • Navigate to Account Tab
  • Choose folders
    • Only Choose folders that are likely to change

      OneDrive Settings – Account

What This Does

Removing the folder from synchronization removes the files from the local PC which is why we have it backed up outside the OneDrive folder. We don’t need these files in 2 places on our computer.

More importantly OneDrive doesn’t have to scan through all these files to see if they have changed. Since they are stock photos we won’t be changing them.

We might however create new versions from the stock photos but we will be sure to back these up.

It does not remove the files from the cloud so the files are still available on

Windows Search

Windows Search is also known for slowing down your computer so this added to a cloud backup can really bring your computer to a crawl.

This is especially true if you try to open Windows Explorer. Just clicking on a drive may take a long time to open. Think minutes instead of seconds.

Disabling Windows Search

Microsoft constantly recommends Windows Search for Outlook and Windows Explorer. They suggest that searches may take a long time unless we turn it on.

Search performance will be impacted because Windows Search service is turned off.

In our experience, Windows Search slows down any drive with a lot of files. You probably want to turn it off even if you are not synchronizing Cloud files.

Perhaps Windows Search is useful if you are looking for text within files but it’s a significant drag on our resources.

Disabling Windows Search is easy enough. Crank up the Services and disable Windows Search.

Windows Services

You can find Services by typing in the search bar. Double click Windows Search service and set it to disabled or manual.


It’s possible to synchronize your files to the clouds without impacting your computer performance by selecting specific files and folders to keep synchronized.

Turning off Windows Search will help even if you are not synchronizing files to the cloud.

Troubleshooting Your Laptop Webcam

Troubleshooting Your Laptop webcam usually requires some research on the vendor’s site.

Case Study

Dell laptop – Inspiron 3721 purchased September 2013.

The webcam worked when running Windows 7 but failed later on when it was upgraded to Windows 10 in October 2015.

Client is in a remote location so we don’t have physical access to the machine.

Laptop History

Laptop had issues with Windows 7 so it was an easy decision to upgrade to Windows 10. The assumption was that the laptop had malware.

Webcam had worked at some point under Windows 7 but the laptop.

It’s unclear how much time has passed since the webcam worked but the Windows 10 upgrade was done in October 2015 (8 months ago).

Teamviewer Remote Access

We were able to connect to the laptop remotely and review the problem as well as create a live USB drive to boot into Ubuntu.

Troubleshooting Your Laptop Webcam

As expected, the webcam was not found when running camera.

The unusual part was that it was not listed in Device Manager under Imaging devices and nothing was flagged as not working or listed in Other.


Vendor Site – Dell

Our 1st inclination was that we needed a driver but found no reference of drivers for the webcam on Dell’s support. Apparently the laptop uses Windows drivers.

We updated BIOS & chipset but that had no effect.

Live O/S

It’s usually wise to get a view of the machine from a neutral Operating System.

We could have created a live Windows 8 or Windows 7 disk but  this is not as simple to do as creating a live Ubuntu disk.


What is a Live O/S?

Using a live Operating System (O/S) doesn’t require you to install anything but rather boot into the O/S on some sort of removable media.

In our case, we used a USB drive.

Ubuntu has a Try feature that runs off the drive without impacting your current O/S.

We often use live O/S to recover files from a broken Windows O/S.

Troubleshooting Your Laptop Webcam with Ubuntu Cheese

Within Ubuntu we could open a terminal window (CTRL-ALT-T) and invoke the webcam via cheese.

The camera was not found with cheese either so it appears that the camera is broken somehow. maybe a loose connection.


In our sample case, the Dell laptop was diagnosed as having hardware issues since it exhibited the same problems using another O/S.

Webcam Video

Our recommendations were to use an external webcam supported by Windows 10 or have the laptop repaired.

Since the laptop is a few years old it’s probably best to use an external camera. An external probably has better specifications and it’s designed specifically for Windows 10.