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Ask the Grumpy PC Technician: GPU Temps, Windows 1909, Engine Repair

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Howdy folks. Back in November, I asked you to submit hardware issues, questions, and problems to see whether I might be able to help. It took a lot longer than I wanted to come back to this topic. I had multiple members of my family sick in December, including me.

One of the challenges of solving hardware puzzles using this format is that it helps to find out if a solution actually worked. The Holy Trinity of advice columnists — Abby, Prudence, and Car Talk, as far as I’m concerned — only tend to revisit older letters on occasion, if someone sends an update. I want to be able to present at least some of the diagnosis and eventual solutions, but I figure we’ll try some things and see what works.

One thing I want to add: If you have a general PC or hardware question, or even a historical question about the PC business, you can feel free to ask it. I might even try to rope in a co-worker for additional perspectives. (Psst. Ask Atari questions!)

RTX 2080 Ti Running Hotter Than Expected

From Ty Worsham, a question on operating temperatures on GTX 1080 Ti GPUs versus the RTX 2080 Ti series:

I’ve been building PCs for about 20 years now and this is the first real issue I’ve seen that I just can’t quite figure out, so I need some help. I upgraded from a 1080 Ti to a 2080 Ti. With the 1080 Ti, I was getting around 50-60 degrees Celsius (depending on game and time of year). With the 2080 Ti, I’m getting 60-70. Ambient temp is 22-26c. [The GPU is an ASUS Geforce RTX 2080 Ti 11 GB Strix Video Card]

Do these cards just run warmer? Am I being paranoid? I considered I may not have enough positive static air, so I disconnected 2 exhaust fans to see if maybe that would help, but I haven’t noticed much change.

Grumpy PCT: I’m going to answer your question with a question of my own. Which BIOS mode are you currently running in?

According to TechPowerUp, there’s a BIOS switch on the card that sets to a “Quiet BIOS” mode with lower fan noise. It’s *possible* that you are running in that mode, and you may see somewhat better temps if you change your GPU to the other setting.

But as for the temperatures you are seeing? Honestly, yes, modern GPUs do just run hotter. And so far as anyone can tell, it’s safe to run them at those temperatures. AMD has a tendency to push the envelope a bit more in this regard than Nvidia does, but both AMD and Nvidia now regularly field GPUs that allow for sustained temperatures of 75C+. Both GPU manufacturers deploy sophisticated mechanisms that control the GPU’s clocks based on a variety of factors, including temperature. 60-70C appears to be normal for a 2080 Ti.

You say you’ve been building PCs for 20 years, which means you probably remember the era of K6-2’s and Pentium II’s, when a CPU temperature of 50C was high and 70-90C would have meant you had a chip literally melting to the socket. Part of the reason why temps run hotter now is that we’re much better at measuring them — sensor placement and sampling have both improved. Part of it is because chips are now designed to handle higher temperatures than they used to be.

I won’t lie to you. I enjoy high temperatures about as much as I enjoy the taste of Cool Ranch Doritos and cold black coffee. But they’re not a sign of fundamental hardware failure, and the 60-70C range you specified seems to be within the target for your card. Since you specifically identify as a PC builder, I’ll go ahead and ask — have you tried repasting the GPU to see if you can improve the temperatures that way?

Ty: This was immensely helpful sir. I think it comes in the quiet mode BIOS by default. I set up my own fan curve and put a fairly aggressive fan speed vs temp on it as soon as I got it installed. And then I did a BIOS update and I didn’t check it after….I’m pretty sure that was my failing. I reapplied my fan curve and it’s running fine now. It does run in the 60s but you’re right, they just run warmer. I do remember the old days…I ended up pulling the side panel and putting a box fan next to it to get better temps…lol It was redneck, but it worked.

Grumpy PCT: It still works now. If your desktop is unstable under load, check your temperatures and dust level. If the only thing you have on hand to improve your cooling situation is a box fan, try using it.

Should You Install Windows 10 1909?

From Phenom_x8: It is worth it to download and install Win 10 Nov 19 update? I usually update my win 10 only when a major update has been released.

Grumpy PCT: “Worth it” is always a tricky question to evaluate. The Windows 10 1909 update was supposedly so small, enabling it is really just a matter of telling Windows to reboot and turn it on. It’s true that some users have reported issues with 1909, but some percentage of users hit problems with every software release. Verify that you’ll be able to roll back from 1909 if it gives you problems and then try enabling it, would be my advice. You can also check to see what other users are reporting as far as specific bugs with Windows 10 1909 — a straightforward “Windows 10 1909 bugs” produces some useful results.

The thing to keep in mind is that just because a bug is real and deserves to be written up doesn’t mean it actually impacts a lot of people. I’m not trying to let Microsoft off the hook with this — a small bug that hits people with catastrophic file deletion issues is a big deal under any circumstance. I’ve installed 1909 fresh on several systems without any trouble, but if you want to be sure, Google “Windows 10 1909 bugs” and take a look at what people are reporting. If you run into issues after the update, uninstall it.

Do We Take Car Repair Requests?

Chris asks: Hi, I understand you know how to drive a car and what an engine is, would you mind doing a service on mine, please? Oh, and it makes this weird noise sometimes so it would be great if you could fix it for free.

Grumpy PCT: I am unqualified to service your car and spectacularly unwilling to “service” your car, but here we both are. Let’s start with a few base assumptions. Since the only thing you’ve given me to work with is “weird noise” and I don’t know how to fix cars, let’s see what we can do:

First, you’ll want to check the power steering pump. You might hear a weird noise when you put the wheel over if you’re low on power steering fluid. If the noise is both loud and rough (I think of it as blatty, but YMMV), you may have an exhaust system leak. If your car has suddenly begun vibrating in an unusual fashion, there are several possibilities, including 1). It’s broken 2). It’s currently the home of approximately 5,000 bees, or 3). The person you ran over while you were checking for bees is jammed in the wheel well.

Try to get a sense of what you feel the weird noise might mean. Old cars make many strange noises, but there are a few rules of thumbs you can apply:

  • Weird noises plus sudden vehicle gauge movement = bad.
  • Weird noise + unexpected fluid = bad. The more energetically the fluid appears, the worse this typically is.
  • Weird noise + bang + exciting new hole in vehicle = Very bad.

Image by George Miller Auto

If your car suddenly grows a new part where one didn’t exist before, it is not budding, sprouting, or launching new DLC. It is broken. You should feel bad.

Here’s another handy tip about cars: If something underneath the engine block catches on fire in a 1991 LeBaron, the smoke may fill the backseat first. Tell your family immediately if this happens, rather than waiting to see if anybody else notices. Keep a handy water bottle in the car. Do not taunt your sibling about his initial failure to listen to you.

Happy driving.

Got a question, topic, issue, or idea you want me to talk about? Hit me up at [email protected] You can also leave questions in the forum thread below.

Now read:

  • How to Troubleshoot Your Slow PC
  • The Eternal PC Question: Is It Better to Upgrade or to Buy a New System?
  • Nvidia vs. AMD: Do GPUs Degrade in Performance Over Time?

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