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Old 07-24-2010, 04:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Newly built system - burning smell after a couple days

Hi! I recently built a system, smelled a burning smell and shut it down. At the time I had my case cover on and I smelled it through the vents in the side. After a few minutes (I had the window open and I first thought it was from outside) I shut the system down an opened the case. The smell dissipated shortly and neither my wife nor I were able to tell what component it was coming from.

I’m hoping someone here can help me formulate a diagnostic plan.

SYSTEM STATUS
I have checked my connections and don’t see where I could have gone wrong. I built a system a couple days ago and have had it running much of the time (except nights) since build. Everything seemed to be OK. I used CoreTemp to check the CPU cores when it was under resting load(during Day One) and these showed around 39C/40C. The motherboard has an LED on it that I think is the motherboard temperature and it shows 25 constantly. There is no dust build up.

WHAT I WAS DOING
I ran without the case cover on day one and had the cover on all of day two. A few hours before the burning smell I connected a 2nd monitor (a 24”) where I had been running only a 20”. Not sure if the new dual monitor setup is a factor.

At around the same time as the burning smell (just not sure if it was before or after the smell started) I was backing up a DVD to my hard drive using DVDFab. I cancelled this about half-way when I shut down. Aside from my Windows 7 install, this has been my only sustained use of the DVD drive thusfar.

ABOUT MY BUILD
Let me tell you about my build – I got these parts a bit over a year ago and so I am afraid they are probably out of warranty. Due to circumstances unforeseen, I haven’t been able to put them together until now:
  • Antec 900 case (note: the two front fans span the bottom two bays, with the HD mounted at the center of the bottom on. There is no optional side fan in use because the heatsink blocks it)
  • Antec TruePower New TP-750 Blue 750W (Because of the case the case mounts on the bottom with the fan pointed up. There are four rails: #1 =Motherboard, all 4 case fans, DVD; #2 = EPS, HD, #3 & #4: PCI-E)
  • EVGA X58 SLI Motherboard
  • I7 920 2.66 GHz (note: I have not tried overclocking this yet an am running at defaults)
  • Coolermaster V8 (note I used AS5 in a “line”. This was my first time building a system and I tried to keep it to the size in the AS diagrams)
  • OCZ 1600Mhz 6GB Platinum XTC (3 x 2GB) DDR3 (note: I am using the timings that the bios defaulted to and have not tried adjusting these yet)
  • EVGA GeForce GTX260
  • LG Lightscribe DVD Drive
  • Western Digital 640GB Caviar Black
  • Windows 7, 64bit

QUESTIONS
I am very new to this – am I running too much on rail #1? Is there anyway for me to diagnose the load on that?

I know that the most common problems are a bad power supply but I have one that (I think) is supposed to be pretty reliable – is there a way to test it?

I am somewhat at a loss here. Everything seemed to be working well up until this. Is it possible the DVD drive just makes that smell when it is new? Does that ever happen?

Trying to keep this on the safe side but also my time/money is limited and so I want to come up with as smart of a diagnostics plan without putting all my components at risk. It didn’t take long browsing to realize that this is the perfect form to ask for help in. Thanks much in advance for any ideas!
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Old 07-24-2010, 06:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newly built system - burning smell after a couple days

Just an update - I've tried turning it on again with the case open and have kept CoreTemp Running. I tried backing up the exact same DVD and was able to do it withotu any burning smell. Throughout the process the core temps would occasionally spike as high as 48/46/48/42. In general, they are sitting at 39/38/39/35.

Now, I had the case cover on the last time -- does that make a pretty big difference on the Antec 900? I'm leaning away from it being a DVD issue now. I've visually inspected the top of the motherboard and don;t see anything amiss. Also, all the fans appear to be in working order. The top and back seem to be set OK to exhaust and the front two to intake.

I'm nervous about keeping the system on -- are there any specific tests I can run? What about to monitor the temp of my video card? -- I am not sure how to do that.
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Old 07-25-2010, 01:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newly built system - burning smell after a couple days

was the second monitor you hooked up dusty could have just been burning dust on the second monitor when it heated up.


also you should check your voltages in bios to see if any are amiss or you can use hard ware monitor in the os to check em other than that not to sure on what it could be.


and do you have any friends that would let you test out your parts in there comps to see if everything's working.
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Old 07-25-2010, 02:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newly built system - burning smell after a couple days

Desolation - thank you for responding.

Second monitor: The second monitor is one that I use constantly and happens to have two DVI inputs and so I jacked it in on the second (the first is in use by my laptop). So, no dust an I know the smell was definitely wafting out of the side grill on the Antec 900 case.

Voltages in BIOS: I will try to figure this out an get back to you. What is the best way to see these in Windows 7? Can I monitor them with an app? I've been leaving CoreMem running when I have the system on to monitor those.

Friends with PCs: Sadly no :-( Kind of in the middle of nowhere and everyone I know with comparable PCs is using them for business and won't like me playing switcheroo.

Update re Video Card temperatures: I found that EVGA has software called EVGA Precision which gives me the GPU temp. When I had the system running this has seemed stable at 49C. Might try playing EVE tonight and see what that does to it. I have played it once before on this system and didn't have any burning that time.
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Old 07-25-2010, 02:36 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newly built system - burning smell after a couple days

Np

k that narrows it down a bit you can use hard ware monitor to check voltages in the os.

but bios is more accurate i dont have an intel system so i dont know where to check em on intels. maybe some one will chime in here that can tell you where to check em in bios.

could you tell the general area where the burning smell was coming from.
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Old 07-25-2010, 04:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newly built system - burning smell after a couple days

You should grab HWMonitor (Don't get pro, just get the regular version) from cpuid.com and check the voltages and report them.

This may be a bit strange, but can you sniff around the case and try to pin point a possible area?

Try sniffing the PSU with it off and see if there is an odor coming from it.


Also, sometimes a new PC can emit an ozone like smell but will dissipate.

Check the tops of your capacitors, they should be FLAT, and not be bowed outwards what so ever, if they are bowed out, the capacitor is shot, and you could have been smelling acidic like substances burning.
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Old 07-25-2010, 05:20 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newly built system - burning smell after a couple days

C0rr0sive - thank you for your help with this as well. And thanks again Desolation.

Voltages: I've posted these below as a screenshot of CPUID Hardware Monitor, which contains a lot of other goodies. I have no idea what is good or bad on any of this. This was with my computer at a resting state after being on with the side panel open for 3 hours. No smoky smell at the moment.

Sniffing the burning bits: Not strange at all C0rr0sive -- I tried like the devil to locate when it happened. Because I had the case panel closed it all seemed about the same once I had it off to check. It didn't seem to be coming from the power supply but I am not certain. If it happens again I will sniff the rear end of it -- I don't smell anything there now.

Capacitors: No bowing from any I can see looking on the Motherboard, the ones inside the video card aren't really visible to look at because it is enclosed.

Ozone? Possibly. I don't know what ozone smells like though :-) It did seem to be getting stronger though and dissipated quickly once I turned off the system.

Here is the screenshot of CPUID Hardware Monitor:
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Old 07-25-2010, 09:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newly built system - burning smell after a couple days

hmmm i don't know what others would say but those v reg temps seem a bit high to me.
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Old 07-25-2010, 09:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newly built system - burning smell after a couple days

All your temperatures and voltages look good

You should look and see if you can find a sticker/label, that may have been poorly placed by the manufacturer, that is causing the smell. Make sure a stray wire isn't touching something that is hot enough to soften/melt the plastic insulation.

Since the PC is working you should leave the side panel off so that you can quickly try to find the source of the smell if it happens again.
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Old 07-25-2010, 10:10 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newly built system - burning smell after a couple days

Thanks Desolation and Slaymate -

VREG: Those stood out as high to me too but after browsing the EVGA forums it doesn't seem to be too high, but then again I am not overclocking and most of the posts I read were from overclockers.

Stray Stickers and wires: I don't see anything like that -- possibly there was something like that inside the DVD burner that could have been the cause. I do have some wires that are touching the sides of the Coolermaster V8 HSF, however there does not appear to be any melting on the insulation of them and the parts they touch feel cool to the touch. I am going to try to tie these down better.

Running the case open: So far, I've got an uptime today of just over 8hrs and am seeing no real movement in temps, etc. Playing EVE bumped them by 2-5 degrees but that seemed reasonable. What I'm beginning to wonder is if the cooling situation is radically different with the case closed. I am starting to think that I may need to try running for some time with it closed to see if the burning smell happens again.

It is very strange because it wasn't under what I'd think would be high load when it happened (copying a DVD) and it had already been running for probably 8-10 hours with the case closed when it happened.

Should i do any kind of stress testing? Right now I'm nervous to leave it on unattended in case the smoke turns to fire :-)
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