How often should you replace thermal paste?

How often should you replace thermal paste?

We usually only think about thermal paste during new system builds. But you may not know that thermal paste dries out over time and needs to be replaced. So how often should you replace thermal paste? And why do you need to?

How long thermal paste lasts depends on how hard you use your computer. It’s best to replace it every 3-5 years or so, if you keep your system that long, but there are other times it’s a good idea to replace it too.

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What is a cold solder joint?

What is a cold solder joint?

Years ago, my monitor broke. Back then we had repair shops for such things. I called one and described the symptoms I was having. “Sounds like it could be a cold solder joint. Bring it in,” he said. But what is a cold solder joint? Isn’t solder hot?

A cold solder joint doesn’t refer to temperature, but rather, lack of electrical conductivity. A cold solder joint is a solder connection that isn’t conducting electricity the way it should.

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30-30-30 reset

30-30-30 reset

If you’re messing around with routers, you’re going to come across the phrase 30-30-30 reset. Often without explanation. Here’s what this reset is and why it works.

A 30-30-30 reset is the technique of holding the reset button on a router for 30 seconds, unplugging the power at the 30 second mark while continuing to hold the button down, then plugging the power back in while holding the button an additional 30 seconds before releasing. It’s helpful on older routers, but on AC routers and newer, it’s not recommended.

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Dell Optiplex case swap

Dell Optiplex case swap

Rebuilding old Dell Optiplexes for home use is common, because Dell Optiplexes are so easy to get and cheap. But there’s a problem if you want to put an Optiplex board in a standard ATX case, whether it’s to make the computer look less corporate, or because you got the board cheap and don’t have a Dell case. Dell uses proprietary connectors. Not only that, the connectors aren’t even consistent across different models, even in the same generation. Here’s how to deal with that so you can do a Dell Optiplex case swap, and put a Dell motherboard in a new ATX case.

While Dell uses the standard ATX mounting holes in its minitowers and even its desktops, the front panel connectors are completely nonstandard, and sometimes the power supply connectors are too. Fortunately you can get adapters.

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The secret history of the F-14’s flight computer

If you’re Gen X, you know the F-14. You may have even known about it before the movie Top Gun. The story of its flight computer, and the man who designed the hardware, Ray Holt, is intense. I don’t share a ton of links, but this is one you’ve gotta read. It’s the best piece of tech journalism I’ve read in years. Every possible box they taught me to check in journalism school, this story checks. I’m trying to remember the last time I saw a technology piece do that.

I’ve heard of Ray Holt before. He’s almost the Gary Kildall of computer chips. This story tells the story of his triumph, tragedy, and how he carried on, reinvented himself, and is still helping people today. It makes him human.

Baking computer chips: Fixing chips in an oven

Baking computer chips: Fixing chips in an oven

Does baking computer chips fix them when they’re broken? Can you fix computer chips in an oven? The answer is sometimes. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know when it will help, and when it does, we may not know why. But, when faced with a broken chip, we don’t exactly have anything to lose, either.

Baking computer chips does seem to fix them, at least sometimes. Whether it works depends entirely on why the chip failed in the first place, which isn’t always possible to know.

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Jonard EX-2 review: The best chip puller

Jonard EX-2 review: The best chip puller

If you’re looking for the best chip puller or IC extraction tool, I don’t think anyone will argue with my assertion it’s the Jonard EX-2. I finally picked one up this fall after watching various retro Youtubers use them for more than a year. The videos aren’t exaggerating. This chip puller makes life with retro machines much easier. This is my Jonard EX-2 review.

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