Blog du Tristank

So terrific that 3 of 4 readers rated it "soporific"

(Puns based on the word "drill" may be easily misinterpreted)

Tristan’s main home PC was an Athlon 64 3500+.

It had an Asus A8N SLI, bought many months ago. The motherboard had always had a noisy chipset fan, and it had finally given up the ghost and decided that rather than spin, it would quack. Every four seconds, when it was warm.

Tristan decided that he was going to do something about this, so he ordered a new north bridge fan that looked about right.

Tristan’s colleague Russkie implied that smart people plan to be able to remove those little “one way clip” things without removing the motherboard from the tray. But perhaps there was another way. But Tristan probably wouldn’t be interested. Of course, Tristan pressed on… what was this secret technique?

Perhaps, the story went, a “dremmel” tool could be used to remove the one-way clip without having to pull out the motherboard.

Not knowing what a Dremel was, but pretty sure that he didn’t own one, Tristan politely inquired as to whether he might be able to borrow one from Russkie? Russkie acquiesced, but noted that any sufficiently small drill bit in a regular drill would also do the job. Tristan’s girlfriend had a drill. He could use that one, and not have to wait another day.

plastic thingy holds fan near motherboard. Spring included.Tristan went home, excited by the idea of drilling through the little plastic clippy things. And at the idea of using a power drill. It would be, oh, the second time. He would become a man.

The first clip drilled through easily. Tristan was happy. He had demonstrated his Drill Skill. He was a Real Man, with a Real Power Tool under his control, an extension of his very body.

Tristan was inspecting the perfectly-formed bore hole when the tensioning spring suddenly (and to its own immense surprise) won its eternal struggle with its newly-weakened plastic bolt, and launched it squarely into Tristan’s forehead.

Once Tristan had finished laughing, he drilled the second plastic thing. But this one didn’t pop off. The angle had changed when the other restraint had popped off, and so three more hands were needed than were available to hold the thing in place.

Tristan was undeterred. He drilled, and inspected. Drilled, and pulled. Drilled, and tugged a bit more. Re-drilled, re-twisted, re-tugged, and eventually, after several more iterations, the other restraint came loose. The fan was free.

Tristan triumphantly unboxed the new fan, and aligned it properly. Or tried to. There was no proper alignment. The new fan didn’t fit. Would never fit. Was a north bridge fan, for something that just abjectly wasn’t a north bridge. Bugger.

Old fan with 20 cent pieceThe new fan with 20 cent piece.
Old and New Fans. Note the complete opposite alignment of mount points and the size difference. Bonus different power connector included, but not shown.

He wasn’t about to give up, but he wasn’t about to leave the motherboard without cooling either (it got untouchably hot the instant the power was on). So, after cleaning all the dust out of the Fan-That-Fit, Tristan plugged it back in, and wondered how to reattach it.

Luckily, the fan that didn’t fit had come with some little plastic thingies that would affix it to the motherboard, and these were the standard 5mm-ish size. So, in they went.

Just one little snag… when the power was turned back on, the fan wasn’t moving. It looked like it was making an effort, but only in the most passive sense possible. It’d move a notch, and stop. Move a notch, stop. Clearly, unacceptable for the Nforce Inferno chip it was lamely and vainly trying to cool.

Tristan was faced with a dilemma. Try to remove this fan, or leave it on and hope it was sufficient cooling?

After a good four seconds of deliberation, he started drilling the new plastic holder things. The case was already off; better to get everything ready for the replacement.

But the new plastic clips weren’t as solid as the original ones. They bent under pressure, and Tristan couldn’t convince them to come out. Tristan also, it turned out, couldn’t drill straight through them.

He did manage to drill through an innocuous-yet-important part of the motherboard directly next to the clip-hole. So the once-proud motherboard could power up, but there were no reassuring beeps. No on-screen text. No actual activity as such.

(The new motherboard is on order.)