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Radiator Fans: Removable?

Ask the Doctor LogoI’m debating switching to water-cooling. I was initially worried about maintenance or the unit leaking, but those issues seem to be a thing of the past. What happens, however, if the fan stops working on the radiator? Is the fan difficult to replace? Would you have to replace the entire unit? Anytime I see reviews or ads, they never specify whether the fan is replaceable or permanently attached to the radiator unit.

—Joe C.

Read the Doctor's advice for Joe after the jump.

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BIOS Fear

Ask the Doctor LogoAre there any benefits to flashing or updating a PC’s BIOS? Are there any dangers to my machine by doing this?

—Andrew Wilson

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Alcohol and Nude Parts

Ask the Doctor LogoIs it OK to use alcohol to wipe clean an Athlon CPU without a heat spreader?

—Avery Sio

Read the Doctor's answer for Avery after the jump.

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Upgrading Advice

Ask the Doctor LogoI’m trying to decide whether to upgrade from Windows XP Professional to Windows 7 Professional. While I’m no hardcore techie, I can follow directions well and I built my own system a couple of years ago with the thought of having a system ready for a future OS upgrade. My system is an Asus P5E Deluxe, an Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 at 2.66GHz, and 4GB of DDR3. I have Windows XP installed on a 150GB Western Digital Raptor, as well as a 500GB secondary drive.

Although I have some programs installed on the C: drive (ones I can reinstall), most of my programs have been installed on the secondary drive.

I have plenty of room on the C: drive to partition and install Win7, but I’m thinking about buying an SSD to install Windows 7 on. I use Adobe Photoshop CS4 and Painter 11, as well as Adobe Premiere Elements 8, and I think I would benefit from installing 64-bit Windows 7 and adding 4GB to 8GB more RAM.

I’m really unsure as to how to go about this and not sure I really want to—I’ve read a number of posts on different forums and it seems to me there are mixed feelings about the upgrade.

Also, since my programs are installed on a drive other than my OS drive, if I make a change by partitioning or installing Win7 on a new separate OS drive, would I be able to use the programs already installed on the D: drive without reinstalling them?

—Tom Helinski

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Do I Have a Bigger Issue Here?

Ask the Doctor LogoMy PC has an Intel 2.4GHz Core 2 Quad Q6600, an EVGA 750i FTW motherboard, and two sticks of GSkill DDR2 with timings of 5-5-5-15 2T at 1,066MHz. Two weeks ago, I started getting random lockups and blue screens. After a lot of work, it turns out to be the RAM, which is producing errors in Memtest. However, in testing it I have found that I am getting errors in unlinked mode, at 800MHz, undervolting, overvolting, and moving the RAM around. The only time I don’t get errors is when I run just one stick of RAM. Is this actually a RAM problem or do I have a bigger issue?

—Tyler Cook

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Which Port?

Ask the Doctor LogoThanks to Maximum PC’s past advice, I have a new rig with an ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics card. It has dual DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort connections. I use my rig for photography and video editing. I have a 24-inch Dell monitor with all of the above ports. Which is the best one to use and why?

—Preetham Grandhi

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Holy Shrinking Free Space, Batman!

Ask the Doctor LogoThe hard drive in my recently built computer keeps filling up without explanation. I am running 64-bit Windows 7, an Intel Core i7-920, an MSI X58 PRO-E motherboard, 6GB of DDR3, and a Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 TB hard drive. I have 625.1GB free out of 931GB. When I came home a couple days ago, I found that I had only 17KB free on my hard drive. I restarted my computer to find that the levels of free space had returned to normal. I then locked my computer and went out for a meal. When I came back, I found I only had 234.7GB free. Every time I shut down the computer, the level of free space goes to normal, but then decreases rapidly whenever my computer is on.

I ran WinDirStat to try to figure out what the problem was; it showed that the largest chunk of used space—157GB!—was being used by a file called cputime.xml in C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\PC Tools\Monitor.

—Joseph Koo

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AutoPlay, Go Away

Ask the Doctor LogoI have an Acer laptop running Windows XP Professional SP2. When I plug in my USB drive, I get an “access denied” error. Accessing the drive through Windows Explorer doesn’t bring up the error.

—Thuy Tran

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Win7 Can't Find X-Fi

Ask the Doctor LogoI have an Intel Core i7-940 coupled with an Asus P6T Deluxe motherboard and 6GB of Super Talent DDR3/1333 memory. My OS is 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium with Creative’s X-Fi XtremeGamer soundcard. I bought an upgrade version of Windows 7 and ran the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor; it said my audio device was not compatible. I downloaded the new Creative drivers and still got the same message. I have looked all over the Internet for a fix and I see a lot of people having the same problems with X-Fi cards.

—William White

Read the Doctor's answer to William's question after the jump.

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Heat Freezes

Ask the Doctor LogoEvery time I play a game, I get the frozen-screen treatment—sometimes right away, sometimes a few hours in. I get a weird checkerboard pattern on the screen and I can’t Alt+F4, Ctrl-Alt-Del, or anything else but a hard restart to get back to Windows. I’m running 32-bit Windows Vista, an AMD Athlon 64 6000+, a Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Vapor-X, 4GB Kingston Hyper-X RAM, and two 1TB hard drives, all inside an Antec Nine Hundred case. I’ve tried running with the side of the case off and a fan blowing on the card, even though with the case closed I get cool air out of the back, so I doubt heat is the issue. I’ve reinstalled video drivers countless times and the forums don’t seem to be much help since I haven’t seen a thread describing the same error I get.

—Chris

Read the Doctor's advice for Chris after the jump.