3/25/2009

Rage Against the Machine, pt 3

Part 3 of my love/hate relationship with technology series "Rage Against The Machine" is about the graphics card in the HTPC. Everything started out great. We had a computer controlling our home theater. We can watch blu-ray movies, TV, surf the information superhighway, watch TV on the internet, listen to our music collection and manage all our media-all with one box. The concept is brillant in it's simplicity. But computers are complex machines with minds of their own. About three weeks ago, the HTPC started making a loud buzzing sound. The sound was loud enough that it could be heard over the TV and music. I opened the case and found the sound coming from the graphics card fan. The HTPC has a 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 9600GS graphic card. That little fan was making a lot of noise. I did some internet searching and found a HP forum thread with users that have the same graphics card experiencing the same issue. The users in the thread concluded that the fan bearings are not lubricated and wear out which causes it to make noise. The DIY solution is to put some lube in the bearings. It quiets the fan. I tried it and the sound reduced considerably. But the bearings were already worn out, so I got HP tech support to replace the graphics card. The computer is still under warranty, so it didn't cost me a thing. Before installing the replacement graphics card, I lubed the fan. I figured I wouldn't give the bearings a chance to wear out. Hopefully being proactive will prevent having to replace the graphics card a third time. If the fan goes out again, and the computer is still under warranty, I'll get another replacement. It's free, so why not? If it's out of warranty, I'll buy a different graphics card and call it day. I hate having to spend more money to make this computer work, but it is what it is.