MSI KT4V-L (MS-6712)
By Robert Jon Cox

Last Updated: 03/31/2011 08:27                                         Created on: 11 January 2003

 

 THE CAUSE AND SOLUTION TO ALL MY MSI KT4V-L (MS-6712) PROBLEMS

I barebones'ed my PC because I thought I had a hardware/driver problem.  You may have noticed that I don't have any PCI devices installed.  I removed my PCI modem, soundcard, CD-rom drive (just the IDE and power cables), and D-Bracket.  This was a result of my intense troubleshooting to find the source of the hardware/driver problem.

My PC was stable when going on the internet, using email, and word processing programs, etc.  I could surf the net all day long without a problem.  However, whenever I tried to run a game my PC would crash....usually in about two or three minutes....BSOD....  I'm not really a big gamer but I do like to play Starfleet Command, MechWarrior Vengeance, Civilization II, and Axis & Allies.  The first two obviously tax the CPU a bit.  My MSI KT4V-L just didn't like these games.....or so I thought.

One of the more common error codes I received was "IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL".  I thought this was a WIN XP problem so I called Microsoft.  A Microsoft Tech Rep told me this "common" error was "hardware" related.  Hardware Yes!  The most important piece of hardware in my PC....

I also thought my Bios settings were incorrect.

I discovered the cause of my problems.  My CPU was overheating.  


How my CPU overheating problem came to be

This is the second MSI mainboard system I've built.  The first being a MSI KT3 Ultra2....which I had for only a very short period.  I had major problems with this mainboard so I brought it back for an exchange and I was given a MSI KT4V-L on 19 December 2002 as a replacement.  I knew at this time I needed some "thermal grease" and I asked the salesperson for some "Arctic Silver".  He gave me "Arctic  Alumina Thermal Adhesive".  I asked, "...is this the same as Arctic Silver...".  He said, "Yes".  Silly me.  I brought the MSI KT4V-L mainboard home and put all the components back together.  When installing the CPU and heatsink  I followed the directions for  the "Arctic  Alumina Thermal Adhesive"; I only put a small amount on top of the CPU core.  The directions said, "...about the size of a half-grain of rice will suffice....".  I probably put a little more than that.  

My new MSI KT4V-L booted up fine and I was on my way.  I had a little difficulty loading WIN XP Home.  Took me four attempts.  Once the OS was installed everything else loaded fine....  My MSIE 6.0 worked fine....my Outlook Express 6.0 worked fine....but when it came to Starfleet Command, MechWarrior Vengeance, and my scanner....I got the BSOD.

I spent a good solid week trying to figure out why my games were crashing my PC.  I called tech support and surfed the internet forums for answers.  I finally narrowed it down to a CPU heat problem.  It's the only cause I hadn't looked into.  I loaded MSI's PCAlert4 and monitored my CPU and system temperatures.  My CPU Idle temp was 61c.  System was 33c.  Way too high!  

During my excessive heat investigation I discovered that I put the wrong type of thermal grease on top of my CPU.  I wasn't very happy.  The Arctic Alumina website said "Arctic  Alumina Thermal Adhesive" was "permanent".  With my temps too high I figured I had nothing to lose so I attempted to take the heatsink off the CPU.  It came right off with no difficulty.  It turns out that the Arctic Alumina Thermal Adhesive did not bond to the aluminum heatsink.  However, it did bond to the top of my AMD XP 2000+ CPU core.  I also discovered a second problem.  The fan on top of my heatsink was loose on one side.  It was not making direct contact with the top of the heatsink.

I put everything back together temporarily and tested the system using just the non-adhesive compound of the Arctic Alumina.  My CPU temp dropped significantly.....to about 55c.  

The computer store that sold me the Arctic Alumina Thermal Adhesive replaced my CPU....they actually gave me a XP 2100+ for $10 and a tube of Cooler Master Premium Thermal Compound.  I tested the Cooler Master Premium Thermal Compound but got better results from Antec Reference Silver Thermal Compound.

It appears that after my heatsink was reseated for a few days the temperature actually dropped one more degree....

LOWEST TEMPS BEFORE AND AFTER
(Cooler Master DP5 6J31C)
 

(Before)
Arctic Alumina
Thermal Adhesive

(After)
Antec
Reference Silver
Thermal Compound
CPU Idle 61c 54c
System 33c 30c
 

LOWEST TEMPS RUNNING MSI COOLER XP
(Cooler Master DP5 6J31C)

CPU Idle 40c
System 28c

I've achieved the temps above with my original heatsink....a Cooler Master DP5 6J31C.  Do not purchase a cheap heatsink....an extra $10-$15 will get you a much better product.  Turns out my heatsink was only rated for an XP 2000+ and lower....so my product was at the top of its range performance-wise.  I recommend when you select your heatsink that you find one that is in the middle range rated for your CPU, i.e., If you have a XP 2100+....find a heatsink that is rated for a XP2400+ or greater....not one that tops out at XP 2100+.  Here are the specs on my old heatsink:

Cooler Master DP5 6J31C

L80 W60 x H41 (mm)

Dimensions 60 X 60 X 13 mm
Rated Voltage 12 VDC
Rated Speed 5400 R.P.M.
Air Flow 27.72 CFM
Noise Level 38 dB(A)

I reseated my Cooler Master DP5 6J31C about 6 times.....trying 3 different thermal compounds and combinations. 


As of 23 January 2003 I have received and installed my new heatsink.  

Thermaltake Highest Performance SMART & SILENT VOLCANO 9 Cooler
 
Here are the specs on the Volcano 9:
 

Thermaltake  VOLCANO 9

Cooler Dimension
80x80x77.3 mm
Fan Dimension
80x80x25 mm
Rated Voltage
12VDC
Started Voltage
6VDC
Rated Current
0.20AMP ~ 0.70AMP
Power Input
2.40W ~ 8.40W
Max. Air Flow

20.55 CFM at 1300 rpm

Air Pressure
1.45mmH2O at 1300rpm
  8.43mmH2O at 4800rpm
Noise
17 dB at 1300 rpm
75.7 CFM at 4800 rpm
  48 dB at 4800 rpm
Bearing Type
Two Ball Bearing
Life Time
50,000 hours
Connector
3 PIN

These are the current temps I got.  I'll update these as I go....  I'm also playing with my fans right now.

LOWEST TEMPS ACHIEVED
(Thermaltake Volcano 9)
Bios v1.9

FAN RPM

3900
CPU Idle 36c
System 30c

Be aware that my heatsink alone is NOT responsible for my lower temperatures.  I made significant modifications to my case as shown in these photos.

Bios v1.9 lowered my temps at least 4-5c.

All those games that would not run....and my scanner....are now running fine....rock solid.

I spent an enormous amount of time tweaking my Bios before I discovered my CPU heat problem.  I'm now starting to believe that Bios settings just aren't all that important....just keep them in the ballpark....

How System temperature affects CPU temperature

I live on the edge of a desert in Southern California.  The temperature here is always nearly 100F/37C in the summer.  In the winter it is just the opposite, especially in the evening/night when the temp outdoors are in the 40F/4C range.  Here is how system temp affect my CPU temp....

SYSTEM TEMP CPU TEMP
29 35
30 36
31 37
32 38
33 39
34 40
35 41
36 42
37 43
38 44

 

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Robert Jon Cox - webmaster@bosamar.com
Last revised July 12, 2008
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