Emachines desktop - loud CPU fan + lagging

Emachines T5088 desktop
December 18, 2011 at 10:34:11
Specs: Windows XP Pro SP3, Pentium 4 3.2GHz / 4 GB Ram
I have an emachines desktop that was working very well for a while, but gradually started lagging more and more. I notice a loud noise coincident with this lag - the CPU fan really revving up, making a loud noise during this lag time where everything is frozen for a few seconds and then starts working again and the fan slows down - this happens constantly, especially when doing something somewhat resource intensive - I see a spike in CPU usage as well.

A bit of history - I bought this computer with Vista, which was not compatible with any of my hardware, so I installed XP Pro and everything was great for a while. When the lag issue started, I put up with it for a while b/c I was too busy to deal with it, but then Windows became corrupted and the computer would no longer boot (probably malware - this is a business computer and an employee did something they weren't supposed to). I did a clean install of XP Pro - I hoped the problem would be better, but it is actually worse now. I did test the HDD with the program that Western Digital provides - no problems detected with the HDD.

Any ideas or help with this would be much appreciated!

Edit: the specs should read 2GB Ram, not 4 GB

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December 18, 2011 at 11:16:49
After a while, PC's can build up a lot of dust.
First you should try hoovering out or blasting the hardware with an air compressor.
Try to remove any dust that might be there. You could also try adding some lubrication oil to the fans bearings. Making sure you don't get it on any other components.

You should also try avoid using the PC until you have done this because the CPU could overheat and damage it. If the fan is still working poor you could buy a new fan.

For the lag you get, that could be to do with the CPU getting hot too quickly from the faulty fan, with all hardware, if they overheat too often they'll slowly damage themselves and not work to the best they can.
So you may end up having to buy a new processor if it still continues. Or cut down on whatever the software is being run on the PC (high spec games/graphic designing software) etc..
Hope that helps

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December 18, 2011 at 11:52:21
Thanks for the good suggestions - the lube oil that you mentioned - is there a specific type you suggest? - is there a lube specific for computer components or do you just use an all-purpose type?

Thanks again

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December 18, 2011 at 12:10:34
The lag is caused by your CPU "throttling". If you're not familiar with the term, it means the CPU is overheating & automatically lowing it's speed to try to stay at a reasonable temp. It's a built in thermal protection feature.

If you've never opened the case & cleaned out the dust that's built up on the heatsinks & fans, that's most likely the problem. Whatever you do, do NOT use a vacuum! The static from the hose could possibly fry the motherboard. Try compressed air as suggested. You may also need a brush to help loosen dust in the stubborn areas. Be very careful.

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December 18, 2011 at 15:19:20
Update: Thanks to those who replied - you nailed it! - I thoroughly cleaned out the dust (there was a lot) and the fan sounds went away. Unfortunately, the lagging is still there despite the fact that I did just do a clean install of XP Pro.

Any other ideas of how to solve this or at least test what the cause is?

Do you think that it is likely that some irreversible damage has been done from when it was running with the loud fan sounds and heating up?

Thanks again for your insight!

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