[SOLVED] PC smells quite badly

Mar 15, 2021
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So, a couple of months back, i swapped out the PSU on my old computer for a new one since the fan was slowly but surely dying. Turns out the PSU was malfunctioning and it kind of blew up and fried my system. Great! I take the decision to get a new computer
since I can't really do much with an 11 year old laptop. I was planning to get the components and build it myself, but since this is my final year of school and with entrance exams on my doorstep I decide to get someone to build it for me. Well, things did not go so well. The GPU was faulty and it had to be RMA'd and a distinctive and quite frankly disgusting smell radiated from the back of the cpu coolers fan, which is also the only fan in my case. After some unbearable days of smelling whatever that smell is, I end up working
with a balcony door fully opened, with the smell ofcourse spreading throughout my room. It's been over 2 months now, and I believe that the radiator is what is smelling so badly. I took it out and tried rubbing it with some ethanol (tried to cover as much surface aread as possible), yet that god awful smell persists, even if it got a tad bit better after I did that. I have an H60 Corsair cooler. The smell is deffinately NOT that of something burning, but as I went through the pain of smelling a half burning PSU on my last computer before it inevitably died, for over 2 weeks, I am concerned whether or not that is just the new cooler off gassing or something unusual; And ofcourse if it is noxius in any way. Thanks in regard!
 

RAIDGoblin

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Jan 10, 2021
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Uhm I am fairly certain there was a piece of ham stuck between one of the motherboards power cords and its plug... I am not yet certain if the smell is gone or not, but I feel like my room stopped smelling like dead rats
I think a rotten piece of ham would just about do it, ...gross :oops:

hope the smell is solved now :)
 
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Ralston18

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Can you describe the smell more descriptively: rotten, fishy, burned plastic....

Take a close look (power down, unplug, open the case) using a bright flashlight.

Any signs of leakage?

Any visible residue - as when salt water dries and leaves a crusty white looking stain?

Any signs of melting, color changes (insulation, plastic)?


Who built the built the computer for you? Have you had that person take a look or whiff for that matter?

Could be that some part is counterfeit and made of sub-standard materials - not up to the required heat related specs.
 
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There are no signs of melting (I have checked many times), the person that built the computer is an aquiantance of my fathers and i did tell him something is wrong (The answear to that was
that it was simply new and new things smell), also no signs of residue, and as I mentioned in the original thread I have pinpointed that the smell is originating from the radiator of the cooler.
I did that by unscrewing the radiator and placing it on a few books next to the open case. I then smelt every part of the motherboard carefully and then i tried smelling the radiator.
It's hard to describe the smell, but in my bests attempts to do so, I'd say it's more of a cheap plastic smell, or the kind of smell you get after plugging in a cheap wire and it gets hot. I checked temps quite a few times and they are great. Also I should mention that this does not create a performance issue, the problem is whether or not it is healthy for me to breathe in air pottentially poluted with VOC's and whatnot.

Specs:
AMD Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core Processor
ASRock Radeon RX 5500 XT (pretty much brand new cause as I mentioned had to RMA the last one)
HyperX DDR5 16GB
ROG Strix B450F motherboard
Thermaltake SMART 600W PSU
Corsair H60 cooler
Running Windows 10 Pro

I keep the computer in a fairly enclosed space but I made sure that it gets more than enough airflow to get it running properly, and before anyone asks I have tried running this on an open space, same results, I even tried running it next to my balcony door so that it got freezing cold air, and it still smelled.
In general I quite dislike the idea of hydro-cooling and was not a big fan of cooling my CPU that way but the guy insisted and since he has a LOT more experience building
computers i went with the flow.
The whole situation has been quite tiresome and in my rougly 13 years of being associated with computers and other electronic devices, the only times I've smelt something have all ended up with the device either frying itself or a component just dying.

PS I have already tested the power cord of the pump to see if something was sorting and nothing seemed wrong.
 
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Mar 15, 2021
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Can you describe the smell more descriptively: rotten, fishy, burned plastic....

Take a close look (power down, unplug, open the case) using a bright flashlight.

Any signs of leakage?

Any visible residue - as when salt water dries and leaves a crusty white looking stain?

Any signs of melting, color changes (insulation, plastic)?


Who built the built the computer for you? Have you had that person take a look or whiff for that matter?

Could be that some part is counterfeit and made of sub-standard materials - not up to the required heat related specs.
As I noticed while closely inspecting the radiator once again whenever I smelled the air around it a bitter taste was left in my mouth. I do not know if that helps at all tbh but maybe, just maybe...
 
As I noticed while closely inspecting the radiator once again whenever I smelled the air around it a bitter taste was left in my mouth.
If you don't like smelly water cooler, then get air cooler instead.
Corsair H60 is not exactly any better than a good air cooler.

2months should have been plenty for any smells to dissipate.

BTW - what pc case are you using?
I highly doubt if single fan will be enough to cool down your system. May need to install additional fans.

Can you show photo of inside setup of your system?
(upload to imgur.com and post link)
 
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If you don't like smelly water cooler, then get air cooler instead.
Corsair H60 is not exactly any better than a good air cooler.

2months should have been plenty for any smells to dissipate.

BTW - what pc case are you using?
I highly doubt if single fan will be enough to cool down your system. May need to install additional fans.

Can you show photo of inside setup of your system?
(upload to imgur.com and post link)
I was concerned about the same thing (if the ventilation is not good enough) yet from what I've seen so far temperatures are very good. And the smell is originating when the computer is not even running anything. And not just that but launching something as minor as notepad or launching GTA V on ultra makes little to no difference. I should mention that the last GPU in my system was actually smelling like burnt for some time ( thankfully I gained some knowledge from my last pc frying ) and I had the computer run as little as possible simply to test it out.
Could there be a chance that a layer of god knows what has been evaporating into the air has gone and sat on any possible air filters inside the radiator and those are simply being slowly eveporated due to low temperatures? I will provide a link with photos as soon as I can. Thanks in regard.
 

Karadjgne

Titan
Ambassador
Unplug the pc, lay it on a table, pop off the side panel and stick your nose in the case. If it smells that bad, whatever is causing it will still have a lingering residue when the pc is not running.

With a single fan moving all the air, the radiator will take all the abuse, so it's naturally going to be the output of the smell, but not necessarily the source. Your nose stuck up close will be a better judge.

At the same time, look for Any staining of any sort, everywhere. For all you know the builder might have been halfway through a ham and cheese sandwich and failed to see the mayonnaise smear that got left on the hdd. Since all air goes through the radiator, that's going to look like the culprit, but isn't.
 
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Unplug the pc, lay it on a table, pop off the side panel and stick your nose in the case. If it smells that bad, whatever is causing it will still have a lingering residue when the pc is not running.

With a single fan moving all the air, the radiator will take all the abuse, so it's naturally going to be the output of the smell, but not necessarily the source. Your nose stuck up close will be a better judge.

At the same time, look for Any staining of any sort, everywhere. For all you know the builder might have been halfway through a ham and cheese sandwich and failed to see the mayonnaise smear that got left on the hdd. Since all air goes through the radiator, that's going to look like the culprit, but isn't.
I have the computer running and i opened the side panel to check once again. I smell on one side of the radiator and the air is as clean as it gets. Then i place my nose on the other side and the smell is sa expected intense. I'll post the imgur link in a bit.
 
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Image is too dark to see anything.

Try adding more background lighting.

Especially, as suggested, if you see stains somewhere.
View: https://imgur.com/gallery/7AzUwUY

Hope this one is a little better, and as previously stated i have found no stains or signs of damage to the motherboard. A very good point made here was that since the fan mounted on the radiator is the only one inside the case there is a chance that something else is causing the smell (or was causing it, ehem last GPU) and it just picked up a smell. If anyone knows how one is suppose to clean a radiator from odors your suggestion is welcome. At this point I am just sick of it and quite frankly if it there is nothing else I can test/try/do I'll simply resort to getting a new CPU cooler. As stated in one of my previews posts I find hydro-cooling a tad bit redundant in my case and maybe I will add a couple more fans inside the case to improve airflow if my budget allows it. To recap, if you know of a way I can test efficiently for the source of the smell, or simply clean out the radiator leave a post it won't hurt. Thanks.
 
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It can be because of dust . Once the dust is removed, in general the computers work just fine.
As mentioned above the computer is barely 2 months old, and it also has dust filters that I used to use but got rid of them for the purpose of having to move the computer frequently in order to check if anything is going wrong.
 

Ralston18

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Moderator
Yes: much better photograph.

Unfortunately I am not seeing anything that stands out regarding the odor.

For the most part, "new PC" smells (as for any electronics) should dissipate after just a few cycles and manufacturing residues ,etc, heat up and essentially burn off.

A long term continuing odor would be in my mind a leak or perhaps some sub-standard wire insulation or plastic that is not within the proper specs.

Boot up, and get the computer well warmed up. Power down, unplug, immediately open the case.

Use a cardboard tube or rolled up piece of paper to carefully sniff about the cooler and other areas inside of the PC.

Feel, look along some of the wires for any rough spots; signs of damage or melting. Check that the tie wraps are not crimping the hoses. Check that the bundled cables are not pinched, crimped, or touching anything that gets hot. Maybe a bit of plastic or other debris stuck somewhere.

Discover where the scent is strongest and try to pinpoint the source. Inspect that area using a bright flashlight and magnifying glass.
 
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Yes: much better photograph.

Unfortunately I am not seeing anything that stands out regarding the odor.

For the most part, "new PC" smells (as for any electronics) should dissipate after just a few cycles and manufacturing residues ,etc, heat up and essentially burn off.

A long term continuing odor would be in my mind a leak or perhaps some sub-standard wire insulation or plastic that is not within the proper specs.

Boot up, and get the computer well warmed up. Power down, unplug, immediately open the case.

Use a cardboard tube or rolled up piece of paper to carefully sniff about the cooler and other areas inside of the PC.

Feel, look along some of the wires for any rough spots; signs of damage or melting. Check that the tie wraps are not crimping the hoses. Check that the bundled cables are not pinched, crimped, or touching anything that gets hot. Maybe a bit of plastic or other debris stuck somewhere.

Discover where the scent is strongest and try to pinpoint the source. Inspect that area using a bright flashlight and magnifying glass.
Sorry for late reply but I've got a really hectic program with school and could not power off the computer (11- 14 hours a day of usage is definately not healthy...). I opened up the case had a look on the back side (where the cables are not so neatly oriented, and well nothing was even remotely hot, cablewise. The only things that were hot were the "tubes" that the cooler uses and well the cooler and radiator themselves. Important thing to note is that the smell has in its own way turned into more of a cheap plastic burning up than the smell it had before and I started having throat irritations, and a very bitter taste in my mouth. I can not afford to keep the computer shut for even a day at this point in time, so I had the room well ventilated the entire time and I even used a mask to (hopefully) block any harmful particles. It would be great if you had any aces up your sleeve but if not a CPU cooler recomendation would be more than welcome.
 

Ralston18

Titan
Moderator
Is it correct to say that the smell is getting worse/stronger?

Perhaps the tubing/tubes material (plastic) is sub-standard or otherwise not suited for its' applied use. Moving hot coolant. What temperatures are being seen?

Heating and reheating is simply degrading the plastic further. Breaking down more and the odor is intensifying.

About all I can think of is to leave the computer off overnight with the case open. Get the case full aired out.

Then the next day, again leaving the case open, boot the computer as normal and carefully start and continue sniffing the tubing.

As the tubing heats up determine if the smell gets stronger around the tubing and cooler.

Or likewise somewhere else.....
 
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Is it correct to say that the smell is getting worse/stronger?

Perhaps the tubing/tubes material (plastic) is sub-standard or otherwise not suited for its' applied use. Moving hot coolant. What temperatures are being seen?

Heating and reheating is simply degrading the plastic further. Breaking down more and the odor is intensifying.

About all I can think of is to leave the computer off overnight with the case open. Get the case full aired out.

Then the next day, again leaving the case open, boot the computer as normal and carefully start and continue sniffing the tubing.

As the tubing heats up determine if the smell gets stronger around the tubing and cooler.

Or likewise somewhere else.....
I have tried airing out the computer several times ( I leave it without the glass in a chair on my balcony with the opening facing towards a wall so that nothing can get in the case while the wind is blowing). And as that did improve the smell to a noticeable point (by improve i mean it made it have a lighter feel on the nose), the smell has gone back to its initial intensity. As for heating the CPU up to a high temperature what kind of software should i use? I have done some testing with IntelBurn and i used CoreTemp to monitor the temperatures. Idle temps sit at around 35-45 °C and it gets up to rougly 75 °C whenever i try to run something CPU intensive for a prolonged period of time. I will leave the computer with the case open overnight as you said, and I shall update the thread tommorow.
 
Honestly, if the smell is bothering you this much, it might be best to just swap out the AIO with something else. A Ryzen 3600 shouldn't require a particularly large CPU cooler. The processor's stock cooler is rather small, and even something like a $30-$40 tower cooler should be significantly quieter and cooler than one of those. You could even get by with a stock Wraith Stealth/Spire cooler (or another similar budget AM4-compatible cooler) if you can get your hands on one for cheap, even as a temporary fix, though you will encounter higher temperatures and more fan noise under load.

Do you know for sure if the AIO is brand new, or could it be a refurbished part, or something like that? I'm just wondering if it could have been cleaned with some chemical, or had its coolant replaced or something. If it's brand new, you might be able to get the cooler replaced under warranty, though that could leave you without a cooler for some time, so you would need something else anyway.
 
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carocuore

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i did tell him something is wrong (The answear to that was
that it was simply new and new things smell),
Ah, clearly a professional /S :)

About the smell I can tell you the coolant inside Corsair AIOs smell bad
But not regular bad, honestly it smells like someone threw a rotting corpse inside a bucket filled with diluted expired antifreeze and then poured the liquid into the AIOs.
I've modded some of those and God, getting rid of that from the block plastics, the plate and radiator takes time, even more if some green-ish goo has formed into the plate fins. I bet that's what you're smelling.
 

Fiorezy

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Are you still using the same chassis from your old computer?

Anyways, if the smell is bothering you a lot and making you uncomfortable, it is fine to spend $30 on an air cooler like the Hyper 212 or you can even use the stock cooler if you have one. Oh and please add a few more fans for better airflow so you won't fry your new PC
 

RAIDGoblin

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Jan 10, 2021
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I'm in favour of the cooling fluid theory from @carocuore, and agreed that stuff smells awful, and so does the lubrication in some of the liquid filled fan bearings, maybe when it was made one of the fluids was spilt on the outside of the hoses and impregnated the rubber, warm coolant flowing would dissipate the smell

If you have proved that it's the cooler that smells, and it's really that bad, and you're sure the guy who built the PC had it from new and didn't mod it you should send it back to corsair, they offer a five-year manufacturers warranty on the Corsair H60 cooler and would probably replace it if it's faulty

Also, I second getting more case fans, the case fans aren't just to cool the CPU but to provide hot-spots on the mobo (chip-set etc...) that you wouldn't necessarily know are overheating from a software temperature profile, and the GPU with fresh air from outside the case

What resistors going bad look like They start to swell. Usually on the top, but sometimes on the sides as well.
Those are capacitors, and I don't think a mobo in that state would last as long as the OP's has?
 
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I'm in favour of the cooling fluid theory from @carocuore, and agreed that stuff smells awful, and so does the lubrication in some of the liquid filled fan bearings, maybe when it was made one of the fluids was spilt on the outside of the hoses and impregnated the rubber, warm coolant flowing would dissipate the smell

If you have proved that it's the cooler that smells, and it's really that bad, and you're sure the guy who built the PC had it from new and didn't mod it you should send it back to corsair, they offer a five-year manufacturers warranty on the Corsair H60 cooler and would probably replace it if it's faulty

Also, I second getting more case fans, the case fans aren't just to cool the CPU but to provide hot-spots on the mobo (chip-set etc...) that you wouldn't necessarily know are overheating from a software temperature profile, and the GPU with fresh air from outside the case


Those are capacitors, and I don't think a mobo in that state would last as long as the OP's has?
I have encountered bulging or sploded capacitors before and they smell like rotten eggs. Definitely not the smell I am encountering. If you are correct ,which you probably are; Fingers crossed, then simplest thing I can do is salvage the fans from my old computer provided no cable came to it's melting point, and keep the fan attached onto the current cooler as a case fan. One more thing, I could use the cooler I had installed on my previeous computer, but I do not have any thermal compound hanging around oh so conviniently for me to apply. Could I simply swap out the coolers without re-applying the paste, or I need to get myself some? And on a last note, before I even do any of that, is the liquid they put in the cooler special in any way or is it like deionised water? And if so could I attempt to replace that?
 

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