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Can’t Stand the Heat?

The Intel NUC has been having “fainting” spells. Lots of write up about the problem in the Intel NUC forums and elsewhere on the internet. No one has the cause so therefore no solution. It is a random but re-occurring act.

I thought it might be the new embedded Linux feature. I disabled that feature but it has not proven to have been a contributing cause.

Just about every component and accessory has been questioned. Most users experiencing this action think it is some sort of driver software problem. It is certainly tied to the video in some fashion.

I think it acts like a thermal problem. That would contribute to the randomness. Default system fan setting has now been identified (by Intel) as 65% constant run on my series of NUC.  I have therefore set my system to that constant operation spec and will see if the fainting re-occurs. Could be a component not monitored by a thermal sensor, is becoming overheated. Constant fan would alleviate that condition.

The issue does not seem to be associated to loading of the CPU and GPU. It often looks like a sleep (power down) state from which, it cannot recover. Sometimes displaying a blank screen and other times a locked graphical or partial graphical display on the monitor.  Best descriptive is a seizure.

Only recovery is pulling the power cord or mash in the power button for about 15 seconds. Then cold restart.

I have re-loaded the recommended and most current HDMI driver for my version NUC. There are a great number of NUC versions and an even greater number of hardware variations. One must be very exacting when selecting and updating firmware.

Time passes

No seizures with the 65% constant speed fan and the specified HDMI driver. I have left the NUC setting at idle for long periods. This has not prompted another lock-up. The problem previously occurred after long periods of inactivity. This supports my theory that it a temperature problem with the fan running too slow or not at all.

No activity is also the same condition that generates a sleep mode. Sleep mode has been considered as the cause by some owners, but it may be just a coincidence.

My high performance NUC is very compact, so natural cooling convection with no fan may simply be inadequate. I have not noticed this “fainting” problem with my original, lower performance, 2 CPU / 4 core processor NUC or with my new 2 core Celeron NUC.

If the need for a 12 core CPU is 65% constant fan, I can live with that. Yes, there is a bit of fan noise. Hearing the fan is not something I consider a fault. It comes with driving a high-performance computer with a small compact case.

Some folks like to rant-on about fan noise. It is simple physics called thermodynamics. Fans can be eliminated if heat can be handled in a different way. Fan noise is an observation, not a product fault. One can purchase NUC size computers with big natural convection heat sinks if silent operation is a must-have feature.

Update 12/01/20 – Minor change. Now operating with 60% minimum fan on custom settings, monitoring GPU and general motherboard. At 40 deg C fan is set to ramp 2% per degree above 40 C. This change will permit fan to go to full speed at 60 degrees from either sensor. Instead of a fixed 65% fan, it can now throttle between 60% to 100% if needed.

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