Basicly the thermal sensor is just a heat sensitive variable resistor connected to an ADC (analog to digital converter) these work by comparing a reference voltage to a voltage that is passed through the sensor. The difference between these two voltages is represented as an integer which may be converted to some standard form of measurement like temperature as the resistance change is known for the sensor material. If the reference signal is unstable and the comparison is performed while the amount of power comming from the sensor is still lower and the reference has surged high then this could cause a difference that is not proportionate to the actual temperature.
Quite true (and sadly enough I understood what you said! :) )
These faulty caps can cause a range of weird and wonderful problems, including PC's that last for years and years with very badly blown caps without any issue, that thermal sensor issue, general instability/bluescreening etc. Actually had a tower one this morning at a school office, was randomly bluescreening and sometimes wouldn't start, had an array of bulging capacitors in. Time for a new PC in that case :/ At least it's one of the few problems I can point the issue out to the staff even if they're not technical.
"See these components here, they're basically "batteries" and regulate/supply a very exact amount of "power" to the very important parts of the computer. When they blow, they either bulge up like this or leak brown goo everywhere, when they should be as flat as these ones here (points)."
It's difficult for schools to find money in tight budgets for things like computers so I'm always inclined to be as informative as I can without blowing peoples head up with technical guff!
I try to be informative but frankly most of the teachers don't want to know anything about what goes on in a computer - which is a shame since, as a one-time hardware engineer, I would love to tell them all about capacitors, resistors etc ('the resistor colour code' - all together now!!):)
Christ I couldn't remember that if I clamped my head in a vice and tried to recite that "forgetmenot", tightening every time I couldn't! :D
I just talk too ruddy much, that's my problem :( Plus of course it's a pain trying to explain things sometimes when you have someone asking "well why can't we replace just that/those parts then?" :|
I have had this a couple of times for different reasons
One was because the power pack was faulty and was not giving the corret power to the motherboard.
One was the sensor on the motherboard had gone.
One was because a harddrive sensor had gone or it was spinning up slow.
You might want to put a delay on the harddrive in the bios and give that a go.