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Can you fix my overheating laptop?

Premature death of laptops can often be traced to overheating. Research conducted and reported in the Gartner Hardware Failure Rates report of 2006 suggests that 22% of laptops die from overheating.

Inside your laptop the main chips (cpu and gpu) generate a lot of heat. To deal with this heat in a confined space the  laptops have fans and “heat-sinks” to draw away the heat from the CPU and other main chips.

From this photo of a typical cooling module you can see the fan is well enclosed in its housing and the pads used to cover the CPU and GPU have the copper heat pipes that lead to the vent that blows cool air onto the CPU and GPU chips: 

Typical Laptop Cooling Module

 

This design works well unless the system is compromised by lack of air flow. Just as a car will boil its engine if the radiator is blocked with bugs or vegetation, so likewise a laptop will overheat unless the cooling system can suck in and blow out air properly.

As the cooling system sucks cool air it can also suck in dust, fluff and dirt. If this happens over a long period of time (months or years) the cooling vents can clog up like the lint filter in a tumble dryer.

In the photo below, you can see the dust, hair and grunge built up from an actual HP Pavilion dv9000 we had in the workshop. It had died from overheating, or more correctly, it had died from user neglect causing overheating.

dv9000 cooling module choked with grunge, only accessible and visible with total laptop stripdown 

 Also the fans can fail because of the dust or for other mechanical reasons.  If these things happen the laptop will overheat.  In the photo below you can see that the “grill” used to cool the CPU and GPU has a wad of fluff on it, limiting air flow severly. To make matters worse the laptop has to be totally disassembled to get to the fans and the fan has been unscrewed from the metal heat-sink to expose the grunge.

 GPU cooling vent blocked with grunge

 How to Detect Overheating.

It may seem obvious but is your laptop is unusually hot to the touch or is the air coming from the sides of the laptop is very hot? If yes, then you could have a problem.

Other symptoms are:

* Do your fans run more or less constantly?

* Is the laptop switching off randomlyafter 10 or 20 minutes

* Is the laptop freezing up?

 These could all suggest overheating and like a car with a boiling radiator prompt action could save you serious money.

 Can I Fix This Myself?

 If you have your cooling system clogged with dust or fluff you can buy a “can of air” from Dick Smith or Bunnings and blow the compressed air backwards through the laptop. Naturally this only dislodges the fluff which may then resettle again in the same places.

But as a first step its better than nothing.

 

You can also go to www.alcpu.com/CoreTemp/ and download “CoreTemp” to check your laptops temperature. Under 70 degrees C is OK.

Need Help?

To properly clean your laptop’s cooling system and test the fans for speed and proper operation you may be best to have your laptop serviced professionally. At Fix My Laptop this is a common task we do on a daily basis. Click here to request a quote on a cooling system service