Laptop Cooling Guide

Laptop Cooling Guide

Thursday, August 11, 2011 | Tags:
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Does your notebook run hot or overheat? If it does, you are not alone. This guide is designed to help you reduce the temperature of your notebook considerably, all for little or no money and a few tweaks.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for any damages caused if you use this guide. Be careful and all will be fine, but do proceed at your own risk!

Step 1: Fan Cleaning

Cost: $0-$7

Time: 10 to 15 Minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Applies to: Everyone

Maintaining your notebook is important. The occasional wipe down is good, but that doesn't take care of the inside. Dust accumulates inside the notebook's cooling system after a while. It prevents air from flowing freely and traps heat.
In order to get the dust out, you need a few supplies. The best way to get the heat out is with some canned compressed air, but that will cost you about $5 - $7 per can, depending on the store. It is well worth the money in my opinion. It can also be used to blow out the keyboard and other places in and on your notebook, such as ports. A cheaper but less effective way of getting dust out is by using a cotton swab and a handheld vacuum cleaner. I will show you how to do both.
Before you start, turn off the notebook completely, unplug it from the wall, and take out the battery. Push down the power button a few times to drain any electricity running around.
You must open up your notebook to access the fan(s). Turn the notebook upside down, and look for the compartment(s) where the fan(s) are. I suggest placing a towel under your notebook so the top doesn't get scratched. Unscrew all the screws holding down the compartment and carefully remove it. Place it and the screws in a safe place where they won't roll away.

With the internals of your notebook exposed, don't touch any of them -- oil from your hands is not good to get on the components, and you want to minimize the risk of damaging anything.

Using canned air:
Open the package, read the directions on how to use the canned air -- it is very straightforward -- point and shoot. Before you start blasting the air into your notebook, squirt it a couple of times to get any moisture out of the nozzle. Once nothing but air comes out of the can, then you are ready to start. Hold the nozzle about 1-2 inches away from the fans and other dust-coated components and use quick bursts to blow any crud off. Be sure to blow out the fan and heat vents too, not just the physical fan. That's all you need to do. Some packages of canned air come with a plastic tube which you can insert into the nozzle. It helps concentrate the airflow. I recommend using this if your package has it -- you can get hard to reach places easier and it is more effective.
Using cotton swabs:
Take the cotton swabs and brush off all the fan blades and anything else that has dust on it. Once the swab is coated in dust, flick it with your fingers to clear the dust off of it. Don't use the same swab the whole time, get a new one after a couple of uses.
When you are finished, get the handheld vacuum cleaner and suck up all the dust. Don't touch the notebook with the vacuum. Use your lung power to blow out the dust and help the vacuum cleaner as well. Repeat the steps above if there is still dust you missed in there. Get out as much as you can.

Number Two: Cooling Pad
Cost: $15-$30
Time: 1-2 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Applies to: Everyone
A cooling pad is the best possible investment you can make for cooling down your computer. They increase the airflow under the computer, and greatly help the cooling system.
There are many different coolers on the market.There are various types of cooling pad. You can choose it depend on what design you like.

Number Three: Undervolting
Cost: $0
Time: 10-15 min (install, set voltage), 1.5-2.5 hours to test
Difficulty: Moderate-Hard
Applies to: Technical/More Advanced users
This is not a step everyone can use -- my guide only applies to an Intel Pentium M (Sonoma) processor.
Undervolting is a no-cost way of cutting down heat and power consumption in your notebook by reducing the amount of CPU voltage. It also increases battery life.
You will need a program to undervolt -- I will be using Notebook Hardware Control (NHC) for my Intel CORE i3 M380 (2.53GHz) CPU. This software will automatically configure your laptop for the most suitable setting to reduce the power usage and cooling down your laptop.

Step Four: Arctic Silver 5
Cost: $7-$30
Time: 20-40 minutes to apply
Difficulty: Hard
Applies to: Advanced users
Arctic Silver 5 (AS5) is a thermal compound made of 99.9% pure silver. It can take off up to ten degrees from your CPU, which is substantial. Keep in mind that this isn't the easiest option, but can yield excellent results if done right.
Before you buy AS5, make sure you can get direct access to your CPU. If you cannot, then this step is not possible.

A view of my notebook's CPU with the heatsink removed.
Turn off your notebook, unplug it, and remove the battery and bottom compartments to access the CPU. You may need to remove the heatsink or fan assemblies above the CPU. The rest of the procedure can be found on Arctic Silver's website in thorough detail, more than I could type up for you here. Link to procedure.
After allowing the Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound to set for the recommended 200 hours, I have seen a 3 C drop in temperature -- it gets better over time. Up to seven degrees can be taken off.
I also noticed a difference in the amount of heat put off at full throttle. My notebook's fans do not come on nearly as often as they used to because the peak temperature is lower by 2 C.

By: Charles Jefferies

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