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Old 11th May 2012, 19:11   #1
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Default Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Friends,

I have seen many of my friends struggling with their laptops who appears to be crawling even though they carry solid processors (Intel inside stuff). 2 years back, I was heavily frustrated as the drives were clean, anti-virus were perfect in shape, there was no virus/trojan but still laptop was gasping for air. It was a Lenovo, made in china ofcourse, so I put blame on chinese easily.

Then I started attacking the problem more analytically (as the engineers normally claim to do).

And I got to the root cause of problem in no time. This reminded me of "Heat Transfer" that I studied during my Bachelor of Engineering . I actually realized that laptop was getting way hot. That made me realize that something is either heating up too much or the cooling fan is under-performing. I downloaded some software tools (free ofcourse) which can tell you Core temperature of your laptop. There are plenty of softwares available to do so.

In any case, I would like you to show something now as I believe that - Seeing is believing.

I bought a good set of "Mobile Screwdriver Kit" as you really don't want mess with sophisticated and expensive laptop using any tool.

When I opened my laptop's air ventilation section (Cooling fan, heating sink area), I was really shocked to see what I came across.

Here see the culprits that completely chocked my laptop:

Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)-cimg0490.jpg

And this one

Name:  CIMG0491.JPG
Views: 2347
Size:  106.9 KB

Now I always ensure that I clean those things every 6 month. I use a laptop cleaning kit, a deodorant which I want to get rid of (you need pressurized air/gas to clean some delicate parts), cotton and a ear-bud. Everytime I do that, performance of my laptop goes up.

Hope that you find this useful. Please note that procedures to get up to a heat-sink or cooling fan is subjective to the laptop model and brand that you have.

Normally an instruction blog like this comes handy but they also come at your own risk:

How to replace cooling fan in Lenovo ThinkPad T61 laptop >> Inside my laptop

I will not recommend this to be done by anyone who do not have a prior experience playing with the circuitry as any such adventure may turn as an expensive mistake. If you are not confident or scared to do so, please get some professional help.

Regards,
Dharmesh

Last edited by dharmeshmahajan : 11th May 2012 at 19:17. Reason: Pictures did'nt get uploaded first time.
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Old 12th May 2012, 10:59   #2
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Yep. Been there and done that. Works like a charm every time.

Couple of points I would like to highlight here.

1. Get hold of the service manual for the laptop and READ it carefully.
2. Not all disassembly is straightforward
3. The companies make the devices very fragile. The plastic is the first casualty in the opening up process.
4. Pay attention to the hinge on which the display pivots. That part zone is very susceptible to damage as the plastic breaks there.

Otherwise, it should take you an hour or two to open it up and clean the insides.
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Old 13th May 2012, 08:07   #3
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Just yesterday, my sister left her old laptop with me to have it re-formatted. It was terribly slow and I didn't see any improvement even after restoring to factory state. Now, I had hated this restore thingy, which copies the image from a hidden partition to C drive. But this time, it was god send, and the restore took hardly 15 mins. When I checked the CPU temperature (using an utility called SpeedFan), it was hovering around 75degC. I knew it was high and could feel the fan running at high speed all the time.

Thought about this post and I thought the fans and heat sink could be clogged, though I could not see any dust when looking through the sides. Searched for disassembly videos on youtube and luckily got one. Finally reached the fan assembly and saw this:

Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)-12052012785.jpg

Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)-12052012787.jpg

Took apart the fan assembly, removed the fan from the housing, cleaned up the fan/fins using a small brush. It was not easy. Wish I had compressed air can.

Assembled the whole thing back, booted up and after running a while with all browsers with flash pages, ran the Speedfan again. This time the CPU temp showed 65deg C. That's a lot of improvement. The PC seems to run better, though not to my expectations. But the fan speed seem to be normal.

Thanks for the post guys! And thanks for reading.
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Old 13th May 2012, 12:09   #4
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Biggest of problems have simplest of solutions. My office laptop used to shut down thermally in spite of RAM and CPU availability.
I suspected the same and got it serviced. The problem just vanished.

The other problem is we keep our laptops over a simple table and work. Many a tines it restricts the thermal flow around the body and hence
can work against cooling. At office we may not realize this because of presence of air conditioning.

But this problem magnifies at home. If you notice if you dock your laptop on a docking station, it raises the laptop a bit.
That small air gap can help air circulation in a big way. Hence if you can arrange one, its good (more important for home than office)
to have a docking station.

OT: Having a docking station also helps involuntarily use of external keyboard, mouse (and maybe display) which in turn helps ergonomics of PC usage.

Last edited by ampere : 13th May 2012 at 12:11.
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Old 13th May 2012, 12:33   #5
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Many thanks for sharing! I'm going to get my laptop cleaned up just right. I do hear the fan whirring nearly all the time and, after 45 minutes of use, it's quite the "lap burner".

Do desktops also require similar maintenance?
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Old 13th May 2012, 21:20   #6
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Do desktops also require similar maintenance?
Of course. Desktops pull even more dust in to the cabinet. First the exhaust and intake fans get clogged, slowly the CPU heat sink fan gets clogged.

If this continues, without any periodic cleaning (6 months - 1 yr) we can hear the CPU heat sink fan running at full speed even from a distance, similar to a small motor. It may take up to 2yrs to reach this situation, depending on how dusty the conditions are.

Last edited by F150 : 13th May 2012 at 21:22.
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Old 13th May 2012, 21:27   #7
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Good advice!
I'll just a bit more.
When you open/get opened the heat sink/cooling fan assy,it would be good practice to wipe the bottom pf the heat sink/top of the processor clean & put a fresh, thin layer of good quality thermal paste also.
This worked a charm in my compaq presario laptop, brought the temp down from 75 degrees to 52.
Now the cooling fan mainly remains off; when it does come on, its only when the temp touches 57 degrees & then too at a whisper speed; previously it used to run full speed all the time & even then the laptop used to freeze up at times.
GTO,same principle applies to desktops. If the processor heat sink fins clog up the cooling effy will go down.
Regular cleaning does help

Last edited by Kamal : 13th May 2012 at 21:29. Reason: spelling
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Old 13th May 2012, 22:17   #8
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

My netbook is heating up quickly nowadays more than when it was bought. Inspired by this thread, checked out a dis-assembly guide on the net for the Inspiron mini, I started dis-assembling, only to find out later that netbooks generally don't have a fan! Since the dis-assembly guide didn't tell how to remove the motherboard and me put off by the thought that there wont be a fan, stopped and assembled everything back.

Is it true that most netbooks don't have a fan?
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Old 14th May 2012, 20:12   #9
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Quote:
Originally Posted by thoma View Post
Is it true that most netbooks don't have a fan?
The user manual would have some mention about it. At least my mom's Samsung netbook has a fan, though it may be much harder to access it for cleaning, because of the compact design.
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Old 15th May 2012, 22:31   #10
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Many thanks for sharing! I'm going to get my laptop cleaned up just right. Do desktops also require similar maintenance?
Dear GTO,

Glad that I am able to help fellow BHPians here, especially one who have given so much of time, effort and dedication to make this wonderful community. I have been through those frustrating moments when you are on the verge of throwing your laptop away due to the pathetic performance but once you see those choked heat-sinks, you feel sorry for the poor baby. That is what made me start this thread actually as many a time, lot of my worries and frustrations were resolved by inputs and experience of fellow BHPians. Its time for payback

Just a cautionary note, please be careful while you dis-assemble the laptop, cooling fan housing or heat sink assembly. Normally it is not that difficult but you never know what those china assembled machine may throw as a expensive surprise. Ensure that you use right tools.

Regarding Desktop....they are more robust for few reasons. One, assembly has more space, you get more air around the circuits (especially processor) which normally heats up fast in a compact space within a laptop. Look at the air ventillation duct near cooling fan in a desktop and then see the same duct on a laptop. More cooling media (air cooled in this case) means better cooling, simple rule.

Next, Desktop CPU box is larger in size so they normally have a benefit of space available to them. Hence cooling fan size in majority of the cases is going to be bigger than what we have in laptop. That also means a motor which will consume more power but then, Desktop are never a show stopper for "Longer battery life" as they always run on a direct power supply where you never worry for power consumption to those minute details.

Third, benefit of more space also make it easier for the heat sink (it is nothing but a "Plate Fin Heat Exchanger" which uses air as cooling media) to have more distance between plate fins of the exchanger. When you have more space between the plate fins, you have less chances of those open spaces (between the fins) getting chocked. At the same time, you can make Heat sink size larger (more surface area with more fins means better and faster cooling, simple). And normally heat sinks in Desktop are larger in size compared to those in cute laptops.

All together, you will realize that situation is going to be far less severe in a desktop for obvious reasons compared to what you may experience in a Laptop.

Dust accumulation definitely be more in a desktop due to more open spaces but performance issues related to chocked heat sink may not be as painful. And remember, on a winter evening, you may take your laptop and keep it on a woolen blaket/comforter which may choke it faster (believe me, those blankets may be a big contributor to get a laptop chocked due to the threads/wool which get sucked in by cooling fan, especially when people have a tendency to work long hours sitting in the comfort of bed). They also block air supply to that air cooled circuit hence performance goes down. This also happen when work with laptop placed on a bedsheet or other surfaces which adapt to the body of laptop and choke its air passage. But your desktop never gives you so much of flexibility to move around and it stays healthy.

Hope that it helps.

Regards,
Dharmesh

PS: Golden rule of "No more then 2 smilies" is being followed strictly now Sir...

Last edited by dharmeshmahajan : 15th May 2012 at 22:40. Reason: Revised.
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Old 15th May 2012, 22:50   #11
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Quote:
Originally Posted by bejoy View Post
Thought about this post and I thought the fans and heat sink could be clogged, though I could not see any dust when looking through the sides. Searched for disassembly videos on youtube and luckily got one. Finally reached the fan assembly and saw this:

Thanks for the post guys! And thanks for reading.
Bejoy, glad that post helped you. What I found interesting in pics uploaded by you is that I can see 2 cooling fans. I am sure you must have done it but still thought to check, did you clean both the air cooled circuits?

And also, did you try to clear "%temp%" folder and "prefetch" folder. Also, when you run disk cleanup, you also get an option to clean all the "System Restore" points except most recent and I have cleaned 15 GB in a friend's laptop once and it just zoomed the performance in his "on the death-bed" machine. This one need to be used carefully with proper backup in place but when situation is critical, you take certain calculated risks, right.

Drop me a PM with your mail-id and I will give you links to some tools if you still don't see an improvement.

Regards,
Dharmesh
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Old 7th January 2013, 09:39   #12
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Dharmeshmahajan,

Thanks for your tips! My Desktop is purring like a brand new engine now. I had an engineer clean it up entirely.

Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)-workstation-cleaning-custom.jpg

Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)-workstation-cleaning-1-custom.jpg

Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)-workstation-cleaning-2-custom.jpg

Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)-workstation-cleaning-3-custom.jpg
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Old 7th January 2013, 10:30   #13
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Post Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Heat is the main enemy of performance desktops and laptops.
As someone already mentioned, desktops are easier to clean since there
is a lot more room inside. I assembled my pc based on the same requirements. My CPU core temperature doesn't shoot up over 50 degrees and my graphics card stays below 70 degrees.

Here are a few guidelines i follow to keep thermals and general performance in check.

Diagnosis & Monitoring:

1. Usage of performance monitoring tools:

This is something i personally do to know if my pc is overheating. Whenever you boot your pc, you get an option under BIOS called hardware monitoring. This is a very nifty section to actually figure out which part is overheating.

ex:
Check for CPU temperature (depends on cpu architecture where maximum temperature depends on the TDP of the CPU. So knowing what cpu you run is an advantage.

On windows, you can get real-time temperature/ voltages by using everest ultimate or piriform speccy.

Fixes:

For an overheating CPU, You will need to check the following

1. A clogged heatsink:

A clogged heatsink bring down the effective heat dissipation since dust is a good insulator and therefore, even with a lot of air going across the fins of the heatsink, one might not have effective cooling

Use a can of compressed air and radially blow down through the fins
and then, use a brush to remove the large flakes that may form due to aggregation of dust.

2. Bad heatsink contact:

This happens when we nudge the heatsink while cleaning or due to poor seating after a thorough cleanup job. Try and check the bios temperature and then try removing and reseating the same. Be careful to not remove the thermal paste or TIM(thermal interface material).

3. Poor thermal paste (drying/flaking)

This means that one will have to remove the heatsink as the thermal paste isnt doing its job. You will have to take a tissue and gently rub the contact area. After this, get a nice quality thermal paste (arctic silver 5/ cooler master). Apply a blob and spread it uniformly over the heatsink.
Reseat the heatsink and plug the fan back in.

If needed, i might make a DIY cleaning/maintenance video if people ask for it



GTO: Is your pc a Dell ? Havent seen many a pc in that form factor.
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Old 11th January 2013, 19:37   #14
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Default Re: Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Many thanks for sharing! I'm going to get my laptop cleaned up just right. I do hear the fan whirring nearly all the time and, after 45 minutes of use, it's quite the "lap burner".

Do desktops also require similar maintenance?
surprised I didn't see this before. Laptops should never be kept on soft surfaces that block their vents (carpet, mattress, lap). The good ones have circuitry to turn off when they over heat, bad ones result in those freak "burst into flames" accident due to overheating of the battery.

I have been using a laptop tray for last 4 years (pic taken from net), I see my kids accidently walking on it often and it had survived pretty well. it has foldable legs to I fold one side when I sit on a narrow chair and rest on the chair arm. Too bad I don't see it on sale anywhere anymore.

Laptop performance enhancement by cleaning air cooled network (Heat sink)-reupload.jpg



Quote:
Originally Posted by thoma View Post
My netbook is heating up quickly nowadays more than when it was bought. Inspired by this thread, checked out a dis-assembly guide on the net for the Inspiron mini, I started dis-assembling, only to find out later that netbooks generally don't have a fan! Since the dis-assembly guide didn't tell how to remove the motherboard and me put off by the thought that there wont be a fan, stopped and assembled everything back.

Is it true that most netbooks don't have a fan?
most netbooks come pre-configured with Passive cooling on battery. Meaning they slow down the CPU instead of running the fan, to ennce battery life. I changed it in my wife's netbook to active cooling (in power options) so the fan could run and now it runs much faster.

Last edited by moralfibre : 12th January 2013 at 10:33. Reason: Reattaching resized image.
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Old 5th May 2013, 00:44   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arch-Angel View Post
Heat is the main enemy of performance desktops and laptops.
As someone already mentioned, desktops are easier to clean since there
is a lot more room inside. I assembled my pc based on the same requirements. My CPU core temperature doesn't shoot up over 50 degrees and my graphics card stays below 70 degrees.
.
.
.

If needed, i might make a DIY cleaning/maintenance video if people ask for it



GTO: Is your pc a Dell ? Havent seen many a pc in that form factor.
Hey Arch-angle,

After facing heating problem in my dell laptop finally opened it up and cleaned the vents, cooling fan and heat sink. Now the problem is that since I have opened up my laptop(had to remove each n every component due to complex location), I wish to replace the thermal paste. The likes of Arctic silver 5 are either not availaible or exhorbitantly priced. My understanding says that the smallest packaging of 3.5 gm should suffice for 15-20 applications. However I am no computer engineer and need only one application. Been to Nehru Place market where they have local thermal paste(for Rs.30) that is of no good. Else they have the better ones for Rs.1800 n above. Arctic silver price on ebay US is some 8 dollars or roughly Rs.500, but getting one from US would take 20 days minimum and I cannot keep my machine opener up for so long.

Any help or leads as to where I can get single application paste at considerably (student) affordable price would be appreciable.

Regards
Gaurav
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