Cooling Your Laptop, or Your Lap?

Discussion in 'hardware' started by Osaban, Jul 20, 2010.

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  1. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

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    http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/20/cooling-your-laptop-or-your-lap/
     
  2. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I would readily agree with that claim. The big sager laptops are all produced by Clevo and they are very performance oriented machines.

    I had an early one, and it got very hot. Burned out the mother board. I then found out that model was known for it. I put it on a cooling pad, but there was still too much heat. Burnt out a 2nd mother board.

    The latest models have had their cooling re engineered, and it runs lots cooler. It sits on a pad that blows air up into the laptop intake fans and the laptop is totally cool.

    My Thinkpad tablet when run for extend periods tends to get warm, so I run it on the pad, and it stays very cool.

    I consider the cooling pad essential.

    Pete
     
  3. Osaban

    Osaban Registered Member

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    I'm also convinced that a cooling pad is necessary particularly in the summer months with no air conditioned environments. Except for my netbook my 3 laptops have a cooling pad. I also think that they are more efficient when they blow air upwards rather than downwards.

    It is odd though that there is no technical evidence to support the claim.
     
  4. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    It may not be technical, but I can feel it. On the old sager, the temps used to measure around 115F at the exhaust fan. On this new one, if I leave the fans on auto, the air just feels warm. Once I turn the fans to fixed high, then the exhaust air cools to room temp in less the 5 minutes.

    Pete
     
  5. TairikuOkami

    TairikuOkami Registered Member

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    My CPU had 95C, max allowed is 100C. I bought ZM-NC 2000 and it helps only by ~5C. Undervolting is free and it helps more, along with power safe mode, CPU has ~65C now.
     
  6. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    [Rant on]
    The author misses the point. He clearly does not understand the primary purpose and benefits of these pads and instead has focused the entire article on some "marketing fluff"!

    Let's make sure we understand what "claim" they are seeking evidence for.

    (1) There is tons of evidence proving heat destroys electronics. This is based on pure science - physics - as any student of electronics learned on day 1 of 7th grade electronics basics class. When heat goes up, resistance goes down and one primary reason is because when matter gets hot it expands. So when a conductor gets hot, it expands, and a larger conductor (bigger wire) means less resistance. Ohm's Law says when resistance goes down, current goes up. And when current goes up that means there are more electrons banging along in the conductor creating more friction so heat goes up again, more current again more friction again so more heat and yadda yadda. This cycle of events, if left unchecked, can result in thermal runaway, eventually causing the weakest link to burn up. Fortunately, engineers, designers, and technicians know all about this.

    There is also tons of evidence that shows high temperatures stresses components and speeds up the aging of many electronic devices. This stress aging accumulates, very much like repeated exposure to loud noises speeds up hearing loss. And there is tons of evidence showing that heat changes the characteristics of circuits. In fact, some circuits are temperature controlled to ensure stability.

    (2) Notebooks are prone to run hot. This is obvious. You have a powerful computer generating lots of heat jammed in to a tiny box. PCs of equal power often have difficulty keeping the components inside cool and PC cases support multiple and much larger fans. A PC case can be opened and easily cleaned of heat trapping dust. Notebooks cannot. This is why notebooks do NOT make good gaming machines, despite what some notebook maker's marketing department would like us to believe.

    So what is "the claim"? There is 100 years of electronics history showing that properly cooled electronics last longer. Do we really need a study to prove that is true of notebooks too? I don't. It is true of electronics. Notebooks are electronics. Therefore, it is true of notebooks. Period.

    If you look at the webpage for the cooler he chastises, it is right there in black and white what the purpose is - to reduce heat-related instability. Do you really need documented evidence to prove to you that a computer running hot can be unstable? Cause sudden shutdown problems? Reboot problems? Or even cause leaky capacitors? I mean if you do, pick any tech support forum, including Wilders and plug in shutdowns, reboots, or heat in the search box.

    Cooling pads provide a hard flat surface for the notebook to sit on. This allows air to flow underneath, instead of the notebook being smothered on a lap, bed or carpeted floor. This, in turn, will hopefully allow the notebook's own cooling solution to keep the temperatures low enough so (1) the electronics remain stable (2) the CPU does not have to toggle down in speed or go into self-protect mode, and (3) the user can stay productive and not lose any of his or her data.

    I frequently recommend cooling pads, though I prefer a Notebook Cooling Pad w/ext. power supply. Pads that connect via the notebook's USB port draw even more power from an already overheated notebook and that seems counter-productive to me.

    I really don't like journalist who pretend to be IT experts! :gack:
    [Rant-off]
     
  7. microbial

    microbial Registered Member

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    Go ahead and laugh but when my laptop fan overheats and inevitably shuts down I resort to using a vacuum cleaner to remove all the clogged dust etc. Works every time :)
     
  8. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    I did that with my Toshiba once. One screw is busted and i can't open it up, so i gently and carefully used a vacuum cleaner on the fan.
    But that was because the fan simply wasn't working, and it was shutting down automatically for safety.

    Maybe i can use pliers to remove that screw?
     
  9. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Laugh? I see no reason to laugh. I frequently use a vacuum on my notebook. In many cases, it is better than using compressed air because that often just jams the dust deeper and packs it in harder.

    I use a vacuum on my keyboards too.

    I do note it is not likely your fan overheats, but rather the heat trapping dust is preventing the fan from doing its job so the CPU and other critical components are what is overheating.

    I would suggest that instead of waiting for it to overheat and shutdown, you vacuum more frequently to prevent it from overheating. Invariably, it is running hotter than normal for awhile before it gets to the stage and dirty enough to cause it to shut down - and it is this long term exposure to higher than normal heat that affects aging.

    Going back to my hearing loss analogy - long term or repeated exposure to very loud sounds (loud music, lawn mowers, working around a flightline, etc) can make you deaf just as effectively as a single super loud noise can - it just takes longer to do it. So keeping electronics clean of heat trapping dust is better than waiting for it to shutdown before cleaning.

    I will add that if the fan itself has so much dust on it it cannot spin freely, that will affect the bearings and then the fan can overheat, then seize.
     
  10. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    That depends on if you can get a grip on it. But it is likely you will chew up the plastic around the screw in the process. That should not hurt anything, but the appearance. There are extractor bits you can buy at your local hardware store designed to remove stripped screws.
     
  11. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    Extractor bits, never used that.
    Is it like a screwdriver except it chips away a bit of the screw head to get a grip?
     
  12. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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  13. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    I see. Thank you for the info.
     
  14. microbial

    microbial Registered Member

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    Very sound advice. I am about to commence the 'Vacuum Cleaning Procedure' as we speak :)
     
  15. YeOldeStonecat

    YeOldeStonecat Registered Member

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    They help laptops that have the intake/cooling on the bottom..which typically gets smothered and rendered ineffective by people who prop their laptops up on top of a comforter up on their legs while they lay back in bed, or on the couch. Or even on their legs/pants while up on the couch like I'm typing right now.

    Luckily for me and with laptops I've used in the past, mine have their intake/cooling vents on the side..so it's not smothered. So even though it' sitting on my jogging pants on my thighs right now as I type, the laptop is running perfectly comfortable, fan purring at a low rpm, nothing strained, barely warm air coming out of it. (Lenovo T60p)

    Heat does impact the life of electrical components, nobody is denying that. But don't forget, lots of electronics are designed to work within a certain range of temps, they'll run just fine up to a certain temp limit. "Tolerances". Laptops are designed to deal with the heat. Cheap laptops with cheap hard drives and cheap components die early....same with any other "cheap". Quality laptops with quality components will survive expected (and then some) life time.
     
  16. Noob

    Noob Registered Member

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    I'm fine with my lap :D
     
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