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Clean a laptop heatsink

MediaManMediaMan Powered by loose parts.
edited Dec 2011 in Technology
If your notebook is experiencing BSODs or complete shut-downs then the culprit be a dusty, dirty CPU and heatsink. This means it's time to clean it and gain back stability. Just how to do it is what this guide is all about.

Read it here
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Comments

  • primesuspectprimesuspect HumanGarbageDisposal Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Sep 2004
    mcwc, excellent article. Also, congrats on getting your first article published with short-media :)

  • mcwcmcwc Vancouver, BC
    edited Sep 2004
    Thanks to prime for suggesting to write the guide.
    Thanks to Matt for editing the guide and getting it to MM.
    Thanks to MM for getting it up.
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Sep 2004
    Good work mate :cool:
  • edited Sep 2004
    You say that using a hairdryer on the processor will damage it. Actually, it won't have any effect, silicon doesn't melt until about 1200c. (yes 1200, not 120). When it's powered the heat generated changes how electricity flows though which can damage stuff, but you could probably put a processor in an oven when it's off and not do damage.

    Good article though
  • MediaManMediaMan Powered by loose parts.
    edited Sep 2004
    You are most likely correct about heating up a processor with a hairdryer but it's a good idea to use caution. Better safe than sorry.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. We do appreciate it. :)
  • edited Oct 2004
    YAY! I've been trying to figure out WHY my Toshiba laptop was spontaneously shutting down. It is relatively new and I do all the maintenance things I'm supposed to (NAV, defrag, doctor, cleaning internet cache, etc.). I would get no warning, blue screen, etc. Just boom - complete shutdown. I followed your article and it was like a mirror! I pulled the heatsink out and there was 1/4 inch thick mat of dust, dirt, hair, etc. I did just as you instructed. My fan now runs intermittently on low, not on high. My computer is definitely running cooler. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. Diane M. Hess.
  • leishi85leishi85 Grand Rapids, MI
    edited Nov 2004
    check your article, typo

    Isopropyl alcohol
  • edited Nov 2004
    isopropyl alcohol leaves a film on electronic devices. That's why it is called rubbing alcohol. This could cause the heatsink to start burning that film and a host of other potential problems. It is better to use regular old ethanol, or, if your stubborn about sticking with isopropyl, they now have a cleaning grade isopropyl for electronics equipment.
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Pokémaster, Watch Slut Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited Nov 2004
    I've been cleaning my heatsinks with isopropyl for the better part of a decade. What you claim may be true, but after so long, I deem it nothing more than a remote possibility.
  • edited Dec 2004
    Thanks! I've been looking for something that I could do to keep my friend's-friend's Toshiba with a 2.8E "Preshott" from shutting down under load, especially since the pictures look very familiar to the said system.
  • primesuspectprimesuspect HumanGarbageDisposal Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Dec 2004
    Thrax wrote:
    I've been cleaning my heatsinks with isopropyl for the better part of a decade.

    Really? You're lucky, cause I've been cleaning mine with bourbon and gin for the worst part of a decade. But yeah, during the better part, I used rubbing alcohol.
  • edited Dec 2004
    The article is quite nice, pictures help a lot! However the advice is helpful only to owners of particular model machines. Unfortunately my laptop (HP) is not so easy to open and clean (40 screws have to be unscrewed...)
    But anyway this is a problem for laptop owners
  • Straight_ManStraight_Man Geeky, in my own way Punta Gorda, FL Icrontian
    edited Dec 2004
    The discussion about Isopropyl versus Isopropynal:

    Ethanol is in essence a fast drying solvent. Alcohol does the cleaning well. BUT,70% Isoprpyl (rubbing alcohol) has lots of water content proportionally; is is about 1\3 water. Water that is distilled will take quite a while to dry, and I use 90% or better Isopropyl alcohol simply dues to the lower water content in the alcohol mix. It dries a lot faster with less H2O molecule content.You can add a small proportion of ethanol to 90% or better Isopropyl and you will not get a volatile reaction, but you then need good ventilation, as purified Ethanol is a poison. Isopropyl of 90% or better alcohol content works real well astually.

    The only thing that could be better is to polish the area of the Heat Sink that contacts the CPU die itself with 1000 to 1500 grit Wet\Dry Silicon Carbide sandpaper in order to in essence LAP the working\conductive face of the Heat Sink and get all the tiny remaining amounts of old HS compound off of the surface of the HS that contacts the CPU core\die. This also works to remove any tiny scratches on contact surface of HS.

    Same lapping process that works for desktop HSs works for laptop HSs and the BASIC procedure given here is good to follow with desktop Heat Sinks except for CPU removal which is close to toolless in ZIF desktop CPU socket. I say close to toolless rather than totally toolless since the swinging end of the lever on the ZIF socket release lever has to be released from its locking tang (I use the very tip of a jewelers straight screwdriver to unlatch the lever, myself).
  • edited Feb 2005
    OMG Thank you so much! I'm a college student and have had this A25-S207 model for awhile now. At first I thought it wasnt getting enough ventilation and propped my laptop. Obviously that didnt work so I went searching for solutions. I'm so happy I found this tutorial on how to clean my laptop up. Its running like it was when I first bought it!
  • edited Mar 2005
    HAHAHAHA sorted,i got a TOSHIBA A30 and it shut down under high load {trying to reistall windows...and it always shut down,infuriatingly around 98%complete..anyhow,i jacked the machine up on books to let air get in easier me thinks...and it completed ,great !} BUT now hang on a minute,why am i sitting it on books ???,so of to google and on to here...what?,heatsink?,dust? aha...10 mins later...back to opening line ...hahahahahahahaha. yup it worked,well,really well.Now somone deserves praise indeed .cheers!
  • edited Mar 2005
    Thank you Thank you Thank you. I tried about 20 things before doing finding this fix. You've changed my Toshiba A35-S159 experience...and save me $100 by not having to take it into the shop.
  • edited Apr 2005
    Thanks for your instructions, but I need more help. I did as you suggested with the exception of taking off the CPU. However, I put it back together after cleaning, and I can hear my computer come on, and the fan runs, but I get nothing on the screen (as if only the electrical parts are running). Do you have any suggestions?
  • edited May 2005
    Excellent article .. my friend's A30-141 had the same problem, shutting down unexpectedly and following your instruction .. lo and behold, a think layer of dust stuck between the heatsink and the fans. Removed it and now the problem seems to be gone away. Thanks a billion for the article again.
  • edited Jun 2005
    Wonderful. Thank you for helping me solve this problem. I removed the heatsink from my A35 and boy was it covered in dust. Thanks for taking the time to write your quick fix article. - Eric
  • edited Jun 2005
    What a fantastic well put together article as i have a Toshiba A30 as well and i will print this off and follow the steps, the web-site is superb as well and very well put together. A big well done to you.
  • edited Jul 2005
    Thanks to the article my Tosh A30 is now running a lot cooler, I am surprised that Toshiba have not taken more responsibility at what appears to be a design flaw.
    Much appreciated
  • edited Jun 2006
    Thank you EVER so much for going to the trouble of writing this article. I've been having shutdown problems for so long that it seemed 'normal' and the fans were on constantly (when the laptop (Toshiba A30) actually worked, that is). Having cleaned the heatsink following your advice, the fans now sometimes turn *off* and I can actually use my laptop without propping it up at the back. THANK YOU!!!

    fireproofbetty
  • Sledgehammer70Sledgehammer70 California Icrontian
    edited Jun 2006
    It’s good to see Short Media articles always useful, even after 2 years of being published
  • audsnendsaudsnends western Canada
    edited Jan 2007
    Found your article searching for information about over heating Toshiba laptops.

    I did it!!! Naturally taking it apart was easy, despite driving all over town to find a torx bit #9, had to settle for a #8. Then dropped one the screws inside, lot of shaking going on as it managed to wedge itself, so had to loosen a couple of screws on the casing to get it out. Cleaning went fine, it was filthy as I have a cat that believes my laptop fan is her own personal heater. And as you mentioned in your article my processor is permanently affixed to the heatsink.

    The nerve racking part was after putting everything back together my laptop wouldn't quite start. Opened it again, somehow I'd managed to bend two of the pins. Using a magnifying glass & dental tool to straighten them, and after four more tries adjusting the unit...VOILA!


    My laptop is sooo quiet now...should be able to run some programs completely now, thank you!
  • PterocarpousPterocarpous Rosie the Riveter Lives On in CA, USA!
    edited Jan 2007
    audsnends wrote:
    Found your article searching for information about over heating Toshiba laptops.

    I did it!!! Naturally taking it apart was easy, despite driving all over town to find a torx bit #9, had to settle for a #8. Then dropped one the screws inside, lot of shaking going on as it managed to wedge itself, so had to loosen a couple of screws on the casing to get it out. Cleaning went fine, it was filthy as I have a cat that believes my laptop fan is her own personal heater. And as you mentioned in your article my processor is permanently affixed to the heatsink.

    The nerve racking part was after putting everything back together my laptop wouldn't quite start. Opened it again, somehow I'd managed to bend two of the pins. Using a magnifying glass & dental tool to straighten them, and after four more tries adjusting the unit...VOILA!


    My laptop is sooo quiet now...should be able to run some programs completely now, thank you!
    :celebrate Terrific, audsnends! I'm happy you were able to get it cleaned out and up & running again. As you discovered, laptops can be tricky business when taking them apart. You did well on your 1st venture into your laptop's innards. :woowoo:

    Re: kitty camping out in front of your laptop fan vents, it's very important that all the vents on your laptop are unobstructed. A laptop can overheat very easily because all the electronics are enclosed in such a tight space.

    Perhaps a heating pad slid under a towel and atop a pillow would suit kitty even better... :wink: I have kitties, too. (In fact, I'm currently typing one handed while I hold my youngest in my other arm) They've all made it clear who the boss is not. Kitties being who they are, I suspect the same holds true for you as well. Even so, perhaps the heating pad (in close proximity to you of course) might be a sufficient bribe to get kitty away from your laptop vents. :smiles:
  • catrebligtxcatrebligtx Austin, Texas
    edited Mar 2007
    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this article. I used to take my A35-S159 in for repair when this happened since it was under warranty. But now that I would have to pay for the work myself, I figured I needed to learn how to do this myself. I can take desktop computers apart and put back together in my sleep but this is the first laptop I've owned. Like some of the others who responded to this, I dropped screws inside the laptop and got a blank screen when I turned the computer back on. But it's working now, and it's great. I thought I was doing something wrong when reassembling but then I found this article that indicated that the cpu won't go back in with any resistance. I spent over an hour trying to get it back in thinking it was supposed to resist. So again, thank you. This article saved me a whole lot of time and frustration.
  • primesuspectprimesuspect HumanGarbageDisposal Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Mar 2007
    You're welcome :) Hang around short-media, there's lots more good stuff where this came from :p
  • edited Nov 2008
    Thankyou SOOOOO much for the pics & info; laptop is now running like new AND I've got a new stick on goatee made of fluff.

    You rock :o)
  • edited Jan 2009
    Great howto, works perfectly. Just did it to my Toshiba Satellite for the first time since I got it 5.5 years ago. I'm pretty sure the performance is improved and it's definitely running cooler and quieter. I had to make due with a T10 instead of a T9 bit... if you do this, try to have the right tools on hand!
  • edited Feb 2009
    I was delighted when I found this article as my Toshiba A-30 was behaving just like all the others mentioned here. It is almost five years old. I did everything in the article but when I put it together again power came on but nothing else. The HDD light blinked once then went off. Went through process again and found one pin bent flat in the corner. Didn't have a dental tool like Audsnends but managed to lift it upright with a sewing needle. Only problem is it still has a curve in it. I'm such a neophyte I don't know if I should attempt to straighten the pin myself. How robust are the pins? Would it withstand using a tweezers to straighten it? Can anyone help please? The CPU seemed to move a bit on the paste but since it went back in o.k. I figured I had lined it up correctly but maybe not. I do hope I can get help on this as I reallly don't want to have to spend money bringing it to the repair shop.
  • edited Apr 2009
    Hey, I have had my lappy shutting off like crazy, and now i know it isnt just a piece of crap, it is overheating wow!
  • YafYaf
    edited Jun 2009
    Hi,
    I had the same problem, my laptop is less than a year old. It would shut down after long periods of simple surfing, however whenever i tried to play a game it would shut down after about 5-10 mins.

    I tried opening up the laptop, Satellite A300D but it was a little more intimidating then i thought it would be so i settled with blowing pressured air through the fan outlet and all the other openings and that seems to have done it for me. Now can feel alot more air coming out and its still cool after 30mins.

    worth a try before opening it up, but thanks for the info.
  • JayJay
    edited Jun 2009
    Thanks, great guide :)
  • edited Aug 2009
    The CPU is definitely NOT glued to the heatsink.

    The thermal paste may be dry and require heating up with a hair dryer and sliding a razor blade between the IHS and the heatsink.

    Mine didn't even need this. Simply prying it off with a credit card did the trick. Cleaned it up, applied Arctic Silver 5 and put it all back together. No problem. No shutdowns.
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Pokémaster, Watch Slut Austin, TX Icrontian
    edited Aug 2009
    It entirely depends on your heatsink, CPU, manufacturer, thermal grease, etc. Some thermal adhesives, particularly from OEMs, are part adhesive, part TIM.
  • edited Sep 2009
    If you own a Toshiba and your having this problem, theres a very simple solution. Sell it and NEVER buy a Toshiba again. Overheating is a very evry common problem with Toshiba's for one of 2 reasons. 1. They dont know how to cool thier systems properly or 2 they consume way too much power overheating the CPU. I have run comparison tests with Toshiba's, Asus and HP laptops and found that the HP and Asus laptops would run at about 30 degrees celcius while the Toshiba ran at around 70. This was sitting idle. If you pushed it, the HP and Asus would reach around 40 degrees while Toshiba could get up to 100 and switch off. Its simple, stay away from Toshiba's as they have no clue how to build a laptop. I have an A70 and an A200 with the same overheating problem and have many clients with the same issues.
  • edited Oct 2009
    I don't have any thermal paste, canned air or isopropyl alcohol. I know I could troll about town finding them, but I'm just wondering if I can take the heat sink out, remove the bulk of the dust like a clothes dryer filter and put it back in without dealing with the paste etc.
    Is that an OK temporary fix? I'm not really confident with hardware :)
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Oct 2009
    You can get by without the canned air probably - just suck it out with a vacuum. The thermal paste is ABSOLUTELY necessary if you remove the heatsink from the processor (you will DESTROY your computer if you don't re-apply paste afterwards), and isopropyl alcohol is like $1 at the corner drugstore.
  • edited Oct 2009
    Thanks so much, this solved my problem after I had spent countless hours trying to fix an overheating A30
  • edited Nov 2009
    Greetings from Istanbul. Thanks a lot mcwc. I wouldn't have dared to touch any screws on my laptop if it weren't for this article. Having summoned my courage here, I found this: where they provide a hardware maintenance manual for IBM-LENOVO 3000 N200 (and N100) series . This manual makes stuff really easy, provided you read it thoroughly before you begin and follow the instructions verbatim. I cleaned a ton of grime and dust from my fan and now everything's good as new. (The only thing that made me a little uneasy was Lenovo's strict recommendation about using a set of screws, which are all nylon coated, only once. But who gives a flying ... !) Cheers and thanks again :)
  • edited Nov 2009
    Ooops! The web addresses I posted in my previous comment are sifted out. You can still get there from here. The title of the page is: Lenovo Support & Downloads - Hardware Maintenance Manual - Lenovo N100 (type 0689, 0768), N200 (type 0769). Just google it to download a 13MB pdf manual.
  • edited Nov 2009
    I've had my A30 for 5 years and it recently started freezing occasionally (a total halt or freeze type crash), usually when using Firefox. Updated RAM to 2 GB about a year ago, RAM seems OK.

    Thanks mcwc, I used your info to clean the slightly dirty heatsink. Btw dental floss good for cleaning heatsink. Maybe the cleaning will get rid of the freeze. I saw some dust on cpu pins, maybe it was causing static & the freeze.

    I read elsewhere that static electricity can cause freeze in A30 & similar Toshibas. Toshiba has a cure with a little mod but I don't have details.

    I still like this notebook so might put in a 320 GB HD - WD WD3200BEVE.
  • kenken
    edited Dec 2009
    hmm, i hav a toshiba laptop Satelite L200, hav the same prb, auto restart, but include with one more prb, screen display come with strange visual image like freeze. Having hard time disassemble it, do u hav any idea to do it?
  • kenken
    edited Dec 2009
    hmmm...i hav a toshiba laptop Satelite L200, hav the auto-shut down prb and screen always freeze with weird visual. Having hard time to disassemble it. Any idea?
  • edited Dec 2009
    Thanks a lot very useful :).
    Ciao
  • edited Jan 2010
    This is a great method of getting your laptop back into working order. One tip for anybody who gets it all back together to find the machine won't boot, don't forget to lock your CPU after you put it back in. If it isn't locked it won't boot.
  • SamSam
    edited Feb 2010
    Thanks for the article. Dead useful.

    I found that when I put everything back together it wouldn't boot (see other posts above, black screen, fans whirring but nobody home etc).

    Spent half an hour cursing before realising I hadn't unlocked the CPU in the first place. Go back in, unlock it and lock it back in. Booted up first time.

    Thanks again
    Sam
  • edited Mar 2010
    hello, I want to run agame in my laptop Toshiba- satellite A60 , but as a massage which I receive it needs to A128 MB video card with support for Pixel shader 2.0 , so I don't know what's my video card and what should I do ?
    THank you for your attention.
  • edited Mar 2010
    Great article. Thanks very much. The cleaning went just fine. However, I can't get the processor to seat properly despite multiple retries. It seems to be lined up OK and there are no bent pins. The machine won't boot up. Maybe the overheating has already damaged it ?. Again, many thanks. Best wishes, Bren.
  • edited Jul 2010
    Thanks for your instructions, but I need more help. I did as you suggested with the exception of taking off the CPU. However, I put it back together after cleaning, and I can hear my computer come on, and the fan runs, but I get nothing on the screen (as if only the electrical parts are running). Do you have any suggestions?


    I have the same problem. Did you fin a soluyion?
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