So, I had this laptop that was overheating and giving me problems. It’s a 3 year old Toshiba Satellite P105-S921 and just barely out of Warranty (damn). Once turned on, the left palmrest would become warm and if you had it on your lap you’d notice that the left bottom side is burning up. Of course, that’s where the CPU/GPU are… After a while, you’d get an unexpected shutdown.
In this short how-to, I will cover cleaning the fans and heatsinks, applying thermal grease to chips to encourage better heat transfer and updating the GPU drivers.
Disclaimer: Overheating has a variety of causes and solutions for this problem will vary, but I will tell you what worked for me:
1. Buy some compressed (canned) air, pipe-cleaners, thermal grease, post-its and tape.
2. Setup some space next to a Desktop computer and open the instructions for disassembly of the laptop from this website: http://www.irisvista.com/tech/laptops/toshiba-satellite-p105/take-apart-1.htm
3. Follow the instructions to take apart the laptop. As you work, use the post-its as labels and tape the screws to the post-it so you have a clear idea of where everything goes back to and also so that you don’t lose screws as you use the canned air.
4. Clean the dust off the heatsinks and fans with the canned air. If dust bothers you then keep your face away from the laptop as you use the air. Use the pipe cleaners to get the small spaces in between the fan blades. While you’re in there, make sure the fans are turning freely and silently. If they are not then stop what you’re doing and purchase a replacement fan.
5. Unscrew the heatsinks from the chips and clean the old thermal grease (paste) off of the components and the copper heatsink locations. You can use a q-tip softened with water for this, just make sure you don’t leave the components wet afterward. Canned air works well to help you clear off old crumbly grease, just be conscious of where you’re blowing the grease to.
6. Smear the chips with a layer of new thermal grease. Avoid spreading it to the ends of the chip as it will do this for you once you screw down the heatsink and the grease compresses. Some people recommend a “pea-sized” ball of grease, but really it depends. If you have never done this before then throw a very small drop of grease on one of the bigger chips and screw the heatsink down to “test” how the grease will spread out…you’ll understand better after that. Note: The grease is kinda hard to cleanup if you get it on any components or anything else for that matter, so take your time and be conscious of your grease placement. Also, make sure you don’t forget any components that require grease (where the heatsink touches a chip).
7. Tighten everything down and put the laptop back together. Pray that you don’t have any “extra parts” haha
8. Once you boot up you should also lookup your video card and download/install the latest driver for it from the manufacturer’s website. There have been reports out there that the GPU is overheating during graphics-intensive games and other operations, but the latest drivers are supposed to address this. Couldn’t hurt.
Conclusion: The laptop now runs VERY quietly and I feel almost no heat on the left palmrest, or on the bottom. It stayed running all night long and I have every reason to believe that the problem is solved.