[How to] Cool and mitigate CPU/GPU temperatures in your laptop

Discussion in 'Sager and Clevo' started by TrantaLocked, May 31, 2018.

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  1. TrantaLocked

    TrantaLocked Notebook Deity

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    This is a comprehensive walk through of the steps (some unconventional) I've taken in lowering the temperatures of the CPU and GPU in my Sager/Clevo NP9150 laptop. Always remember to properly prepare and use caution when doing anything inside your system. It's also good to record temperatures before and after applying a fix just to make sure the fix actually did any good.

    Laptops, especially gaming branded ones, are known for high levels of heat. It can be annoying when heat makes your usage uncomfortable or even ends a session. Laptop heat is so annoying that I want to contribute to this board by helping anyone looking for steps that they might not have considered yet. I'll be listing each method with details.

    Be aware that I'm listing the more unconventional methods (#1 and #2) first for the people quickly looking for novels solution which they haven't tried yet. If you're attempting to cool your laptop for the first time, look at the other methods first before trying methods 1 and 2.

    1. Use washers or shorter screws to increase heatsink pressure. I really do not recommend doing this until you've tried everything and are desperate to find a weak link in your cooling chain. Use caution for this one. Some heatsinks use spring-loaded screws that are designed to be tightened a certain distance before stopping. While this is speculation, I believe it's possible that the maximum pressure provided by this kind of setup may not always be enough. Whatever the truth may be, it seems applying washers between the screws and the screw holes on my CPU heatsink helped lower temperatures, but it could've been something else I did during the process. I happened to have some mini washers from a PC repair kit, and to do something similar you can either find some proper sized washers or find screws of the same width and coarseness but shorter, allowing more room for tightening. Just don't over do the tightening! You will also probably want to thermal repaste during this process (#3).

    2. Use aluminum foil tape over gaps around the fan and heatsink fins. Applying foil tape in the right areas can increase direct air flow out of the back of the case. This helped my temperatures a bit, but the downside is that the tape makes it hard to service the fan.

    3. Apply better thermal paste to the CPU and GPU. Popular brands that sell good paste include Thermal Grizzly, Gelid, Arctic and Noctua. I use Gelid GC Extreme, but there are many good options. The new paste lowered my temps compared to the stock paste. If you've never repasted before, it's pretty easy and there are lots of guides on YouTube and forums. The gist is that you usually want a non conductive paste (most of them are non conductive), will need to clean the surface of the CPU/GPU die/heatspreader and the pressure plate of the heatsink before applying, and can use a good glob in the center of the die without worrying about using too much (unless you're using conductive paste). You can imagine how much paste you will need to spread as far as possible across the entire die, and going over is better than putting too little.

    4. Clean out the fan duct. This one is actually far more important than some may think. I just did a quick cleaning of my CPU fan and duct recently, and temperatures lowered by at least a few degrees. Getting inside and cleaning the fan usually just means unscrewing some tiny screws, opening the panel, and picking out any dirt and hair you can find.

    5. Limit CPU maximum frequency in Windows power options. This really does help and usually won't have a significant impact on performance unless you're going way down below base frequency. My 2.7/3.7 GHz base/boost i7 processor is limited to 1.6 GHz max in my power profile, and temperatures tend not to spike suddenly as a result. Browser navigation is a bit slower, but it's nothing too annoying. You can modify this setting by going to power options (for Windows 10: Power & sleep settings->additional power settings)->change plan settings->change advanced power settings->processor power management->maximum processor state. Try a limit between 40% and 70%.

    6. Use dedicated GPU hardware acceleration for your browser. I don't recommend doing this in most cases because it can put unnecessary strain on your GPU and may produce more heat anyway, but it's worth a shot if other options have failed to give you temperatures you're ok with. If you're experiencing high CPU heat while browsing, allowing your laptop to pass some of the load to your dedicated GPU (if you have one) could help. But, it could just end up making both your CPU and GPU hot. To do this in setups in which software locks you from enabling high performance mode for browsers, like in my case with a 7970M, you can rename your browser .exe and then add the newly named program to your switchable graphics list and enable high performance. Chrome and other browsers usually replace the exe after updating, so you would need to keep redoing this.

    I was a bit careless myself, and during my last bought of using this method my GPU started artifacting and then temporarily died on me until I baked it back to life. The reason this happened probably wasn't the #6 method itself but the fact that the thermal pads for the memory and surface mount components (pads now replaced) were old and that the VRAM heatsink was missing one of its screws. That's a pretty funny story; after stripping one of the heatsink screws, I needed to drill through the screw to get it out and was left with a screw adapter (the ones that hold down the GPU) that would no longer accept new screws. I will want to replace that soon, but in the meantime I applied a slightly thicker thermal pad to the area that has less heatsink pressure. Just don't do what I did stripping screws, and instead use a proper Philips 0 screw driver with a good amount of force.

    7. Check for an ability to set fans to maximum speed. I believe most if not all Clevo/Sager laptops and likely many other brand laptops use a key combo to enable max fan speed for both CPU and GPU. I'm using the Prema BIOS mod that sets this key combo toggle to Fn+1, which should be the combo for the stock Sager BIOS too. This can be helpful if you want to keep temperatures down before they rise or when temperatures are already too high.

    8. See if your laptop's position can be modified to increase air flow in and out. Check for any blocked intake or outtake vents. Sometimes a bit of repositioning can help airflow and lower temperatures.

    9. Close unused programs and processes, close unneeded tabs and pay attention to websites that overwork your CPU. Some websites will even use your CPU for cryptocurrency mining. This will send CPU usage and temperatures soaring. If temperatures are tough to deal with, limiting the amount of tabs and applications running at once can help.

    10. Replace or fix your fan if it's making unexpected noise. For a while my CPU fan was making a grinding noise. It turned out that the center piece was slipping from it's proper place, allowing the fan blades to scrape against the fan panel. If you can push that center piece in until it sits where it should be, great; otherwise there are replacement options available online (like on eBay). If your fan can't run freely at a proper RPM, that can impact cooling and noise can be annoying, so it's good to fix a broken fan.

    11. Increase cooling outside your computer if reasonably possible. Ambient temperatures will always have an impact on any computer's internal temperatures. If you can get your surroundings cooler it will help your laptop's temperatures.

    12. Use adblock. After deciding to finally try this plugin out of frustration with certain websites using my CPU for mining, I discovered adblock also reduces load in general. Despite the benefits, you should still whitelist/pause adblock on the websites and videos you want to support.

    And that's it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2018
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  2. Support.3@XOTIC PC

    Support.3@XOTIC PC Company Representative

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    Great write-up!
     
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  3. Meaker@Sager

    Meaker@Sager Company Representative

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    The IGP uses far less power than the dGPU, don't set it to render the browser or ANYTHING on the desktop, you want it OFF where possible.
     
  4. aIex

    aIex Notebook Consultant

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    I wonder if you could use thermal conductive high visocsity adhesive to fill up the gaps.
     
  5. Prostar Computer

    Prostar Computer Company Representative

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    @TrantaLocked - Nice write up. Good base for aspiring DIYers.
     
  6. Support.3@XOTIC PC

    Support.3@XOTIC PC Company Representative

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    Sounds a little risky even if it' not electrically conductive, I think I'd stick to something more solid.
     
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  7. aIex

    aIex Notebook Consultant

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  8. Support.3@XOTIC PC

    Support.3@XOTIC PC Company Representative

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  9. Support.4@XOTIC PC

    Support.4@XOTIC PC Company Representative

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    May also be beneficial to get a Notebook cooler. Got one for my Sager NP9175 and reduced temps by about 6C overall.
    Also, the system remains whisper-quiet when playing less demanding games like WoW or Skyrim with the notebook cooler active.
     
  10. senso

    senso Notebook Deity

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    You could maybe fill it using Artic Thermal Epoxy, or something similar, but it has a higher thermal resistance, so it wont help much, if at all.

    Usually the limitation is the fin area itself, so even adding extra heatpipes is a moot point that only increases the thermal mass, aka, it will take a bit longer to reach the older working temps, but it will also take longer for the temp to decrease when you reduce/remove the load, adding fin area is usually complicated or even impossible, I have a ghetto cooler for my Asus N53SM, I thermal epoxied two heatsinks together, there was enough room in the fan shroud to put the fins without touching the fan blades, but it doesn't fit in the chassis lol.

    There are some heatsink fins available to buy on ebay, as there is tons of different sized heatpipes, maybe a thin(8-10mm) stack with the length of the fan shroud can be put in there with an extra heatpipe glued, or soldered using chipquik and other solder pastes with Bismut that have a melting temp around 140ºC.
     
  11. t6nn_k

    t6nn_k Notebook Consultant

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    I tried that. Also added extra heatpipe on top of those 2 with a extra fin row that went inside of fan housing. Not sure what went wrong, but I ended up removing it and buying new fan with a new heatsink. New gained better temperatures than old one with or without that mod. So it might have been that my heatsink got messed up somehow.
    One thing I also tried was to remove mounting plate from old heatsink and mount it on top of existing one. Turned it 90 degrees so each side has a spring pressing it down. That gained a few degree drop. It is risky as it puts high load on screws.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2018
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