Laptop is getting hot, how do I get it to run cooler?

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by Richard Zheng, May 9, 2019.

  1. 4W4K3

    4W4K3 Notebook Evangelist

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    So I just had my laptop apart 3 separate times to test the IC Graphite Thermal Pad. In short; I do not recommend it for direct-die style CPU scenarios (your laptop).

    The main issue, an an issue I have seen frequently, is the heatsink on the laptop is shared between the CPU & GPU. It uses only 3 mounting locations over the GPU, and 4 across the CPU. The distribution of pressure on these 2 chips is further altered by a thin black adhesive on the underside of the heatsink that directly outlines the processor die. As a result of all of this, getting even and proper mounting pressure onto the chips is not easy. The thermal pad is so thin, it simply floats between the processor die and the heatsink.

    I first tried a single pad. Within the first 60 seconds of benchmarking I was hitting 90C on my GPU which has never happened before. The CPU was only slightly worse off, around 96C almost immediately. These are temps I've never hit before. I immediately shut down and regrouped.

    I went in and scraped off the plastic black adhesive around the heatsink surface to ensure it was completely flat and could not impede contact. After cleaning the heatsink, I applied TWO sheets of graphite per processor die. Effectively doubling the thickness and ensuring the heatsink 'squished' it down. I made sure each mounting screw was fully tightened.
    On initial boot up, temps were very good. But again, once I fired up a benchmark the temps immediately shot up to 80C. This time though, they settled around 85C and hovered. An interesting finding, but still a lot hotter than my previous thermal paste application.

    Defeated, I once again disassembled the laptop and then re-applied my original thermal paste; Noctua NT-H1. After the default spread of paste and reassembly I booted to verify my computer was back to normal.

    After an hour of stress tests I can confirm the thermal paste is FAR superior, at least in this case. GPU/CPU idle = 34C/40C GPU/CPU load = 68C/80C (extended).

    I really think these graphite pads are intended for CPU's with 'lids' and much more accurate heatsink mounting. Laptop heatsinks are very tricky and the small die size leaves almost no room for error. It's either not tight and there's a gap or you over-tighten and crush the processor die.
     
  2. Richard Zheng

    Richard Zheng Notebook Evangelist

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    Thanks for this brilliant write up! I probably won’t go with graphite pads now knowing how temperamental they can be. I think I will go with the “safe” option and go with kryonaut for CPU and GPU. I might try liquid metal if that still can’t get it cool
     
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  3. Brad331

    Brad331 Notebook Enthusiast

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    So, how did it go?
     
  4. Richard Zheng

    Richard Zheng Notebook Evangelist

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    I decided to scrap that idea. I found that just limiting CPU to 15W or so did the trick. Throttling was all but eliminated. I'm pretty sure that repaste would have been better, but just a TDP limit worked well enough for my needs
     
  5. Brad331

    Brad331 Notebook Enthusiast

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    So you replaced throttling... with throttling? Alright my dude whatever works for you.
     
  6. Richard Zheng

    Richard Zheng Notebook Evangelist

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    I replaced wild thermal throttling that would cripple performance with a stable throttled system. Rather than HUGE frequency spikes, I get a smooth line. It works for me, but obviously isn't the best solution
     
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  7. Brad331

    Brad331 Notebook Enthusiast

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    That's a good point! I didn't know your ThinkPad also has lousy implementation of thermal throttling. My Yoga 720 is super stable and stays right at the equilibrium. I wish more laptops had a PID style algorithm instead of bang-bang control for temperature modulation.
     
  8. Richard Zheng

    Richard Zheng Notebook Evangelist

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    Damn, the Yoga 720 is a brilliant machine. I wish Lenovo would make a 2 in 1 version of the X1 Extreme, that would be my dream laptop.

    I wish a lot more laptops took the "slow but steady" approach rather than the "gun it till we hit 100" approach since wild throttling kills performance. I guess the "gun it" approach is better for short loads, but longer loads struggle to keep stable clocks
     
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