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I just bought a Dell XPS 15 (L502X). I'm running Ubuntu 11.04 with Gnome 2.32.1

When I start Ubuntu, I have the following temperatures:

  • temp1: ~45ºC
  • temp2: ~45ºC
  • core1: ~41ºC
  • core2: ~42ºC

After rendering some webpages or working with Netbeans, the temperatures goes up, to an average of 55ºC (the temperature of one of the cores can go to 70ºC)... And you can feel that high temperature on the base of your left hand...

On the other hand, it makes quite a lot of noise from the fan (I would say that's the fan). Thise noise comes and disappears, is not constant... So I suppose that's the way the computer was designed.. (by the way, here is a link on YouTube of a guy that had that same problem with the noise: XPS 15 - Fan noise

My questions are:

  1. Is it normal that I can feel that temperature with my left hand? (of course I don't burn myself but yes, it's pretty hot :P).
  2. Are those temperatures normal for a Intel i5 2540 ?
  3. The non constant fan noise is a normal behavior?

I want to add that I have called Dell, and they say the temperatures and the noise are normal, but I would like to have a second opinion.

Appreciate any help and thanks for your time!

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

To answer your questions in order:

  1. From my experience it is very common for a laptop experiencing high demand to get noticeably warm. If it gets severely hot then something may be wrong but so long as your system temperatures stay in the range you listed I would not be too worried.

  2. From this page (sadly not Intel) the maximum temperature for your processor is 100 degrees but a program like CoreTemp should be able to tell you "Tj max" which is the maximum Junction Temperature - basically the maximum temperature the transistor junctions can withstand. If you reach that temperature then I would be concerned. To me 70 is a bit on the warm side, but certainly not life threatening.

  3. Fan noise coming and going on laptops is very common as they work "on-demand", as your laptop heats up when doing work the fan will ramp up to try and keep it cool. When you aren't doing much then the processor will cool down and the fan will slow down so that it is reasonably quiet.

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Thanks a lot for your answer: Could we say coding with VIM in terminal, and some Netbeans working is high demand? I mean.. It seems this puppy just gets too warm out of simple tasks... Is good to know that the fan noise is normal, thank you. – Nobita Jun 17 '11 at 8:50
Generally anything more than the most basic tasks will cause the processor speed (and therefore temperature) to ramp up rapidly. Intel seems to favour the race to idle philosophy so your processor works harder for shorter amounts of time, and Turbo Boost will cause a burst in heat as it makes the CPU work at its limits. I don't think VIM would cause much and I've no idea what is involved with netbeans but even short workloads can cause raised temperatures. – Mokubai Jun 17 '11 at 9:40
This really helps. I'm doubting if I should return this laptop, but for what I've read on the Internet and your opinions here, it seems with these processors the heat is kind of normal. Appreciate. – Nobita Jun 17 '11 at 9:46

I have a L702X (the 17 inch version) and it rarely activates the fan when working normally in windows due to using only the builtin Intel HD Graphics.

Try and check the following :

  • See if you are running any heavy background processes.
  • If you have Optimus (Intel Graphics + NVidia Graphics), you should install Optimus Linux Support, so you only use the Intel HD Graphics for normal surfing/coding and the NVidia graphics card for heavy GPU work.
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Thanks for your answer. I have bumblebee installed, but there is no automatically switching yet, so you have to say which programs you want to run with the nVidia :(. I'm not running any background processes that the normals in Ubuntu plus the Sensor temperature ones... – Nobita Jun 17 '11 at 8:48
@Nobita: Can you see if the NVidia card is disabled or not? It might explain the fan activity if it is enabled all the time. The script is here :… – Sharken Jun 17 '11 at 9:04
It was not enabled.... What bothers me is the heat in my left hand, but I don't know if that happens in these kind of laptops. – Nobita Jun 17 '11 at 9:14
I have the same laptop. It reaches easily the 70° celecius! temperature not to be exceeded is 95°. The hard drive temperature is often 43°C. – Mediterran81 Nov 14 '11 at 0:23

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