Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've just bought a second-hand laptop, a Sony Vaio VGN-SZ1HP/B, and it runs VERY hot to the touch. So hot, in fact, that I can't touch the bottom left-hand side of my machine for longer than a few seconds without having to pull my hand away.

I downloaded SpeedFan and checked out the computer's temperature, and it doesn't seem too high (I think -- although the little flames on the screenshot don't inspire confidence).

Is the machine OK? Should I be concerned? It runs a Core Duo T2300 with a GoForce Go 7400.

enter image description here

UPDATE: Since I posted this question it seems to have cooled down. I can hold the computer now without having withdraw my hand. It's hot, but not so hot that it would burn my fingers. I took another reading (below). Is it OK for it to get "$%*#!" hot during heavy loads?

enter image description here

share|improve this question
Does Task Manager show anything taking up lots of CPU? – Mehrdad Aug 20 '11 at 17:18
Perhaps the battery is faulty? – RedGrittyBrick Aug 20 '11 at 17:20
It is running hot and seems some process is utilizing cpu. You should be concerned. Which OS are you running on laptop? Is it Windows XP? Windows Vista? Windows 7? Or Linux? – TusharG Aug 20 '11 at 17:22
The reason it is hot at first is most likely because the boot causes a lot of CPU. – Tom Wijsman Aug 20 '11 at 19:32
up vote 3 down vote accepted

So hot, in fact, that I can't touch the bottom left-hand side of my machine for longer than a few seconds without having to pull my hand away.

This is what we (at our shop) call "The Holy S##T! Test". If you can't touch it for more than a couple seconds without pulling your hand back and yelling an expletive, then something is WRONG. Often used for checking cooling unit, drive and component temperatures. :)

Nothing should be that hot, regardless of temperature readings and such.

My blind guess would be that the cooling fan is malfunctioning, a heat-pipe is fractured, or the vents are plugged. Also, the 'bottom left' is often the hard drive location.

share|improve this answer
I'd agree with techie, try and blow some canned air into the vents and see how much dust comes out. If it's second hand, I'd try and strip it down and make sure it's not clogged with pet hair or anything like that. – Col Aug 20 '11 at 17:33
Well I'm going to have to eat my words. Since I posted this it seems to have cooled down. Yes it can reach those temperatures, for sure, but it seems that it also can be quite hot, but not so hot that I can't keep my hand there. – Django Reinhardt Aug 20 '11 at 17:45
@Johnny W That's still not good, it shouldn't get too hot to touch at any point. Take it someplace and get it examined and/or cleaned, should be pretty cheap to get done. Or perhaps study up on how to do it yourself and save a couple bucks, as Col suggested. :) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Aug 20 '11 at 17:47
@techie007 I wouldn't say that's "too hot". Laptops can get hot, especially places where ambient temperature is high (example: my city). Under load, the temp's are always 70-80. – Sathya Aug 20 '11 at 17:57
@Johnny W Yeah it only takes a single dust bunny to make a big difference sometimes. :) Glad to hear it's working better. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Aug 25 '11 at 1:01
  1. Identify the release date of the GPU, which is close to the time the laptop has been bought.

    GPU-Z shows this information. It allows you to see how old the laptop actually is...

  2. Identify the install date of the OS, using the command systeminfo and looking for the entry Original Install Date which will give you an idea how long they have been using the OS.

  3. Try your laptop without the battery, this will give you an idea if the battery is the cause.

  4. Blow the dust out of the fans, according to the thread you link your laptop could be 3+ years old.

  5. That doesn't work? Try to identify whether the fans are actually working or if there is damage.

    You might need to re-apply thermal cooling paste, perhaps the previous owner messed up...

share|improve this answer
Thanks for your illustrated answer :) To go through each point, though: Surely I can tell the release date of my computer by looking for reviews of the model number? (Four years old) 2. The OS has been reinstalled... I'm not using XP! :) 3. No heat is coming from the battery, thankfully. 5. I doubt the previous owner applied any thermal paste (I know the previous owner and he was very tech ignorant). I think four is the best bet (and also hoping that the heatsink isn't cracked). – Django Reinhardt Aug 20 '11 at 20:04
+1 for illustrated answer. – Assad Ebrahim Sep 1 '12 at 6:45

Check the CPU usage at task manager, something might consume %100 CPU.

Check the fans, it they blow or not.

share|improve this answer
100% CPU shouldn't cause your laptop to be untouchable; if it's the case then it's most likely something with your laptop rather than your OS. My laptop was at 100% CPU, 100% GPU, 100% I/O for an hour yesterday and I could still browse around Super User without feeling too much heat; and yes, temperatures were around 85°C but proper airflow prevented the chassis from overheating... – Tom Wijsman Aug 21 '11 at 0:33
SpeedFan can say CPU and system fans speed. Better take a screwdriver and remove some screws and look at the inside of the laptop. – Nime Cloud Aug 21 '11 at 2:03
Pictures are provided, typically no fan speeds shown on a laptop. – Tom Wijsman Aug 21 '11 at 3:04
SpeedFan can display current fan speeds and adjust them to prevent noise, old machines don't have smart fans so we used SpeedFan. Notice the scrollbar, it's at the bottom. – Nime Cloud Aug 21 '11 at 3:21
You are repeating yourself. Read what I said. Look at the pictures provided... – Tom Wijsman Aug 21 '11 at 3:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .