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My laptop has a severe overheating problem, even though it's quite new (< 6 month). It's still regularly overheating to the point where it shuts down. This usually happens while playing games but sometimes while watching videos or using Skype video calls for a long time. I'm already keeping it mid-air on a cooling tray with 2 external coolers, but that doesn't seem to help.

The only other thing I can think of is installing an SSD instead of the current HDD. I've read up that they generate less heat then hard drives, but can it actually make a serious difference to the heat level of the laptop?

If there are any other suggestions, please feel free to comment.

The laptop is a Toshiba Satellite L650D-11R.

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That sounds more like an issue you should try to get fixed under warranty. A <1 yr. old laptop should not overheat to that point while watching videos. –  CajunLuke Oct 18 '11 at 23:42
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It depends on the heat source - ssd will generate less heat than hdd, but whether it makes a significant depends whether the hdd is producting the majority of heat or not. Try installing almico.com/speedfan.php and see if your laptop will give you temperature readings. –  Paul Oct 18 '11 at 23:51

10 Answers 10

up vote 9 down vote accepted

In general, no, because SSD's offer no significant advantage in terms of power consumption over conventional, mechanical hard drives (see the bottom of this post for an example). What it truly comes down to is how much power each drive consumes under a load, or at idle. Why do you care?

Well, both drives are like a closed system, and from the first law of thermodynamics, the heat we put into the system must be equal to the heat that comes out (since no work is actually done aside from moving the platters, and even then the motion of the disk platters, eventually through microscopic and macroscopic processes dissipate into heat as well by the second law of thermodynamics). Long story short, if the SSD draws more power, it dissipates more heat.

Unless you find a solid state drive that draws less power then your current hard drive (or any drive, for that matter), keep what you've got ;)


Just to give some numbers to my claims, for example, an OCZ Agility 3 SSD uses 1.5W at idle and 2.7W under load, whereas a 1TB WD Scorpio Blue HDD uses only 1.4W under load and a mere 0.6W at idle!

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You're comparing apples to oranges. For the same load, the SSD will be idle about 10 times more than the hard drive because the SSD is so much faster and the SSD takes much less time to come out of idle. A Samsung 840 Pro uses .3W at idle and about the same under realistic load. The article you cite is almost 5 years old -- the SSDs they tested bear almost no resemblance to modern SSDs. –  David Schwartz Feb 2 '13 at 23:52
    
@DavidSchwartz and you further continue comparing apples and oranges by looking at one of the most advanced (and expensive) SSDs you can buy today. Look at some of these numbers, and you'll see that in terms of power consumption, SSDs still don't have that much of an advantage on HDDs (especially the performance-oriented drives like the Corsair Neutron GTX). And that aside, at the end of the day, I don't think swapping a drive consuming 1.4/0.6 W will prevent overheating compared to one that uses 0.3/0.8 W. –  Breakthrough Feb 3 '13 at 15:19
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Under the same load, an SSD will consume about 1/4 the power a hard drive would consume. For an SSD, you can pretty much ignore everything but the idle number. Even the maximum full load a typical hard can take would leave an SSD idle the vast majority of the time. Whether that makes a difference to the system as a whole is another story. –  David Schwartz Feb 4 '13 at 8:05

Not likely. The majority of the heat is probably being generated by the CPU and the discrete GPU (an ATI HD 5650). This is common on laptops because it's relatively easy for the fans and vents to become clogged up with dust and dirt. It might also be caused by poorly-applied thermal paste, or a heatsink may have come loose.

I would check the vents for obvious blockage. Open up the case and clean it if you can. If that doesn't help, or if you'd rather not open the case, then contact the retailer or the manufacturer and report the problem - it should still be under warranty after all.

But still feel free to upgrade to an SSD, because the performance improvement will be awesome...

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usually while playing games but sometimes while watching videos or using Skype video calls for a long time.

All activities that are either streaming video or involve intense CPU/GPU processor usage. Check for extremely poor air-flow, dust and fluff caught in heat sinks or obstructing air flow past your video processor, central processor and memory cards.

Sticking an SSD drive into this machine will probably be like putting a chromed radiator cap on a plugged up radiator. Purty with bragging rights, but the heat dissipation still stinks.

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Well, since you asked about other suggestions. (presumably besides his one of changing the hdd to ssd), and I can include pictures of the other suggestions here.

You can get things like this. laptop fan coolers. laptop cooling pads.

enter image description here

enter image description here

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I don't think this answers the question. –  gronostaj Nov 23 '13 at 17:01
    
@gronostaj well, others have covered the subject and main part of his question but he asked for other suggestions too, so my answer covers that, and it makes more sense for cooling the thing. –  barlop Nov 23 '13 at 17:06

You don't mention your ram situation. Do you have enough ram to handle games and videos properly? Also, many new laptops are loaded with bloatware ( software that may run inefficiently in the background ) which may be overworking your CPU.

There are free utilities available at CNET's website that will check for CPU usage when you are not playing games or watching videos. This will give you a clue about what software on your laptop may be using your CPU and possibly causing your system to overheat, slow down and possibly crash.

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I obtained a copy of CPUID HWMonitor and found that it was my CPU overheating. I adjusted the Power Options -> Processor Power Management -> Maximum Power State down to 80% and my fan is back to being silent again. Obviously, if I do something that requires 100% processor use, I will need to adjust it but for every day use, I cannot tell the difference.

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The CPU simply should not overheat. Period. Not unless the desing is broken or you block the air holes (e.g. by putting it on a carpet) or if you run it inside an oven or maybe around noon in the Sahara. Throttling the CPU to max 80% might work around the problem, but you have not yet found the root problem. And that still needs fixing, preferably under warranty. (After a few years the most likely candidate is dust on the fan and the heat sink, which you can clean). –  Hennes Nov 23 '13 at 15:17

Absolutely not. The hard disk / SSD does not generate enough heat* to cause system shutdown, even under the worst of circumstances.

The fact is that you have a cooling problem on the CPU and GPU subsystem. Here are some potential causes:

  • Improperly mounted heatsink(s), either not attached correctly or the thermal interface compound was improperly applied (if at all).
  • Blocked fans / airflow. Clean out the dust, clean the fins, etc.
  • Broken fans - either not working or not working well.
  • Too many processes running in the background. If you are using an intense application, find ways to disable or close applications running in the background to mitigate the CPU load.
  • Bad overall design. My opinion is that this is the real issue for you. Sadly, most notebooks with thermal designs that are so poor that they would overheat when given a decent CPU/GPU load for a sustained amount of time... practically out of the box. The number of notebooks in the market with bad thermal designs is simply tragic, and the sad reality is people have no way of knowing beforehand.

(*) - That said, moving from a MHD to an SSD will in fact have an impact on your CPU thermals. My own experience shows that moving from MHD to SSD actually increases CPU use, because the CPU no longer has to wait on the HDD to find data. In theory, your CPU will be able to do more in less time, but in practice, YOU will be doing more - which will run the CPU more.

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I have a couple of laptops, and this is a problem on my PC laptop. (My Mac laptop has a metal case, the fan rarely ever goes above very-low speed)

This is an old post, but I'd like to point out an obvious solution no one has yet suggested:

Have you tried unclogging the CPU heat sink and fan? It's very common for these things to cake up with dust and sometimes cat fur.

On some laptops, you can blow compressed air into the fan exhaust or intake.

If you can see the CPU fan, you want to TAKE CARE to power off the laptop, then (with power off) use a pen or paper clip to keep the fan immobilized while you blow compressed air in. The reason for this is compressed air could spin the fan at speeds greater than it was designed for, and wear or fail the fan bearings.

If there's a lot of gunk that won't come out, you may need to take the laptop partially apart.

Before doing anything, consult the owners manual for this laptop. There should be instructions about cleaning the heatsink, or at least enough information about opening it up that you'd be confident (if you've done this sort of thing before, or are good at being careful).

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Swapping out my regular HD for a SSD cooled my HP HD16t down by 10 degrees.

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the problem with SSD is that it will give the computer a false reading of its temperature. and if the computer is detecting a overheated Hard Diskdrive (SSD) then it will run the fan at maximum rpm but the fan doesn't turn because the rpm value is unrecognized. I suggest getting a cooling pad and running speedfan. When watching a movie or playing games, use the cooling pad. But turn off the hard disk temperature sensor because it will give a false reading to the CPU.

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I feel like I need to point out that what Peter said just simply isn't true. SSDs will not make your computer overheat, and most of them (including mine) do in fact have temperature sensors. –  danielcg Feb 2 '13 at 20:17
    
This answers suggests that either installing a SSD will somehow break temperature sensors or that SSDs are shipped with faulty temperature sensors. None of these two makes sense. –  gronostaj Nov 23 '13 at 17:05

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