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GPU seems to heat to over 93C when playing Counter-Strike: Source (at 1600x900 resolution). After a while ThinkPad shuts down on its own. Should I lower my graphics settings? I tried that, but it didn't seem to What exactly should I lower?

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Clean the heatsink and Fan using compressed can of air, you can also remove the heatsink, clean it and the cpu, then apply high quality diamond paste. This can help reduce temps on most laptops....innovationcooling.com/article1.htm –  Moab Jun 2 '12 at 16:43
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Are you ensuring proper airflow? IE: are the vents clogged? –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Jun 2 '12 at 16:43
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Check out What makes a laptop overheat? –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Jun 2 '12 at 16:47
    
There is a problem with the stock thermal compound in this series of ThinkPads. Replacing the thermal compound should help. If not, replacing the thermal module (heat sink, heat pipe, fan combo unit) may be needed. –  reve_etrange Feb 20 '14 at 1:19

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

First, do you have the T520 with the optimized graphics, the NVidia NVS 4200m? Because even if you do, it's not a gaming video chipset...

The NVIDIA NVS 4200M (or NVIDIA Quadro NVS 4200M) is a business graphics card for laptops which is most likely based on the same core as the GeForce GT 520M. According to the Nvidia Homepage, the 4200M is allowed to be clocked up to 810MHz, compared to the 550MHz of the GT 520M. However, the clock rates of the NVS 4200M in the Dell Latitude 6420 is similar to the GT 520M.

The NVS series is optimized for business applications and stability and may therefore perform a bit worse in games due to the special drivers and BIOS optimizations.

From Notebook Check.

Otherwise, that laptop comes with an Intel HD 3000 IGP.

Either way, the T520 isn't a gaming laptop. It doesn't matter if it meets the game specifications or not. It wasn't built for the punishment that games deliver. It is a business class laptop that was made to run in that type of environment, under that expected type of load.

Why is it overheating? As mentioned in the comments, the cooling channel might need to be cleaned... as in there might be a layer of dust and debris (like dryer lint will look like) between the internal fan and the heat sink. You might also be using the laptop on a soft surface, causing the fan intake to be blocked. For all we know, the original power adapter failed or was broken, and you have replaced it with a less-than-adequate power supply that is providing almost the wattage necessary.

There are multiple reasons why your laptop could be overheating, and we just don't know enough about your specific circumstances to be able to say exactly why. However, at the very least, using a business class laptop as a gaming laptop will make it run hotter than normal.

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I have the same problem and there's no real way around it. I am considering getting some copper shims and thermal paste to have better heat transfer, but I think it's a lost cause. The case just wasn't designed to run high performance applications. –  Hakkar Aug 3 '14 at 1:11
    
If you want to abandon the laptop as a mobile device, you can modify the case to increase the size and position of the heat sink... and cooling fan for that matter. You might even be able to use two separate heatsinks and fans... one for the CPU and one for the GPU... have the laptop sitting on a box. Maybe try some aftermarket overclocking utilities... might be able to try EVGA's Precision X. –  Bon Gart Aug 6 '14 at 7:03
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I have a solution for now. Grabbed an industrial fan from a litecoin mining rig and put in front of the laptop's exhaust. Brings down the temperature by 15C - 25C during 100% load to <=65C. –  Hakkar Aug 7 '14 at 9:29

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