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My laptop is overheating and causing system instability (spontaneous shutdown). I am well aware of the various solutions there are for an overheating laptop, and I've run through them all: verifying it is clear of dust and that the vents aren't blocked, ensure that fans are working and even placing it in an area where air runs smoothly, all to no avail.

I have traced the problem and the source seems to be the processor. Apart from overheating, it presents no erratic behavior, and the hardware does not appear to have suffered permanent damage because of this issue.

Since my laptop was one of the first models to come along with a Core i5 processor, I cannot for the life of me find a Core i5 replacement; besides, it is for the time being beyond my budget.

If the problem is indeed a faulty overheating processor, is underclocking a viable option for my problem? Does it significantly reduce cpu temperature? If so, how much (%) should I underclock it?

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    The one thing you would appear to have missed is strip off the cooler, then clean & apply new, high quality thermal paste. Old or cracked paste can do just what you're seeing. – Tetsujin Oct 16 '14 at 17:33
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Yes under clocking the CPU will cause it to produce less heat. How much you need to under clock it is impossible for us to say. Keep clocking it down and testing under load until the heat sits in a range you're comfortable with.

Having said that, it's not the processor being faulty that's causing overheating, it's your cooling apparatus.

Since it's a notebook, it's probably got at least one heat-pipe, and if that heat pipe is fractured it won't work properly and heat will build up, regardless of how clean the vents and heat sinks are or how fast the fan is spinning.

Fractures in a copper heat pipe can be near impossible to see with the naked eye, and if they happen on a seam it will make it even harder to spot.

Replace the entire cooling apparatus (heat sinks, heat pipes, and thermal paste), which usually comes as a single "part" from the manufacturer.

To find the right part(s) contact your notebook's manufacturer and ask them to locate you a local repair depot. Contact that repair depot and either get them to fix it, or see if they will be kind enough to order the part for you.

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Underclocking should help, but the amount will be determined by trial and error. Does your CPU have turbo functionality enabled? This is the functionality that allows it to temporarily increase its clock speed to handle demanding tasks. That functionality generates heat. You may want to turn turbo off.

Most likely, the thermal paste connecting the CPU to the fan is no longer working. To fix, take the fan off the processor, remove the existing thermal paste, and reapply the fan with brand new thermal paste. I think that will fix your issue.

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