Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This is "cool" (well not as hot as it used to be).

The screen on my LG LW70 laptop is slowly degrading. Every week I get a new vertical line on it as the pixels die.

I've got an extended warranty on it, so I could return it to get a new screen, but I run my life and my business on my laptop, so I'd rather buy a new one than let it out of my sight for more than a few hours.

I noticed that it was pumping out a lot of heat from the heatsink on the left hand side of the unit, and thought that was normal for laptops. But when the next vertical line started flickering on my screen I got desperate and googled "lg lw70 laptop temperature" and discovered a new utility.

Speedfan (http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php) is a clever utility that monitors the temperature of a PC at several different points (HDD, CPU, Video) and lets you configure responses to certain events if the heat gets too high.

To my horror, when I ran it on my laptop, I discovered that it was running at 66 Celsius, which is pretty hot.

I racked my brain trying to figure out a way to reduce the temperature and came up with two ideas:

  • I put the laptop on a U-shaped metal tray. The U-Shape meant that air could get underneath it, and the metal tray conducted the excessive heat away from the laptop.
  • I made the windows power schemes the same whether the laptop is running on batteries or not. So the HDD spins down after 5 minutes, and the Laptop tries to conserve as much power (i.e. produce as little heat) as possible.

The results were drastic. The laptop temperature dropped from 66C down to 44C in about 2 hours.

It won't undo the heat damage that's already been done to my screen, but at least the screen won't sustain any more damage.

Now all I have to do is figure out how to live without my laptop for a week so I can get it repaired :)

I'd recommend speedfan for any machine that has a decent bios and allows monitoring of temperatures.

2 comments:

ebaybloos said...

G'day Neil, I've had a second hand LW70 for about 12 months and started getting issues with heat over the last few weeks.
Temps up around 60-70 degrees... For some reason Speedfan only updates it's readings on reboot which is most frustrating.
Anyway I was looking into cooler trays and the like but decided to pop the hood and clean some of the dust out.

You only need to remove the keyboard to gain access to the fan area.
There are two screws on the base marked with little keyboard icons and four 'spring tab' retainers along the top edge of the keyboard that need to pushed in towards the screen.

I was shocked to find the inside of the copper heatsink/radiator completely sealed over with a coating of fine dust and sum clumps in the corners.
It's a bit of a challenge to clean out as there is not much room to work with.
So I made a 'mini vacuum cleaner' from an electric air mattress inflator pump with some small diameter plastic tubing attached to the inlet side, but I believe there are special purpose mini PC vacs available too.

Using the mini-vac and a torch on both sides of the heat sink I cleared out all the gunk and then cleaned both sides of each fan blade with a dry Q-tip.
Finally blowing out the whole area with the air pump.

The improvement is Astonishing!

CPU temps are back down around 40 degree's, better than they have ever been and performance is noticeably improved too.
In fact the fan rarely cranks up to high speed at all now, perhaps only when encoding video or music.

If you're confident enough to take this little job on with your LG I'd thoroughly recommend it, especially with summer on our doorstep now.
I spent about 20-30 mins on it, but you could always take it into a service agent and have them do it, I just hate to think what they'd charge :-/

On another note, I'm very happy with my LW70. Beautiful screen (indoors at least) Slim, light, lots of ports, good performance.
My only gripes are that the hard drive and DVD drive are arranged Master/Slave on the one IDE channel (read/write performance bottleneck)
AND the bios only supports hard drives up to 137GB with no updates on the horizon (C'mon LG pull ya finger out).

There's a great photo gallery someone's put online of an LW70 opened up. These pics gave me the confidence to open mine up the first time, check em out here:

(http://www.overclockers.com.au/~mwp/gallery/?l=My%20DIY/LW70)

Neilius said...

Ebaybloos, thanks for the advice.

Actually I did try holding the vacuum cleaner head near the heat sink vent outlet to suck out any dust, but your suggestion makes a lot more sense.

I'll definately give it a go.