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31 October 2011 @ 01:52 pm
Consulting the Hive Mind: Dust in the Wind  
... or rather, Dust in the Laptop.

My laptop is three years old, and I've been using it as my primary computer system for almost two years.

It's exhibiting the telltale signs of overheating -- lagged keyboard response time, stutters in streaming video, inexplicable lock-ups. If this were a desktop system, it would be a simple thing to open the case and empty a can or two of compressed air into it to blow the dust off the components.

Just how does one accomplish that with a sealed hunk of plastic like this? Aside from the battery compartment, there are a couple of removable panels on the back; I figure one gives access to the hard drive, and the other, to the RAM. Any suggestions before I risk disabling my sole connection to the Internet?

Edit: It's an Acer Aspire 5516, essentially a netbook with an oversized 15.6" screen. I have the manual now; if the KB is removable, there's no indication, but I can now confirm what all the panels on the back are.

A random lazy cat: Little Mactwentythoughts on October 31st, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC)
A quick-fix thing, I think, is to blow compressed air through the fan inlets and outlets. While it doesn't remove the dust that's really stuck in there, on the components and suchlike, it does remove what's clogging up the fans. This immediately helps some.
silmaril on October 31st, 2011 09:46 pm (UTC)
You have omitted the Key Data Point: What brand/type of laptop?

Because I have a Dell Latitude E6400, and even though it looks like a sealed hunk of plastic too, it's stupid-simple to remove the keyboard (which I found out when I spilled half a cup of tea into it, but anyway), and that gives you pressuruzed-air-can access to the fan and most of the motherboard. I found the "how-to" videos online. Try Googling for your make/model; it might be easier than you think.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on November 1st, 2011 04:06 am (UTC)
if you are positive it's overheat, this is my opinion also, as a former dell-certified repairman hp and ibm and progressively harder to break down, and I wouldn't tear down a mac on a bet, though.

But to be really positive its overheat, you need physical evidence like noisy fans or no fan noise at all and really hot air coming out sluggishly. Otherwise, you should eliminate other causes like malware and bitrot and app overload and corrupt registry entries by reinstalling if you possibly can.

It's usually cheap and theraputic to max out the RAM, which relives stree on the computer's HD and cooling systems, so it can improve things under any of the above conditions. If not, save it to install on the replacement PC.

Your Obedient Serpentathelind on November 1st, 2011 04:36 am (UTC)
The fan's been running a lot more than usual, and there's not a lot of air pushing through the vent. It's a Linux system, so corrupt registry entries are a non-issue and malware is substantially less likely. App overload, on the other claw, is entirely plausible.

Still, I've had these operational symptoms crop up on desktop systems before. Almost every time, I'm sure I've contracted some horrible malware or Os corruption ... and every time, as soon as I blow out the box, it's happy as the day it was new.
Braxusbraxus on October 31st, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
If you can find a service manual online, you may consider replacing the heatsink thermal paste that's between the heatsink and CPU.

After a while, the paste tends break down. You can usually get a tube of thermal paste at Frys for a couple bucks.
Kymrikymri on November 1st, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
That particular laptop can be taken all sorts of apart; you can even upgrade the CPU (a Turion X2 TL-50 or similar and a couple gigs of RAM can give it a whole new lease on life for probably 75 bucks (or less!) in parts.

I don't have disassembly instructions at hand, but if you want I can probably dig some up and crack it open for you (if you're not comfortable doing it yourself - I used to fix laptops for a living).
Your Obedient Serpent: Eye - VKathelind on November 2nd, 2011 06:24 am (UTC)
Seriously? That would rock. I like this thing, and I like the idea of making it faster and happier.

If you can find the disassembly instructions, I might take a crack at it myself -- unless looking at them makes me panic!

For now, I'm just going to inflict a can of air on it.