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12/07/2009 10:35:25 PM · #1
Okay, it appears to me that I'm going to have to buy a new laptop. I don't WANT a new laptop, but this one is driving me crazy.

The sounds as if the harddrive "runs" all the time. Or a fan, or something. As a result, it feels really, really hot. I keep a pen or pencil under it, propping it up to try and get more air circulating under it.

With "intensive" things (editing large picturs, etc), it just shuts off with no warning.

At one point the main drive was almost full, so I bought an external drive, moved bunches and bunches of stuff off, and it seemed to help. For a while.

Now the flipping thing is cutting off even before it gets "hot," and with normal stuff running.

video card bad?
getting ready to explode in thousand of little pieces?
something easy to fix? maybe? hopefully?

It's a Gateway T-series, about a year and 7 months old.
12/07/2009 10:38:56 PM · #2
Video card is a good guess. Those are the exact symptoms my desktop had when the video card went.

If it were a desktop then I'd say yes, it's an easy fix to change out the video card and you could probably do it yourself. However it may not be the video card and it's a laptop.

Since it's a laptop, you may have to take it to a service depot.

Also, as it may not be the video card you probably want to take it to a service depot anyway.

Depending on the cost of the fix it may not be worth fixing.

Message edited by author 2009-12-07 22:40:00.
12/07/2009 10:39:26 PM · #3
Go to Wal-Mart and buy one of these set your laptop on it and have it run all the time. Heat is a killer of laptops, as they get older the syncs get full of dust and you can't really take them apart all the time. My brothers dell just started doing the same thing. He brought it to me to find out why.........they shut down when they sense they are too hot to protect themselves. I put his on my cooler pad that I always use at work and no more issue.

Matt
12/07/2009 10:43:15 PM · #4
@Matt -- I'll probably try one of those as $15 is a lot easier on the ole' pocketbook than a buying a whole unit.

@cpanaioti -- did yours have issues playing dvds? I can play CDs (music, read a CD with images, etc.), but it will not play DVDs. It used to when we first got it, but it was spotty, then stopped working altogether.
12/07/2009 10:45:29 PM · #5
Originally posted by karmat:

@Matt -- I'll probably try one of those as $15 is a lot easier on the ole' pocketbook than a buying a whole unit.

@cpanaioti -- did yours have issues playing dvds? I can play CDs (music, read a CD with images, etc.), but it will not play DVDs. It used to when we first got it, but it was spotty, then stopped working altogether.


Mine had issues maintaining anything on the display and the display image would slowly dissintegrate before going entirely black. My problem was the fan on the video card stopped working so the video card burnt out.
12/07/2009 11:01:29 PM · #6
I'd say the average useful life of a laptop is about 2 years. For example, my Thinkpad needs a new battery and I also need to upgrade from 1Gb to 4Gb. And in the past couple of weeks I've been hearing an ominous 'click' from the hard drive when I start it up. Not to mention I'm also approaching the limits of the mtbf of the display backlight.

Adding the cost of these things together, and the fact a new laptop is 500, means upgrades and repairs just don't make sense. (New laptop would also get me a Win7 license, as well as a better graphics card, more memory, 1yr warranty etc.)

Message edited by author 2009-12-07 23:02:56.
12/07/2009 11:43:51 PM · #7
Originally posted by karmat:

Okay, it appears to me that I'm going to have to buy a new laptop. I don't WANT a new laptop, but this one is driving me crazy.

The sounds as if the harddrive "runs" all the time. Or a fan, or something. As a result, it feels really, really hot. I keep a pen or pencil under it, propping it up to try and get more air circulating under it.

With "intensive" things (editing large picturs, etc), it just shuts off with no warning.

At one point the main drive was almost full, so I bought an external drive, moved bunches and bunches of stuff off, and it seemed to help. For a while.

Now the flipping thing is cutting off even before it gets "hot," and with normal stuff running.

video card bad?
getting ready to explode in thousand of little pieces?
something easy to fix? maybe? hopefully?

It's a Gateway T-series, about a year and 7 months old.

I had a similar problem with my desktop. It would get louder and then go to a black screen then the screen would come back up and then it would shut down. With the help of DPC's they solved my problem better than the shop did.
It was a bad video card.

But it could be short of a video card failure.
I would start here and see if it helps.

Since you mentioned at one point your hard drive was almost full I would check the HD and try to make it as efficient as possible.
1. Do disk cleanup with windows disk clean program.
2. I would use Revo Uninstaller to make sure you have completely un-installed old programs when you moved them to another drive.
3. Defrag the hard drive with a program called Defraggler. A better defrag program than the windows version.

If it's not a HD issue the above would not hurt your computer at the least it would help access files quicker.

4. Try updating your Video Cards driver and see if there's a newer version.
5. It maybe your Video Card (it sounds like it). What T-Series Laptop do you have.

Message edited by author 2009-12-07 23:56:44.
12/07/2009 11:46:27 PM · #8
backup your data... wipe it out and start a'new.

12/08/2009 11:21:26 AM · #9
Originally posted by totaldis:

backup your data... wipe it out and start a'new.


Definitely back up your data. But you have a hardware problem. Wiping the hard drive and starting over won't help until you fix the problem, whatever it is.

Matt is right, the shutting off without warning is the machine overheating. There's a temp sensor inside that shuts the machine down when it hits a certain temp.

If it were a desktop, I'd tell you to open it up and see if the fans are all still turning. I suppose you could do the same with a laptop. There's usually a bunch of screws on the bottom. I think you're supposed to remove drives and batteries first, before you start digging in. But I'm no expert on laptops.
12/08/2009 11:57:13 AM · #10
Originally posted by karmat:


The sounds as if the harddrive "runs" all the time. Or a fan, or something. As a result, it feels really, really hot. I keep a pen or pencil under it, propping it up to try and get more air circulating under it.


If the sound is on all the time without you searching for anything on the hard-drive its definitely the fan.

Unless you have the extra cash for a new laptop there are couple of options if you are willing to try.

If your fan ducts are accessible, take a blower (compressed air can) and blow out the dust - that should help your machine cool down a little, it might still run hot.

If that does not help, and you don't mind being adventurous, open your laptop (its simpler than it sounds if you have some basic tools and patience - search for tear down instructions of your model - most of them you can find online)
1) Clean out your fans
2) Reapply heat sink compound - almost half the older laptops getting hot has this issue, its a cheap and easy fix! (at Radioshack - $2.99) - if you are planning to do this, I will be more than happy to give further instructions on how to do this.
3) While you have your laptop open, dust it completely
4) In most laptops there are 2 memory slots with the second one hidden inside, again since you have it open you might want to upgrade both your memories. (don't know what you have right now)

Easier option - sell it on craigslist and pick a new one!

and yes - BACKUP YOUR DATA!

12/08/2009 12:10:36 PM · #11
The noise is either the hard-drive spinning or a fan(s) spinning.

If it's the hard-drive spinning all the time, then check your power-saving profile. This gives you options to spin down the HD when it's idle etc.

If it's the fans spinning all the time then they are kicking in for a reason. Either the temperature sensor is wrong, which a BIOS update might fix, or the temperature sensors are correct which means there is some over-heating going on. Follow the instructions in the other posts regarding cleaning out the vents etc.

Try downloading something like //www.almico.com/speedfan.php This will tell you the temperatures of the various components, and also the speeds of the fans. You can also control the fans yourself with this type of software, but be warned, as you could cause damage to the hardware if you over-ride the default settings.

Message edited by author 2009-12-08 12:11:15.
12/08/2009 12:20:17 PM · #12
I'll reiterate the blow the whole thing out with some compressed air sentiment. I have a laptop that gets super hot and starts to shut itself down randomly if i don't clean it out for several months. I blow out all the crap (and there's a lot by then), and it runs great again. In general, keep it cool (whatever you need to do that), and it shouldn't shut itself down unless you have other major hardware failures. This same laptop also gave up its ability to recognize DVDs after a while (CDs are fine). Hardware failure of the internal optical drive. An external USB optical drive works like a champ.
12/08/2009 12:36:12 PM · #13
Originally posted by karmat:

...At one point the main drive was almost full, so I bought an external drive, moved bunches and bunches of stuff off, and it seemed to help. For a while....


Based on this, first thing to look at: is your internal drive (the one with the OS on it), still full? You should, ideally, keep no less than 15% of its capacity vacant to prevent erratic events.

Message edited by author 2009-12-08 13:14:17.
12/08/2009 12:53:35 PM · #14
If your computer runs very hot, then shuts down by itself suddenly, that is a sign of an overheated processor. Something's not right. The CPU fan might not be running properly, or may be loaded with dust, or something else with it might be wrong to cause the CPU to overheat.
12/08/2009 02:43:20 PM · #15
okie dokie. before i invest my hard earned pennies on a new 'top, we shall try some of these things, or maybe all of these things. . . .

keep the ideas coming, though. :P
12/08/2009 03:40:52 PM · #16
<karmat husband speaks>
Is there a possibility the hard drive is hyperactive / overheating / failing and THAT's the cause of the heat that's shutting down the chip? The drive runs a lot. Even when nothing is really happening. But the computer isn't "slow". Just hot.

It's clearly hot. The shutdowns are probably a good indicator that the thermal protection stuff is working, right?

Changing the hard drive doesn't terrify me, but getting a restore disk made is going to be terribly difficult since the CD drive is screwed up. And I don't have an installable copy of Windoze around anywhere, and Babe Karma probably wouldn't enjoy Ubuntu very much.

Those hard-earned pennies are just dying to buy a 100mm Macro, so we really want to at least make this thing last another year.

Thanks for all the thots.
</karmas husband hushes>

12/08/2009 03:50:16 PM · #17
Originally posted by zeuszen:

Originally posted by karmat:

...At one point the main drive was almost full, so I bought an external drive, moved bunches and bunches of stuff off, and it seemed to help. For a while....


Based on this, first thing to look at: is your internal drive (the one with the OS on it), still full? You should, ideally, keep no less than 15% of its capacity vacant to prevent erratic events.


She's in pretty good shape with this, but it's still fuller than I would like it to be. I'll check for free space here later and move more off. Gotta backup anyway....
12/08/2009 04:16:50 PM · #18
Originally posted by nards656:

Is there a possibility the hard drive is hyperactive / overheating / failing and THAT's the cause of the heat that's shutting down the chip? The drive runs a lot. Even when nothing is really happening.

Maybe. That drive has to be bloody hot to trip out the CPU though. You could try standard stuff like running a virus scan to make sure you don't have a zombie on your hands, defrag the drive, and generally clean your system up.

Originally posted by nards656:

The shutdowns are probably a good indicator that the thermal protection stuff is working, right?

The CPU shutdown is a function of its firmware, so unless your CPU is bum -- and clearly it's not, because you can use your laptop -- it's going to shut itself down when it reaches some critical temperature.

Mysterious problems not handily solved by an OS reinstall or a motherboard vacuuming have me running to the computer store pretty quick. There comes a point where bothering with a troublesome machine is far more trouble than it's worth.

Edit: the constant disk drive activity could be just because it's a slow computer. If you recently upgraded to Vista on that laptop, there's your answer. Vista is a pig on most "older" (and not so old) laptops. I have an old laptop running Vista that constantly churns.

Message edited by author 2009-12-08 16:18:06.
12/08/2009 04:39:56 PM · #19
Vista came on it -- the laptop is about a year and a half old.
12/08/2009 05:10:33 PM · #20
ETA on the post above : Mentioned steps above came with experience similar to yours. My 5 year old laptop (yes 5 - and its still faster than most new machines) started shutting down after getting too hot, cleaned the fan lasted a little longer, cleaned the fan again and reapplied the heat sink compound and its been 4 months without shutdown. A macbook pro that I bought real cheap because the system was hanging up after getting really hot, opened it - cleaned the fans, works like a charm - saved me $400 (this was a gamble - could have been a bad logic board).

From everything you have mentioned so far, it seems like the cpu temperature not getting regulated... as suggested running it with a cooling pad is definitely a good / easier option!
12/08/2009 05:18:19 PM · #21
I haven't read all the previous posts so maybe this has been suggested already, but it may just be your CPU fan that's not working as it should. That could explain the noise and the overheating.

If it's the internal HD then it should be really easy to replace, every laptop I've ever worked with has a bay for the HD where it comes out with only 1 or 2 screws, it's usually along the side or the front.

If you can find someone who's reasonably competent in taking things apart, it's usually pretty easy to open up a laptop to clear out the dust, clean the fan out etc, it might be as simple as that.

Oh and I'm assuming it's not under warranty :)
12/08/2009 05:26:14 PM · #22
sounds like you make a cooler to set it on with a tuperware container full of ice.

maybe a hand towel for condensation.

12/08/2009 05:36:40 PM · #23
I haven't really read through this whole thing since my last post, but don't discount the power of faulty software to screw with your PC.
You mention you cleaned up your HD and it helped for a bit. It's also cheaper to backup the data and reload before going out and buying freezers.
12/08/2009 05:43:18 PM · #24
Disable your search indexing. Especially if your running vista. It's known for hard drive thrashing. It will just keep your hard drive spinning for hours.

You may also want to check your antivirus to see if its constantly scanning your drives.

If your hard drive space is being sucked up. Few things to check. One see if your running some sort of backup program or system restore. Also check into your page files.

A great app for see where your hard drive space is going is a freeware app called spacemonger. just google spacemonger. It gives yous a visual graph of your harddrive space.

One of my all time favorite freeware apps.
12/08/2009 06:05:56 PM · #25
Originally posted by vikas:


1) Clean out your fans
2) Reapply heat sink compound - almost half the older laptops getting hot has this issue, its a cheap and easy fix! (at Radioshack - $2.99) - if you are planning to do this, I will be more than happy to give further instructions on how to do this.



Seconded, If it heats up, and the fan runs all the time, and it shuts down, then the heat sink is wearing a nice sweater of dust.

I favor a power blow, using a Shop Vac to create a little hurricane in there ( I don't like canned air for the same reason you wouldn't use one on your camera, the propellant eats up lubrication and plastic. Besides, it dosen't create enough flow to really get the stubborn dust moving). But if the heat sink's sweater is tightly knit, you will have to open the case and pull it off.

Why there isn't an access hatch over this component that causes the death of so many laptops, I don't know. I mean if the heat sink was easily cleanable laptops could last much longer and you wouldn't need to buy a new one every.....Ohh, wait, I think I know why now.
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