Help with my overheating laptop!!

#1
Hey everyone, I was directed to the windows 7 forums by some friends of mine from wargamer.com after I told them I was having some issues with my computer. This website generated a lot of praise and its my first time making use of your knowledge and experience.
I have an M17x Alienware gaming computer, which I have had for a little over a year now. A few months back it began overheating while I was playing a computer game, which had never happened before. I am very diligent about keeping my air vents clear and yesterday took a can of compressed air to the vents as well. I also have it sitting on a USB powered cooling pad. Last time it was overheating someone suggested that I download any updates for my BIOS that I could find on Dell's driver page and it worked! For the last 3 months or so my computer never overheated again, which led me to believe it was all software related and not hardware. But now, for the last 4-5 days its been doing it again. I think a program that I ran might have tinkered with my default settings in regards to my main CPU fan or the fans on my graphic cards, or both, without me knowing it. I am not one to just go into BIOS or the advanced settings for my graphics cards or through ATI's catalyst control center because I know I dont know what im doing, thats why im here. If any of you can suggest a piece of software, or a diagnostic, or a website that could be useful I would very much appreciate it. Money is tight for me so any advice I can get will be much appreciated. My computer is under warranty but I wanted to see if I could get pointed in the right direction before calling dell tech support. My specs are below, any other information that would be useful to you in assisting me, just ask. (Also, Speccy says my Crossfirex is disabled but when I open up ATIs catalyst control center the box next to enable crossfirex is checked, dont know if that relates to my heating issues) I also attached my Dxdiag file as well. Thanks again!

Source of heat is back left corner of the laptop (after running a game for a bit, almost hot to the touch) picture;

m17xheat.jpg

Specs:

Operating System
MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
CPU
Intel Core i7 720QM @ 1.60GHz 45 °C
Clarksfield 45nm Technology
RAM
4.0GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 661MHz (9-9-9-24)
Motherboard
Alienware (CPU 1)
Graphics
Generic PnP Monitor @ 1920x1200
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4870 (Dell)
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4870 (Dell)
CrossFire Disabled
Hard Drives
488GB TOSHIBA TOSHIBA MK5056GSY ATA Device (SATA) 40 °C
Optical Drives
HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GA31N ATA Device
Audio
IDT High Definition Audio CODEC
 


Attachments

Saltgrass

Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
#2
Do you know if your fan is running when the system is hot? These are normally controlled in the bios, but something else might be involved. Have you blown the air backward in your cooling paths? You might open Task Manager and see if anything is overworking your CPUs. If something is running out of control, it will keep the processor warm. Windows 7 puts more load on the GPU, perhaps that is what is heating up.
 


Trouble

Noob Whisperer
#3
khill9702:
Hello and welcome to the forums.
Actually Saltgrass' recommendation about blowing air backwards is most likely to help. Unfortunately it's not always possible.
On a lot of laptops the actual cooling fins if present are usually piped out to a location immediately behind the vent area (where you normally feel warm air coming out) and blowing air into this area will often add to the problem by forcing the dust accumulation deeper into the fins to the point of rendering them almost useless and preventing air from circulating properly through them until they are completely clogged resulting in overheating. Since there is very little room nor generally any direct ducting to accomodate forcing air into a laptop, some laptop manufacturer's actually provide access to this area through the bottom by removing a couple (sometimes four screws), my suggestion would be to contact the manufacturer (sometimes they have service manuals available on their site) and report the overheating it may be an issue that they are already aware of and can provide a solution for or at least be able to tell you how to access the heat sink/cooling fan area and perhaps suggest proper cleaning techniques as well. And may be able to provide more specific information regarding your ability through the bios or other software to actually control your fan settings/speeds.
Thanks for joining our community and keep us posted.
Regards
Randy
 


Joe S

Excellent Member
#4
Have you reccently updated drivers on your video card? I fried my video card last year. A bad driver update came out that messed up the fan speeds. Is the video card overclocked?
Joe
 


#5
buy an atachable fan
 


Saltgrass

Excellent Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
#6
khill9702:On a lot of laptops the actual cooling fins if present are usually piped out to a location immediately behind the vent area (where you normally feel warm air coming out) and blowing air into this area will often add to the problem by forcing the dust accumulation deeper into the fins to the point of rendering them almost useless and preventing air from circulating properly through them until they are completely clogged resulting in overheating.
It has been my personal experience that dust will accumulate upstream of a restriction such as the heat exchanger fins Trouble is referring to. So blowing air back or even using a low power vacumn source to reverse the air flow would clean the fins, not contaminate them as Trouble suggests. I make the suggestion because of a Dell laptop I took apart had such a problem. Had I know ahead of time it was there, I might have been able to remove it by breaking up the clog as opposed to dismantling the unit.

I am not saying your problem is caused by contamination of the cooling path, but Trouble's warning about making it worse would not seem to be appropriate. Newer laptops may have an access panel, which would make the suggestion unnecessary.
 


#7
I have blown compressed air into my vents aiming towards the back to dislodge dust but I do not think dust is the issue. I had this happen a few months ago and it was BIOS related. The heat causes the left back area of my M17x to get hot to the touch if i run something like a game for too long and it shuts down to prevent damage. A few months ago someone recommended updating my BIOS and it fixed the problem. About a week ago some program must have altered my settings in BIOS or maybe even on my two graphics cards. I am pretty certain its software related and not dust or a hardware failure because its a repeat of what I was having happen a few months ago. I always keep my vents clean and ventilated by keeping my laptop on a hard surface. I try my best to maintain it to rule that out for now. I tried updating my BIOS again to fix this since it worked last time and this time it did not work. I wish there was a way to just open up a program that would let me reset my fans to their default settings or something but all I have read about my M17x or laptops in general is that it is hard to directly control fans. I am just very frustrated because I know something screwed with my CPU fan or my graphic cards fans and I have tried updating drivers and have not had success so far. I am not very good with computers tho so I might not be catching an error or I do not know how to run a diagnostic or a windows program, something, anything to help me fix this! If you guys dont think its something I could figure out with assistance, like on these useful forums, i might just have to call dell and have a tech out to the house or something. Oh, and I did check my task manager, there are no programs running in the background right now that are eating up a lot of my processor. Just internet explorer and basic computer programs. Thanks for all the help.
 


#8
How do I check if my cards are overclocked?
 


Joe S

Excellent Member
#9
It's something you would have done. The graphics card may have a utility for that.
Joe
 


Trouble

Noob Whisperer
#10
I have blown compressed air into my vents aiming towards the back to dislodge dust but I do not think dust is the issue. I had this happen a few months ago and it was BIOS related. The heat causes the left back area of my M17x to get hot to the touch if i run something like a game for too long and it shuts down to prevent damage. A few months ago someone recommended updating my BIOS and it fixed the problem. About a week ago some program must have altered my settings in BIOS or maybe even on my two graphics cards. I am pretty certain its software related and not dust or a hardware failure because its a repeat of what I was having happen a few months ago. I always keep my vents clean and ventilated by keeping my laptop on a hard surface. I try my best to maintain it to rule that out for now. I tried updating my BIOS again to fix this since it worked last time and this time it did not work. I wish there was a way to just open up a program that would let me reset my fans to their default settings or something but all I have read about my M17x or laptops in general is that it is hard to directly control fans. I am just very frustrated because I know something screwed with my CPU fan or my graphic cards fans and I have tried updating drivers and have not had success so far. I am not very good with computers tho so I might not be catching an error or I do not know how to run a diagnostic or a windows program, something, anything to help me fix this! If you guys dont think its something I could figure out with assistance, like on these useful forums, i might just have to call dell and have a tech out to the house or something. Oh, and I did check my task manager, there are no programs running in the background right now that are eating up a lot of my processor. Just internet explorer and basic computer programs. Thanks for all the help.
I think that your idea regarding contacting Dell Tech Support is a good one. They might already be familiar with the issue. Explain your concerns to them regarding your thoughts on a possible update causing the issue and they may be able to make recommendations regarding returning your drivers or other software to ones that they endorse and consider optimal for your particular hardware.
 


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