Worries about CPUs and Cooling Fans

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Hardware' started by LBlanca, Oct 17, 2010.

  1. LBlanca

    LBlanca New Member

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    (Firstly, I am not 100% sure that this is the right place to ask this question, and if not, I apologise, but I do hope you will be able to direct me to the right kind of place.)

    My laptop is a bit over a year old, and in the last month or so the cooling fan has been turning itself on a LOT - far, far more than it used to. As an example, I used to have three or four complex webpages open at once along with media player running an mp3, and the fan would not go off. Now I can be doing no more than opening a short word document or two and the cooling fan will engage. I'm worried, because I - not being anything close to a computer expert - don't understand why the CPU would now be getting hot enough to start the fan when it could do the exact same thing before without heating.

    It's not due to dust; when this started I went and vacuumed out every speck of dust in the vents and fan. My laptop is an Acer Extensa and the CPU is an intel Core 2 Duo processor, each of which are 2.00 Ghz. If it's relevant, I have 2GB of RAM and a 32-bit OS. I don't play video games or employ any program more complex than Photoshop. I've been watching the CPU usage history on my Task Manager to try to get some more data, and when the fan goes off it's almost always just after an extended spike in usage of both CPUs - I assume that's to be expected. Testing for temperature with my hand, I find the shell to be warm, but not hot enough to count as "hot" in my book; I'm afraid I can't compare it to anything, as I never before felt the need to check how warm the underside of my laptop was.

    I would love it if someone could tell me that this is normal for CPUs when they've been used steadily for a year - or that it's not the CPU that's getting hot at all, though I think it is. I'm not overly bothered by the fan itself - I just want to know that there's nothing wrong with my machine. I back my files up often, but I really don't want to use this machine for another year or more and keep getting knots of fear in my stomach every time the fan begins to whirr.

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can advise me.

    -LBlanca
     
  2. Highwayman

    Highwayman Extraordinary Member

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    from my experience all laptops tend to have warm bases usually under where the heatsink & fan are located, there is even a related medical condition "Toasted Legs" (a rash-like skin condition that used to only affect bakers using ovens etc) caused by long periods of use on people's laps. To get an idea if the CPU is running above a normal temperature you would best use a monitoring app like CORETEMP for a week and just keep an eye on the average temp during use and idle to see if it's giving abnormal readings. I'd imagine a Core 2 duo @ 2ghz would expect around 45C idle and upto about 55C when in use if the fan is working normally, I don't have an exact measure although I have a spare laptop that runs in those sort of regions on a dual core at 2.2ghz.

    EDIT: just checking on google the core 2 duo mobile is rated up to 100C (at which point it will likely die, although I'd say over 70C would be bad for the CPU's lifespan)
     
    #2 Highwayman, Oct 17, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2010
  3. LBlanca

    LBlanca New Member

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    Thank you for replying. Do you know how would I be able to get an application like CORETEMP?
     
  4. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    Hi LBlanca,
    you can find core temp here: Core Temp

    It might be worth checking your laptop makers website just in case any updates have been released. Another thing to consider if you get really worried is a laptop cooler: Laptop cooler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Mind you, at least you know your system is working regarding the fan use.. :)
     
  5. LBlanca

    LBlanca New Member

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    Thank you very much; I'll look into both. :) Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find much for my particular machine on the Acer website, as it was apparently the last of a set of older models when I bought it, but I'll try again. Regardless, I'm glad the fan works; my main worry - and the main reason I made this thread - is that something has happened to the CPU to make it run hotter than before (a part breaking down, for example), but knowing nothing about how they actually work makes that impossible for me to figure out.

    I'm rambling - I apologise. In any case, thanks; I'll try these and hope that there's no need to post another question here :)
     
  6. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    Please do get back to us if need be though..
     
  7. LBlanca

    LBlanca New Member

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    I will, certianly. Actually, I looked at the CoreTemp website and my antivirus software flagged red because apparently it doesn't have some sort of license, so I haven't downloaded it. On the other hand, today is a very cold day and the fan hasn't engaged once, even when I ran a number of programs just to see if it would, so am I right to assume that outside temperature can be a signifcant factor here? I'm really just more concerned with finding the cause than quieting the fan; if it's normal for CPUs to become less energy efficient after they reach the year mark, then that's good news for me, and I'd go away quite happily.

    Thanks :)

    EDIT: I take it back, the fan did just turn itself on, though in all fairness I had three webpages up at once and it has been on for three hours now - and it wasn't on for very long. I suppose it would have been too nice a solution to simply be dependant on outside temperatures.
     
    #7 LBlanca, Oct 18, 2010
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2010
  8. Highwayman

    Highwayman Extraordinary Member

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    of course ambient temperature of the air is going to have some effect as you wouldnt expect say 15C air to require as much effort on the fan as say 25C, although for passive cooling, good air vents and very effecient copper heat pipes are a must... latops usually have decent copper heat pipe to the vent although the vents themselves are usually small compared to desktops. I wouldn't normally expect laptops coolers to be hugely effecient so it could also be a setting in the BIOS for the fan to kick in at certain temperature. As for coretemp flagging on the antivirus, thats normal, its a false positive.
     
  9. LBlanca

    LBlanca New Member

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    Indeed, we've been having almost a ten degree difference in (weather) temperature lately, though on the other hand, most of the time I spent on my computer during winter was in a heated room, so it's not that much different. Still, I'm quite sure this never happened last summer, so the only conclusion I can reach just now is that it's caused just by the CPU being older, but I have no idea if they can actually wear out like that.

    Thanks for confirming that coretemp isn't actually a virus :) Is there any way I can find out at what temperature the BIOS starts the fan? I'm afraid I have even less knowledge of software than hardware.
     
  10. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    Try checking your bios, there may even be a way to change the setting but usually these things are written in and can't be change unless a new bios is applied. I can suggest an app called 'Speedfan' which can give you back control of your system fan/s and can be downloaded here: SpeedFan - Access temperature sensor in your computer
     
  11. LBlanca

    LBlanca New Member

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    I'm afraid I'm not sure how to check my bios. I'm really not fussed about changing the setting, though - I would just like to know what it is, if possible.

    Also, I was talking to a fairly computer-savvy acquaintance who suggests that my situation may be caused by the drying out of the thermal paste connecting my CPU to a copper tube/pipe/something like that which is meant to transfer heat to the vents. Does that make sense to you? And if so, am I right to assume this is just normal wear and tear on my computer, and that I've been worrying myself sick (and pestering all of you) when nothing is seriously wrong? I assume that, even if so, this still indicates that my computer is getting older and a step closer to wearing out entirely, but that it's not urgent?
     
  12. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    The thermal paste you refer to can dry out but shouldn't make any difference temp wise. As long as the connection between the cooler and chip is still good then no need to worry. As long as you keep hearing that fan come on and your temps remain normal then I would just put it down to normal use..
     
  13. LBlanca

    LBlanca New Member

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    I really don't know the status of the connection between the cooler and the chip - I was under the impression that the paste is the connection, and that it becomes less efficient as it dries out. Regardless, the fan is coming on normally and I don't think the temperature is getting unusually high; if the drying paste is making the non-fan-driven cooling system less efficient, but is still working at a lower capacity, then I'm fine with that - the fan seems to take care of the rest. Is that how all this works, or do I have some details wrong somwhere?

    Also, let me thank you - both - for continuing to come back to this thread to answer my questions. I really appreciate it.
     
  14. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    LBlanca let assure you that if the thermal paste dries out to the point of non existence your cooler will still do it's job. I'll give you an example. I've recently upgraded my desktop chip and in doing so I'd discovered that my tube of thermal grease had run out. I still connected the cooler up though as at best a thermal paste will give you say 5-10 degrees (minus). I wouldn't normally do this but for the short term it's perfectly fine.
    Now in your case, even if the thermal paste has dried out it's usually designed to and also creates a better bond between chip 'n' cooler.
    Your doing the best job possible by remaining aware to your machine and I should imagine it will go on to give you many years of service.. :)
     
  15. LBlanca

    LBlanca New Member

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    Thank you very much, kemical - that's the best and most comforting response I could have hoped for, and it is very much appreciated. :)
     

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