over last month or so, have been dealing with my Thinkpad T420 heating up too much while on the docking station. one of those things where you spin your wheels trying to get it to function in a better way.
i took it apart, TWICE. first time i applied thermal paste, second time i ordered and applied thermal pads instead of the paste. it looked like it originally had thermal pads on it. the difference, is that thermal paste is conductive (for electricity), and thermal pads are NOT conductive for electricity, only conduct heat.
in reading up on things, found out that in a lot of cases, they use the thermal pads on laptops because it stays in place better. it is a little disheartening to get this small bit of sticky material in the mail and how much that costs for what looks like plain adhesive foam. but it has all the information on its properties that more or less mean more to engineers than a simple “fix-it” person.
you apply paste or foam to where the heat-sink sits on the CPU and GPU chips. a heat-sink is a large band of copper, that relays the heat from the chips to the fan, and then the fan helps disperse the heat out of the laptop. copper is expensive, so you will find all kinds of odd designs to heat-sinks, depending on the maker of the laptop.
even after applying the thermal pads, and reassembling my laptop — it was still heating up too much. so i said, “good grief!” and went to poke around in the BIOS settings for the power and display settings. since the Intel chip was heating up the most (versus the Nvidia GPU chip) — i put the settings back to the “Optimus” — which uses both the Intel onboard graphics and the Nvidia graphics.
other thing, which was the clincher — was that i DISABLED the Intel “speedstep” technology. now i don’t mind the idea of over-clocking a CPU so much, IF there was an appreciable difference in performance. but heck, there is NOT. all speedstep seems to do, is run the CPU constantly in a state that heats it horribly. the system will be using only 20% of CPU capacity and after 10 minutes at only 20% it will be on fire! now that is insane, when its ‘benefit’ is hardly even noticeable. i will wait one extra second for a page to load, if it means my CPU has to work 1/5th as hard to do it.
and the main thing on that, is you do the math and think, good lord what if i ran it at 100% for any length of time? it would probably explode….
that is a joke, of course. but heat and computers is a very big issue. it isn’t so much damage to the chips themselves, as it is to other components on the motherboard or peripheral items like a hard drive, a keyboard (i’ve had excessive heat fry keyboard circuits once), or other parts that are designed to handle SOME heat – but anything is going to melt in a furnace.
so anyway, i’m just a little peeved at Intel for even HAVING “speedstep” — it is actually a cheap way to list a chip as having a higher clock than it actually has. and for what? to damage a machine? to give it “more power” while it struggles then to perform tasks faster when it really isn’t built to do that? and NO ONE is going to notice the difference, except maybe gamers who are infamous for over-clocking their systems in the first place.
my thinkpad is happy now, with speedstep turned OFF. and the Windows POWER CONTROLS are working properly now. which they were not even changing the functions when speedstep was enabled. high performance or low performance, it was all the same with the machine working overtime even when it was doing next to nothing.
so anyway, i know it’s crazy but i would rather have something that lasts for the long haul, than something that burns up in a blaze of glory. i would rather have my laptop cool and purring right along than having to put it on the garbage heap to buy yet another.
instructions for turning speedstep off (lenovo thinkpad):
there are also other settings that involve how much power goes to the CPU, i set them to “balanced” rather than “high performance.”