Computer shuts down when streaming video?
April 6, 2009 10:12 PM   Subscribe

Why is my laptop shutting down when streaming videos?

Whenever I watch videos online, particularly from Megavideo but even from Youtube occasionally, the whole system will simply shut down. Can anyone offer any help, anyone ever experienced a similar issue? Would a clean system install help matters? Overheating?

It's an eMachines M5312 (yes yes, I know.. my first error was buying eMachines..)
posted by mediocre to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know how long the videos are, but is your computer overheating? My laptop shutdown when I tried to watch the superbowl in HD, and it was roughly hot enough to cook eggs on.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:16 PM on April 6, 2009

Overheating would be my first guess.

I have an older emachines laptop (well, rebranded, but same thing), and have used notebook hardware control to underclock it, which mostly fixes the problem. If I were you I'd try locking it down to a lower clock speed to see if that's a remedy.
posted by pompomtom at 10:17 PM on April 6, 2009

Using Speedfan, the temperature right after shutdown looks to be 96, is that hot?
posted by mediocre at 10:19 PM on April 6, 2009

Your system isn't set to hibernate or go into standby mode is it? If so, when you're watching videos it maybe simply shutting down because it thinks you are no longer using the system (ie haven't touched the key board or jiggled the mouse.)

Check your power settings under Control Panel.
posted by wfrgms at 10:21 PM on April 6, 2009

Centigrade: yes, farenheit: no.
posted by pompomtom at 10:21 PM on April 6, 2009

It is Centigrade.. checking out NHC.. how do I use it to underclock? Overheating definitely seems to be the issue.. Apparently the system auto shuts down when it hits 95c
posted by mediocre at 10:24 PM on April 6, 2009

Once it's installed, you double click on the system tray icon (which should get you to this screen), select the CPU Speed tab, and then (IIRC - at work now) choose the option for "maximum battery". Longer term, you might get away with using the "dynamic switching", which changes the speed on the fly depending on system load, but to lock it down for testing, I'd stick with "maximum battery".
posted by pompomtom at 10:37 PM on April 6, 2009

I can also set the shutdown temp, I maxed it out at 110c, is that dangerous?
posted by mediocre at 10:43 PM on April 6, 2009

It'll probably just hang after a bit of overheating - but yes, you certainly could damage the machine. You may as well take the more graceful shutdown...
posted by pompomtom at 10:53 PM on April 6, 2009

It never seems to get above 96 even under max performance settings, so I think I'll set the shutdown temp to 100 and take my chances. 95 was just a tad too low, even if that itself is very hot..
posted by mediocre at 10:58 PM on April 6, 2009

Given any thought to using a chillpad?
posted by torquemaniac at 11:18 PM on April 6, 2009

That will probably be a long term solution, when I can get to a store and afford one.. until then, pointing a big fan at the laptop and changing settings will work as a stopgap.. Thanks everyone for your help.
posted by mediocre at 11:19 PM on April 6, 2009

This is not a death knell. It's a common laptop cooling issue. Laptops, by their nature, have just barely adequate airflow for cooling purposes. All computers collect dust over time, and this dust inhibits the airflow further; as well, it acts as an insulator. All you need to do is remove the dust, and I bet your problem will go away.

While the notebook is on, feel around for the exhaust vent, where the hot air is being expelled. Then turn off the computer. Take it outside and blow compressed air into the exhaust vent (reversing the normal airflow direction). A bunch of nasty dust will come out the other end (this is why you do it outside). If you don't have compressed air, you can probably do pretty well just blowing into it. Try not to choke on the dust.

Some notebooks require this more often than others, and it depends on your environment. It's probably good to do it every 3 to 6 months.

Increasing the shutdown temp is asking for trouble. 95C is extremely hot, let alone 110.
posted by knave at 11:26 PM on April 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

"Compressed Air" for purposes of blowing away dust and lint can be purchased in spray cans at any electronics store.

You didn't say, but I assume you're using XP. I think you can throttle your CPU clock speed using the power options from the control panel. (I know you can do that in Vista.) But you have to dig down a bit into advanced settings, and I think it's entered as a percentage, not as an absolute value in MHz.

I think you're being very unwise to try to disable this protection. You can smoke your CPU that way.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:59 PM on April 6, 2009

I agree that should rectify the overheating problem rather than trying to circumvent it. My laptop is set to go turn off at 72C and this happens occasionally when watching youtube videos. 95C is asking for more serious trouble.
posted by gfrobe at 1:46 AM on April 7, 2009

Also, laptops tend to have very particular settings for fans based on the physical hardware involved, so updating graphics drivers (for example) can be more problematic than with a desktop as non-manufacturer ones will often run hotter than drivers designed specifically for a particular laptop.

That said, I bet dollars to donuts you just have too much dust in your aiiflow/fan cooling system. Get thee to a hardware store and get some compressed air - if your laptop is shutting down due to heat issues, you run a small risk of pemananent damage each time it occurs.
posted by Sparx at 3:14 AM on April 7, 2009

I have a cheap laptop and I have this problem all the time -- in fact it's due for another cleaning right now. But I've found that by placing the computer up on blocks so it sits an inch of the ground, the increased air flow is enough to keep it from overheating.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:21 AM on April 7, 2009

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