Heat issues with laptop
June 27, 2016 8:26 AM   Subscribe

I don't hardware well. Can you tell me why the sensor utility on my laptop gives me a fluctuating "maximum" temp for my computer? And for bonus points, whether I can do more about the fan?

I'm running Windows 10 on a dual-core processor on a Dell laptop that's about two years old, and has never given me any real trouble. This past month I noticed that it was very quiet and got very hot on the keyboard after a long period of usage, so I realized the fan wasn't working well enough, and I got a cooling pad and a sensor utility.

The cooling pad helps, but the heat is still palpable. The sensor utility is HWiNFO32, which is meant for more experienced users. It tells me that the maximum temperature on Core #1, for example, is 58, but that maximum temperature will change before my eyes. I just want to know what the safe maximum temperature is, so that I can avoid it. I don't think I understand what it's telling me. Can you explain?

Also, is there a safe home technique for opening the laptop and cleaning the fan, to see if that would help? I would assume an experienced user could do it to a PC, but that that person is not me. I'm reluctant to send it for repairs, because I am going to need to leave town with it in a few days and use it heavily.
posted by Countess Elena to Technology (3 answers total)
First thing to try: Blow it out. Get an air compressor, or a can of compressed air (or a straw, if you've got good lungs), and start blowing into every vent hole you see. Blow this way, that way, every which way.

If you do enough blowing, there's a 75% (number I pulled out of my ass) chance that you won't have to open it up and clean it.
posted by clawsoon at 9:01 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Max temperature" is telling you the maximum temperature that's been detected by the utility, not the maximium operating temperature of the CPU.

58 is pretty normal but you didn't mention what conditions the reading was taken at. If it was being "hot" when it was showing that then you're probably okay. Above 80 or so is worrisome temperatures.

In the end though, it doesn't matter too much. Modern CPUs simply slow down if they get too hot (thermal throttling), or shut off entirely if they're in danger of thermal damage. When enthusiasts worry about their CPU temperatures and install water cooling and such, it's due to the possibility of thermal throttling.

Try running something intense like Prime95 on it for a little while (maybe 15 minutes) and see what your temps look like then.

And yes, blowing it out probably won't hurt. Use canned air and not an air compressor though.
posted by neckro23 at 9:02 AM on June 27, 2016

Thanks -- I'll get a can of air and try that out.

I don't game or use very graphics-intense programs most of the time. Generally I use Office and the most resources I consume are from streaming video.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:37 PM on June 27, 2016

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