How can I slow my computer down?
May 29, 2006 2:16 PM   Subscribe

My computer's on/off fan is driving me mad; and I don't need the power. How can I limit the available processor power so that I can run it silently?

I have a quite elderly Sony laptop, a PCG Z600RE, which I'm using for my weather page - it connects to my weather station and uploads history data directly to my website.

However, the (awful) weather station software uses 100% of the CPU when it's communicating with the weather station; which it does every fifteen seconds. As a result, the fan turns itself on every fifteen seconds. Which is really annoying, since the weather station, and attendant laptop, is in my sitting room.

It runs an Intel stepping processor, and Windows 2000, but it refuses to let me enable the Intel tab in the Power section of the Control Panel. (The machine came with Windows ME, I think, and I guess the BIOS is too old to cope.) The BIOS doesn't enable any processor-speed things, so that's no good either. And no, I've tried updating the BIOS, but that simply doesn't want to work.

Ideally, I want a program that pretends it's taking 50% of the processor power (but doesn't actually do anything), so that my software will only run at 50% of its full speed, which therefore will not trigger the fan. That's the plan, anyway.

Does anyone know of such a thing? Or any other tips or tricks I can try?
posted by jamescridland to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
well - boinc runs in the background and feeds off your unused processor cycles. when it is set to have a very low processor priority (which is the default), it backs off the CPU time it requests. i think this will effectively peg your CPU at close to 100% all the time, which should keep your fan on. also, contributing to science progress happy fuzzies.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 3:35 PM on May 29, 2006

This doesn't directly address your question, but would it help -- or at least mitigate things -- if the software checked the weather station less frequently? Every 15 seconds seems awfully frequent for the weather (the government only does it on the hour). Having the fan come on every 10 minutes, for example, would have to be an improvement in terms of aggravation (six times an hour vs. 240). If all else fails, anyway.
posted by mcwetboy at 3:37 PM on May 29, 2006

I can't vouch for this, but it appears to be a utility to impose a CPU limit on specific processes, which may address your problem.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:45 PM on May 29, 2006

While it isn't *directly* applicable to your situation, OpenBSD has a utility (apm -C) to throttle processor speed down to a minimum to save power, except when in high demand. It's still relatively new, but it shows that it's definately possible (with the same hardware) under other OSs.

As mcwetboy said, though -- do you really need to check it so often? (I run something vaguely similar, but only a couple times per day.)
posted by trouserbat at 5:25 PM on May 29, 2006

You could try this. I probably will too... I had an underclocking util for my laptop (similar problem - stupidly hot AMD processor), but that was a couple of reinstalls ago, so I can't find the thing. I used to peg it back about 10% and it made a noticable difference to the fan, without making the PC noticably slow. It may help if you identify the processor in your laptop, and then someone may be able to make a more specific recommendation.
posted by pompomtom at 5:34 PM on May 29, 2006

Try looking for overclocking software that works with your laptop. Not to overclock, but underclock. If you can drop the CPU speed by 20% you will see a significant decrease in temperature. I'd start by looking in the BIOS.

Barring that, much laptop battery management software lets you lower the clock speed. You said you couldn't get the Intel tab working, but try again with APM drivers and third party apps?
posted by Nelson at 6:43 PM on May 29, 2006

I got a program called winthrottle on that does exactly what you ask, and is freeware. It's good.
posted by pinespree at 6:55 PM on May 29, 2006

You might try cleaning the heat sink. I did this tonight, as my computer had started crashing regularly during intense (and finally, normal) loads. Now the fan is barely running, and almost never needs to go into "noisy" mode.
posted by dsword at 8:30 PM on May 29, 2006

Check you bios, have it set for "Always optimize for Battery Life" or some such thing
posted by hatsix at 10:08 PM on May 29, 2006

Yes, the Notebook Hardware Control linked by pompopmtom should do the trick, I'm using it with my Fujitsu mini-laptop with much success. Not only does it improve battery life, it keeps the bottom of the notebook from reaching flesh-searing temperatures. You can set different speed curves for battery and AC power (i.e. the battery one can top out at a much lower speed than the AC one) and optionally reduce the voltage for each clock multiplier. Not sure it'll work with Win2K but it's worth a shot.

I want a program that pretends it's taking 50% of the processor power (but doesn't actually do anything), so that my software will only run at 50% of its full speed, which therefore will not trigger the fan.

This of course won't work. A program can't "pretend" to take 50% of the processor power, it has to actually take it. So you're still going to be hitting 100% CPU usage, it's just that your weather software won't be getting all of it.
posted by kindall at 8:08 AM on May 30, 2006

kindall, winthrottle does just that. i'm not sure how, but i know it does. i know this because my cpu overheats if it actually runs at 100%, but if i set winthrottle to 50%, i can run it full throttle all day and it doesn't.
posted by pinespree at 11:49 AM on May 31, 2006

That is interesting, I'll have to try it out. It must be fooling the scheduler somehow.
posted by kindall at 4:04 PM on May 31, 2006

Tried it out... winthrottle actually reduces the clock speed, it doesn't pretend to take up 50% of the CPU. Same deal as Notebook Hardware Control.
posted by kindall at 2:10 PM on June 2, 2006

« Older Are ice packs a good way to beat the heat?   |   What were the court costs in Jarndyce? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.