It's So Shiny, Now If Only It Worked
June 11, 2008 4:43 PM   Subscribe

My Toshiba Satellite laptop has this problem. But, there's a catch: I'm pretty computer illiterate and don't know how to fix it.

I have a Toshiba Satellite A75-S206, which I bought about three and a half years ago. It seems to have the regular overheating problems. I've sent it in for repairs twice now. Each time, it came back and worked pretty well for about a year.. Then started overheating again. Sometimes, I can get it to stay on for a few hours, but sometimes it won't stay on for even five minutes.

External fans do not help. Propping it up so it has better air circulation does not work. Holding it over bags of ice does not work.

I've read online (particularly in the question I linked to) that changing the fan can sometimes help things out. I'm also pretty sure that the fan and heat sink (I don't even know what or where that is) could use a nice cleaning. I'd like to know how to take my laptop apart myself, so that I can clean it out whenever it needs being done. However, like I said, I'm pretty computer illiterate. So, here are my questions:

1) The best answer in the previous question alludes to "websites with walk-throughs" for various models. Can anyone link me to a good one?

2) Is dissembling my laptop and installing a new fan something I should even try to do, given that all of my computer hardware experience is installing a video card in a desktop computer?

3) If I shouldn't try doing it myself, how much can I expect it to cost me to get a fan professionally installed? If I just went someplace and said, "It overheats, known problem, fix it," would they know what to do?

4) Am I completely wrong that this might actually help my laptop? Is there anything else I could/should try? I'm so tired and frustrated with it not working -- it hasn't been reliable for about a year and a half now. It would be so nice if it could actually be even slightly reliable.
posted by Ms. Saint to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you can try the stuff on this page.

Here's a disassembly guide if the compressed air route doesn't work.
posted by Liosliath at 4:51 PM on June 11, 2008

As for question 2 : Well, installing a video card is super easy, true. But that walkthrough is pretty comprehensive, I think you can do it. Just make sure you have an egg carton to drop the screws into. :)
posted by Liosliath at 4:53 PM on June 11, 2008

No. The best course of action for a four year old laptop is throwing it away and buying a new one. My current laptop is a 440 dollar refurbished HP. Its probably 5x faster than your machine and i bet youve spent more on repairs. Visit these deal sites and you'll see a 500 dollar or so laptop that is worth buying:

Also, youve most likely been ripped off by these repairmen. The only person qualified to repair a laptop is the manufacturer. They arent like cars or desktop PCs. Theres very little that can be fixed. The manufacturer just replaces parts and sends it back to you. A 3rd party repairman either does the same and charges you more or sprays some compressed air in there and charges you $100.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:32 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, if we're going to go that route (which isn't what she asked) - there's a bunch of AskMe's on what kind of inexpensive laptops to buy.

She never said where she sent it for repair - it might have been right back to the manufacturer.
posted by Liosliath at 5:59 PM on June 11, 2008

It sounds like it's just dust. Spraying compressed air, like damn dirty ape mentioned, could be the cheapest fix.
posted by stavrogin at 6:01 PM on June 11, 2008

That's exactly what it said in my first link.

"If the CPU heatsink is not clogged with dust and lint completely, you can use canned air and just blow it inside the laptop through the openings on the bottom and on the sides. It’s nice as a precaution measure, but it might not work if your laptop already has a problem and the heatsink is completely clogged."
posted by Liosliath at 6:09 PM on June 11, 2008

I have the same laptop and the same problem. I tried everything from ice packs to industrial strength fans (the fans worked the best as long as you got the perfect angle).
The most long term solution is this:
1) turn off and unplug your laptop. flip it over and unscrew the 3 tiny screws that hold down the plate over the 2 fans (you'll need one of those "eyeglasses" screwdrivers). Remove the plate.
2) spray down the fans with compressed air
3) grab a pair of tweezers and here's the most important part: find and extract the dustball that causes these problems. In all the times I've done this there has only been one. It's a fairly large size and surprisingly dense. It's usually lodged between two fan blades, but you must find it and remove it. Spinning the fan blades around can help.
4) once you remove the sucker then give your fans a generous blow with the air, replace the plate and you're good to go.

It's a good idea to keep your desk area as dust free as possible but even then I still pluck out the dust ball every 4-5 months.

Good luck!
posted by simplethings at 8:02 PM on June 11, 2008

...! I am empowered!

So, I took the laptop apart. Took forever to get all the screws out, and I was sure I was breaking it at several points. Had to take every single thing apart to get to the heat sink (now I know what it is! And where it is!). Thing was clogged beyond belief. Cleaned it out. Put everything back together....

...And it wouldn't turn on. Great.

So, took everything apart again. Checked everything. Double-checked. Grew horribly frustrated--couldn't see anything wrong. Angry and annoyed and worried I had ruined it, put it back together. This time, ended up with four extra screws and some metal thingy (doh). But, this time? It turns on! And works!

I think, from now on, if I use the compressed air on a regular basis, it'll stay clean. But I also think I'll probably have to clean out the heat sink on a regular basis.. And I'm perfectly happy with that. (No reason to get a new laptop, damn dirty ape, when this one does everything I need it to, has yet to cost me a penny in maintenance, and, obviously, can be cleaned.)

(Lastly, it felt so! cool! to take apart and re-assemble a laptop! Awesome!)

posted by Ms. Saint at 12:22 AM on June 12, 2008

Yay! You can now officially describe yourself as "mechanically apt." :)
posted by Liosliath at 6:08 AM on June 12, 2008

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