Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Solve the Persistent HP Laptop Cooling Problems

(Or Welcome to the Machine!)

article from February 16, 2011
By Jamie Douglas

First off, let me state that I have been a lifetime user of HP products, starting with their scientific calculators in the early 70s, right through my first HP laptop machine that came with a 5-GB hard drive that I eventually changed to a 120-GB drive, which I not long ago sold, loaded with Windows XP Pro, to a first-time computer user for peanuts. The batteries always sucked big time, and even more so for my DV6004. The factory battery just stopped accepting a charge about three months into it. Then the whole machine died, and after hours on the phone with HP, they agreed to replace the whole thing! This was during the time when Carly Fiorina was busy turning HP into a printer cartridge business. Then came the battery fires and another replacement unit, this time shipped to me directly from their Chinese slave labor camp. Again, the machine alerted me to a bad battery after about three months time, and I forgot to mention, I got “upgraded” to Vista, which I hated. I was perfectly happy with XP and all the SPs. Now mind you, I was not doing anything with this machine that it was not designed for. Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro and all my photos and completed work were stored on a Porsche designed (!) external drive.

I am a writer and photographer, and I depend on my computer for everyday living for such purposes as buying all the medication I am on as a diabetic. Since comfortably settling in at the chacra in Patagonia, I have written many a column with my not-so-trusty HP Pavilion 6004, suffering through numerous screen freezes – almost daily – changing hard drives, re-installing operating systems and doing hard resets. A while ago, the cooling fan went from loud to louder, so I had an HP-authorized shop in Bariloche replace it. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the fan was about 4-5 inches (10-12.5cm) from my AMD dual-core microprocessor. I proceeded to cut off the flow-restricting air intake grill and bought a cooling pad.

And then a few months ago, it just died! Like really dead. All of my usual tricks were to no avail. Back to Bariloche I went, where they diagnosed a burnt motherboard, replacement cost US$500, and I might as well replace the processor, $300, and the fan, $150, plus about $200 in labor. Jajajaja (Spanish version of LMAO). I took my machine back, and since I have always wanted to take a laptop apart, I got all my jeweler’s tools out and went to work. When I finally got down to the nitty-gritty, I found that the AMD processor was encased in charcoaled, heat-deformed plastic, and the processor itself was discolored bluish.

It was at this point that I went to see my future friend Roy with the whole kit and caboodle in a cardboard box. I had cut nothing while dismantling, so replacing and reassembling would only be as difficult as normal.

Roy gave me options: Replacement of generic motherboard with new fan and dual processor for about US$400, or he would give me everything I needed to build a new desktop for $200 with Windows 7 OEM – licensed, no less!

Well, I am no Carly Fiorina, and therefore recognized my opportunity right away. I didn’t even have to lay off 40% of my workforce or run for governor of California on my corporate record of screwing the working folks.

For US$200, I got the following:
  • Dual optical drive bay case with multi card reader
  • Brand new Samsung DVD RW with erase and rewrite capabilities
  • Brand new AS Rock G31M-VS2 motherboard with Intel G31+ICH7 chipsets
  • Brand new Intel E5400 dual processor (2.70 GHz Freq FSB of 800 MHz and a cache of 2MB)

To some of you, that may all sound Chinese (the new Greek?), but let me assure you that the motherboard was made in Taiwan and the Intel processor was made in (drum roll, please) Costa Rica, while the case is native to Argentina. The DVD drive was made in Brazil, and the whole thing was assembled at Chacra Ushuaia, by me, here in Patagonia.

Three fans to cool the power supply, processors and exhaust, and the highest temperature recorded so far is 38 degrees Celsius, less than 98 degrees Fahrenheit. I have four SATA hard drives that serve various functions and basically built myself my version of a home-supercomputer for US$200.

Roy was also kind enough to give me all the SATA cables, a bag of screws, power converter cables and I/O power cables. I am indeed a happy camper, as this is written on my new unbranded super machine.

Be good to your computer, your kids and grandkids hope to hear from you!
Jamie Douglas
Chacra Ushuaia, Patagonia


[Image of motherboard via Wikipedia]

I encourage you to write me at cruzansailor [at] gmail [dot] com with any questions or suggestions you may have. Disclaimer: I am not in any travel-related business. My advice is based on my own experiences and is free of charge (Donations welcome). It is always my pleasure to act as a beneficial counselor to those who are seekers of the next adventure.