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Dell Inspiron 5100 overheating issues... Tim 
Posted by: Tim at 11:49 PM EST on 3/27/2005
File Under: Misc Tech -> Computers

You may have seen the "review" I posted not too long ago of a "laptop cooling stand" (you'd understand the quotes if you read it) that I've been using for my Dell Inspiron 5100. I just blamed poor air circulation for the fact that the fan was constantly running full blast and that the computer was occasionally overheating and shutting off on its own. Well, yesterday, I stumbled upon the fact that, apparently, the 5100s and 5150s have a known issue with overheating. In fact, a customer that posted about the problem at the Dell Support Forums went so far as to create a website detailing the issue.

The problem? That fan that's (stupidly) placed on the bottom of the machine ends up acting like something of a vacuum cleaner and sucks up a ton of dust. This dust accumulates on the heatsink, which keeps it from doing its job, and basically ends up insulating the CPU. So, I took a couple deep breaths and blew into the exhaust vent. Sure enough, a cloud of dust puffed out of the fan vent. After that, my computer was already running noticeably cooler and quieter.

I wasn't satified, though. I wanted it to be as clean as possible, so I popped off the keyboard and took a look inside. I unscrewed the fan, took a look at the heatsink, and was amazed at what I saw. A thick layer of dust was caked onto the heatsink, pretty much blocking any decent airflow. You know the sheet of lint and dust that you peel off the screen of a dryer after a few loads? Yeah, that's what this was like. Needless to say, I'm amazed that my CPU hadn't melted long ago. So, I peeled that off, installed this handy utility and have been enjoying my new, cooler, and very quiet laptop ever since. Seriously, that fan used to scream like a banshee almost 24/7.

One note: The site for the fan utility doesn't actually list the 5100 as a supported model, but if you upgrade to the latest BIOS from Dell's support site, (if you have an older system, like me, you'll need to upgrade to version A22 before installing the latest one) it should work brilliantly.
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