Dell inspiron 5160 overheating

  jrb1946 11:25 20 Feb 2008

I am tempted to put this post in Hot Topics, or a yet to be added folder called ode to joy. I have had my Dell Inspiron 5160 for about 3 years. I bought it because it seemed to have grunt - or real go faster stripes.

Eg 3.2ghz intel pentium 4 processor, Hyper Threading (whatever that is - but only the big processors had it), 2 processors in one, upto 2Gb RAM - only came with 512, 60Gb HDD, DVD drive and so on.

Only after I bought it did I discover that there was an issue with Dell 5160's overheating, as mine did, and is well reported on by every forum in the World except for Dell's.

So I lived with this overheating. I reseated the CPU two years ago. That made little difference. All the time as I used it during the course of a day it got more and more lethargic. Running sometimes at 15 to 20 times slower than it did at boot up. And recently had become just too tiresome for words. And it shut itself down too as an act of self protection.

Until today when I took it apart again - in desperation. I planned to dedust the heat sink and fan which I figured may be a bit dusty after 2-3 years almost daily use. I took the heatsink out. And most significantly unscrewed the fan from the heatsink. That was when I found a quarter inch thick wad of lint like material - congealed dust really - crammed behind the fins of the heat sink. No cooling air was getting out at all. So of course it was getting hotter and hotter. 70-80 degrees according to Speedfan. And that's in Winter with an ambient temperature of 17 centigrade.

Now today there is no noisy fan, no lethargy, just a thumping good Pentium 4 reborn, living again.

Just had to share this with anyone who has this problem. 5160s are selling often on Ebay now for not much money. And particularly anyone who thinks that the Dell design for the 5160 could not cope with a P4 processor. The cooling design is not the best hence the wad of lint dust, but once cleared it goes very well indeed.

If you are going to do this you need:-
+ Dell's service book which says how to get the computer in pieces - easy read and do. See their web site where it is published.
+ A tube of Artic Silver 5 (at least) thermal compound to use to reseat the CPU. available on Ebay.
+A bottle of Isoproyl Alcohol to use to clean the surface of the CPU and facing heatsink - to be spotless. Chemist should have some.
+Box of tissues
+Ear Buds
+A credit card to help apply the Artic Silver smoothly and evenly (preferably unused, undamaged)
+clear clean bench, working surface
+A way to destatic yourself permanently.
+blade screw driver, and a set of small cross head screw drivers.
+ A steady heart and hand.

John Blackie.

  Robboshef 15:07 04 Jun 2008

thanks for this post. This is really interesting to know. I too get tired waiting for "something" to happen after it gets a bit warmer. I have a couple of questions which i was hoping you, or others could help me with.

First and foremost i am really intrigued by the clearing of this dust. Would you be able to provide me with a step-by-step method guide of how to safely do this please? (Also, just to confirm, has this been plain sailing ever since? any probs/repercussions?)

2ndly, can you tell me where to download a temperature hardware to see what mines punching at?

Finally, im interesting in taking out one of my 256 sticks and puting in a 1gb so RAM would be 1.25Gb. All i want to be able to do is do more than about 2 things at once, i.e. be on inet, play music, perhaps stream a vid, play football manager perhaps at same time. Do you think i would notice a huge difference? or would the dustremoval allow me to do all of that better now?

4thly, i have a ISP question, but ill save that for another thread.


  jrb1946 22:02 04 Jun 2008

An answer to your questions:

1. Most of what I did, how and with what is set out at the end of my first post; Artic give good instructions on their web site, and the stuff itself can be bought via ebay (artic sliver 5 I think it is). You need the manual from Dell's support website - easy to follow.

2. I am still using my Dell I5160. It's never gone so well as it has since I cleared the packed in dust. Runs at 50-52C when the CPU is doing nothing, hurtles up to 65-66C when it is working.

Prior to the de-dust it was running at 80-84C and shutting down at 85 (which is what it is supposed to do), but in the run upto that figure the CPU slows itself right down in an effort not to overheat so was a pain to work with and on.

3. RAM I have 2GB installed - I put it in, upgrading from 512mb to see if it made any difference before the de-dusting. It made no difference.

Since the de-dusting I have been keeping an eye on memory used - it is around 700-800Mb, that is less than 1GB from which I conclude 2GB is more than necessary even for a heavy user like me where I run several applications at once - MSword, pageplus 11, AOL browser (heaviest use of memory), IOLO system mechanic and SOPHOS AV as well as all the other junk which memory is given to deal with.

So 1.25GB should be ok, unless you are doing heavy graphics and moving picture work which I don't do, but I gather consumes much memory capacity.

4. The software I use and was recommended for measuring CPU and HDD temperature is SpeedFan. Free to use, but the writer likes to get $10 US if you like the software. I think there may be additional benefits if you pay. He deserves every cent of it. A very nice little program.

click here should get you to the website and the download is not far away from that page, it may be on it - can't remember!

5 Taking the Dell apart is quite easy - if you are used to that sort of thing.

You need to be very methodical, have all the gear you need with you, have a clear 2 - 3 hours ahead. Be sure to have a cleared area containing only what you need to work with, including a small tin or plastic container to put the screws in.

Make sure you discharge yourself all the time. You can get wrist bands for this. I just avoid electostatic producing clothes (no nylon, jump suits and so on) and I press all my fingers to the table surface as much as I can before, and whilst, touching anything delicate in the computer - and so while I am doing that I work one handed. This lets the static run down all fingers at the same time to a bigger object -> the table. No pain! Important to do because you produce static all the time. And it runs away naturally, except at the time you are doing something on a computer when it saves itself up and discharges through the electronics. you can't go back from that point! So best avoided.

Any other questions I'm sure someone as well as me will put their experience to community use.

  woodchip 22:12 04 Jun 2008

Covered regular on PCA forum

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