Friday, March 16, 2007

are Thinkpads meant to run 24*7?

My Thinkpad has started to run hot recently. If I do anything CPU intensive then it will heat up to >80C and then turn itself off. When idling it seems to stay at about 60C when the ambient temperature is about 24C.

It used to not be like this, a couple of years ago I cracked a GPG pass-phrase by using my Thinkpad (as well as a few other machines) to run a brute-force attack lasting a few months. So a couple of years ago I could run at 100% CPU time for months on end and now I can only do that for a few minutes.

It seems that my Thinkpad may have accumulated dust in it's fan from years of running 24*7. I run my Thinkpads 24*7 so that they can download email and large files while I'm asleep, because Linux suspend options have been lacking until recently, and because I use my laptop for a large portion of the day.

The problem I am having is similar to what I had with a previous Thinkpad. Are Thinkpads unable to handle 24*7 operation?

13 comments:

Patrick said...

I suspend to disk occasionally (when moving) with my X30, but otherwise I leave it powered on all the time.

Let us know how the cleaning fares; dust-clogged airflow certainly seems a likely culprit.

Lamont R. Peterson said...

I had a similar problem on an HP notebook some years ago. It turned out that the heat pipe connecting the CPU "fin" to the fan cavity had broken. I pulled out my hard drive and sent it in under warranty. They fixed it and had it back to me in 4 days and it's run like a champ ever since.

You probably should phone IBM/Lenovo and have them take it in to fix.

I have a few co-workers who currently have IBM notebooks, one of which had to return his twice in one week (he zpped his board twice in a row with static and knocked out his NIC). They overnighted a shipping box to him, with a pre-paid shipping sticker to overnight it to them. They fixed it the day it arrived and overnighted it back to him. Very fast. IBM support is awesome.

Marius said...

I've had three thinkpads since 2000, all running Linux from day one. Suspend worked (mostly) fine in all of them.

Calvin said...

Well, the good thing is that you can easily change the fan on your Thinkpad, whether it is still covered by the warranty or not.

If it is not, you can buy a fan spare part from IBM/Lenovo web site, and replace yours quite easily. And the fan is not that expensive, should be something around 20$

michael said...

I've had to take a can of compressed air to a few of the Thinkpads (T41s and T60s) I oversee. It was amazing to see how much dust blew out of the fan vents.

The difference in heat build-up went from painfully-hot to just warm-to-touch in a matter of minutes. Give it a shot; can't hurt.

Shannon said...

Try cracking it open and vacuuming out the dust. Worked for my brother's computer which had the same symptoms.

Anonymous said...

Find the hardware maintenance manual on Lenovo's support site for your model. Follow the instructions for removing the keyboard, and blast everything with some compressed air.

In the 3 years I've had my T40, I've been in there a few times for upgrades and repairs. Every time I blast the dust out and I've had no problems with heat.

Also if you do need a replacement part, Lenovo's parts people are friendly and quick, and the parts are very reasonably priced. Just look up the P/N in the HMM and give them a call. I replaced the palm rest on my T40 for one without the trackpad, and it only cost me about $20.

Loïc Minier said...

Hey,
My Thinkpad was also hotter in the last weeks; perhaps it's just a mere coincidence, but it happened at about the time I switched to 2.6.20 to get suspend working with my SATA controller.

Now I'm monitoring the speed of the fan via an applet (which I never had to do before), and I'm setting the fan speed to the maximum when my thinkpad comes out of sleep -- thanks to ibm-acpi.

Cheers,

Brice Goglin said...

My Thinkpad T43 and my girlfriend's R52 have been running 24*7 very often since fall 2005. No big problem apart from overheating for several months (very often >90 degres when 100% CPU, even with frequency restricted by cpufreq).

After Shannon's comment, I decided to open the box and clean all what I could (not that easy actually). I also installed tp-fancontrol with -20 offset (look at thinkwiki.org). The temperature seems way lower now (50 most of time, 75 when 100% CPU). The box looks ready for a couple more years of 24*7.

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity: How strong was the gpg key encrypted that you cracked? How much information did you have regarding the pass-phrase?

I was just wondering if you were just lucky in cracking it that "quickly" or if you had lots of information available and a weak key.

Anonymous said...

No, ThinkPads are not supposed to run 24*7. While most of the hardware won't break easily, you need to take care of the fans, and you must let the internal HD spin down at least once every 48h.

Download the datasheet for your HD and read it. Chances are (especially if Hitachi) that it s fluid bearings need a full-stop once in a while to reflux.

Cédric said...

This makes me feel i would better open my T43 also and clean the fan : it has almost been running constantly for one year and a half, for a couple of mounths it even started becoming *very* noisy from time to time, like if the fan was to break if i did not turn the laptop down. Perhaps there is a dead mouse in my fan ...
The last post said that we had to let the internal HD spin down once every 2 days, what does this exactly means ? Just rebooting the computer (possibly turning it off a few seconds) is enough ?

Anonymous said...

Ours both needed the fan replacing - noise in bearing and rise in CPU temperature with cutting out. However I suspect the heat transfer pad that bears on the CPU had deteriorated - the new fan/cooler assembly got hot quicker than the old one suggesting better conduction, and the new fan needed to run less often. Just taking it apart and reseating the cooler perhaps with some trnasfer compound may help.

The R40e fan is not intended to be replaced, but looks as though a dab of Araldite might allow re-use of the heat pipe with a new random fan in it.