Friday, June 29, 2012

Stop overheating your notebook

Iced tea poured
It is getting hotter and hotter and it is necessary to find ways to stay cool in the summer heat. Especially for notebooks.
I personally like ice tea, but your super thin and fast notebook doesn't have the luxury of a icy refreshing beverage to cool it off (and you don't want to try pouring ice tea on your lapt
It is producing a lot of heat on his own and you've noticed it when your doing system intensive tasks like watching HD video or running a lot of applications at once. Mine gets more hotter when unsquashing livecd contents using all 4 processors. Such a heavy processor load prompts the computer's internal fan to whirl away a bit faster and you've probably heard it.
When the air around the notebook is hotter it becomes more and more difficult for the computer to dissipate that additional heat. This over time can damage your notebook.
If you have no air conditioning in your room (like me) there are still a few simple things you can do to ensure your notebook stays cool and runs smoothly this summer.

1) Make sure you have properly configured your laptop OS.
Running a non configured and not optimized OS  can harm your notebook in
Arch Linux logo
 these hottest days, you know. The most important thing is to have all power-saving options and optimization on to avoid overheating. For me, running some kind of ArchLinux, it is necessary to install some additional packages for enabling power saving like this:

sudo packman -Sy  cpufrequtils laptop-mode-tools acpid

see archlinux wiki for how to configure and enable them or simply add laptop-mode into your DAEMONS line in /etc/rc.conf
Image representing Intel as depicted in CrunchBase
Another important thing is to avoid power regression kernel bug affecting Intel Sandy bride processors.
Just add this to your grub line:
pcie_aspm=force i915.i915_enable_rc6=1 i915.i915_enable_fbc=1 i915.lvds_downclock=1

This will save you a lot of power and will cool down your notebook. If you have an ATI video card along to Intel card, just switch it off if you don't play some games or run graphic eager apps. This can be done by mounting debugfs 

mount -t debugfs debugfs /sys/kernel/debug
or in /etc/fstab: 
ATI Logo
debugfs /sys/kernel/debug debugfs 0 0

then switch ATI card off usign "vga_switcheroo". A radeon module must be loaded before:

modprobe radeon
echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch
This reduce the power consumption of my notebook from ~20 -30 W to 10W, which is a lot.

English: Laptop cooler Français : Notebook coo...2) Notebook cooling pad
USB powered cooling pad gives your laptop additional fans and a raised surface to sit on allowing better airflow underneath to dissipate the heat. If you can choose, buy one with bigger fan or multiple fans. Do not buy cheap ones. They are noisy or have vibrating body.

A notebook over a toilet.
3) Keep your laptop in the shade
It is very important to keep your notebook out of the sun. Laptops are convenient because you can just pick them up and get to work anywhere, but make sure you
haven't left it baking in the sun all day. You'll also want to avoid leaving you laptop in your car this summer. Cars sitting in the sun all day can get really hot inside so if you have to leave your laptop in the car, give it some time to cool down before
getting right to work.
English: laptop computer4) Keep your laptop, out of your lap
Try to keep your laptop out of your lap, and off of any fabric covered surface. Your laptop likely has small feet or risers on the bottom which are there to provide space between the laptop and the surface it's placed on. This allows space for air to pass under the laptop, helping cool the laptop by drawing away from the processor. Placing your laptop on a surface that doesn't allow that space can cause your computer to heat up. Now you have an overheating computer in your lap, which for obvious reason is also not comfortable.
5) Work from somewhere that has AC
When my apartment gets too hot for my laptop, it's also usually too hot for me as well. Instead of baking away in a stifling apartment treat both yourself and your laptop to the climate controlled bliss of a nearby cafe. You can even get yourself an delicious iced latte to beat the heat, all the while protecting you computer from damaged and overheating.

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