I now have the quietest laptop around, and coincidentally the hottest

Jan 28th, 2011 | By | Category: Linux / Freebsd, Random Musings, Technology

Well the inevitable decline of this LG R405 laptop is finally upon me as today the main cooling fan gave out.  I’m hoping that this might be a simple loose wire that I can soder or reattach but alas I left my tiny screw driver in Canada and so I can’t open this old girl up to check 🙁  But she started overheating something fierce today so I went into the bios and changed the cooling fan settings from normal to loud/cool and upon reboot the laptop switched to silent/off/hot mode as the fan just stopped spinning.  I was able to last about 15 seconds booting into linux before it overheated and shutdown but fortunately due to some overheating problems while in Colombia I had an undervolting utility setup in XP so I could boot into that and with the clock running switch it on quick and throttle my Cpu from 1.6GHZ down to 450mhz or so to prevent it from heating up.

But for me, stability in XP is still worth less to me than 15 seconds of instability in linux so I rebooted and performed mouth to mouth on the old girl, blowing into the exhaust port to offset the lack of a fan, keeping her cool enough to get through the boot cycle and allow the cpu to go idle and cool back down again.

Very fortunately for me in my latest foray in system customization I installed CairoDock, and very very fortunately for me Cairo dock has a CPU frequency monitor and adjuster called ‘CPU Frequency Monitor’.  All I really wanted to do was to put up a cpu temperature gauge so I could monitor the heat and keep my activity to a min but when I saw that frequency applet my heart soared.  Loaded that up and now my cpu is permanently throttled down 66% to 1Ghz, I also disabled one of my cores so I’m only running a single core on the chip, Ive turned off all graphic effects and dimmed my monitor by 60% to lessen the voltage flowing through the system and finally I removed the battery to get any heat from that away from my CPU.  In the end I’m able to work fairly uninhibited and even play a game of overgod without the CPU rising above 50 degrees.  I’m not going to be doing any Audio Visual work anytime soon and if worse comes to worse I’ll have to switch off wifi(the R405’s wifi nic is notorious for heat) and work in the coldest room in the apartment but I have a working machine for a little while longer until my long awaited AMD Fusion chips come out.

How ironic is it that this morning my power supply on my quad-core xeon server blew, frying the hard drives and forcing me to do a fresh OS install and emergency transplant the server to an older P4 2.8Ghz box and then just when I have that all squared away my CPU fan on this machine blows forcing me to underclock it by 66% and shut down one of the cores.

Oh well, even gimped and limping along you still have to marvel at what these machines can do.

So moral of the story, if your laptop starts overheating on you or worse yet your CPU dies and you can get it fixed immediately a short term solution is to do the following:

In Ubuntu:

  • Go into your Bios and shutdown one of your cores to cut your heat
  • Boot into linux, performing CPR to get your machine over that big boot time hurdle
  • Install Cairo Dock, it’s pretty spiffy anyways
  • Install the CPU Temp monitor applet to keep an eye on your heat levels
  • Install the CPU Frequency Monitor and clock it down to the lowest frequency.  I tried setting it to ‘conservative’ first but it still jumped up to 1.4 ghz so I just perma throttled it to 1ghz
  • Now that your system is stabalized you can go one step further and undervolt your machine and see up to 7 degrees less heat by following this guide: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UndervoltingHowto

In XP:

  • Boot into XP, performing CPR if necessary to buy yourself enough time and follow this guide: http://www.clunk.org.uk/forums/guides/12900-guide-undervolting-your-processor.html .  I use RMclock personally as I find it’s options the most use friendly for getting the job done

This is all assuming you are running an intel chip and don’t have the handy bios options to adjust your frequency there, if so do it there first and go as low as you can while remaining stable and then dink around with the stuff above.

Right now I’m working normally and my cpu temp is sitting at 50 degrees, compare this to the 80 degrees it was at before and I’m a happy camper.  It’s also sitting on my lap and if I were to work on the table in a colder room it sits around 40

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