Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Temporary workaround for if your ThinkPad restarts due to overheating


 (Jump to workaround
The lion's share of desktop computers, portables and notebooks are equipped with fans to cool the processors and other innards, and fan-less notebooks and PCs are in a minority. (Still as of mid-2016)

Every once in a while, the computers and their fans inside collect dust and other micro-materials that together form a certain mass that blocks airways. If the machines are not maintained by way of dust removal, then excess heat fails to exit airways blocked by dust, and this can cause the devices to overheat and become a serious fire hazard.

Notebooks, laptops, portables, and netbooks make up a majority in desktop-type PCs (this also includes Macs), and they are more susceptible to eventual overheating due to several reasons:
* Their compact design;
* Use and placement in and on comfort zones; these often include people's laps (clothes, hair), beds, and mattresses. Fire department officials wisely tell people to avoid placing their notebooks like that.

Most ThinkPad notebooks are no different in that regard, as they are also equipped with fans.

As with many notebooks from major producers, ThinkPads are equipped with factory-installed power management software.

As opposed to most factory-installed cruft, ThinkPads' utilities are actually useful. To keep those, a user should consider having at least 2 Gb of RAM memory with Windows xp, and at least 4 Gb of RAM memory when running Windows Vista or greater. The utilities do have to be kept up-to-date for security reasons.

The workaround

Recently, I came across one ThinkPad that had begun restarting because of excess heat and restarts during video playback, and since the owner did not have time to take it to maintenance, I discovered a temporary workaround that alleviates the problem.

ThinkPad Power Manager allows users to manually adjust CPU speed relative to which user-created power scheme is used. (This does not apply to factory-made power schemes, which are locked from editing.) Such advanced power management features are not present in Windows itself; in this case, Windows XP.

CPU speed and other power management settings can be set for all user-created power schemes, or just one. Because this particular ThinkPad kept overheating during video playback, I set CPU usage to low in all power schemes.

Instructions based on ThinkVantage Power Manager 5.20 in Windows xp sp3, running on ThinkPad R60e.
  1. Launch ThinkPad Power Manager. Either:
    • Right-click on the ThinkPad battery icon in the Windows taskbar, click on 'Launch Power Manager...', or
    • launch ThinkPad Power Manager from the Start menu:
      Start > All Programs > ThinkVantage > Power Manager
  2. Use the Advanced view (click on bigger button on the upper right to switch to it)
  3. In the list of tabs, choose the (usually default) 'Power Scheme' tab
  4. Create new power scheme, give it a memorable name
  5. In the main space (to the right),

    • Expand System setings, and at
    'Maximum CPU speed':
    'Battery settings' 'AC settings'
    (when plugged into mains)
    Set 'max CPU speed' to Lowest Low

    'Adjust idle timers':
    Settings set by me:
    Battery AC
    Turn off display 5 min 15 min
    Stop hard drive 5 min 20 min
    System standby (sleep mode) 15 min 30 min
    System hibernation 20 min 45 min


This essentially resolves the issue, but the owner must still take their notebook to maintenance to have all the dust removed.

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