Over five years ago, I bought a Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop. I love this laptop. It has a non-shiny screen, 1680×1050 resolution (larger than more recent Dell models), well functioning trackpad, sturdy construction… it’s just an all-around great machine. It is still my main computer for everything other than games. I run Ubuntu on it, and it can handle anything I want it to do just fine.
Over the past year or two, I have noticed more and more that it seems to heat up quickly. After about 15-20 minutes or regular use (or 30 seconds of flash video) the fan would be going full blast, crying for help. I knew that dust was building up inside, and I’ve meant for a while to take it apart and give it the cleaning that it needed. So last weekend, I finally sat down to do it.
Unfortunately, to get to the fan, you pretty much have to take the whole thing apart. Fortunately, Dell has made this pretty easy. They have very clear instructions with pictures detailing each step of the process. The plastic covers seem designed to come off without excessive force. I didn’t have a problem with breaking the plastic connectors, and the paneling all seemed to snap back into place nicely. The screws that need to be removed are all phillips-head and not something like torx bits that the average household doesn’t have. In fact, the screw heads were helpful, because a screw that I at first thought I was supposed to remove had a hex-head. This seemed strange since all the others were phillips. After a bit more looking around, I found a different phillips-head screw, which was the one that I was actually supposed to remove. The connectors are all easily accessible and can be removed and re-connected without trouble. Why can’t more consumer products be like this?
A solid layer of insulating dust had formed between the heatsink and the fan. No wonder this guy was getting hot! I removed it and carefully cleaned inside and out. After a little love, it looked much better:
Reassembly was as easy as teardown, except I got a little hasty and forgot to reconnect the touchpad connector. (Oops!) Since I cleaned it out, I haven’t heard the fan kick up to that high speed, even after a few hours of use (or several minutes of flash video). Of course this probably isn’t shocking news to anyone, but I wanted to post up some encouragement to anyone considering a home repair. The dust probably needs to be cleaned out of laptops every year or so, and it’s a fun feeling of accomplishment to do simple maintenance on the things you own. I would have done this months ago if I’d have known that it would have been this quick and easy. I hope this gives my laptop another five years of life.
Of course, it’s not always so easy…
(This video is Jayme Gutierrez’s brilliance, not mine)
Post up in the comments your experience with laptop or other electronics maintenance!