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  1. #1
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    Perceived heating problem with laptop driving dual monitors

    I have a dell precision M4600 laptop, and I got a Dell Pro2x docking station specifically to run two external monitors. When running two monitors the laptop seems to me to be getting very hot, so I haven't been using dual monitors out of fear of the laptop burning out on me.

    Should the laptop be running hotter when driving two monitors? Should I worry about heat killing my laptop?

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    I think you would be loading it more than would be expected - how much RAM does it have installed - increasing that if possible may take some of the strain from it.

    One sign of a machine running hotter than normal is the fan(s) running at full all of the time, but HWMonitor will tell you for sure what the temps are. http://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/hwmonitor.html

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    What monitors are you running? Perhaps one or both of them have a problem and are drawing a lot of power as a result.

    Also, perhaps there is a problem with your laptop's or docking station's video circuitry.

    I run two external monitors on my Dell Latitude laptop, and there doesn't appear to be an overheating issue. A Precision will use more power (and therefore generate more heat) than a Latitude, though.

    If the vents on the side of your laptop are hot, but nothing else is very hot, then I'd say that your laptop is not overheating. Perhaps more heat comes out of the vent when you run the external monitors; unless that heat is extremely hot, I wouldn't think there is an overheating problem.

    In addition to the program Sudo recommended, you could also try a program called Speedfan, to see what the temperatures are.

    One thing I have come to believe: Computer manufacturers sometimes use cheap thermal compound when attaching the heatsink to the CPU. Don't try this unless you are sure you know what you are doing (it is very easy to cause damage if you don't); but if you know what you are doing, you might get some high-grade thermal compound such as Arctic Silver, some high-quality rubbing alcohol, some q-tips, and a can of compressed air. Take your laptop apart, blow the dust out, unseat the heatsink from the CPU, and clean the surface of the CPU and the heatsink with the alcohol and a q-tip. Then apply the good thermal compound, reseat the heatsink, and put the laptop back together. That can lower the operating temperature noticeably.

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    discrete video?

    dual core or quad core?

    amount of RAM?

    native resolutions of both monitors and frame rates? What are you running that it heats up?

    https://www.dell.com/support/home/us...m4600/diagnose
    Last edited by Fascist Nation; 2015-08-27 at 18:18.

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    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    Wouldn't hurt to get a can of compressed air and blow out the air vents on the laptop.

    Jerry

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    Thanks for the replies and suggestions. My computer has 8 GB of ram and a Samsung SSD. The monitors are 23" Gateway (1920x1080) and Samsung (1680x1050) models. They each run off their own power brick, and one is connected to the docking station with a VGA cable, and one with a DVI cable. So I'm inclined to think that the power draw of the monitors doesn't affect the laptop. Please let me know if you don't think that's a fair assessment.

    I have the SIW system utility, and I just used it to check on temperatures with one monitor, and again with two monitors.

    With 2 monitors the i7 temperatures which were near 85-90C and went up just a little, a few degrees if at all.

    The ATI Firepro graphics temperature went up from 56C to 64C. A more significant increase that the i7's, but temp's are much lower than the i7's. If I can trust these temperatures as being relevant and accurate, the I don't think the difference between one monitor or two is enough to be too concerned about. Would you conclude the same thing?

    The SSD temperature is labeled "air flow" and went up 1 degree.

    SIW is supposed to be able to show fan speed, but my version isn't reporting it.

    I was just looking at the M4600 user guide and I just now noticed that it has a VGA port on the back, which I used to use to connect a single monitor, and also something called a DisplayPort connector on the right side. I'm now wondering if I can run two monitors without a docking station. What is a DisplayPort generally used for?

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    85-90 is a bit high for normal use, I would only expect that when running very hard.
    Might be worth cleaning the fan / heatsink as suggested by jwitalka.

    cheers, Paul

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    If that temp (85-90) is with a light load, a heavy load is gonna put your temps in burn out range. Follow the advice already given, canned air and thermal compound if that fails to lower your temps.
    David

    Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xlrotor View Post
    With 2 monitors the i7 temperatures which were near 85-90C and went up just a little, a few degrees if at all.
    i7 is your CPU.

    85-90C is extremely high. So high, that if you continue at that temperature, your laptop will fry pretty soon.

    I would remove the laptop from the docking station and connect one monitor at a time directly to the laptop, to see if the temps go down. If the temps go down, then put the laptop back into the docking station and connect one monitor at a time, to see if the temps go back up.

    If the temps were down in any of the above scenarios, then whatever made them go up is what is causing your overheating problem.

    If the temps stayed up in all of the above scenarios, then the problem is inside of your laptop.

    In this case, it is possible (but not certain) that using the DisplayPort for your video could solve the problem. But it is more likely that you have a lot of dust inside of the laptop. Or, perhaps some component is damaged, causing the overheating problem.

    You could blow compressed air into the air vent on the side of the computer (where the hot air comes out), to dislodge the dust. This will spread dust around inside of the laptop, which is not good. But it will allow air to flow and cool down the internal parts, including the CPU.

    But a better way to eliminate the dust is to take the laptop apart and blow it completely out. And while the laptop is apart, reseat the heatsink onto the CPU with high-grade thermal compound (see my post above).

    I would not recommend that you take the laptop apart unless you are absolutely sure that you know what you are doing, because it is very easy to damage the laptop when it is open.

    Quote Originally Posted by xlrotor View Post
    I was just looking at the M4600 user guide and I just now noticed that it has a VGA port on the back, which I used to use to connect a single monitor, and also something called a DisplayPort connector on the right side. I'm now wondering if I can run two monitors without a docking station. What is a DisplayPort generally used for?
    Here is some good info on DisplayPort:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DisplayPort
    http://www.displayport.org/faq/

    DisplayPort is backward-compatible with VGA and DVI, so you could get an adapter and run a monitor off of the DisplayPort connection. If you have DisplayPort 1.2 or later, you can run both of your monitors off of the one DisplayPort connection.
    http://www.displayport.org/cables/dr...ayport-output/

    Here is an adapter which will allow two DVI monitors to run off of one DisplayPort connection:
    http://www.startech.com/AV/Splitters...00~SP122DP2DVI
    Last edited by mrjimphelps; 2015-08-28 at 11:54.

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    Silver Lounger wavy's Avatar
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    Search for your "service manual" online, laptops can be very idiosyncratic.
    David

    Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.

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    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    But a better way to eliminate the dust is to take the laptop apart and blow it completely out. And while the laptop is apart, reseat the heatsink onto the CPU with high-grade thermal compound (see my post above).
    I wouldn't recommend this unless you really know what you are doing. Laptops have a lot of delicate parts that are easy to break as well as a lot of tiny screws to keep track of. I broke one old laptop that I took apart to fix the power jack. If blowing out the vents doesn't work to reduce your temps, take it to a qualified tech.

    Jerry

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwitalka View Post
    I wouldn't recommend this unless you really know what you are doing. Laptops have a lot of delicate parts that are easy to break as well as a lot of tiny screws to keep track of. I broke one old laptop that I took apart to fix the power jack. If blowing out the vents doesn't work to reduce your temps, take it to a qualified tech.

    Jerry
    The first time I took a laptop apart because of a heating problem, I broke the tiny clips which hold the keyboard cable in place. I put several pieces of scotch tape on the backside of the cable, to make it thicker, so that it would stay in the slot and make a good connection. After that, several of the keys wouldn't work on the built-in keyboard.

    (I bought a Belkin folding USB keyboard to carry in the laptop bag, so that the laptop could be used while on the road.)

    The second time, I was much more slow and careful, and I successfully took the whole thing apart, got all of the dust out, reseated the heatsink with good thermal compound, and put it all back together. The only reason I took it apart was because it had a severe overheating problem and kept rebooting.

    Even if you physically don't break anything, you could short something out if there is any static electricity on your hands. It is a slow, tedious job to tear down a laptop and rebuild it. But it sure was fun when I got the hundreds of pieces all back together, fired it up, and it worked!

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    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    The first time I took a laptop apart because of a heating problem, I broke the tiny clips which hold the keyboard cable in place. I put several pieces of scotch tape on the backside of the cable, to make it thicker, so that it would stay in the slot and make a good connection. After that, several of the keys wouldn't work on the built-in keyboard.

    (I bought a Belkin folding USB keyboard to carry in the laptop bag, so that the laptop could be used while on the road.)

    The second time, I was much more slow and careful, and I successfully took the whole thing apart, got all of the dust out, reseated the heatsink with good thermal compound, and put it all back together. The only reason I took it apart was because it had a severe overheating problem and kept rebooting.

    Even if you physically don't break anything, you could short something out if there is any static electricity on your hands. It is a slow, tedious job to tear down a laptop and rebuild it. But it sure was fun when I got the hundreds of pieces all back together, fired it up, and it worked!

    Jim, you are one of the people "who knows what they are doing" that I referred to. Most people don't fit into that category. I wouldn't do it myself any more even though I built every desktop computer I owned since the MS Dos days and built several for others. Replacing memory and disk drives is very doable in a laptop, anything else is best left for experts.

    Jerry

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    Again don't do it blind,
    Search for your "service manual" online, laptops can be very idiosyncratic.
    maybe even take pictures as you disassemble
    David

    Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwitalka View Post
    Jim, you are one of the people "who knows what they are doing" that I referred to. Most people don't fit into that category. I wouldn't do it myself any more even though I built every desktop computer I owned since the MS Dos days and built several for others. Replacing memory and disk drives is very doable in a laptop, anything else is best left for experts.

    Jerry
    Jerry, I agree with that. Because it's so easy to break some critical component inside of the laptop, he's much better off simply blowing a can of compressed air into the exhaust vent, to bust up any dust that's clogging the system and preventing it from ventilating.

    This is one of the reasons I recommend to people that they buy a desktop rather than a laptop, if they don't need portability.

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