Sunday, July 29, 2012

Re-Acer-ing

Man, did I scare my Acer or did it scare me? Well, it didn’t quite scare me as much as it made me furious. It shut down on me twice in a span of 2 hours due to over-heating during early morning hours of 11th July. I’ve known for nearly a year that there is a problem with its fan such that the cooling of the CPU & the Motherboard is not that efficient and over time over-heating occurs and then BLIP, the laptop goes blank. But that could be prevented till now by invoking CPU / Memory / Graphics-intensive jobs less frequently; like watching YouTube videos continuously for less than an hour or so. That made my Acer work more or less for roughly 12 hours a day with occasional blips now & then. No big deal for both of us!

Then 7/11 came and changed all that. (For the reason, read the above paragraph again!) In my rage, I decided that I’m going to literally break the back cover and rip out the fan and do whatever is necessary to get my Acer working longer shifts again. I need to tell you now that why I hadn’t done anything about the fan till now if I knew about the problem since last year. Well, you see… One of the screws of the back cover got chipped when I tried to open it last year and just wouldn’t budge! Sad smile So I left it at that because it was working fine as long as I did my part. But now it was way past doing my part! I’ll tell you why: I’ve installed Windows 8 Release Preview (apart from full-fledged Win7) on it and Win8 can barely run for ½ an hour on it even when no programs / apps are running! I don’t know what Win8 does in background but if that’s enough to over-heat my laptop, it needs to learn something! That something is that Win8 is staying whether or not Acer likes it.

So, where were we? Yes, I was determined to break the back cover of my Acer. But just in case, I brought out my trusty ‘+’-headed screwdriver, pressed it hard against that chipped screw and gave a mighty twist to it. Lo & behold, that chipped screw loosened! My joy knew no bounds and I like to believe my Acer was in similar situation. From then on, there was nothing stopping me. Out came all the other screws, out came the back cover to reveal:

Acer's Back

Then out came more screws holding the fan (the pictures are anachronistic and you can guess the reason… I mean who thinks of writing a post while thinking about breaking through a laptop!) and then the fan itself:

Dislodged Fan

I dislodged the fan as you can see above and do you see that horizontal vent below in the case housing the fan:

Cleaned Fan

Inside which you will also see the blades of the fan… Well, you couldn’t see those blades before. That view was obstructed by the strip of lint (consisting mainly of dust, dirt, hairs, webs, spiders, bugs, etc.) of thickness ~3-4mm seen below:

Front View

The pattern you see is because of the metallic mesh that can be seen on the right side of the second photo above.

Back View

Ignore the poor focus in this photo and don’t ask me about the pattern of the strip. So this strip was obstructing the air-flow completely and making my poor Acer heat up so much that it could barely operate for an hour. I also need to make a special mention of an important tool, which helped me clean the fan:

Blower

The very versatile blower that I got for my E-PL1… Well, now that my Acer is cleaned, it has never shut down again due to over-heating. Smile It has shut down twice since 7/11 but that’s definitely not due to over-heating. That must be Win7’s problem because now I’ve been running Win8 also a lot and watching videos for more than an hour continuously and the temperature of CPU & motherboard never even reaches 60°C! Earlier it used to hover around 70°C even when my Acer was idle! To prove that, here’s a snapshot of Speccy while Mathematica is running a CPU / RAM-intensive program (in W7, obviously!):

Heated-Not Quite

So, Random Shutdown score for Win7 - $2$ vs. Win8 - $0$. I was lucky to know the problem beforehand but in general how do you

Troubleshoot PC Problems