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Fix Overheating Compaq CQ50 Laptop

I was given a Compaq CQ50 laptop which was overheating over the course of 30-60 minutes and reaching a temperature where overheating protection kicked in and the laptop abruptly shut down.

Thumbnail of CPU and GPU temperatures before fix

A quick search for a solution turned up many results. Many revolve around the GPU overheating specifically. I combined a few approaches. I could not find a technical manual for the internals of the CQ50 but there are a few disassembly videos on YouTube. I liked a video posted by ThibaultServices best. Disassembly to get at the relevant parts was more involved than I anticipated: CPU heatsink/fan, GPU heatsink, and rear case plastic. Here is a picture of everything once it has been disassembled.

Compaq CQ50 disassembled on a table

I made three changes which I feel were effective.

1. Clean the CPU heatsink and fan

Cleaning lint out of the the CPU heatsink and fan is an obvious improvement for any laptop. Most videos I watched and forum threads I read mentioned that there was quite a bit of lint trapped in the area underneath the heatsink's fan. My situation was no different.

Heatsink with lint before, and after being cleaned

2. Add additional ventilation to the underside of the laptop case.

As mentioned in this lengthy blog post the fans are not placed well with only one intake on the bottom of the case and an exhaust nearby at the bottom/rear of the laptop. Similar to a YouTube video posted by Gt-R Vspec, I added ventilation directly over the CPU and GPU.

Additional ventilation created inside and outside of back plastic case

I eyeballed the heatsink's location within the back plastic to estimate and mark with pencil the location of the CPU and GPU underneath. The holes in the aforementioned video were drilled but in my case I used an old soldering iron to melt the holes through the rear plastic case. I also smoothed the holes with sandpaper.

3. Getting better contact between the GPU and the heatsink

Following the advice in this forum thread, I cut two strips of double-sided foam and stuck them to the existing pads of foam on the heatsink pipe so that the addition of foam presses against the back panel and pushes the heatsink down onto the GPU for better contact.

Added double-sided foam tape to existing foam cusions. Heatsink with foam pictured.

While I had everything open I also cleaned the existing thermal paste off of the CPU and removed a square of putty that was between the GPU and the heatsink. Just before reassembling everything I put fresh dabs of thermal paste on the CPU and GPU.

Results

After closing everything back up I've been very satisfied with the results. With moderate use the CPU is able to better regulate its temperature and maintain 50°C. The GPU is much cooler and the general motherboard temperature within the laptop remains completely constant.

Screenshot of CQ50 temperatures after fix

Comments

terrypearson's picture

I know you mentioned thermal paste, but this should be in bold! If someone cleans their laptop and removes the heat sink from the processor, you always need to reapply thermal paste. Otherwise, your computer will have an improper seal. Anyway, great post, I've dealt with similar issues with my 8 core AMD desktop and have found that dust can really add heat problems.