I did some household chores this weekend. A little bit of laundry, some cooking, grocery shopping for the upcoming week, and cleaning the guts of my laptop and Xbox 360.
It all started with a kink in my neck. A kink that developed because I had to lay on my stomach in the floor, in order to use my Dell Inspiron 1521. I had to use my laptop in the floor because the damn thing gets way too hot if I use it anywhere but directly over an A/C register. I finally got fed up with having to deal with this and decided to investigate the cause. I haven’t cleaned it since I bought it in 2007, so I figured maybe there was at least some dust accumulation inside. So I set about opening up the laptop to check things out.
Holy crap! The screws used to hold this thing together! There are so many screws to remove in order to get to the motherboard. I suppose it might have been a bit easier, had I had a guide. But I couldn’t find one (Makes me wish I had taken photographs, so that I could help other Inspiron owners), so I had to wing it. After removing approximately 20 tiny Phillips head screws, I finally got to the internals of the system, and, sure enough, the heat sink was almost completely clogged with dust. I don’t have any canned air, but I blew that out easily enough with just my breath. Turns out, all of those years of blowing Nintendo cartridges were good for something. This resulted in a huge plume of dust being ejected from the main-board and directly into my face. I know, I’m so smart. So after I recovered from a sneezing fit, I proceeded on to phase 2 of my cleaning mission. In my search for the nonexistent Inspiron 1521 dis-assembly guide, I happened across a forum mentioning Dell laptops and the shitty thermal paste that is used on their CPUs. I popped the heat sink off of the Athlon 2800+ and checked. True to the forum poster’s word, the bottom of the heat sink (and top of the CPU) were covered, not with a paste, but a coagulated grey solid. I don’t know if it was age or heat or just an inferior product, but there was no way this junk was going to transfer any heat in its current state. I easily scraped off the crud, cleaned the area with a bit of isopropyl alcohol and applied a thin line of Arctic Silver that I had in my tool kit. Knowing that I had at least reduced some of the problem areas in the internals, I excitedly reassembled the laptop. After having run it consistently for a few days now, I can tell you that the results have far exceeded my expectations. Everything is running much much cooler now, and quieter to boot because the exhaust fan isn’t working overtime any more.
With that cleaning successfully under my belt, I wondered if the same thing would help the xbox 360. I easily found this guide and set to taking apart my beloved 360. Once I got to the insides, yep, heat sink was clogged with dust. Using a bit more caution this time around, I blew out the dust from this heat sink as well. A quick reassembly, and I can now report that the Xbox is noticeably more quiet.
Hopefully these cleanings will allow me to squeeze a little bit more performance and longevity out of these devices.