Solving my laptop overheating problems

I’ve been having some serious overheating problems with my laptop, specially since I’ve started using the new Gallium open-source driver for AMD (AKA ATI) graphic cards on Linux (Fedora 15).

I’ve always had a small overheating problem with all ATI open-source drivers since I have this laptop, but recently it got worst. Sometimes when watching some flash (don’t you just hate flash?) videos with some crappy player – this never happened with youtube or vimeo for instance – the laptop would get so hot it would shutdown. That’s when I got really worried and bought a laptop cooling pad. Although things got better, when performing CPU intensive activities, for example a encrypted backup, lm_sensors gave me readings of 98 ºC. The critical temperature for my CPU is 105 ºC, so it was pretty close to the limit!

So I finally tried to find a better solution. In the great Arch wiki I found some information about KMS powersaving features and instructions to set the GPU frequency. It’s possible to set the GPU to dynamic frequency switching:

# echo dynpm > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_method

Or to choose one of the available profiles: ‘low’, ‘mid’, ‘high’, ‘default’ and ‘auto’.

# echo mid > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_profile

As the wiki states, these changes are not permanent. It’s necessary to add these commands to /etc/rc.local so that the settings are set at startup time.

As for the results, I’m still testing but the dynpm option and the low profile lowered the core temperature to 86 ºC at full CPU load.

The mid profile just lowered the temperature to 94 ºC at full CPU load. Not very good, but a little better.

The problem with low and mid profiles is some occasional flicker. This also happens with dynpm and this options has the disadvantage of not working with more then one head…
Anyway, I’ll test this further in the next days but I can live with the occasional flicker if it saves my laptop from toasting :).



  1. Lucas Anthony - 20 de Outubro de 2011 @ 2:29

    you should also try to look inside your laptop, common problems concerning laptops to overheat is because of too much dusts blocking the air vents and fan. it is a must to clean regularly the air vents of the laptop. this might help you…

  2. amrlima - 20 de Outubro de 2011 @ 20:07

    I actually cleaned the laptop a few weeks ago. It was, of course, full of dust. The temperatures are much lower now. Most of the time less then 60 ºC, but flash still causes it to heat close to 90 ºC.

  3. Lucas Anthony@laptop overheating problem - 25 de Outubro de 2011 @ 21:58

    high graphic cards also causes laptops to overheat in a way that the fan can’t handle it.Also if the airflow of the fan is blocked and the location of the fan matters.

  4. Synamics || Rodrigo - 29 de Julho de 2012 @ 11:04

    HollSHITZ, 104ºC the maxium of temperature my laptop gets is 86ºC When I testing my R04st stressing software, its much hot!
    But 104ºC is very very high, its close to melt!

    Ps: I use a 2600RPM cooler with it.

  5. amrlima - 29 de Julho de 2012 @ 11:25

    After cleanning the laptop fans and with driver updates this no longer appens with my laptop.

    I also use a cooler, now it never reaches 90 ºC and most of the time is bellow 60ºC.

  6. Synamics || Rodrigo - 29 de Julho de 2012 @ 11:28

    I have a question for you, what factory make your fans?
    You know if the temperatures is best on certain coolers?
    Is a factory (Dell, Acer, etc…) best than others?

  7. amrlima - 30 de Julho de 2012 @ 17:19

    I don’t know the brand of the laptop fans. It’s a Toshiba but I doubt this kind of component is actually made by them. The graphic card is an AMD (former ATI) and it’s fan was one of the main issues because of the lack of good power management on linux. It has improved a lot now.

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