Intro: Fix Your Overheating Laptop! (And Keep It Looking Nice)
I just got my [new to me] Samsung series 7 chronos laptop less than a week ago, and I was very impressed with it except for one grievance: it was HOT. No, not that kind of hot!
Anyway, the fan would ramp up just sitting on the windows desktop, and Minecraft under Windows was fine for about 10 minutes before it was too hot for me to consider safe. It sounded like a jet plane even after I lapped the heatsink and redid the awful thermal paste application
I began to investigate. The laptop does not have an obvious vent for blowing out air, as Samsung copied Apple's design for hinge fans. So I opened it up.
Everything looked fine until I realized that even though the fan had a place to BLOW air, it had no place to SUCK air from. The laptop was suffocating!
I looked around on the internet for solutions, but most of them were bulky exterior mods, desks, or unsightly drilling for ventilation. I knew it needed more air, but there had to be a better way...
So them the thought came to me! Why not mod in a metal speaker grille?
Step 1: Gathering Tools
For this project you will need:
1. A laptop that does not have proper airflow
2. A small bluetooth speaker with a flat grill (Mine was this one)
4. Small phillips head screwdriver
5. Large flathead screwdriver or chisel
5. Drill press (recommended) or drill
6. Hole saw
7. Low power dremel (I got mine at harbor freight) with a sanding tip
8. Super glue or Epoxy
9. 300+ grit sandpaper
10. Masking tape
11. Sharp knife
12. Some sort of cream, toothpaste, lotion, anything with that consistency.
Step 2: Speaker Disassembly
Note: These are instructions for my speaker. Your mileage may vary.
First flip the speaker over and pry up the circular rubber foot. Underneath you will see three phillips screws. Remove them.
Next remove the circuit board and battery to reveal a black piece of plastic with screw mounts on it. Take your hammer and large flathead screwdriver/chisel and knock out the edges. Yes, hit it as hard as you have to.
Once inside you will find a speaker and a rubber membrane holding it in place. Cut this with your knife and remove the speaker. Now you should be able to gently press the speaker grille out of its place.
Step 3: Marking and Cutting a Hole
Refer to a guide to disassemble your particular laptop. This assumes you have already taken the back panel off.
I sat and wondered how to get a perfectly centered hole for quite a while. Take a dab of your choice creamy substance (in my case lotion) and dab it on the very center of the fan. make sure there's enough. Now take your back cover and press it into place without threading any of the screws. Press down in the area where the fan is.
Remove the back cover and there should be a dot of lotion on it. That's the center of your fan. Take a pin or small metal object and make a dent in the plastic/heat shield with it. Wipe away the creamy substance.
Now drill a small pilot hole on our mark to keep the hole saw centered.
***DISCLAIMER*** Hole saws can be dangerous. I am not responsible for any personal injury or damage caused here. I wore a work glove on my hand to protect it just in case.
Next use your hole saw to make a hole one size smaller than the vent. I definitely recommend a drill press here if you can find one.
Step 4: Refining the Hole
First take the old speaker housing and trace around the inside of it near the hole we just cut. keep it as centered as possible. Check to make sure it's about the size of the grille. (Sorry, no pic of this)
Next mask off the backside of the laptop around your trace marks. This way if the dremel skips out of bounds in the next step, you're covered. You might regret it if you skip this part.
Carefully and slowly work your way round the hole with the dremel, checking fitment every once in a while. Sand so the tip is rotating opposite the direction you're moving it. Be patient here. It's easy to remove too much.
Once that's done, take your sandpaper and clean up the hole a bit. Now remove the tape. If there's sharpie on it, remove it with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
Step 5: Install the Grille
Set your backplate on a table or flat surface and press the grille in place. press both down until they rest flat on the table.
On my speaker there were four tabs. Bend these down with a flat metal object to save your fingers. Make sure the grille is level with the back of the laptop and glue them in place.
Wait until the glue is dry and close it up! Don't put all the screws in immediately. Turn it on without putting them in so you can easily access it if something is wrong. Maybe the grille is rubbing on the fan, or you forgot to plug something back in. It's good to check. If everything is okay, close her up; you're finished!
Step 6: Finished! Results!
You're finished! I included my results below in case you're interested.
I tested before and after during both light web browsing and using an intense program (Minecraft). All tests were run under Ubuntu Gnome and temperatures were recorded after ten minutes of each with lm-sensors. The computer was propped up in the back about .25 inches with a mechanical pencil each time. Ambient temps were ~2-3C warmer after the mod was done. As a result, the real difference is even better than it appears.
Using only Google Chrome the laptop was sitting at a balmy 62C.
Playing Minecraft for 10 minutes resulted in the fans ramping up to full and frames dropping from around 60 to about 40. It was hot to the touch. Results were dangerously high, sitting around 92-93C
Browsing the internet for 10 minutes was nearly silent, and I really liked it. I could watch YouTube videos with almost no interference from the fans. Temps were around 54C, an 8C improvement!
The biggest benefits were seen when the laptop was under heavy load. Playing Minecraft now has noticeably less fan noise (although not gone by any means). The frames sat between 58-61 the entire time, and temps drastically improved. At the end temps were about 74C. That's an 18-19C difference!!!
All in all, I'm really happy with how this turned out, so I wanted to share it. Make sure to send me a pic if you decide to do this! Have a good one!