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HP notebook. Fan is doing wild things, reported freeze up.

Posted on 2007-11-30
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Ok.  A client of mine dropped off a notebook that would reportedly not boot up.  The problem started this morning.  His Norton virus scan seemed to be taking forever to initialize.  He left it for a while, came back and it hadn't moved.  It was frozen.  He then shut the power off.  Tried to reboot (in Windows XP Pro).  It would get to the point where the white bar creeps accross the bottom of the screen and then (reportedly) reboot and repeat.

Now when I get the notebook about 6 hours later, I turn it on and Windows comes up.  I am checking the memory and checking the HD, but I don't expect to find anything.  The first thing I notice is that the fan speed is way too high.  It keeps oscillating from idle to full, idle to full and after a couple of minutes stays at full.  The oscillating makes me think logic board.  But the stuck on full and freeze up makes my think that maybe it is just running hot.

The client reports that his fan has been doing this for since he can remember.  However, his wife has the same model and hers is much less active.

Any thoughts?
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Question by:TECHHEAD_biz
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by:wizengamot
ID: 20386205
The first thing I would check would be the BIOS version.  If the mobo was ever replaced it might have had an old version of the BIOS.  The primary item that controls fan speed in most laptops I have ever worked on is the motherboard specifically the BIOS fan curve that gets loaded.  This fan curve tells the system that for a given temperature rise the fan should run at a given speed. The system typically will poll for a new fan speed every 4 seconds and raise/lower the fan speed according to the temperature readings at that time. The other item that could be bad is the sensor that tells the system the temperature.  If the temp cannot be read, the system will default to high speed because it cannot run lower without risking hardware failure (worst case heat production is assumed)

I lost count of the number of motherboards I replaced for this problem when I worked for HP as a senior technical advisor.
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by:TECHHEAD_biz
ID: 20386248
What about the freeze ups, reboots?

New symptom.  I had been running disk tests and memory tests with no errors.  I had to leave the office for about ten minutes.  I come back and the notebook has shut itself off.  No power.

It still boots back up, and I am in the process of running the mem tests again.
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by:TECHHEAD_biz
ID: 20386312
Ok, it shut off on my next memtest.  But then it also shut off again when I was checking BIOS.  So I don't think that it has anything to do with the memory.  But since the problem appears progressive, would I be on the right track thinking that the CPU is overheating?

Now I too am experiencing the issue where XP reboots as soon as the white bar has crossed.

Here is the BIOS info.  Thanks for your help.

Computer Setup 1.27
ROM date 10/24/2005
ROM family 68DTA
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by:wizengamot
ID: 20386318
Thats a very good question.  I would tend to think based on the available information that a laptop that shuts down  for no reason (we know that it is not set to do so, we know there are no viruses) the most likely issue would be heat.  Another reason for the fan speed to be really high is if the fan grills themselves to be so choked with dust that the heat cannot be moved out of the unit.  This does not seem likely in this case because the customer has stated that the unit did this when it was new.  I would suspect the motherboard of the unit for all issues.  There are some steps that I would follow first before telling him to pay to replace the mobo ( unless its under warranty)
1.  Remove Norton Antivirus and install NOD32.  Based on my own tests and a number of other av rating websites, this is the best antivirus currently available.  It is also significantly more efficient than Norton.  (6hr scan vs 30 minute scan, same hdd).
2.  Run some basic cleanup utils trying to see if spyware is infecting the machine. Much of what looks like hardware failure is actually OS failure when our primary diags find nothing wrong with the hardware.
3.  Confirm that you are running the best memtest on the market (its free and available at memtest.org).
The memtest in question will boot to its own built in os and run continuously until you stop it.
4.  also there are some cases where a bios update actually increases the fans speed and # of times it comes on.  Dell did that awhile back with its 9300 and 9400 line.  The bios update actually increase fan utilization (which made the units noisier and pissed off a lot of people) but lowered Dells costs in regards to the warranty claims on these units.
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wizengamot earned 500 total points
ID: 20386332
You pretty much have an overheat issue.  If the unit is progressively worse the longer its on, and then when you let it cool, the problem is less, that is an overheat of the CPU.  Failed heatpipe, failed connection of the heat pipe to the CPU, or even lack of thermal grease between the CPU and the heatpipe.
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by:TECHHEAD_biz
ID: 20386358
Yeah, it's got nothing to do with Windows or any of the programs installed.  I've been running all my tests off of a freedos boot cd.  I agree that it is pretty definitely a overheating issue.  Thanks for you help.
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by:TECHHEAD_biz
ID: 31412057
Thanks
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by:Mark
ID: 20388681
Here is the replace /removal video guides for this laptop, just click on the specific part to replace on the left panel.
http://h20181.www2.hp.com/plmcontent/NACSC/SML/results.htm?SID=447349&MEID=173B0ADA-D5D4-4895-A09E-69A57DDC877B
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