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T61 and T61p fan and heatsink - thermal grease and thermal pads

Over time, a computer can accumulate dust and lint in the fan and heatsink assemblies.   This reduces the airflow for cooling, causes the fan to run at higher speeds than when it was clean, and can lead to CPU and GPU software throttling, especially under heavy demand, like playing 3D games.


This system has been used in a dusty environment - not only is the fan full of dust, but notice the dust pattern on the speaker to the left of the fan.  See all the dust spots that match the holes in the speaker grill.  This system needs to be dusted with a can of compressed air.


T61 heatsink0.png


If you are outside of warranty and are going to clean or replace your fan (because the bearings have worn out and it is dirty or has stopped working completely, or because your system is running significantly warmer than when it was new) you can refer to the hardware maintenance manuals for your particular model found on the support site at www.lenovo.com, or you can view training videos on how to disassemble your system to change out the fan on www.lenovoservicetraining.com


If you are removing the fan, for cleaning or replacement, you will need to clean off the old thermal grease and apply some new material.  Artic silver is recommended frequently and I've used it with success.


If you examine the heat sink on T61 and T61p systems, there are several different designs.  Here is an example.  The contact area for the CPU and GPU shown by the arrows below, use thermal grease, while contact with the southbridge chip uses a silicon thermal pad which can be reused.  Thermal grease should not be applied to the silicon pad.


T61 heatsink1.png


When a new fan is sourced from Lenovo service parts, thermal grease is pre applied in a matrix of small dots that spread out to create a proper thickness.   The thermal pad is often protected during shipping with a clear or green plastic film that should be peeled off.  If clear film was included to protect the thermal grease patches, it should be removed as well.   When I removed this particular fan and heatsink, I found that the person who had previously worked on the system, had failed to remove the green film and this was actually acting as an insulator and reducing the effectiveness of the heat sink.


T61 heatsink2.png



Prior to reinstalling this assembly, remove the green film by peeling it away as shown.  Clean off the old, dried thermal grease as noted by the arrows.  Be sure to clean it from the top of the CPU and GPU as well.  Apply a dab of artic silver about the size of a BB to the top of both the CPU and GPU and then install the fan and heat sink assembly.


Reinstalling a heatsink without cleanup and fresh thermal grease can cause higher system temperatures, and erratic / reduced performance. 


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NateS On 2014-01-24, 18:03 PM
Post moved to T61 and prior T series ThinkPad Laptops for better visibility
NateS On 2014-02-02, 16:11 PM
Post merged into existing thread
lenovo-tek On 2014-06-02, 14:34 PM

I always use K5-PRO viscus thermal paste for thermal pad replacement.

You can see a video of it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9v5MDivZfc

and you can find it on ebay and amazon

Mark_Lenovo On 2014-07-01, 23:52 PM


Good suggestion.   I've generally just carefully molded the pads back in shape by pressing in on the edges to make them a bit thicker again so they will compress again when reinstalled.  Nice to know there is an alternative.

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