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84 Posts

12-09-2009

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Heavy W520 throttling worth fixing?

2016-07-28, 6:05 AM

Hi everyone,

 

Long-time W520 owner here. With the FHD display, and the 32 GB RAM, 500GB SSD & 2TB HD I've upgraded it with, after five years it's still a fine machine in many respects. Lenovo makes great workstations, kudos to the team behind them.

 

However I face a pretty annoying problem: under load and on AC power, when using all cores it quickly and regularly drops down to the slowest state, which is about 800Mhz, sticking with that for some minutes, coming back to 2.2 Ghz, sticking with that for less time, and repeating that cycle.  I'm not expecting a machine that never throttles, but I'm sure it used to be a lot better.

 

I've tried blowing out the dust with a Giottos Rocket Air Blower, but it makes no difference. Perhaps the CPU thermal compound has reached its EOL, and an application of new thermal paste would restore its former glory.

 

The thing is, is it worth paying someone to tear it down and apply that paste? Or is it doable for me to do it myself? I'm not at all an expert, and I don't want to inadvertently wreck my only computer.

 

Quite apart from the cost, there is the issue where due to its age I wouldn't be surprised if random things start to break. And it is aging. The screen isn't as bright as it once was, for example, which is easy to tell because I regularly calibrate the display using a high quality calibrator.

 

Thanks in advance for any advice!

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4492 Posts

07-24-2013

Switzerland

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Re: Heavy W520 throttling worth fixing?

2016-07-28, 6:27 AM

Welcome to the forum!

 

That's a nice specc'ed W520 you have! In my opinion it has surely quite some power for the years to come, (although that may depend entirely on your computer needs).

 

Replacing the thermal compound is not difficult, all you need is a screwdriver, a small plastic pick and good thermal paste brand (like Artic Silver 5, Artic Cooling MX-2, Noctua NT-H1, Thermal Grizzly  Kryonaut, to name a few).

 

You can download the hardware maintenance manual and check chapter 9, step 1150 to see what needs to be done, then you can decide if you feel confident to do it yourself or ask somebody to do it: click me!

 

-

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4492 Posts

07-24-2013

Switzerland

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  • Message 2 of 4

Re: Heavy W520 throttling worth fixing?

2016-07-28, 6:27 AM

Welcome to the forum!

 

That's a nice specc'ed W520 you have! In my opinion it has surely quite some power for the years to come, (although that may depend entirely on your computer needs).

 

Replacing the thermal compound is not difficult, all you need is a screwdriver, a small plastic pick and good thermal paste brand (like Artic Silver 5, Artic Cooling MX-2, Noctua NT-H1, Thermal Grizzly  Kryonaut, to name a few).

 

You can download the hardware maintenance manual and check chapter 9, step 1150 to see what needs to be done, then you can decide if you feel confident to do it yourself or ask somebody to do it: click me!

 

-


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84 Posts

12-09-2009

United States of America

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  • Posts: 84
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  • Message 3 of 4

Re: Heavy W520 throttling worth fixing?

2016-07-28, 6:39 AM

wrote:

You can download the hardware maintenance manual and check chapter 9, step 1150 to see what needs to be done, then you can decide if you feel confident to do it yourself or ask somebody to do it: click me!

 

-


That's a fantastic reply, thank you very much! It's much easier than I thought it would be. I can definitely do that myself, and it looks to be relatively low-risk.

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4492 Posts

07-24-2013

Switzerland

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  • Message 4 of 4

Re: Heavy W520 throttling worth fixing?

2016-07-28, 7:20 AM

wrote:


thank you very much! It's much easier than I thought it would be. I can definitely do that myself, and it looks to be relatively low-risk.


You're welcome! Make sure you follow the steps carefully! :smileyhappy:

 

I'd like to emphasize two more things:

 

  • It has to be a good thermal paste, do not buy any no-name brand!
  • You need to apply a very thin layer of thermal compound! Too much paste is no good, see a picture below as an example (it's a different CPU but the principle is the same, if possible apply slightly less than the pictured example)

 

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