Question about Lenovo ThinkPad Z61t Notebook

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I have a lenovo z61t it often overheats and shuts down. how can i trouble shoot the fan? are there any fixes for this?

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With something as small as a laptop, and with something as small as a laptop fan, troubleshooting is easy. You should easily be able to hear the whirring of the fan if it's running, especially if it's hot. If you don't hear it, it isn't working.

Posted on Dec 28, 2008

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Z61t overheating


iQuismO here...i posted this in the lenovo forums:

The Z-series laptops tend to have more of an overheating issue when compared to other thinkpads due to the vent design of the heatsink fan. The copper fins may look clean from the outside (rear and left corner exit vents). But since the z-series laptops are the only ones with an open vent on the underside of the fan, dust, dander, dirt, etc come in from the bottom and get stuck on the inner side of the copper fins which creates a blockage that you cannot see from the outside. Nor can you blow it clean from the outside.

Some of the main symptoms of this are as follows: Hot underside (especially near center of the laptop - where the CPU lies, and at the corner where the fan is), freezing, lock-ups of the laptop, unexpected shut downs, black screens (not all black or blue screens are results of overheating), MS Windows not fully booting, etc.

A new z-series laptop is not hot to the touch, at most, should be warm as a warm shower. One should remove the dust as early as possible. To do this, all you need is a small phillips screwdriver, compressed air or vaccum, a q-tip, and some CPU thermal compound (compound isn't mandatory, but suggested).

First, remove the keyboard and palmrest/trackpad. To do so, just turn your laptop over, and remove the screws that have a keyboard symbol next to them (small rectangle with dots inside).

Additionally, there will be 4 screws, 2 PER corner on the bottom-side near the screen hinges. Remove only ONE PER CORNER - CLOSEST to the corner.

Now flip your laptop right side up and open up the screen. Lift up on the right and left OUTSIDE edges of the palmrest near the seam (next to "Fn" and "right arrow" keys). you will hear clicks as you disengage each tab. Once you have disengaged all of the tabs, carefully unplug the trackpad ribbon cable from the motherboard (pull up on the edge of the board that the cube foam piece is on).

Now that the palm rest is removed, lift the bottom edge of the keyboard upward to expose the ribbon cable of the keyboard, unplug that one as well and then remove the keyboard.

Next, you must remove the speaker grills and top trim. Simply remove 2 screws, 1 near where the "Fn" key was, and another near where the "right arrow" key was...they are the only ones holding down the BLACK trim piece.

You will notice a black rectangular trim piece near the top of the keyboard area which has FOUR screws. Remove the four screws.

You can now remove the trim piece by lifting on the outside edges of the speaker grill (starting from where it touched the palmrest). There are clips that need to be disengaged here as well, so just lift up with some pressure.

After removing the trim piece and exposing the speakers, remove the 2 screws holding the LEFT speaker in place, one screw is on the top, and one on the bottom. After the screws are removed, lift the speaker out of place, and out of the way letting it hang by the speaker wire.

YOU ARE NOW READY TO REMOVE THE HEATSINK AND FAN.

Near the center of the laptop, on top of the copper heatsink, you will see 4 screws holding down to silver strips of metal, maybe 3-4 cm long and 4 mm wide each. The 4 screws are also unmistakable because each one is numbered 1 through 4, which is also the order that the screws should be removed and replaced. REMOVE these 4 screws.

The fan is connected to the motherboard with a set consisting of 3 wires and 1 plug, follow the wires to the white plug on the motherboard, and simply pull it out.

You can now lift out the heatsink and fan assembly, exposing the CPU (it should have the grey thermal paste on it).

The fan might not look clogged, but once you remove the SILVER screws holding it to the copper heatsink, you will see the clog. Thoroughly remove the dust with compressed air/vaccum, and clean out the fan as well. You can clean the fan fins using the cotton swab.

Clean off the used thermal paste using a lint-free cloth/fabric. Put a drop of thermal paste on the center of the CPU...then spread it evenly over the CPU...you don't have to be exact, as the copper heatsink should evenly disperse the paste as it is pressed onto the CPU. Wipe off the thermal paste from the copper heatsink, as you'd like only the new thermal paste to be used.

That's pretty much it, now just reassemble the laptop. DON'T FORGET TO PLUG THE FAN WIRE IN, otherwise you will get a fan error when powering on, and then you'll have to reassemble everything to get to that fan wire...what a pain

Rule of thumb, shortest screws are for the end pieces of the speaker grill trim, as well as the left speaker, medium screws are for the heatsink to the CPU as well as the black rectangular trim towards the top-middle of the keyboard area, and the longest screws are all from the bottom side.

I work on a lot of IBM/Lenovo laptops here at the office, but the z61t's at home as we have 2 in the house...after I did the above procedure, the temperature difference is like night & day. No longer hot to the touch, and you can truely use it as a laptop without burning your lap.

Keep in mind that this is common maintenance, so use your judgement in how often you should clean out the fan/heatsink. Major factors in your laptop environment include dustiness, whether or not you use it on a tabletop or on cloth/bedding, pets with fur/dander, etc.

Videos on disassembling the keyboard and palmrest can be found here. I hope this helps.

Dec 28, 2008 | Lenovo ThinkPad Z61t Notebook

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