Why is my laptop overheating?

Sahil April 22, 2011
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I have a Dell Inspiron N5010 which I bought 7 months ago in August 2010.

Nowadays, it shuts down randomly when I play games, mainly while playing Modern Warfare 2. I disable Windows Aero and MSE while playing.

I have monitored the temperature with TechPowerUp GPU-Z and the temperature reaches 106°C before shutting down.

I am sure there won’t be any dust or hairball in the vent as my laptop is new. What can be the problem? By the way, I am buying a laptop cooling pad in a day or two.

I have:
Chipset – ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5400 Series.
Windows 7 x64.

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  1. sunny
    April 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    hey hii i have dell inspiron n5010..i always had a problem I.e whenever i play any game. after half an hour my laptop shutdown automatically without any warning…and while playing games my laptop suddenly start overheating n then it goes shutdown…i am fed up with this problem.. can somebody help me plzzzzzz…

  2. Wested003
    April 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm

     hey hii i have dell inspiron n5010..i always had a problem I.e whenever i play any game like cod. after half an hour my laptop shutdown automatically  without any warning...and while playing games my laptop suddenly start overheating n then it goes shutdown...i am fed up with this problem.. can somebody help me plzzzzzz...

  3. 1742966100
    April 12, 2012 at 6:11 am

    happens to me too. my friend said my processor aint good enough i3. it overheats because you need at least 3.2 ghz pc to run it or itll overheat. mine is 2.53 ghz

  4. Amolak
    March 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    I have a  DELL INSPIRON  N 5010
     i have i5 processor...4GB RAM1 gb ati mobility radeon hd 550v 
    it shuts down randomly wn i play ALAN WAKE or BATMAN:ARKHAM CITY..does ny 1 have a solution or ansr to my question???plz help 

    • Smayonak
      March 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      It turned out that the Dell Inspiron N5010 suffers from a design defect that causes its graphics processing unit (GPU) to overheat (that's what has been said in the Dell forums). The best option is for you to call Dell and find out if they've recalled this model, or if it's still under warranty.

      In case you want to confirm whether heat is an issue, try using the Real Temp application (http://www.techpowerup.com/realtemp/). If installed, first turn on error logging (in the settings menu) and let it run in the background while playing Alan wake/Batman. It will record your system's temperature up until it crashes. Locate the log file and open it. Huge spikes in temperature indicate a heat issue. Be aware that not all motherboards/GPU are supported (although many are).

      In case your warranty has expired, you may want to try three simple and easy methods for lowering a laptop's temperature: (1) get a cooling pad; (2) underclocking your GPU and (3) playing with reduced graphical settings (located inside your game's configuration menu).

      #1 and #3 are really easy fixes for this issue, so I'll just skip to the second item: Underclock your GPU. Download the latest software for your graphics card (GPU). It may have options for reducing its maximum performance (underclocking).Try poking around in there for settings that control performance. If I remember correctly Nvidia has included a slider for the core clock of the GPU. Lowering this frequency will also lower the overall heat output.

      I'm not sure, but this might be the link to your graphics card:


      There's actually a whole article (it's a little dated though) on how to underclock your GPU:


      I don't know much about the software in the above link, however, so use at your own risk.

      Good luck! 

  5. Amolak
    March 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    i have i5 processor...
    4GB RAM
    1 gb ati mobility radeon hd 550 vit shuts down randomly wn i play ALAN WAKE or BATMAN:ARKHAM CITY..does ny 1 have a solution or ansr to my question???plz help

  6. sandip kc
    December 29, 2011 at 7:21 am

    My laoptop has got same problem. It shutdown today morning 3 times.
    Model: dell n 5010
    RAM: 4GB
    procesor: i3
    Win 7
    Its winter here I dont think it is due to overheating.
    Help me please

    • George
      January 21, 2012 at 11:28 am

      My laptop has the same issue.
      Model: dell n 5010RAM: 3GBprocessor: i3 

      OS: WIN 7

      First time it had this problem (only 3 month after I bought it) I took it to service. They told me the issue is cause of the dust and they only cleaned it. 
      After other 8 months the same problem.  But now it's out of warranty so after reading all the posts regarding this I decided to open it clean it and change the thermal paste.
      After disassambley surprise - no dust or just a little bit. Since the temp went as high as 70 C only 2 min after turning on I thought that amount of dust can't be the cause. So I replaced the thermal paste with Arctic Silver 5 (one of the best). 
      As a result of all this NO CHANGE! The temps are the same (70 - 80 C) when it hits 90 it shuts down. 

      I mention that I don't play games. This happens while using a browser.

      Can anyone suggest what the problem might be?

      • Smayonak
        January 21, 2012 at 6:24 pm

        Thank you George for describing the problem in necessary detail. If the technician thought it was overheating then it's likely that you are getting no warning, shutdowns to black. Another symptom is that your computer will start slowing down. Bluescreen also sometimes occurs. Can you confirm?

        To determine whether or not overheating is an issue requires a means of measuring how hot your laptop gets.

        Try this open source software:


        There are three primary places where heat can accumulate - the graphics processor or northbridge (AKA MCH or IMCH), the CPU and the southbridge (located on your motherboard). The hard drive is another place but less likely to be a source of overheating.

        OHM can sometimes look at heat sensors on your motherboard (where the north and southbridges are located), but sometimes it won't recognize them. It will always recognize the CPU temps.

        Try running OHM while using your browser. Watch the temps. If it spikes by a wide margin from its idle state, then you have the source of the problem. If there's no change, then the problem is likely elsewhere.

        Make sure your computer is getting good airflow - that means, if it has a fan intake on the bottom that it has proper clearance. Like rubber feet to keep it elevated and breathing. However, given your info, I suspect the issue may be a design flaw.

    • Smayonak
      January 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      I'm sorry you are having issues. Can you describe how it is shutting down? Bluescreen? Blackscreen? How does it behave before it shuts down?

  7. Smayonak
    April 30, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Something I almost forgot: Saptashwa is right that the BIOS oftentimes contains settings for different kinds of fan settings. Sometimes fans can run aggressively or silently. You typically want as aggressive as possible.

    Check your BIOS to make sure.

  8. Smayonak
    April 30, 2011 at 6:43 am

    I did mean that as a compliment. Your computer issues are always worthy of analysis.

    Did you try scanning them in safe mode? The majority of serious problems are caused by things that only show up in safe mode (or not at all).

    SpeedFan will wear your fan down faster, if it works, but otherwise there's no danger in turning your fan speed up.

    RE: Undervolting. The one thing to remember - ALWAY REMEMBER - when undervolting is never, ever, EVER turn your VID number up above the default value. Always lower it.

    If you use too low a voltage, you will get BSOD, but that's easily fixed by turning up the VID number slightly. If you RAISE the VID number, you will overheat and possibly damage, the CPU.

    On the many computers I've undervolted, all of taken the lowest voltage rating and temps drop substantially.

  9. Sahil Dave
    April 30, 2011 at 6:39 am

    Hello people,

    See the attached picture. The Inlet for the air flow is on the right top corner, and the other three in the middle would be of something else.

    The question is - i was getting a laptop cooler with only one big fan, about 15cm diameter in the center somewhat like this http://www.flipkart.com/computers/cooling-pads/cooler-master-notepal-x-lite-acccxscfwyhgm5mg . I was confused as the main inlet is in the corner and the fan is in the middle
    Will the fan in the middle be beneficial for the laptop or should i search a one with fan at the corners.

    Can anyone suggest me good coolers ?? The suggested above are all with fan in center.

  10. Smayonak
    April 30, 2011 at 5:58 am

    Sahil Dave - you always have the most interesting computer issues. :-)

    If your laptop was not overheating before, and it's overheating now, then logically something that happened between then and now must have caused this issue. Perhaps another user?

    Your brother may have inadvertently installed additional software, malware or viruses. You are already aware of this, so I will be brief: these things run silently in the background and contribute to system heat. The others in this thread know exactly what they're talking about. It's either dust, software or hardware.

    Give it the once over with a spyware, malware and virus sweeper. And run the scan in safe mode. Just install something simple like ClamWin and boot into safe mode.

    If that doesn't work, I highly suggest undervolting if you're using Core2Duo and iCore.


    It will lower heat production by around 20-30%, which makes a huge difference.

    SpeedFan is the most popular fan control program.


    • Sahil Dave
      April 30, 2011 at 6:23 am

      Thanks for the "compliment" Smayonak,
      I have already ran all the malware, spyware and virus thingy. Done with deisk cleanups, registry cleaners and defrags but gained nothing.

      Are these two softwares reliable, cause i dont want to end up with wrecked burned hardware.

      ONE QUESTION to everyone. Can Win 7 ultimate x64 cause this. I have only 6 startup items, and very less startup services. I close all the running applications while playing game.

      • Jahangird1
        June 18, 2011 at 6:40 pm

        Dear Sahil, I have a Dell N5010 laptop, although I do not play games, but engineers from Dell have confirmed this model has overheating issues, as laptop is still in warrantly check with Dell Tech support for possible solutions.

        • Smayonak
          June 18, 2011 at 6:53 pm

          Jahangird1: Good job. The first question we should have asked is whether or not this particular model had been recalled or had any design flaws.

  11. DV Ruffin
    April 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I was going to say it might be overclocked. For sure, your CPU is over-worked. Laptops are normally not meant for gaming since video games, specially the 3D ones are very demanding on your hardware. Another possibility besides the dust problem is your CPU fan might be getting sluggish or erratic. You may want to have it checked. I don't know if you can have it properly lubricated but it might be worth to ask the techs at the shop. If you have to play a game, don't do anything else. And do it after rebooting. You also may want to do some maintenance on your computer like scandisk and defrag. Run Advanced SystemCare and Glary Utilities and while you're at it, run CCleaner too. Go to the Startup tab of MSCONFIG and start cleaning up startup programs and processes to reduce the load on your CPU. Your CPU might not be adequate for meeting the demands of the game you are playing. There are free utilities that speeds up CPU fan. I can't think of one at the top of my head but Google should be able to help you out.

    • Sahil Dave
      April 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks Ruffin for the reply, i maintain my PC very well, timely defragging and all. I have minimum Startup items.
      If you can tell me some good utilities to speed up the fan !


  12. Sahil Dave
    April 25, 2011 at 4:16 am

    I havent overclocked my self. As far as i know, my bro took my laptop from me for 2 days, dont know he did it or not. How can i check it, if its been overclocked ???

  13. Saptashwa
    April 24, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Is your laptop overclocked? Have you tinkered with the BIOS settings? Apart from the dust, the strain on your CPU or GPU may well be the cause.

  14. Techno2212
    April 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Usually Dell inspiron laptop has 3 removable compartments beneath it, the ram, hard disk and cpu. When you open the CPU compartment, you notice that it has a heat sink connected to the processor, like my Dell Inspiron 1420. You can unscrew the heatsink which is connected to the processor and there is no problem putting it back on. When you removed the heatsink you can see the collected pile of dust just near the heatsink. I haven't clean up my laptop for 2 years, and I can see just how much dust it has collected.

    • Sahil Dave
      April 24, 2011 at 2:50 am

      Thanks for the reply, i guess i wont open the case myself as it is under warranty and it would be better that i rely on Dell or a computer expert

  15. Sahil Dave
    April 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Hey, I figured out one thing. The fan speed is 30% almost all the time and goes to 100% after 97C.
    Is there a way that i can customise the fan speed, it will be good then, i guess...

  16. Tina
    April 23, 2011 at 4:08 am


    did the overheating happen when you bought the laptop last summer? Probably not. 7 months is a long time and depending on how much dust finds its way into your place, your laptop vents and fans could well be full with dust! So please do clean your hardware!

    Other than that you should make sure that your laptop sits on a solid and even surface, so that the airflow is optimal, you can remove programs from auto-start, so that the RAM and CPU get a break, and you could replace the thermal paste.

    Getting a cooling pad is a good idea. Make sure it supports the laptop's airflow in the right direction!!! More information in this article: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/fix-overheating-laptop/

    Also check out the answers to these questions:

    Good luck!

    • Sahil Dave
      April 23, 2011 at 9:08 am

      Thanks for the reply Tina,

      The overheating has started 2-3 weeks back only. When i play Call Of Duty - Modern Warfare 2 it shut down automatically. The dust in my room is very less and i use my laptop on my table surface 90% of time. Disabling Windows Aero and MSE havent helped me. I would consider replacing the thermal paste but i would do it after 7th May as my Annual Examinations are going on.
      Till then i can do only small things.

      • James Bruce
        April 23, 2011 at 2:38 pm

        COD is a demanding game but it certainly shouldnt be breaking your laptop. More likely you have had the problem for a while, but it only causes a shutdown once the graphics really kicks in for COD. My suspicion is that you have a faulty fan - those are the first thing to break in any computer, as they have moving parts. I very much doubt you can even change the thermal paste, as laptops tend to have their cpu soldered on pretty tight (at least, last time I repaired a laptop years ago they do, things might be different now).

        One easy way to tell would be to go into the BIOS and check the reports in there - there should be a section for CPU, system temp and various fan readings. If one of the fans shows 0 rpm, then that makes diagnosis quite easy.

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