My laptop, a three-year old Dell Inspiron 5100, was recently suffering from some heat-related issues that manifested themselves in slowdowns and sometimes shutdowns. You see, the CPU in this laptop is an Intel desktop 2.8 GHz P4 – one of the truly hot-running CPUs, made before Intel decided that clock speed wasn’t everything under the sun, and thus is probably not the best part to include in a laptop. When I first purchased the laptop, it was able to run CPU-intensive apps well, though it did occassionally overheat. However, after three years of use, it would routinely overheat to the point that it would always throttle itself to a lower speed, resulting in my system becoming very slow – things like browsing the Internet or trying to watch video on YouTube just wouldn’t work very well.
I finally decided to take a look at the heatsink/fan area – it didn’t look like it had a lot of dust in it, but then again, I had been lazy. Not any more – I took a can of compressed air and aimed straight at it. Immediately, a huge puff of extremely fine dust spurted out and I had to cover my face. I then proceeded to spray out the rest of the dust until no more was seen. Now, the laptop runs like it was brand new. If you have a laptop that’s getting very hot, invest in a can of compressed air, but make sure you’re in an area that you feel comfortable scattering with very fine dust particles.