Building Castle Walls

In an attempt to diagnose the various maladies of my laptop, I downloaded NHC to monitor my core temperature, HDD temperature, and clock speed, among others. I was rather surprised what I discovered.

Acer Aspire 5102WLMi

Processor: AMD Turion 64 X2


HDD: 120 GB

Video Card: ATI Radeon XPress 1100

The main issue with my laptop is that it seems to hang randomly, for no reason at all. It hangs while I’m surfing the net or even just leaving it to idle. There is nothing I can do to make it BSOD reliably; it just seems to die whenever it wants to. This hanging takes one of several forms.

1. Everything just stops moving.

2. The screen turns into color bars, the same color as the predominant screen color at the time it was running.

3. BSOD, often with an error “Driver IRQL not less than or equal.”

I’ve tried updating my drivers, but the same thing still happens.

Another thing that I found really strange: When running programs as light as Visual Boy Advance, the CPU usage shoots up on both cores, like clockwork, every 30 seconds. (With Dynamic switching enabled, the interval increases in frequency to every 15 seconds.) I then saw that NHC detected this periodic stutter as both a drop in core speed (from 1.6 GHz to 800 MHz), resulting in an increase in usage. When idle, this doesn’t happen. However, take a look at the following:

wth1 Look, the processor is building a castle wall! It’s going to be able to effectively fight off sieges with arrow volleys! *Ahem*

This is at maximum performance, with no dynamic switching. The only programs actively running are Firefox 3 and iTunes. The core temperature is also disturbingly high. (NHC’s “Warning” level is 80 degrees Celsius, and “Shutdown” level is at 95. That’s almost hot enough to boil water. <_<)

So I’m not exactly sure what’s causing this.

I tried turning off maximum performance and went with dynamic switching instead. I got this. The processor speed is understandably jittery, switching from full to half depending on the need. However, the core temperature drops dramatically.

So yeah, what the heck is wrong with my laptop? It’s about 2 years old already. I’ve never dropped it or poured my coffee onto it. It’s just really odd that its performance has dropped significantly ever since it started crashing like this. Is there anyone out there who can help me with this? I plan on buying a replacement eventually (I want to be able to play Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2), but the current budget does not allow for that any time soon.

If anyone has had the same problem or knows why this weirdness happens, please let me know.

I forgot to mention:


Cooling pads seem to have absolutely no effect on the core temperature.  The readings I get are the same, with or without the cooling pad active.  SpeedFan still detects my temperature on both cores to be in the danger zone, and disturbingly enough, my laptop seems to have no CPU fan speed monitor.


~ by J. R. R. Flores on February 10, 2009.

2 Responses to “Building Castle Walls”

  1. AMD cores tend to make heat sinks useless. Having them in laptops isn’t really very ideal as far as my experience goes. Now put them in properly cooled desktop tower cases and you have a gaming machine but for laptops where the internals are cramped together, that’s BSOD waiting to happen. I think over time, the excessive heat given off by your cores took its toll on the rest of your internals.

  2. Well, to say on the temp. I have an Acer Aspire 5050, three or four years old, 2.5 GB of RAM, AMD Turion 64 Mobile, and a 70 GB HDD. I use an application that monitors the core temp, and the reading goes up to your “Shutdown” level, ’bout 95 degrees, give or take 5 degrees after an hour or two. I’m not experiencing the hangs/shutdowns, so I won’t have anything to say to that.

    Agree on the cooling pads, too, according to many of the people I’ve talked ’bout it. Thank goodness I didn’t buy one.

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