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Dell Inspiron 700m Laptop Crashes During Intensive Scans/Reformat


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#1 rbhambha

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 02:29 AM

Hey all,

So, I've been having this problem for a year now, and my solution has been to avoid intensive scans and reformatting to this day. Around a year ago, the CPU fan inside of my laptop died, so I had to purchase a new one off of eBay (the only place I could find one) and replace it. The reason I had to replace it was because my laptop kept crashing due to heat problems. Prior to the fan dying, I had no problems.

I opened up the computer, removed the old fan, applied new thermal paste (Arctic Silver Ceramique) to the CPU and new heat sink, and installed the new fan in the old one's place. Now, my computer will run under normal use FOREVER without crashing, however whenever I try to run an intensive scan or perform a reformat, it will totally crash. No blue screen, no nothing, it just shuts down!

Anyone have any suggestions? Should I try opening it up again and reapplying some thermal paste to the CPU? I know how to properly apply it, so that won't be a problem. Perhaps a new fan would do the trick? Or, is it something other than heat that is causing this problem?

Thanks for your help!

Model: Dell Inspiron 700m
CPU: Intel Pentium M 1.8GHz
RAM: 1GB
OS: Win XP Service Pack 3

Edited by rbhambha, 02 July 2009 - 02:31 AM.


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#2 High500

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 02:47 AM

Hi rbambha

Firstly before deciding if its hardware releated or not, we need to check to see what is causing the reboot. Best way to do this is to invoke a blue screen instead of automatic reboot on the error.

Best way to enable this is in the control panel > System > Advanced Tab > Startup And Recovery section click the Settings button.

In the System Failure section untick the option that says "Automatically Restart" then click the ok button to close both windows and set the setting.
Next time the computer crashes it should show you the blue screen, note down all the details it gives you (digital camera might help here ;) ) and post back with the results.
If it does not blue screen and just restarts, then the chances are it is a hardware failure, but check in your eventlog too for any errors.

Let me know how you get on!

High500

#3 rbhambha

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 03:09 AM

Hey High500,

Thanks for the super fast response!

Allow me to clarify a bit, the computer actually isn't rebooting at all once it crashes. It totally crashes, shuts down, and won't start up again until I press the power button. Just now I checked my temperatures with SpeedFan, and under normal use my two computer temperatures are 73 and 56 degrees Celsius! :thumbsup:

Pretty high temperatures I think.

Then, to see how high temperatures got when running a scan, I started running an Avira scan. When my CPU usage went up and stayed at around 95% during the scan, the two temperatures raised to 92 and 75 degrees Celsius! I paused the scan before my system could crash again.

I will follow your steps, however, and try to see if I can get a blue screen when the computer crashes. I'm not sure I'll get one since it's not rebooting, and it's totally crashing instead.

Any further thoughts given this new information?

Thanks so much for your help!

Edited by rbhambha, 02 July 2009 - 03:10 AM.


#4 rbhambha

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 03:13 AM

Okay, so I just checked the Startup and Recovery options settings, and the "Automatically Restart" option is already unticked. So it must be a hardware problem then?

#5 High500

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 03:58 AM

Most likely, but dont rule out windows still, its pretty tame but has its vicious moments :thumbsup:

Check you event logs and see if there is anything that stands out, also check to see if you have a hardware monitoring application installed by dell and see if you got any heat problems (if you have a monitoring progam swicth on logging if it supports it!)

Don't mean to sound rude, or state that your hardware technical abilities are rubbish as I am not, but when you applied the thermal paste to your new fan did you totally clean the fan and the cpu where the 2 make contact? did you apply the "minimal" amount of paste so that when spread it creates an ultra thin spread but without gaps spread? Its possible an air pocket could had got trapped when you applied the new fan if too much paste was used, or too much paste will defeat the conductivity of the fan sink. Does your fan appear to run alot? is the room hot? humid? ie here today in birmingham uk its very hot and humid and the 8 servers i have in this room are humming like crazy to keep the heat down. Ever spilt anything on the laptop? check theres nothing making a contact on the mainboard or crossing tracks (like a rogue screw or any liquid/residue), check all the ribbon cables are seated ok (laptops are a nightmare to disassemble and re-assemble!) make sure any pluginable parts are making proper contact.

Also might pay you to recheck that the cpu is seated firmly. On removal of the old fan you may have dislodged the cpu slightly from its socket.

I know this all sounds obvious maybe but its worth checking before you condemn the laptop to calculator heaven!

Let me know how you get on!

High500

#6 rbhambha

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 01:57 PM

Okay, I just took apart the computer again, cleaned out the fan, reapplied the thermal paste to the heatsink/CPU heat spreader, and then put it back together. It seems as though I'm able to run an intensive anti-virus scan now without it crashing, but the temperatures are still getting ridiculously high (92C and 76C). I highly doubt I'll be able to run a reformat without it crashing. I checked for any rogue screws and didn't find any, and I've never split anything on the laptop either. Everything is plugged in properly, and seated properly as well.

I'll wait and see if it crashes again. So far so good, however the temperatures haven't come down after reapplying the thermal paste :thumbsup:

Any further suggestions?

#7 High500

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Posted 03 July 2009 - 08:20 AM

You might find that the temperatures may be stable now you re-applied the thermal paste. When the system crashed before the monitor may not have registered the extra heat that caused it in time for the crash. See how you get on for a few days. BTW is it hot where you are? Its been sweltering and humid here and my cpu fan is in overdrive. Could be a factor of your high temps. Also check in the bios and in your power save options for what power mode your fan is set to, it might be set too low (quiet mode) try checking if it has a performance settings or an "On all the time" setting and see if that helps.

Let me know!

High500

#8 rbhambha

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 01:10 PM

Yes, it is very hot and humid over here (Houston, TX). That may be one of the reasons temperatures are higher. I have noticed the temperatures are lower now, and more stable. The temps still skyrocket when running an antivirus scan though, however, the comp didn't crash when I ran a full scan yesterday! So, it looks like we've made some progress.

I went into the BIOS and there isn't a way to adjust fan speed. :thumbsup:

Thanks for your help!




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