Odd laptop kockup issues

By Poke
Jul 7, 2010
  1. Lately, I've been having many issues with my HP Pavilion dv7 Notebook that's about one and a half years old, maybe a bit older.

    After spending quite some time attempting to solve the issues (I'm sure it's more than one at this point) myself, I've finally decided to try and make use of my purchased warranty.
    However, prior to taking my laptop in, I figured I might as well get some other suggestions on how I might fix it.

    There's several problems I'd like to address, and any suggestions are much appreciated.

    Around half a year after using my laptop, the fan became much louder than it was initially, I thought nothing of it and continued to use it for a year without any problems.
    Now that I've actually had my laptop shut itself down once a year later due to overheating, I looked into the problem some more.
    The sound of the fan became more of a "vibrating" one, with more violent bursts of sound, rather than a constant hum.
    I discovered that the fan is more than likely clogged with dust, cat fur, etc.
    As I don't currently possess a can of compressed air (pathetic, right?) I used my vacuum to try and clean out the fan. I was reluctant to open the laptop up to manually clean the fan, since I knew that would probably somehow affect my purchased warranty.
    That solved the problem for about a week, after which I purchased an external cooling system and now use that, with no overheating issues.
    The fan still runs rather loudly, and I'm unsure if it's clogged, or simply in need of a replacement (probably due to clogging not being removed, and still using the laptop. Stupid, I know.)

    Now, with the fan out of the way...
    I've been experiencing a strange lockup lately, one that I've never seen before. It's happened multiple times now, for around a week, perhaps shorter.
    While playing any sort of game, (FFXI, Guild Wars, League Of Legends, to name of few.) I'll always have windows media player open in the background. I tend to close every other window, and unnecessary process (game booster is amazing for this). Occasionally, I'll also have Windows Live Messenger open.
    As such, my experience is based solely on those applications.
    Whilst playing FFXI, I'll notice that my music via Media Player suddenly stops. Sometimes, it'll kick back in for a few seconds, then stop again permanently. After that, around a minute later, the sound effects for FFXI skip in and out, with about a ~20 second delay. Eventually, they stop seemingly permanently. Around a minute later, the video stops completely. The entire laptop freezes up. Despite the fact that I should probably hard reset the system, I leave it in hopes that it'll come back (even after witnessing the problem several times, I still see myself trying and hoping. Again, stupid. I know.) Eventually, it will recover, but the sound still fades on and off randomly. Upon turning on the background music for FFXI, I also noticed something very odd. The sound effects (hits, spells, etc.) sometimes stop, but the background music proceeds regardless. The background music also started to loop irrationally, sometimes also stopping completely.
    Additionally, when I tried to turn off the background music again, it didn't work until I tried several minutes later. User preferences are stored on the client side, and my internet connect was perfectly fine, so I know this wasn't a connection issue.
    After the first freeze, some objects in FFXI would preform walking animations, etc, even when they should be doing something else.
    I would've thought this normal for a connectivity issue, but FFXI has a connectivity monitor built-in, and my server latency was more than prudent.
    Shutting down the system and turning it back on minutes later solved the problem, but it's recurred many times, now.
    As you can imagine, it's making some games rather unplayable.
    I seem to notice this much more often while playing FFXI, than anything else. I suppose it might be slightly more processor demanding, but not by a lot.
    My laptop meets all the requirements, too.

    Other things you should know:

    I use my laptop mainly for gaming, and as such, I've been very lazy with windows update. As of now, I have 18 updates missing.

    Despite knowing the possible damages, I've used my laptop while it sounds like the fan is about to completely die. Actually, it has stopped all together once. I wouldn't be surprised if there's some heat damage, but I've been told that it takes a lot to have any of that occur, and most systems will shut themselves off before it does. (My laptop has shut itself off due to heat once, and only once.)

    The "blue screen of death" has become increasingly common for me over the past few weeks. Why, I'm not sure.
    It'll always be after a computer lockup, sometimes after the screen goes entirely black, and the system restarts itself.

    I don't like to admit it, but my laptop has been dropped from ~10 inch heights a few times.

    I try to preform virus scans, malware scans, and defrag my computer regularly. But, it probably only happens 2-3 times a year.

    On one occasion recently, I observed a strange vibrating sound/feel near the front, and directly below the touchpad of my laptop. The vibration also produced a "beep" It wasn't the same vibration as the one from my fan. I poked the touchpad twice, to click something, with a little more force than I normally do (again, stupid. Basically, I was hitting it.) and the sound/feeling faded, and eventually stopped.

    I think that's everything mentionable. Quite a handful, isn't it?

    I'm pretty sure this is a combination of a hardware, and software failure, and it'll be inevitable that I take it in with my warranty. I'm just hoping that the Harddrive, CPU, and video card are undamaged.

    Any suggestions on what I can do, and insight on what, exactly, is wrong with my laptop, would be greatly appreciated.

    Despite the fact that I put my specs on my profile, I'll directly list them here as well. (Sorry, obviously new here.)

    Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU T6400 @ 2.00GHz

    Motherboard (at least, I think so.):
    Hewlett-Packard 3624 18.50

    4062MB RAM

    Video Card:
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4650

    Factory Default
    Also, external cooling device. (It's just a fan base, basically.)

    Soundcard(again, at least I think so):
    IDT High Definition Audio CODEC

    FUJITSU MHZ2320BH G2 [Hard drive] (320.07 GB)
    (I have a recovery drive, as well. I'm sure if it's a separate partition, or another drive all together. It probably isn't relevant.)

    Operating System:
    Windows Vista™ Home Premium (6.0, Build 6001) Service Pack 1 (6001.vistasp1_ldr.100218-0019)

    Notebook model (as stated at the top of this post):
    HP Pavilion dv7 Notebook PC

  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +9

    Fort the future, vacuum cleaners are very risking for cleaning machines, as they introduct static electricity that can damage cpu's, memory and other components. Canned air is readily available and Wal-Mart, most Best Buy, Radio Shack, ... even Walgreens... but the price varies from $5.00 a can to $13 a can, depending on the store.
    Most fan noise is caused by an imbalance of the fan blades where heavy amounts of dust adhere to the blades. Easily cleaned off with denatured alcohol and canned air.
    That Pavilion dv7 was never considered a good gamer, where I live.
    But cleaning up the drive, after installing all the updates, then defragging, is the first step... then run four programs to look for infestations. As a budget issue, use your own, or consider the free Avira Antivir, Microsoft Security Essentials, SuperAntiSpyware, and MalwareBytes availabe from a number of sites such as FileHippo.
    Once you have performent the basic maintenance, you might want to remove the keyboard and take a closer look at the fan, and use some q-tips with denatured alcohol to clean all the cooling channels and fan.
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