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Laptop wont boot after cleaning heatsink and fan

By finny ยท 21 replies
Jun 21, 2007
  1. Hi,
    For my troubles I own a dell inspiron 5160 with a 3.2Ghz P4 Processor. From the day I've got it I havent been happy with its speed from what should have been a beast of a machine.

    Anyway, it came with the standard overheating flaw that all 5160's come with and required to be cracked open to have the dust cleaned from the fan & heat sink. When I removed the heatsink fan and processor I noticed one of the processor pins was bent flat. I decided to straighten it using a blade and managed to do it without breaking the pin and it now fits into the socket as it should but now my laptop no longer boots.

    When I power on the laptop the processor fan comes on and the dvd drive gets spun but after about 15 seconds the power remains on but the laptop doesnt go anywhere. The screen remains dead the entire time and there are no beeps whatsoever. I have tried removing all components and re-seating them but still the same result.

    Anyone have any ideas?

  2. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    You cleaned the old paste off of the cpu and heatsink and re-applied NEW paste and securely fastened the heatsink?
  3. finny

    finny TS Rookie Topic Starter

    No, the chip is connected to the heat sink and I cant see any way of disconnecting it. Is that likely to be the problem considering it was working (hot) before I took everything apart?

    Thanks for your help.
  4. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    I would replace the CPU and also post in the correct forum. (mobile computing.)

    Use thermal grease when your replace the CPU with a new heatsink. There are also adhesives for laptop CPU heatsinks.

    I recommend getting this professionally done. Laptop repair is delicate work and not for amateurs.
  5. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    From what I have read, that particular laptop is problematic in that it uses a desktop-style Prescott cpu that runs HOT and is in a laptop that doesn't have decent cooling and never had good thermal paste applied nor a decent heatsink attachment configuration.

    SO, you can play around further and gerfunkle the whole thing OR maybe check out a shop to have the cpu de-attached from the heatsink and tested and if still good re-installed.

    Best advice I have.


  6. finny

    finny TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Sorry about posting in the wrong forum but because I thought the problem is with the processor then why not ask the people who know about processors? I have worked with computers but have not come accross the problems of a bent pin so I asked in here.

    Is it possible that the processor ran with a bent pin and now that the damaged pin is making contact it is stopping the chip altogether? What if I bent the pin again?

    Believe me I know that sounds rediculous but I really dont want to put any money into the machine if I can avoid it as it was a bad machine to begin with and I intend to replace it but I dont have the budget for it right now.

  7. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    Then just do a Google for ' dell inspiron 5160 ' and you'll hit a few topics about heat, removing the cpu, and remedies of sorts.
  8. halo71

    halo71 TS Rookie Posts: 1,090

    Finny, have you called Dell about the overheating issue? A few months ago while researching laptops, before I bought mine. Seems like I read somewhere that Dell is aware of the problem and was replacing the heatsink and fans. I forget now where I read that though.

    EDIT: Damn I love Google! Read HERE.
  9. finny

    finny TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks a lot guys.
    Just to follow up on this... I did a bit of research on this and it turns out dell have put all 5160's back into warranty... and they kept it a good secret too. I contacted their support and they are going to fix it free of charge.

    Halo71, thanks for the link. I have posted it on the dell forums and 1 guy (that I know of) has contacted them.

  10. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Thanks. That is good news for a lot of my clients.
  11. seis

    seis TS Rookie

    same problems with averatec and compaq. wtf?

    i just came across this post while searching on google trying to figure out why neither my averatec (model ?) nor my compaq presario r3000 will boot after i cleaned the fan and heatsink.

    i made a post here: http://www.r3000forums.com/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=14377
    explaining my problem in detail.

    i do not have any bent pins and i never removed the processor on the averatec. in both circumstances i removed the battery, hard drive and memory though.

    please help before my wife kills me for breaking her laptop!

    ps both machines were operating fine before i came along and started meddling...
  12. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    Just describe how you cleaned them. Fully describe. :)
  13. seis

    seis TS Rookie

    here is my post to the r3000 forum in its entireity:

    I'm trying to fix my brother's r3000 for him. The original problem was a corrupted boot sector on the hard drive. I was able to format and re-install XP which had the system up and running no problem. He said he was having problems with the machine shutting off randomly, so I opened the case to clean the heatsinks and fans (which were gross). While I was removing the heatsink assembly, the processor came out with it, stuck to the bottom with thermal paste. I was able to seperate the processor and heatsink and clean them up. I re-inserted the processor using the screw that moves the little white plastic plate with all the holes in it back and forth and put everything back together.

    So, upon restarting, I get a power light, a HDD light that flashes at me several times and then turns off, cd-rom spins up and both fans running, but nothing on the display. Not even the bios screen.

    I've plugged my desktop monitor in to check to see if the display is working, which it is (still nothing).

    When I originally put everything back together and came across this problem I let the machine sit overnight, plugged in and turned it on in the morning. It booted fine. Set up my home network on the machine, went to reboot, screen did some crazy stuff (lines and pixels out of place) and returned to the same problem: no boot.

    Removed the case again, checked the processors proper seating in it's dock, still nothing.

    I'm currently running the machine to drain the battery. I didn't see any sort of battery that i could remove to clear the cmos, so maybe this will help.

    Any suggestions?
  14. seis

    seis TS Rookie

    the averatec i just wanted to clean. removed the hdd, ram, battery, heatsink and fan. didn't touch anything else.

    this is reminiscent of when you're trying to OC your desktop and it doesn't like what you did to it so you have to clear the cmos (ie power but no boot; no bios, no os, no nothing). but i don't know how to clear the cmos on these laptops.
  15. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

  16. seis

    seis TS Rookie

    i'm going to take the compaq apart and double check that the processor is seated properly, but i definitely cleaned the heatsink and processor surfaces and reapplied fresh thermal paste. brb.
  17. seis

    seis TS Rookie

    so yeah, double checked everything. fresh thermal paste, cpu locked properly, no bent pins, no boot. about ready to throw something... :mad:
  18. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    How did you clean the heat sink. If you used any sort of blower or vacuum other than canned air such as the difluoroethane gas in dust off, you may have damaged the computer due to the static electricity generated... and a fix may be impossible.

    If you cleaned it properly, your probably just knocked something loose... It is a long, slow, painstaking process... but just go through the computer and remove, then reseat ever thing there... Look for cables still loose, or anything that seems loose... remove and reseat.

    If the computer is very old, the cables may have become brittle. When that happens, they will crack when moved, and that generally ruins them... so you replace the cables for a cost of about $3.00 to $7.00 per cable.

    Since there is a murder pending, and you are starred on the playbill, I would take it to an EXPERIENCED laptop repair person. Interrogate them to see how much they know, then have them look it over. There are lots of little things an experienced person can check out.

    Otherwise, you wife will get the house and the car, and bury you in a paupers grave with women she thinks are your girl friends.
  19. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Did you break any pins on the processor?
  20. seis

    seis TS Rookie

    i removed the heatsink to clean it, so no static electricity should have been transferred to the cpu at all. i don't know if you noticed but i mentioned that i was able to get the compaq to boot once after i left it sit overnight, but then i went to reboot after changing network settings and it hasn't booted since. i haven't exactly been leaving it alone though...

    don't you think it's really strange that both laptops are showing the same symptoms though. especially since on one all i did was take out the fan and heatsink.
  21. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    Out if ideas - sorry.

    Will it even power the cd/dvd to try and boot from an XP disk?
  22. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Yes, I overlooked in recent readings the fact that two were involved... since there are other posts mixed together... you came in at the middle of another posting set.

    That takes me back to suggesting you look for an infestation... Running HiJackThis in its latest incarnation....

    But, I forget that you look for the most obvious, simple error first... and we have not done that well.

    Re-think everything involved in network fix...

    Failed routers that emit electrical stuff are not all that uncommon.

    The solution to the problem will be found back there in that work you did...

    Does the network device light up? Do any power adapters heat up?

    Since you cleaned the fan and heatsink in both, something you did to both caused the problem... cleaning solution, cable change, power change.

    What I have to do with cases like this is get a good night's sleep, and get away from the machine for two or three days... relaxation helps... Do not go back to a bad machine while frustrated, angry, or tired.

    My guess is that the problem will reduce to simple things and you will have both repaired within a half hour.
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