Dell Laptop Overheating and Shimming

2 minute read

As some people I have ranted to might know, my laptop is a Dell Studio 1558 which, with an i7 720QM processor and ATI HD5470 is prone to overheating quite easily. Not a great thing when I want to use it for games as games tend to shut it off (or using it on the sofa/some other soft surface).

Initially, I reapplied thermal paste to the CPU and GPU to attempt to cool it a bit better. This, needless to say, didn’t work. As such, I found a different solution known as shimming, to be used. This involves using a layer of copper in between the heatsink and GPU, Video RAM and/or CPU to dissipate the heat better, mainly where there is a gap that needs bridging (like in the studio 1557/1558 models). Having found a few forum threads where users of the slightly older 1557 model have done this successfully, I decided I would try my hand at it and ordered some copper shims, isopropanol for cleaning off the current thermal paste and some IC7 Diamond thermal paste to replace the arctic silver I was using.

After returning from Download, come Monday morning, the copper shims arrive so time to get down to business. After getting my laptop open, I realise how much of a mess I made applying thermal paste the first time. I fucked it up to be blunt.

So, round I went, using cotton wool and isopropanol to clear up all the thermal paste on the GPU and CPU. Once done, I cut a shim to fit the rectangle part of the heatsink that covers the video ram and used a square piece for the part of the heatsink covering the GPU.

I applied the shims to the heatsink using thermal paste. Afterwards I reapplied only thermal paste to the CPU. For the GPU I used thermal paste between the shim and GPU. For the VRAM I used the thermal pads that were still there between the VRAM and shim. I have pictures which will make their way here shortly so you can see. Overall the process took me between 2 and 3 hours (cold from Download sort of phased me out a bit ).

The following night, I decided to do some stress testing. Playing a bit of Portal seemed to go well and using MSI Kombuster, I ran the burn in test for 40 mins without an issue. Also installed MSI Afterburner to tweak the GPU fan to kick in a bit earlier (as it stayed originally at 30% speed till it go to like 97 celsius…). So far so good, hopefully at the weekend, it will get more of a stress test!


Finally after getting another year out of it, the GPU died completely xD