Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rescuing an IBM T43 laptop from oblivion

I've had an IBM T43 for a bit over a year, and the poor computer was getting exceptionally flaky (blue screens a few times a day, etc.). I suspected that it was a heat problem, but could not prove it. After a few searches on the web, I found a program called Notebook Hardware Control. It comfirmed a few things. First, the CPU was routinely running hot (sometimes as hot as 87 degrees centigrade), and that the high temperatures were what was causing the flakiness and lockups.

It turns out that this program can also directly change the CPU speed settings. Just go to "Settings" and "Show all NHC options and settings." Then go to CPU Speed, choose "dynamic switching" and check the checkboxes below to enable custom dynamic switching. Then set the max multiplier down by 2X.

This computer has now gone from flaky to rock-solid stable. I highly recommend "Notebook Hardware Control" for those older Pentium-M based machines. Now I need to check it out with my new Core 2 Duo laptop (which, at least, is not flaky yet). But IBM/Lenovo does seem to design all of their laptops for the life at the performance/ reliability edge.

I do not recommend using this on a Core2 system (like a IBM/Lenovo T60/61). It seems to muck with the clock speed overly much and make the system run too hot. If you want to see more information on your system health and heat, I recommend the passive monitor Speedfan.