Lenovo Thinkpad Silent Fan

Since I got my Lenovo Thinkpad T60p I have always wondered why the fan kept running away (even just after booting).

Turns out there is a program to manipulate the speed of the fan: tpfancontrol


With this, you can tune your fan speed and follow the temparature readings at the right.

Using this program permanently is probably a bad idea to do since Lenovo will probably void any guarantee on your computer. To spare you from the inconvenience of testing I did a brief test run of the program:

* The two most interesting temperatures are CPU (apparently combined for the two cores), and GPU (the graphical processor).

* Setting the speed to max had no effect on the GPU — it is apparently not close to the fan.

* Setting the speed down for some moments to 2 or 1 had no effect on the GPU either. And the CPU stayed at 48 degrees C.

Graphical processor not cooled by fan

So probably the worst thing for my poor windows machine is that no matter how fast the fan goes, it will never be able to cool the Ati GPU in the laptop.


This also may explain why I previously have had problems where the graphics card is probably involved:
* The computer has problems setting the right screen size for my new 22″ Dell E228wfp monitor even though it has exactly the same screen dimensions as the built in laptop screen (1680×1050).

* Installing Ubuntu 7.10 crashes when starting up the install program: It tries to start the graphical user interface, but fails to. The error below was when attempting to install the final release candidate, and some similar thing happened when I tried installing the final 7.10 release (desktop).


As I see it, there are two possibilities: Either this machine has been delivered with a bad quality graphics card. I have no previous experience with ATI, but having big problems connecting a standard screen with the same screen-size should be easy.

The other possibility is that the graphics card has been damaged by the high temperature when the laptop is running.

Either way, it’s obviously some kind of construction error that GPU is placed so that the fan is not able to cool it.

UPDATE (8 hours later): Maybe there is something with that ATI graphics processor. From this model comparison on the Lenovo site, you can see that they change to NVIDIA GPUs going from T60p to T61p

It also says that
Maybe there is something with that ATI graphics processor. From this model comparison on the Lenovo site, you can see that they change to NVIDIA GPUs going from T60p to T61p

It also says that

The new ThinkPad T61 is the most secure, strongest, coolest and quietest T Series ever

(which doesnt surprise me: With a red hot ATI chip that makes the fan go at fastest speed constantly, there is definitely room for improvement)
Source: Lenovo ThinkPad T Series homepage

Previous info

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10 Responses to “Lenovo Thinkpad Silent Fan”

  1. Jesper Rønn-Jensen Says:

    I forgot to mention: Graphics card for the T60p is ATI Mobility FireGL v5250 for the full model name

  2. Lars Jacobsen Says:

    While the cooling solution seems to be lacking in quality and your card seems to be acting strangely, I should point out that most GPUs are made to run at high temperatures. Most CPUs have a threshold where they stop functioning to protect them selves, but most GPSs that I have seen runs fine at 60+

  3. Jesper Rønn-Jensen Says:

    @Lars: Good to know that the graphics chip can handle the hot temperatures. I heard the limit for this particular FireGL v5250 is around 120 degrees Celcius.

    That would worry me a bit though: there is very little distance between the CPU and the GPU

    Take a look at the technical hardware maintenance manual. Page 83 shows that they almost touch corners.

    Lenovo technical hardware maintenance manual (local copy of PDF, 3.89MB)

  4. Lars Jacobsen Says:

    There will probably be some transfer of heat from one to the other – and if the cooling is inadequate the fan will run at all times. This was especially true of older notebooks running Pentium 4 cpu’s that was not made for notebooks.

    However most moderns cpu’s wont show any erratic behaviour but will instead lower their speeds (and thereby their generation of heat) – or simply shut of to protect themself.

    To make a long story short: The graphics card i probably broken :-)
    (or the driver has problems, thats often the case with notebooks)

  5. justaddwater.dk | New Laptop With Better Defaults Says:

    […] running hot. This is apparently a design issue because GPU is not cooled by the fan: See “Lenovo Thinkpad Silent Fan” (November […]

  6. Jesper Rønn-Jensen Says:

    UPDATE: A technician has just replaced the graphics controller (and the entire motherboard). Since then, I have not had a single problem with external screens

  7. Jesper Rønn-Jensen Says:

    @Silencer After the replacement, the GPU is still running hot, but now without any problems. The GPU temp is still around 70 degrees (normally cooled) but behaves perfectly. What is really interesting (as I note in the article) is that it looks like a design flaw, that the GPU heatsink is too small to pull the heat out of the GPU and out to the fan.

  8. Silencer Says:

    Yep, it looks like a major flaw. A guy on the forum investigated it and made a rather easy mod of the heatsink to cool GPU better: http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?p=372176

  9. Mogens Nielsen Says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences on the T60.

  10. T60p Heat Issues from GPU and CPU with external monitor « IT Tech Notes Says:

    […] but I didn’t realy find any posts indicating that it was Ubuntu.  Instead I found this post (http://justaddwater.dk/2007/11/06/lenovo-thinkpad-silent-fan/) talking about the ATI GPU causing issues.  There is another long discussion about T60p GPU heat […]