Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

T400/410/420 and T500/510/520 series specific matters only
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Kielbasa
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Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#1 Post by Kielbasa » Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:09 pm

Seriously, I'm not so sure that mine is functioning correctly, so I am curious to determine what is normal/typical behavior. Please allow me to describe my concern and observations:
  • The laptop tends to run on the warm side, even under modest load, such as playing a YouTube vid, where 65C to 70C is rather typical.
    When the load is removed, the laptop takes several minutes to return to "normal" idle temps.
    Idle temps are strongly dependent on the ambient temperature, but I typically see 49-52C.
    The fan speed mainly stays between 3500 and 3600 RPM pretty much all the time, with little variation, regardless of load.
    I can not feel any air movement from the exhaust ports.
    If I orient the keyboard so that it is vertical, and lay a square of toilet tissue on top of the exhaust port, there is no deflection of the paper, due to air movement, whatsoever.
    If I place my ear at the exhaust port, I can hear the fan motor running ... it's definitely the fan, since the HDD has been replaced by a SSD.
I've removed the fan, blown the dust out of the squirrel cage and applied fresh Noctua thermal paste. This brought peak temperatures down perhaps five degrees C, but that's about it.

In the UEFI I have the power/fan control set to maximum performance on AC, but I never, ever hear the fan, except by placing my ear at/on the exhaust port, nor can I feel any exhaust flow. The exhaust heat doesn't so much blow out, as radiate out.

By the way, this machine is fitted with the original i5-2520M CPU and has Intel integrated graphics.

Honestly, it's only by installing a SSD and a very light weight Linux distribution, that the machine is usable at all. With Windows, or a "heavy" Linux desktop, the machine runs stupid hot. Initially I figured that it was just getting old, but when I read tales of folks installing 45W i7 CPUs in the T420, this leads me to believe that mine definitely has a problem.

I am anxious to hear your experience/observations with your T420, before spending any money. Also, if I need a new fan, is there a better option than the stock i5 / integrated graphics model?

Thanks in advance for your help!!!

TPFanatic
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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#2 Post by TPFanatic » Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:23 pm

There is a heatsink model that has two heatpipes. I have this model in my T420 and the fan is audible.

It's possible there is a heavy dust build up inside the fan's plastic housing that is impeding airflow. Disassembly to lift off the heatsink then unscrew the fan housing may allow you to clean further. However you may need to reapply the thermal paste doing this, or maybe you don't have to, I've re-used the same paste before... just down blow dust over the old paste while it is exposed.

My T420 has the i5 2520m as well, I haven't really stress tested it but it idles between 40-50C and load temp is probably in the 70-80C range. It's much better than my old T420s with i5 2520m, that one easily reaches the late 90s.
Daily driver: lenovo T500 P9700, WUXGA, 8GB
Ultraportable: IBM lenovo X60s
Home theater: lenovo T420

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Kielbasa
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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#3 Post by Kielbasa » Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:37 pm

TPFanatic wrote:
Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:23 pm
There is a heatsink model that has two heatpipes. I have this model in my T420 and the fan is audible.

It's possible there is a heavy dust build up inside the fan's plastic housing that is impeding airflow. Disassembly to lift off the heatsink then unscrew the fan housing may allow you to clean further. However you may need to reapply the thermal paste doing this, or maybe you don't have to, I've re-used the same paste before... just down blow dust over the old paste while it is exposed.

My T420 has the i5 2520m as well, I haven't really stress tested it but it idles between 40-50C and load temp is probably in the 70-80C range. It's much better than my old T420s with i5 2520m, that one easily reaches the late 90s.
Thanks for the feedback. Your machine clearly runs cooler than mine.

I've been researching the various T420 heatsinks and have already uncovered eight different FRU's, with recommendations for both the 04W0627 (single pipe) and the 04W0409 (dual pipe)!!! IIRC, mine has a dual pipe design, but I didn't think to write down the FRU. So perhaps at the end of the day, the 04W0627 is the best way for me to go? One guy say's that he is using that model to cool a quad core i7 with good results.

I'm still reading on the topic, so any additional feedback would be most appreciated.

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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#4 Post by TPFanatic » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:08 pm

I haven't tested T420 with the single pipe heatsink. But in my experience with T410 laptops the two pipe version is 5-7C cooler under load than the one pipe.
Daily driver: lenovo T500 P9700, WUXGA, 8GB
Ultraportable: IBM lenovo X60s
Home theater: lenovo T420

Enable advanced features on older Synaptics touchpads with the registry: http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=122612

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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#5 Post by TankPad » Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:00 pm

Did you actually open the fan housing when you had it out? Maybe there's a build up of dust in there.
Make sure the intake vents on the underside of the machine are clear also. I like to give them a good going over with a toothbrush and it makes a big difference.
| 701c | X220 | T420 | X230 | T430s |

Kielbasa
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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#6 Post by Kielbasa » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:46 am

I took the T420 back apart and mystery solved; I have the 04W0627 single-pipe heatsink.

While I was inside, I decided to take everything back apart. The first go around, I did not completely disassemble the fan, because I didn't have any of that nifty metallic tape that Lenovo uses, nor did I know where to find some on short notice. I contented myself with blowing air through the squirrel cage and through the copper fins. This was followed by shining a light through the fins to ensure that everything was clear.

As some of you are no doubt aware, this was not sufficient and the fins were still partially blocked by a furball. It's back together now and my idle temperature has dropped from 52C to 40C and the fan RPMs have dropped from 3600 to 1900. SO, it would appear that anything short of a complete fan disassembly is a colossal waste of time; lesson learned. :oops:

I'll be completely honest with you, I still can't feel any air flow from the exhaust port. The heat merely seems to radiate from the port, rather than blow out of the port. I mentioned before that I could hear the fan running, but just to be sure, I booted up the laptop with the keyboard removed and the fan is clearly spinning.

I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback. Hopefully this account will save someone else from thinking that they can flat rate the fan cleaning. Make up your mind to do it right the first time and it will save you from having to do it over again.

Cheers!

axur-delmeria
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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#7 Post by axur-delmeria » Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 am

I use aluminum foil tape to replace the metallic tape that you mention. I think it's available in most hardware stores.
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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#8 Post by jaspen-meyer » Fri Jul 21, 2017 3:30 am

Kielbasa wrote:
Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:46 am
I took the T420 back apart and mystery solved; I have the 04W0627 single-pipe heatsink.
The double-pipe versions outperform the single-pipe models. There's currently $5/piece on ebay.
T420 i7 3612QM; T420 i7 3630QM; x24 xiphmont led; x60s libreboot, led; T400 Q9100

TankPad
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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#9 Post by TankPad » Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:29 am

Good to hear you're back up and running.
I would never just rely on blowing a fan clean. In my experience, most of the time there's gonna be a lot of tightly packed dirt in there that isn't going anywhere without a complete disassembly.

Have you tried using ThinkPadFanControl to boost the fan up to full speed and see if you notice any difference? It'll allow you to finely control the fan speed irrespective of the machines temperature.

Oh, on the tape Lenovo use. You can use pretty much any aluminium foil tape and its easily available in DIY shops. It's used for sealing ducting and the likes.
Kielbasa wrote:
Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:46 am
I took the T420 back apart and mystery solved; I have the 04W0627 single-pipe heatsink.

While I was inside, I decided to take everything back apart. The first go around, I did not completely disassemble the fan, because I didn't have any of that nifty metallic tape that Lenovo uses, nor did I know where to find some on short notice. I contented myself with blowing air through the squirrel cage and through the copper fins. This was followed by shining a light through the fins to ensure that everything was clear.

As some of you are no doubt aware, this was not sufficient and the fins were still partially blocked by a furball. It's back together now and my idle temperature has dropped from 52C to 40C and the fan RPMs have dropped from 3600 to 1900. SO, it would appear that anything short of a complete fan disassembly is a colossal waste of time; lesson learned. :oops:

I'll be completely honest with you, I still can't feel any air flow from the exhaust port. The heat merely seems to radiate from the port, rather than blow out of the port. I mentioned before that I could hear the fan running, but just to be sure, I booted up the laptop with the keyboard removed and the fan is clearly spinning.

I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback. Hopefully this account will save someone else from thinking that they can flat rate the fan cleaning. Make up your mind to do it right the first time and it will save you from having to do it over again.

Cheers!
| 701c | X220 | T420 | X230 | T430s |

Kielbasa
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Joined: Mon May 01, 2017 12:17 pm
Location: Conroe, Republic of Texas

Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#10 Post by Kielbasa » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:22 pm

TankPad wrote:
Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:29 am
Good to hear you're back up and running.
I would never just rely on blowing a fan clean. In my experience, most of the time there's gonna be a lot of tightly packed dirt in there that isn't going anywhere without a complete disassembly.

Have you tried using ThinkPadFanControl to boost the fan up to full speed and see if you notice any difference? It'll allow you to finely control the fan speed irrespective of the machines temperature.

Oh, on the tape Lenovo use. You can use pretty much any aluminium foil tape and its easily available in DIY shops. It's used for sealing ducting and the likes.
Thanks for the suggestion. I believe that ThinkPadFanControl is for Windows, but surely there must be a Linux alternative. I'll have a look. While I seem to have resolved the issue at hand, it just seems odd that there is no perceptible air movement from/around the exhaust port, no?

Thanks for the tip on the tape.I need to find some and keep it on hand.

Kielbasa
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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#11 Post by Kielbasa » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:31 pm

jaspen-meyer wrote:
Fri Jul 21, 2017 3:30 am
The double-pipe versions outperform the single-pipe models. There's currently $5/piece on ebay.
This makes logical sense. Obviously the multiple pipe models must be more complicated/costly to produce, so why produce them, unless they perform noticeably better.

I have a question, I've found three different FRUs which appear to be twin-pipe models, 04W0407, 04W0409 and 04W0416. Does anyone know if there are any performance differences between them?. One post that I stumbled across suggested that the ultimate solution was the fan from the 04W0407, combined with the 04W0409 heatsink.

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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#12 Post by jaspen-meyer » Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:48 pm

Kielbasa wrote:
Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:22 pm
there must be a Linux alternative.
apt-get install thinkfan lm-sensors
vim /etc/thinkfan.conf
for a T420, you must tell it where the get sensors data...i.e. include this line in the config file:

hwmon /sys/devices/platform/coretemp.0/hwmon/hwmon2/temp3_input

add a line to thinkpad_acpi.conf
echo 'options thinkpad_acpi fan_control=1' > /etc/modprobe.d/thinkpad_acpi.conf
T420 i7 3612QM; T420 i7 3630QM; x24 xiphmont led; x60s libreboot, led; T400 Q9100

Kielbasa
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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#13 Post by Kielbasa » Fri Jul 21, 2017 4:09 pm

jaspen-meyer wrote:
Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:48 pm
Kielbasa wrote:
Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:22 pm
there must be a Linux alternative.
apt-get install thinkfan lm-sensors
vim /etc/thinkfan.conf
for a T420, you must tell it where the get sensors data...i.e. include this line in the config file:

hwmon /sys/devices/platform/coretemp.0/hwmon/hwmon2/temp3_input

add a line to thinkpad_acpi.conf
echo 'options thinkpad_acpi fan_control=1' > /etc/modprobe.d/thinkpad_acpi.conf
:D

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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#14 Post by TankPad » Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:50 pm

Oh, I must have missed that and just assumed you were using Windows.

How do the grills on the base of the laptop look? Did you clean them also? I've found this can make a big difference. There's a kinda mesh dust filter stuff in them and it's often clogged up, reducing airflow. If you're not getting enough in, then you certainly won't feel much coming out the exhaust. :)
| 701c | X220 | T420 | X230 | T430s |

Kielbasa
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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#15 Post by Kielbasa » Fri Jul 21, 2017 10:02 pm

TankPad wrote:
Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:50 pm
Oh, I must have missed that and just assumed you were using Windows.

How do the grills on the base of the laptop look? Did you clean them also? I've found this can make a big difference. There's a kinda mesh dust filter stuff in them and it's often clogged up, reducing airflow. If you're not getting enough in, then you certainly won't feel much coming out the exhaust. :)
Yeah, the bottom grille looks great. I gave it a good going-over with a stiff brush on the first go 'round. I suppose that I'm somewhat concerned about the health of the fan motor, itself. I think my plan is to try a new fan & twin-pipe heatsink and see what difference, if any, that makes.

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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#16 Post by jaspen-meyer » Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:21 am

I've been using a single-pipe T420 all week and, usually, can't hear, or feel, the fan.

For what it's worth, I tried the single-pipe heat-sink with an i7-3610QM. At 100% cpu usage the machine overheated and shutdown within 10 seconds. I immediately turned the machine back on and ordered a dual-pipe heat sink.
T420 i7 3612QM; T420 i7 3630QM; x24 xiphmont led; x60s libreboot, led; T400 Q9100

Kielbasa
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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#17 Post by Kielbasa » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:38 am

jaspen-meyer wrote:
Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:21 am
I've been using a single-pipe T420 all week and, usually, can't hear, or feel, the fan.

For what it's worth, I tried the single-pipe heat-sink with an i7-3610QM. At 100% cpu usage the machine overheated and shutdown within 10 seconds. I immediately turned the machine back on and ordered a dual-pipe heat sink.
I've had this machine since new and I don't ever remember hearing the fan, but I can't say as I've ever obsessed about it before. Perhaps the lack of obvious air flow is normal for this fan/heatsink, but it's certainly not very confidence inspiring. I've got it to where it runs much cooler now, but it still takes quite a while to return to idle temperature, after it has been working. I would attribute this to the obvious lack of airflow.

Thanks VERY much for the feedback!

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Re: Tell me about your T420 cooling fan!

#18 Post by jaspen-meyer » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:37 am

The FRU 04W0627 was not able to cool an i7-3610QM. The machine quickly overheated under load.
FRU 04W0407 is able to cool the i7-3610QM -- max observed temperatures, 81C.
T420 i7 3612QM; T420 i7 3630QM; x24 xiphmont led; x60s libreboot, led; T400 Q9100

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