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A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

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Vanythe
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A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#1 Post by Vanythe » Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:34 pm

I recently bought this model from the flea market, and luck have it, it's gpu is intact. I'd like to keep it that way since this model seems to be prone to cook it's own guts like the early xbox 360s from what I've read, so could anyone suggest a way to cool down the chip? Right now, it's *bare* by default

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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#2 Post by ajkula66 » Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:48 pm

Re-paste everything and leave it "as-is".

Use ThinkPad Fan Control to monitor and control temperatures.

Do not put the system to sleep, leave it running 24/7/365 and just turn the screen off when not in use.

Any "custom cooling solution" is likely to do more harm than good.

Have fun with that oldie.
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#3 Post by Vanythe » Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:03 pm

Yeah I was very careful with my PS3 that decided to cook it's own gpu, not gonna risk it. I'll modify this thing, but I'm wondering if I should DYI a custom copper heatsink or maybe buy one of those aluminum fanless heatsinks from ebay? This machine just seems to be *perfect* for windows 98 gaming.

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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#4 Post by ajkula66 » Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:19 pm

Heat cycling is likely to kill the GPU more than anything else, hence my "always on" recommendation.

A30/p systems are prone to VRAM corruption and there's nothing you can do to prevent it. If it happens, it happens.

The poor GPU cooling design of the A3x series has been discussed forever, but no one ever came up with a viable mod.

Good luck.
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#5 Post by Vanythe » Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:33 pm

Except it's not VRAM but the GPU itself that can fail due to too much heat, thats why I think this can be easily fixed with a cooling mod. Just wondering what would work better, copper or alu?

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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#6 Post by ajkula66 » Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:53 pm

Vanythe wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:33 pm
Except it's not VRAM but the GPU itself that can fail due to too much heat, thats why I think this can be easily fixed with a cooling mod. Just wondering what would work better, copper or alu?
I would strongly suggest that you read up a bit more on these issues on this forum.

Some of us have worked on hundreds - possibly thousands - of these systems over the past 16-17 years.

Good luck.
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#7 Post by kfzhu1229 » Sun Feb 09, 2020 10:12 pm

I am a ThinkPad A30p owner who modded the heatsink with copper shims to make full contact with the GPU. Also as a preventative measure I have put the VRAM under small aluminium heatsinks. As a result the base area near the GPU is lukewarm at worst (IBM did cool the underneath of the GPU via some thermal sponge but leaving the top bare). So far 3 years into the modding I see no issues.
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#8 Post by Vanythe » Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:45 pm

I checked this laptop's original hard disk and it seems like it's been in use around 4000 hours, but the more I google the more I see that the machines that have this problem have a faster processor - mine only has a 933 mhz pentium 3 and it runs cool. I know this may sound very stupid but is there even a small chance that the model I have is unaffected by this popular defect? I mean considering it's been in use for 4000 hours.

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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#9 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:06 pm

Vanythe wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:45 pm
I mean considering it's been in use for 4000 hours.
That's really not much use for a laptop. At all. Especially for a system that is about to be able to vote...

Is it brand new looking on the outside ?
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#10 Post by Vanythe » Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:14 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:06 pm
Vanythe wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:45 pm
I mean considering it's been in use for 4000 hours.
That's really not much use for a laptop. At all. Especially for a system that is about to be able to vote...

Is it brand new looking on the outside ?
No, has a few scratches, and someone has replaced both the floppy and optical drive judging by the missing screws.

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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#11 Post by wujstefan » Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:52 pm

Vanythe wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:14 pm
ajkula66 wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:06 pm


That's really not much use for a laptop. At all. Especially for a system that is about to be able to vote...

Is it brand new looking on the outside ?
No, has a few scratches, and someone has replaced both the floppy and optical drive judging by the missing screws.
Well now, having in mind how muich those systems costed back then, it has most likely been used by bussiness segment.
4000hours is 500 working days. Two years of use and later on put on a shelf? Yay!

Mine A31p looks fantastic - but its HDD reported almost 22k hours when I replaced it (had a FRU label, capacity did match with MTM so I guess it was stock) :D aaaand the display was just as yellowish as it could get.
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#12 Post by Vanythe » Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:02 pm

wujstefan wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:52 pm
Vanythe wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:14 pm


No, has a few scratches, and someone has replaced both the floppy and optical drive judging by the missing screws.
Well now, having in mind how muich those systems costed back then, it has most likely been used by bussiness segment.
4000hours is 500 working days. Two years of use and later on put on a shelf? Yay!

Mine A31p looks fantastic - but its HDD reported almost 22k hours when I replaced it (had a FRU label, capacity did match with MTM so I guess it was stock) :D aaaand the display was just as yellowish as it could get.
Hah, I hope so! The display on mine isn't the best either, seems a bit yellowed but this machine used to be owned by a smoker, I didn't dare to scrub the lcd panel too much so it doesn't crack, but in the corners, the screen is considerably darker than in the middle or top.

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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#13 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:06 pm

Vanythe wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:02 pm


Hah, I hope so! The display on mine isn't the best either, seems a bit yellowed but this machine used to be owned by a smoker, I didn't dare to scrub the lcd panel too much so it doesn't crack, but in the corners, the screen is considerably darker than in the middle or top.
Yellowing in the corners has nothing to do with the smoke. It's the backlight (CCFL) getting a bit tired.

Isopropyl alcohol will clean pretty much any outside gunk off of a screen. Won't help with the yellowing though.
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#14 Post by Vanythe » Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:08 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:06 pm
Vanythe wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:02 pm


Hah, I hope so! The display on mine isn't the best either, seems a bit yellowed but this machine used to be owned by a smoker, I didn't dare to scrub the lcd panel too much so it doesn't crack, but in the corners, the screen is considerably darker than in the middle or top.
Yellowing in the corners has nothing to do with the smoke. It's the backlight (CCFL) getting a bit tired.

Isopropyl alcohol will clean pretty much any outside gunk off of a screen. Won't help with the yellowing though.
What does that mean exactly? Hope there's no fluids leaking, I remember reading somewhere about older backlights using mercury...

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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#15 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:11 pm

Vanythe wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:08 pm


What does that mean exactly? Hope there's no fluids leaking, I remember reading somewhere about older backlights using mercury...
Nothing to worry about. Loss of light in the corners, just like you would see on a CCFL in your home or place of business. Nothing's leaking.

And a bit of mercury has never done anyone any harm... :mrgreen:
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#16 Post by Vanythe » Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:53 pm

Also, another question, What would be considered normal temperature for the processor? Right now it runs at 55C idle without being re-pasted.

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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#17 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:12 pm

Vanythe wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:53 pm
Also, another question, What would be considered normal temperature for the processor? Right now it runs at 55C idle without being re-pasted.
That's a bit high. You can probably bring it down 10 degrees by good re-pasting.

Which OS are you running and how many processes are there on a fresh boot ? That's another thing to consider...
...Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules...(King Crimson)

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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#18 Post by Vanythe » Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:26 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:12 pm
Vanythe wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:53 pm
Also, another question, What would be considered normal temperature for the processor? Right now it runs at 55C idle without being re-pasted.
That's a bit high. You can probably bring it down 10 degrees by good re-pasting.

Which OS are you running and how many processes are there on a fresh boot ? That's another thing to consider...
Windows 2000 because It came with a code for it. There's no processes except what windows came with, didn't finish installing drivers to it yet. Oh and those temps are after I let it run for 2 hours straight, but on idle.

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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#19 Post by ajkula66 » Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:36 pm

Yeah re-paste and see what happens once the paste settles. W2K is a good choice for these machines.
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#20 Post by RealBlackStuff » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:43 am

AFAIK only the by now outdated AS5 (Arctic Silver 5) needed 200 HOURS to settle in.
Any other decent paste fully works, the minute you put it on.
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#21 Post by Vanythe » Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:11 am

Can I use the paste that I got with AMD FX 8120? Or is it too old by now?

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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#22 Post by kfzhu1229 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:11 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:12 pm
Vanythe wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:53 pm
Also, another question, What would be considered normal temperature for the processor? Right now it runs at 55C idle without being re-pasted.
That's a bit high. You can probably bring it down 10 degrees by good re-pasting.

Which OS are you running and how many processes are there on a fresh boot ? That's another thing to consider...
A30/p has a much different fan curve than A31/p. A30/p fan doesn't kick on until the CPU is like in the 70s usually. Use TPFancontrol to counter that if you have no cooling for the GPU.
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#23 Post by ajkula66 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:42 pm

kfzhu1229 wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:11 pm

A30/p has a much different fan curve than A31/p. A30/p fan doesn't kick on until the CPU is like in the 70s usually. Use TPFancontrol to counter that if you have no cooling for the GPU.
Still above the desired temps for a Tualatin CPU, which should be running cooler - not warmer - than P4M found in A31/p. I don't recall my past A30/p machines running that hot on idle.
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#24 Post by kfzhu1229 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:47 pm

ajkula66 wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:42 pm
Still above the desired temps for a Tualatin CPU, which should be running cooler - not warmer - than P4M found in A31/p. I don't recall my past A30/p machines running that hot on idle.
Actually you may be surprised at this, but IBM's stock fan curve for the A30/p series is really unaggressive. I have measured it with TPFC and the fan only starts ramping at a 78C of CPU temperature and shuts off at a CPU temp of low 60s. While in comparison a T23 with identical PIII-1.2Ghz starts at 75C and shuts off at 45C. Both have thermal grizzly Kryonaut. So the final verdict is if you love your A30/p, download TPFC so it doesn't kill itself.
The reason why IBM did this on A30/p is that IBM cheaped out on the design used for the A30/p heatsink, thinking its bigger volume is good enough for the Tualatins. Manually turning the fan on while the CPU temps are in the high 50s results in the air coming out not even hot enough for your hand to feel any warmth.
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Re: A30 - custom gpu cooling solution?

#25 Post by Vanythe » Sat Feb 22, 2020 11:28 am

Okay - modification is done!
I took a small, somewhat tin aluminum piece from another laptop, which I had to cut to make it fit inside, then I realized that it may not be enough since originally it only cooled smaller ICs, so I added thermal paste to the gpu, and then to the heatsink so that it's stacked like a sandwich (Main cooler - thermal paste - custom aluminum panel - thermal paste - GPU). Changing thermal paste sadly didn't do *anything* in regards to the CPU as it still runs at 54-55C idle, and since the heatsink is clean, I think that that's the normal temperature for this machine. TPFC does *not* work under windows 98 so I used IbmPad's IBM_ECW and it works nicely. I set the fan to go to max if the temp goes above 55C. As for the GPU, it has no sensor, so hopefully my modification did the trick to save it from cooking itself.

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