Mobile Radeon Question


M

Michael Moskau

Hello all,

First time poster, first time reader, actually. So please, be gentle.

I have an eMachines M5310 (pauses for laughter to stop), and inside this
fine machine is a Radeon IGP 320M. For those not in the know, that's the
mobile Radeon chip that works with AMD chips.

So, here's my problem/question. In the last year or so, my video card
has started to heat up pretty bad any time it is asked to do any kind of
3D rendering. If I play a game, I might be lucky if I get about twenty
minutes of gameplay before the laptop decides to unceremoniously shut
down, without any warning of any kind. Very rude.

One thing that I have noticed in these cases is, of course, that the
laptop's fan is running non-stop, and that it's hot enough to cook an
egg at about the same spot as the fan is inside the machine (which is
just under the eMachines logo in the top left corner of the keyboard).
If I put my hand behind the machine, the fan is indeed blowing hot air
out of the system, but it's just not enough. Eventually, the machine
goes to sleep, and I miss out on all that fifteen-twenty minutes of
unsaved gameplay.

Here are a few stats that might amuse the masses:

1. I'm mostly playing older games. I did try Neverwinter Nights, but it
cried like a little baby. Games I have played include Half-Life (1),
Unreal Tournament (original), Anachronox, Hostile Waters, The Games
Factory (thanks to British retro gaming magazines!), and a few others.

2. I had tried using the ATI drivers from the ATI site, against the
better judgement of eMachines, which clearly and explicitly states that
I should stick with their version of the ATI drivers (which have not, to
my knowledge, been updated since I bought this beast). Those currently
sit at version 6.14.10.6351. I thought I was trying the reference
Catalyst drivers, but I don't know if that had any bearing on
performance.

3. This was not the case when I first bought the system. This has gotten
worse over time. When I first got the machine, I could surf lots of
sites, run lots of games, and just generally have a good time. Now, all
that has to happen is for a web site/page to have a Flash animation, or
an animated banner, and the machine weeps (and, given enough time, shuts
down in self defense).

I know the details are a little sketchy, but has anyone "out there" seen
this kind of thing? I didn't really get this machine to play games, but
it would be a nice addition to my computing experience (and I still have
to play Deus Ex!).

If anyone can provide info, or ask more directed questions, I'd be
willing to strike up a dialog. Please, help me help myself!

m.moskau
(e-mail address removed)
(change 0 > o)
 
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B

bxf

I have no specific ideas, but if this started occurring about a year
ago, I would have to ask what changed around that time. Did you install
some new software that perhaps inadvertantly replaced some crucial
delivered component? Did you have DISPLAY colour settings at 16 bits
before, and then changed it to something higher, and forgot that you
did so?

Apart from software related issues, is it possible that your fan has
simply lost some of its efficiency due to clogging (coffee spilt onto
the keyboard, dust creeping in, etc.)?
 
M

Michael Moskau

I have no specific ideas, but if this started occurring about a year
ago, I would have to ask what changed around that time. Did you
install some new software that perhaps inadvertantly replaced some
crucial delivered component? Did you have DISPLAY colour settings at
16 bits before, and then changed it to something higher, and forgot
that you did so?

Apart from software related issues, is it possible that your fan has
simply lost some of its efficiency due to clogging (coffee spilt onto
the keyboard, dust creeping in, etc.)?
You know Bill, maybe I did move up to a higher graphics setting. I
honestly can't remember. All I know was that I wanted to try out some
fancier games, or more to the point, older games at higher
resolutions/colours. Could a change to higher than 16bits really
overheat the video card that bad?

As for the fan, there's a somewhat funny story about that. About 6
months ago, there was a screw rattling around in the laptop somewhere. I
didn't know what it was, and it was driving me crazy. I was actually
afraid that the screw was going to get jammed up in the fan and break
it. So, I eventually got it out through the fan vents. It was a very
small screw. I have NO idea where it had been screwed in before. Maybe
that's a clue! In the meantime, I'll see about getting the fan cleaned
out a little.

One more thing to add to this possible debate is that I checked the ATI
drivers I had installed a while back (the reference Catalyst drivers),
and found out that they were, in fact, 7.95-031028m-011774C-ATI.

What I have -now- are 7.89-030515a-009252C. What I mentioned in my
previous message was just the "ATI Control Panel" version number (I know
that now...).

Finally, if anyone has ever taken apart a laptop (like, oh, I dunno, an
eMachines), maybe you can tell me if there are any gotchas when doing
so. I think that my warantee is pretty much void at this point, so it
might be worth my while to do some "internal surgery".
 
B

bxf

Michael said:
You know Bill, maybe I did move up to a higher graphics setting. I
honestly can't remember. All I know was that I wanted to try out some
fancier games, or more to the point, older games at higher
resolutions/colours. Could a change to higher than 16bits really
overheat the video card that bad?
I believe that the greater the demands we place on the video system,
the greater the heat generated. This would also hold when using higher
so-called "resolution" setings.
As for the fan, there's a somewhat funny story about that. About 6
months ago, there was a screw rattling around in the laptop somewhere. I
didn't know what it was, and it was driving me crazy. I was actually
afraid that the screw was going to get jammed up in the fan and break
it. So, I eventually got it out through the fan vents. It was a very
small screw. I have NO idea where it had been screwed in before. Maybe
that's a clue! In the meantime, I'll see about getting the fan cleaned
out a little.
I think you have a screw loose-:)
One more thing to add to this possible debate is that I checked the ATI
drivers I had installed a while back (the reference Catalyst drivers),
and found out that they were, in fact, 7.95-031028m-011774C-ATI.

What I have -now- are 7.89-030515a-009252C. What I mentioned in my
previous message was just the "ATI Control Panel" version number (I know
that now...).
No familiarity with recent ATI drivers. In theory, there's nothing
stopping you from reverting to the previous version
(Device_Manager>Properties>Driver>Roll back driver, or something like
that), though this may depend on how many driver updates you've made.
Finally, if anyone has ever taken apart a laptop (like, oh, I dunno, an
eMachines), maybe you can tell me if there are any gotchas when doing
so. I think that my warantee is pretty much void at this point, so it
might be worth my while to do some "internal surgery".
Well, I am GREAT (famous in fact) at taking things apart, and that's
usually how they remain.
 
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F

fredman

I know the details are a little sketchy, but has anyone "out there" seen
this kind of thing? I didn't really get this machine to play games, but
it would be a nice addition to my computing experience (and I still have
to play Deus Ex!).

If anyone can provide info, or ask more directed questions, I'd be
willing to strike up a dialog. Please, help me help myself!
<snip>

It sounds like a simple buildup of case heat due to age/accumulated
dirt. All machines accumulate dust and dirt over time, and as this
gathers on fans, heat sinks, and other components cooling efficiency
goes down.

Easy try:

Buy a can of canned air and, using the tube, blow into the
openings of the laptop in an attempt to dislodge/dispell the dirt. Do
this after removing batteries and option bay perpherals to expose more
of the insides of the PC. If you do this and see a small cloud of
dust exit the PC, that's a good thing! or:

Harder try - better method:

Pop the cover or remove the keyboard to expose the insides of
your notebook and clean with canned air/swabs/soft rag accordingly.
This may require more skill/trouble than it's worth to you, and you
may have to obtain the service manual and a basic set of tools (such
as security torx drivers) to do the job. Note: removing the covers
from some notebooks is complex and somewhat labor intensive regarding
the number of small screws/fastners to be kept track of, and the
particular sequence of steps involved in disassembly/reassembly.
Attempt at your own risk! Having warned you, it's not usually that
bad, especially if you simply need to remove the keyboard or single
bottom cover to expose enough of the 'hotspot' to clean it.

Addtn'l Disclaimer: If you end up removing the cover and find the
insides almost spotless, you have a more serious problem (along the
lines of aged/missing thermal grease or intermittant fan, etc.) and
probably need professional help (for the PC). But at least you'll
know one way or another. Good luck.
 

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