Disappointed by Thinkpad X60 thermal problems

I’ve had a Lenovo X60 for about 18 months. For almost a year, I was well pleased with its combination of light weight and decent performance, but then it developed a nasty thermal problem. Its idle temperature suddenly went from 45C to 55C, and any time I tried to do anything demanding, it would go into thermal shutdown after a minute or two.

Since the machine was still under warranty, Lenovo repaired it, and I was very pleased by their responsiveness at the time. I sent the machine off on a Tuesday, and got it back on a Thursday.

A few months later, and now I’m not so happy. The bloody thing just developed the same overheating problem again, only now it’s idling at 61C, and its warranty just expired. I’m going to call Lenovo support and see what they say, but Jeremy has seen the same problem on his X60, too: I suspect that this line of laptops may just be prone to having its heat sinks come loose.

Regardless, it’s an annoying situation: I can’t do anything more intensive than text editing and web browsing without the machine dying, and a repair will probably be expensive and simply fail again after a short while.

When I was looking around at alternatives to the X60 from other manufacturers, they were all inferior, most often in several ways at once: more expensive, slower, poorer specs, and heavier. Fast forward a year in the market: the X61 has a few minor spec improvements over the X60, and comparable models from other companies are still mediocre and bulky. The only change is that I’m now reluctant to spend the money on new Lenovo kit. What do I do?

Posted in slice-o-life
9 comments on “Disappointed by Thinkpad X60 thermal problems
  1. Peter says:

    Well, if the warranty has expired, there’s no harm in opening her up and trying to identify the problem. There’s a fair chance you can easily fix yourself.

    I had a PC that was becoming more ever more prone to overheating. I opened her up, and noticed that the air coming off the CPU cooler was rather cool. I thought the CPU probably wasn’t overheating at all; it was a problem with the thermal sensor, which I wasn’t qualified fix.

    But I wasn’t quite ready to give up. I turned her off and took a closer look at the cooling system. When I unscrewed the CPU fan, a thick, insulating wad of fluff and dust fell out. Problem solved. 🙂

  2. James says:

    We have had similar problems with the Levono T60 – no problems with the T61. As a variant on Peter’s advice you could try is to try to suck out the fluff with a vacuum cleaner. That could save you having to open it up.

  3. Will says:

    A bunch of former Thinkpad X-series enthusiasts I know have jumped ship to the HP 2510p, which is similarly sized and seems to be a pretty solid piece of kit. Might be worth a look.

  4. Dino Morelli says:

    I can also recommend Asus laptops. We have two now at our home. An S96S (15.4″, 1 year old) and a W7S (13.3″, 9 months old). Both dual-core systems that are heavily used every day.

    An interesting thing about Asus is they are one of the big manufacturers of the equipment inside other companies’ systems. I’m not certain about Lenovo, but I know that HP doesn’t make the machine inside their plastic exterior. Asus has the contract to make the 13.3″ Macbooks, the W7S above is actually the same system.

    I was able to buy the S96S ‘bare’ with no OS at all, which suits my Linux sensibilities just fine.

  5. Marcio RPS says:

    Well, my TOSHIBA started doing it and i ended up opening it up, took me a week to find the guts to do it. Anyways, now i keep it clean with compressed air, sort of. I usually use a brush to stop the coolers from overspinning (i’ve seen the advice about the fan burning out due to spinning caused by the air, do not know if it is reliable, but thought it better to play safe). Maybe you can do the same?

  6. Wow, thanks for all the responses!

    @Peter, @Marcio: I probably will open it up for a peek inside. Thinkpads are pretty easy to fiddle around with that way. I hope that I find something obvious.

    @Dino, @Will: thanks for the recommendations. I’ll take a look at those models.

  7. MacHead says:

    Buy a Mac.

  8. Dan says:

    Bryan – How did things turn out? I’m thinking I might try to open mine up too…I have been having the same problem with my X60 for the last couple of months. I am right now sitting here with a gel freezer pack under the laptop. It keeps things at about 45C (nice!) but only lasts a couple of hours.

  9. Lucien (from Holland) says:

    At home we use Lenovo Thinkpads X60s, X61, R61 (2x) and an X250. The only overheatingproblem is my X61 running on Windows8.1. Idle 80 degrees Celsius op to 98 in working condition and than the machine shuts off. Now the paste has been renewed and there was no dust inside at all. After that the temperature idle is 45 and during Windows Updates (downloading and installing) rises between 65-80. Still high but lower than before. Only during Cleaning System procedure temperature goes up to over 92 and then the machine shuts off. Our other Thinkpads (working on W7, W8.1, W10, Linux) do not have overheating problems. What can cause this problem on my X61?

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