CPU temperature frequently goes through the roof

Hello there, I’m wondering if anyone can help me out. Whenever I start doing anything that uses a lot of cpu under Linux, the cpu temperature gets really high, the fan starts making a lot of noise, and finally either everything freezes or the system does an automatic shutdown.

Part of this might be that I’m doing things on my 4 year old laptop that I probably shouldn’t be doing: rendering video with kdenlive/ffmpeg/melt is probably the worst, although I’m only doing 5-minute standard definition clips. But the cpu temperature problem has also happened when I’ve been doing relatively simple things like watching youtube videos, using amarok to scan the hard drive for music files, or converting a text file from docx to odt (!). This happens even when I close all other programs. In windows, similar tasks might take a long time, but the CPU doesn’t overheat like it does in Linux.

I realize I might be pushing my computer to its limits, but since I can’t afford a new one, is there anything I can do to improve this situation? Mess with power management settings? Add memory? I’ve already switched from kde to xfce and from the open source radeon driver to the proprietary one, which speeds things up, but it hasn’t helped the cpu temperature thing. I don’t really care if the system slows down when it’s using a lot of cpu, but I’d prefer that it didn’t just completely crash!

This is my linux: opensuse 11.1, xfce 4.6.1, kernel Xfce power manager is set to allow cpu frequency control.

And this is my computer: Thinkpad R52 bought in 2005, Pentium-M 1.86 GHz (which is supposed to allow cpu throttling and has a maximum temp of 100 C), 768 Mb RAM, ATI Mobility Radeon X300 (with proprietary driver installed).

Any suggestions?

have you dropped the machine…even just a little drop? if so, your
heat sink may need new paste…

and, for sure you probably need to clean out the cat hair and etc in
the cooling paths…

search the IBM site for heat problems, i’m gonna guess they recommend
cleaning the cooling paths annually, and probably clean and install
new paste ever three or four years…

as for what openSUSE can do, my 10.3 loads a frequency scaling
module…does yours? BUT, when i shove a big job at it, it scales
right up to 100% max, and the heat builds…


i’ve got the troubles, but i have a one year old system.
a quad core, that barely breathes hard.
There are a few things that give it trouble and i suspect that it is kde, at least older kde apps. Opera is a bit of a hog at the moment, i’ve had trouble like this before and once opera was updated to the new kde it would work moothly, just waiting for the latest updates. (it might be that openSUSE hasnt updated to the very latest in qt and once it does then somethings like opera will work just fine.

double check the community repos, newer ones for 11.2 rc1 seem to have been added recently, RC 2 is due on thursday if memory serves (oct 29)

you may have some if not all your problems cured when you update on that day. (if you dare)

As far as software options go, I’ve tried changing the cpu frequency scaling from “on demand” to “conservative,” which can be done either through kde power management settings or by doing

sudo echo conservative > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor

Apparently this will cause the cpu to use higher frequencies less often. Not sure how much this will help, but it seems like it’s worth a try. If anyone knows how to actually control the cpu fan settings so that there’s a lower temperature threshold for the maximum fan speed, that would be great…

As for hardware, I’ll go buy some canned air and try cleaning four years of gunk out of my laptop. Yuck.

Thanks for the advice!

> As for hardware, I’ll go buy some canned air and try cleaning four
> years of gunk out of my laptop. Yuck.

be SURE to check the manufacturers web site on the best way to do
that…just blowing canned air into the ports from the outside may do
nothing more than pack the loose junk near the exit back and causing a
more dense blockage nearer to heat source…making the problem worse,
not better…

some level of disassembly may be required…check it out.