Friday, 10 July 2009

Dell Inspiron 9100 Internals part 1: accessing the components

So I've had my Inspiron 9100 since 2003 or 2004 - when they were quite new. Back then the 3.0GHz P4 was a super machine, and even now it beats most light laptops with boot-up time and performance.

Lately it's been under a desk as a remote server, so I haven't seen much of it. I pulled it out recently and noticed the fans were spinning quite a lot, and the CPU temp was quite high - 60 - 70 degrees.

I pulled out the two side ventilators (fans) and cleaned a large amount of fine dust from the fans and heat sink fins. This has massively reduced the fan usage, and the CPU temperature is now down to 40 degrees at idle.

However there's one more fan - the CPU fan - that I couldn't easily reach. I could hear it all the time so I assume its suffering from the same problem: dust. I finally decided to pull it apart and clean it, and here is my progress. This is also an interesting look into how a Dell laptop wears over time - not too bad in my opinion.

First, CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN RISK! The pull-apart starts easy and low risk, but as soon as you pull apart the display assembly, video card and CPU you're in the high-risk area. If you break your laptop, you can keep the change from selling the parts on eBay!

Second, follow the instructions from Dell - they're the ultimate pull-apart guide and I only found them lacking at the very last stage (CPU fan removal).

Here's a grainy shot of the left hinge cover - there's plenty of dust there. (sorry about the bad quality - it's my phone camera). See the dust near the display attachment:

Now I've taken off the keyboard and surrounds. There's more dust:

Here is a shot of the laptop from the top as you would sit at it to work, but without the display, keyboard, touchpad, etc. The CPU fan is at the bottom centre.

Here is just half of the screws I removed (I count 30 so far). Next to them is the hinge covers:

This got me to some of the system board components. In the next post I'll show the removed video card, CPU and heatsinks.


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