Thermal management and thermal throttling

The laptop will automatically downclock in order to keep the components below this limit. Performance will be lowered to keep it from overheating. No physical damage will occur. In the absolute worst case scenario, when throttling is no longer sufficient, the system should force a shutdown in order to prevent permanent damage. This scenario is rare, and shouldn't happen. There will be plenty of signs that the temperature is becoming critical, like the system extremely slowing down and getting really hot at the same time. Unless fan settings were changed, or they are damaged themselves, they will also spit at their maximum RPM, giving a loud noise. So if your laptop is really loud, really hot and really slow, you know you have a problem. If you then check your temperature, and it shows for example 86 degrees Celsius on your laptop RTX3080, it means you are likely throttling, or soon to be throttled, in order to keep below the 87 degree limit.

Examples of throttle limits

1. 105c for Ryzen 5600H / 5800H / 5900HX
2. 100c for Intel 11800H
3. 87c for Nvidia laptop RTX30xx lineup

Exact numbers can differ for different CPU/GPU models within the same lineup and change over CPU/GPU generation. You can use a third party software, such as HWiNFO, to find out whether you approach the throttle limit, are already throttling or close to being throttled. The application should indicate such behaviour. You can also check the specification on the official websites of the manufacturer, such as Intel, AMD, Nvidia, for TjMax value, maximum operating temperature or similar information about temperature.

Laptop vs desktop temperature limits

Laptops are designed to run a lot hotter than their desktop counterparts. Temperatures that would be unacceptable in a desktop, and likely to cause a shutdown or permanent damage, can be normal operating temperatures in a laptop. It is therefor important to always check the specification sheet of the component released by the manufacturer instead of relying on some estimate based on other devices.

The only temperatures that really matter when you want to find out if your Legion is overheating are the idle ones. Under load the temperatures will vary depending on how demanding or (un)optimazed the software in question is. Unless your device already thermal throttles under load, temperatures while running some software won't tell you much. You can check them using a free app like HWiNFO. Ideal is around 50c for both CPU and GPU. Legions by default, especially models released since 2021 should never throttle unless something went wrong. If the device is new, might be worth checking the warranty. If the device was used for a couple of months, and/or in a dusty environment, cleaning might be due. If the laptop is old several years, and cleaning doesn't help anymore, repasting might be needed.

Different laptops may run at different idle temperatures and have different fan curves, which manage how fast should the fans spin at what laptop temperature levels. Some laptops have better thermal management than others. There can be differences both between different brands as well as different models. A laptop from one brand released in 2020 might have terrible thermal management and be prone to overheating, while the same laptop from the same brand but an updated model from 2023 might have good one, and sadly it works the other way, too. A laptop that was fine in 2020 might have issues in a new, updated model released in 2023. Due to this, it's highly recommended researching what brand and model you want to buy, simply by watching a couple of trustworthy reviews. Always watch several from different sources to avoid biased ones, as well as to get a bigger sample of review units. Alternatively, you can use online forums dedicated to helping pick a new laptop. Always get answers from multiple sources, whether it's forums, or reviews.

There are multiple options. A common recommendation is HWiNFO, but it's not the only option. Another alternative is MSI Afterburner, which might require some setting up, or a proprietary application from the laptop manufacturer, if they provide it. There are plenty other available, too. Most of them should offer free licenses.

1. Laptop should be elevated, for example by using a laptop stand, or using a book to prop up the backside, etc. The point is to have enough space below the fan intakes on the bottom.
2. Make sure you are using the laptop on a flat surface. Do not place the laptop on a blanket, directly on your knees, on a pillow etc. That will both suffocate the fans, as well as add further insulation to keep the heat inside the laptop, which is a place where you do not want the heat to stay.
3. If the above doesn't help, cleaning the fans and the intakes can help. From personal experience, a difference between dusty and clean laptop can be up to 20c. Even if it may not look too dirty, the fan blades and the ribs of the heat sink are small enough that even a relatively small amount of dust that got through the dust filter can have a big impact.
When cleaning the laptop, follow the cleaning guide to prevent any physical damage. It's not difficult, but there are some tricks and quirks that need to be observed.
4. If cleaning didn't help, you can try replacing the thermal paste. Do it only if you know what you are doing. We have a guide for that, too. However, while repasting is normal after some time, it should never be needed on a brand new device. Legions should last several years until they need a new paste job.
5. If nothing above helps, you can turn to warranty. There could be a problem with the heatsink itself, in which case Lenovo should cover the replacement.

  • laptopwiki/guides/general/thermalguide.txt
  • Last modified: 29/06/2024 15:17
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