Fixing an Overheating Toshiba M700

I have been quite frustrated with my Toshiba M700 for the last couple of months. It never seemed to run as well as it should with the CPU maxing out at 100%, the battery going very quickly and the casing getting hot.

I had deliberately bought the M700 as a desktop replacement but I was at the point where I was just about to but a desktop anyway because I thought it was beyond the M700 to run two external monitors. I even thought about a Mac Book Pro until I saw the price.

I noticed that while the CPU was maxed out the Windows 7 Resource monitor was showing that the CPU frequency was only around 40% of the maximum attainable. I downloaded coretemp which showed that one of the cores was running at 103 C and I noticed that there was a correlation between the temperature and the CPU frequency – the system was throttling the frequency at these extreme temperatures.

Image:Fixing an Overheating Toshiba M700

Being worried that it was a problem with Windows 7 I booted it to Linux from a USB drive. This was inconclusive so then I restored an old XP backup, Initially I thought that I had solved the problem but the machine was still running at 103 C although the throttling didn’t seem so bad ( it is harder to measure in XP ). I still felt something was wrong.

Anyhow, being an Engineer I felt that there was something not quite right so I decided to take it apart, as you do. I found some good instructions here which helped, particularly with the keyboard connection.

Everything around the heat sync looked pretty clean and I almost gave up but when I blasted it with compressed air for good measure quite a lot of debris flew out. I rebuilt the machine – try and remember where the long bolts came from ! – and now it is running very very happily on windows 7 at 55 C and it feels like a powerful machine again.

If you are having similar problems It might be worth shooting some air into the fan vent. There is a hatch to give access but the access is not really that good.

Strangely I have just tried to re-create the problem by blocking the vent and cant get it to be bad enough to get past 90 C. It just shows how a small amount of dirt can clog the heat exchanger very effectively.

Jabra SP700 Bluetooth Hands Free and FM transmitter ( 7/10 but could so easily have been 10 / 10 )


Image:Jabra SP700 Bluetooth Hands Free and FM transmitter ( 7/10  but could so easily have been 10 / 10 )

The Jabra SP700 is a visor mounted bluetooth car kit which also acts as an FM transmitter for a bluetooth A2DP MP3 player e.g. your Blackberry 8310 or similar.

This means that you can listen to your phone calls or your MP3’s on the car radio speakers

The implementation is brilliant in most ways but there are some features which seem to lack thought

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Pros

Very Effective

Very clear conversations even through the car speakers at speed

Excellent voice dialling on my BB 8310

Eliminates the need for an MP3 transmitter

Cost GBP 40

Cons

My BB 8310 will restart the current podcast after I receive a call ( probably a blackberry profile issue )

You need to explicitly activate the FM transmitter with a button when a call comes in if the FM transmitter is not in use. Once you do trigger it it announces the frequency which takes 3 seconds and in that time you cannot hear your call ( you can turn this off but I think you then loose the other quite useful voice prompts )

Unlike some other less feature rich models it does not convert the incoming call number into a name – it just reads out the number

Silly Design Mistakes

The in-car charging cable has a really fiddly plug ( like a small usb but not ) which fits into a recess behind a rubber plug – a frustration when you think that most people will want to charge the device whilst it is still attached to the visor

The device will pair with multiple bluetooth devices but only one at a time. this is not too bad ( although see this one from the competition ) but the frustrating part is that it will only pair automatically with the last device – so if your wife uses it with her phone then you need to go into your phone menu to re connect your device – it would be great if it cascaded through the devices until it found one.

The blue LED which is almost directly in your line of sight needs a piece of tape over it to stop it dazzling you at night – I believe that this can be turned off but you need to download the manual – tape is easier !

USB Windows Boot Disk

I find it useful to have a USB boot disk when I am messing about with hardware, particularly since many systems no longer have a floppy drive. It was also the only useful thing I could do with the freebie Lotus QuickR 256Mb USB pen given away by Mary Beth Raven at ILUG 2008

There are a few articles on the web about creating these, one of the best is this O’Reilly Digital Media Blog

I personally found that for a windows boot disk the easiest method ( suggested in a response on the blog above ) was to use the Dell utility and rename the autoexec,bat file to stop it running the Dell diagnostic software

The utility is available at

ftp://ftp.dell.com/diags/CW1310A0.EXE

The much praised HP Drive Key Boot Utility can be found at

http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/SoftwareDescription.jsp?lang=en&cc=US&swItem=MTX-UNITY-I23839

I struggled with this a bit because it defaults to a linux boot disc whereas I wanted a windows boot disc ( to run Ghost 2003 )

Thecus 4100+ NAS ( 2/10 )


Image:Thecus 4100+ NAS ( 2/10 )

This device is just terrible. It has a Gigabyte network interface but the CPU max’s out on just a standard network.

It did seem like an attractive option being able to take 5 x 1Tb disks but I ( and others ) have found the performance terrible, particularly with small files

Even with a 40% discount it was a bad purchase. Its a shame really because it has FTP, Web disk and even a web server.

Thecus’s own advise via their official representative on the Forum’s is buy a bigger unit from us – not much chance of that !

Toshiba M700 Tablet PC ( 7/10 ) Vista ( 3/10 )

Image:Toshiba M700 Tablet PC ( 7/10 )  Vista ( 3/10 )..I have been really looking forward to getting a Tablet PC for several reasons and in many ways have been very impressed with the M700 / Tablet PC expierience. I ordered on from the USA because Toshiba in the UK initially offered pretty low spec machines – pretty daft really since the USP of this machine is that it is a “Power Tablet”

While I do think that the Tablet PC has great potential using Vista has been quite painful with regular crashes – as in multiple times per day – and software that just stops. The machine was originally supplied with XP and I installed Vista Ultimate myself – I thought I had done a good job and down loaded and installed over 20 Toshiba utilities and drivers so it would be interesting to hear what other users with factory installed Vista have found.

OneNote – the MS note taking software has been a great experience

I will hopefully be writing much more about this in the future