Monday, May 13, 2013

Thinkpad Fan Replacement --- A Noob's perspective

Today I finally feel like I know a bit about Thinkpads atleast about the model which I am using - inside and out. Of the three ThinkPads  which I use, The T410 was the one which was acting desktop replacement. Some time back I faced a "Fan Errror" when  I tried to boot into the laptop.While I googled for a solution, I came across the same situations on the online forums at Lenovo. Suggestions ranged from fan replacement to using compressed air. Ultimately It turns out that the bearings had  worn out leading to the failure of the fan.

Now it was one thing where the fan failed and the laptop refused to boot. The other thing was to change the fan myself. Me being a Noob when it comes to thinkpads made the matter more complicated. I had a replacement part with me but was still  tinkering with the Idea about getting it serviced where ever it was possible. One of my friend even suggested that I take it to an HP service center to get it repaired which sounded so silly to me.To get rid of all these impediments, I decided to take the plunge myself wondering whether I could fix this issue at the earliest. 

The first place for me to go and do some reading was the Lenovo support site where I could not  only find some training videos which were giving some hands on examples but also a step by step based document which can be very essential to people who are still not adept at opening up the laptop.For a regular Thinkpadder, dealing with these kind of situations might be a breeze but doing it for the first time in my case wasnt all nice. The frst steps seemed to be pretty rudimentary for thinkpads i.e to open up the access panel and the and access the inside. Pulling out the keyboard was also an easy part as it needed only a single screw to be removed from the access panel

There were moments where I was apprehensive in dealing with the internal guiding wires which provided connectivity for the Thinklight, the trackpad,speakers and and the CPU/Heatsink. The wires seemed very delicate to deal with my hands but I started to remove them quite slowly according to the service training videos. Before I could remove the keyboard, I had to open up the track pad,the speaker assembly and the surrounding Bezel. After all this I  was able to look into the inner workings of the thinkpad once  removed the above mentioned parts.

Now came the critical part of opening up the LCD assembly. Critical for me because I had to use a bit of force to remove the LCD when it didn't work out the gentle way.Perhaps I need to be more careful here in the future when dealing with such a situation. Once the LCD unit was detached, I was finally able to see the complete roll cage which was supposed to protect the thinkpad from Accidental falls.It was an Aha moment for me as  I was very close to achieving what I was supposed to do. 

The previous place where the Fan was present was filled with a lot of dust. Visual proof of the situations in which I was using the ThinkPad be it dusty conditions or high tropical climate changes which are common in  India in most of the places. 

Removing the Fan was an easy part again and after applying what they specified as 0.2gms of thermal paste on the dedicated places,I placed it back and started to assemble the units in the reverse order. I also learnt here that the Fan model might vary depening whether you have a discrete or a Dedicated graphics unit. I can now proudly say that I am a tinkerer and a thinkpadder!