Improving Performance of a HP Pavilion dv4 Laptop

npt2404

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I am looking to fix/improve a HP dv4 laptop that has these three issues:
1) relatively high CPU temps
2) battery that does not charge
3) flickering screen

The first issue is from both feel and HWMonitor data. For example, in last hour CPU temps went up to as high as 82C. Usually are between high 60's and low 70's. Don't know what they were like before -- started tracking just about a week ago -- but that seems excessive given that this laptop is used for Web browsing, MS office work, etc. I believe a disassembly and a thorough cleaning of the heatsink and application of fresh thermal paste will be needed to get this fixed. Thoughts?

The second issue is that the battery is showing either a very low value while plugged in (usually 2%) or 100%. The full charge capacity per HWMonitor is 702702 mWh which is unrealistic. After the power cord is unplugged, the laptop hibernates immediately. The original 6-cell OEM battery lasted 2-2.5 years and this is second OEM battery which I believe started going bad after two years also. The power supply is the original OEM 65W units and seems to work fine although I'm not sure and wonder if it or something else is killing batteries prematurely? Would a replacement generic/unbraded battery of correct size be ok? (FWIW the current voltage reading by HWMonitor is about 12.5 volts.)

Third, I had an acquaintance diagnose and fix a flickering issue a few years ago -- the display cable was replaced -- but the issue came back about a year later. I believe the display itself is fine but once in a while it flickers especially as screen is moved. Any advice regarding permanent fix? Just need to tear into it and install brand new cable?

One other thing I was thinking of is upgrading memory. I know I can go up to 8GB. Can probably install PC3-12800 modules. (One of the sticks says PC3-8500S on it... did not look at the other one but is probably identical.) Will that help with the battery or CPU heat issues at all? Should, in theory, improve overall performance, right?

Thanks in advance for the help.

P.S. Here are the specs:
HP Pavilion dv4-1540us
CPU: Intel Core2 Duo T6600 (2.20 GHz)
RAM: 4 GB (2x2GB 204-pin DDR3 2Rx8 PC3-8500S)
Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
HDD: 320 GB
OS: Win 7 Home Premium Service Pack 1
 

npt2404

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Due to issues with my other machine, this old laptop became my go-to personal computer! Temps are still good and the new battery is ok (although not lasting as long as the original one did). The screen is also not giving me any trouble. At some point I'll have to update my hardware fleet but not yet. Thanks for the help, velo3100.
 

velo3100

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The first issue can be fixed by cleaning the laptop and replacing the thermal paste as it is most likely dried up after 2 years. Also use a laptop cooler as this helps if the temps are very high.

For the second issue, I would say get a new battery or just use it in the mains if you don't move around that much. This will reduce temps as the battery will heat more if it is worn out.

For the third issue, I would replace the screen if you know how. I don't know how to do that myself but I think there is a loose connection somewhere or the backlight is failing somehow.
 

npt2404

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Thanks for the post.

I'm planning to resolve #1 and #3 via a near-complete tear down. Will clean up dust, reapply thermal paste (this dv4 model came out in 2009) and replace the cable if it's damaged.

The battery is on order. I think that's all it will be -- a replacement. Although I do wonder why they don't last very long on these HP's.
 

npt2404

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To provide an update... after a nearly complete tear down I didn't find much dust. Cleaned up what I could and re-applied thermal paste. As much as I hate to say it, there is really no significant improvement in temps. A moment ago I was "idling" at about 60 degrees C. Then I restarted the system. Right now, the fan is on high and temps are in low to mid-70's as I'm typing. Don't think I'm doing anything differently although there could be a process/service causing this. (I know there are Windows Updates pending.) May just be poor design.

I looked over and straightened out the display cable and that took care of one of my issues. At least for now. I can see how that can be an ongoing problem. Again, I believe it is poor design.

I got the RAM upgrade (from 4GB of PC3-8500 to 6GB of PC3-12800) done but it did not have significant impact. While original memory had much lower frequency than what I just put in, I think that this motherboard maxes out at 800 MHz.

In the end, there is probably only so much you can do with a nearly 8-year old laptop.

P.S. The battery is now working ok -- not showing ridiculous capacity figures -- but based on both HWMonitor and HP utility the wear is high (over 60%). We'll see how the new one works.
 

npt2404

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The new battery is as expected much better. Temps also improved! I had to "unclog" the Updates. Could not get the new ones to download until I manually stopped and restarted them. Now I'm pretty much caught up after several reboots. Idle temps are now in mid-40's! So I'm seeing some much needed improvement.
 

velo3100

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Thats good to hear. 8 years is a long time for a laptop. I would suggest not making the upgrade to windows 10 if it offers you as it does it automatically which means you won't have any control over it. You could let it tell you what updates are available but not download them automatically. This should sort out the windows update bug.
 

npt2404

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Jul 31, 2017
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Due to issues with my other machine, this old laptop became my go-to personal computer! Temps are still good and the new battery is ok (although not lasting as long as the original one did). The screen is also not giving me any trouble. At some point I'll have to update my hardware fleet but not yet. Thanks for the help, velo3100.
 

npt2404

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Jul 31, 2017
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A little update over a year later. The screen issue is really not the screen itself but the way HP designed all of the cables that give power, etc to the screen. It seems like it's all folded so many times and packed into the machine so tight. Worse so than other laptops. If it flickers, a few taps on the ribbon cable that runs to the back of the monitor solves the issue. Of course, the only way to really do that is to expose the back of the monitor. So need to remove the plastic shell over the screen and the camera with it. I know, kind of odd but actually it's not too bad.

The other thing is that with added RAM, the PC is running ok although I still haven't switch to SSD on this machine so it's still relatively slow. It's especially felt upon startup. Takes quite a while to be fully ready to let me access all applications, run browser, etc.

I read that the CPU in this PC is not supported by or certified for (whatever the term is) Windows 10 although there is a way to make it work somehow anyway. I know that some people are still able to upgrade to Win10 from Win7 but I don't think this will be worthwhile for this PC given the age. I may hang on to it past Jan 2020 when Win 7 hits EOL but may switch the OS from Win to CloudReady or Linux. I've used Windows pretty much my whole life - it will be good to try something new, free and with less "weight". We'll see.
 
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