Lenovo ThinkPad T420 Repair: CPU Thermal Paste & Fan

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I’ve had my trusty ThinkPad for a long time now. Some might say it’s showing its age. “NO WAY”, I say. With a little bit of time and effort, it’ll work as if it was almost new. This dismantling shouldn’t be used as a guide per se, but in all of my research this is how I gathered on how things should be done. If you have any tips or corrections, feel free to let me know.

0:56 – Tools
3:16 – Screws
5:20 – Keyboard
6:22 – Keyboard Bezel
8:32 – Speaker
8:54 – Heat sink
10:00 – Removing Thermal Paste
15:20 – Applying new Thermal Paste
16:34 – Putting it back together
22:25 – Results and Recap

Some of the music used in this video:

Dirt Road Traveler by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (
Artist:

Fireworks by Jahzzar
Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported— CC BY-SA 3.0

Ocean by THBD
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Music provided by Audio Library

Tag: lenovo t420, lenovo, thinkpad, t420, thermal paste, cpu, laptop fan, laptop, overheat, over heat, ibm, repair, new, take apart, disassemble, open, remove, fan, how to, t420i, t520, dust, inside, upgrade, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2016

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50 Comments

  1. Please note: I am not your technical support. This is not a tech support channel. I prefaced at the beginning of this video that you shouldn't explicitly follow what I do in the video, and should instead refer to the manual. DO NOT ask me questions about problems you have with your ThinkPad. I do not have answers.

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  2. I have a t420 also mine done same stuff i got it new in 2011 ran piss out of it for yrs. Redone thermal paste temps wont go over 60c max load now also turned off turbo boost that keep it 55c max and the extra 300mhz makes no diff in daily tasks. Laptop has 256gb msata 500 gb ssd in 2.5 hd socket 500 gb ssd in dvd ultra bay ran in raid 16gb ram i love mine only downside is the display

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  3. Mine is absolutely overheating too.

    Edit: I have opened the laptop, cleaned up the fan, then decided to get bolder, went to shop, bought the thermal paste and isopropylalcohol, and did the whole thing. The difference is incredible, the laptop is so much cooler now. Before it was soo hot i was having problem holding my hand on the fan output on back or on the bottom of the laptop, now its getting cold air out of the place. Now i can play Counsterstrike Global offensive on my laptop, its playable with framerate between 30-45 fps. It was unplayable yesterday.

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  4. i did an opsie, somehow i managed to slip and pierce something and idk what it is or how to refer to it in order to find a spare online to replace it…i pierced smth black, like a foil or smth, through this hole right here https://prnt.sc/w4ugcj can anyone tell me what it is? ty 🙁

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  5. Thanks for the tutorial, After 10 years of use, I changed the thermal paste on my T420 and the temperatures of CPU dropped from 90° to 50° when normal use and to 70° C under load and almost same for the GPU, incredible !!

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  6. Servicing my dads Lenovo t420 atm, fan bearing was making some bad noises after i changed thermalpaste & cleaned out some dust, turns out the fan is just held down magnetically so it was super easy too fix with some automotive wheelbearing grease.
    (Bit on the thicker side for the purpose but should last quite a while.)
    Got a 500 gb WD blue ssd on the way as well while i recover files from his 750 gb hdd that had a visit with the floor after my younger sister dropped the laptop.

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  7. I love my t420.
    What's funny is it shows how little Intel improved from the 2000 series processors to the 6000 series processors since they didn't have competition like they do now.
    If you look from the 7000 series to the current 10th you'll see way more improvement in core counts and frequencies for the same money.
    I.e. i7 2700k vs i7 6700k (same 4 cores and 8 threads just frequency and other small improvements) then the i7 7700k (4c 8thread) to i7 10700k (8 core 16 thread) because for the prices AMD is and core counts they are forced to offer more.

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  8. FYI for those who don't know, Arctic silver 5 has a "curing time". So you may not see drastic reductions right away and through power cycled and pegging the system with a burn in test or something levels out and cures the paste and you'll see better temps after it cures
    Probably want something like Arctic mx4 if you don't want to or know how to deal with the cure cycle.

    Reply
  9. Daniel, just did this. One of the best vids I've seen. Cleaned the fan, also slightly bent the fan cover up a tiny bit to stop the sound of the fan hitting the aluminum cover. After all this I thought it had jammed, it was so quite! Thank you for doing us a big favor!

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  10. Hi Daniel, great video – very clear to see what was happening and with excellent naration to clarify each step. My T420 was peaking at 97 degrees, idling at around 50+ .. I followed your video and did the job in next to no time. Now idling at 32 degrees so very happy! Thanks a lot 🙂

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  11. Wow this is such a great video! I am planning also to upgrade my T420 because we have the same original i5-2540m. However, I am planning to upgrade with an i7-3940XM. Is it okay if you could do a little research about it if it would be compatible to the motherboard? Cause I already tried researching it and I think its quite compatible, but I want to hear your opinion about the exact processor that I will upgrade. I love your content thank you so much!!! 💕💗💙

    Reply
  12. Thanks for the tips. I'm surprised at how easy it was, even including getting the shell apart. Of course, I'm always scared something is going to snap, but it was way less stressful than working on an old white MacBook (aka crackbook because the plastic on them was prone to cracking near the seems).

    Getting the thermal paste off was easy with those coffee filters. My new paste is Arctic MX-4 and that stuff is sticky, so when I lifted it after pumping out some paste, it made a strand and fell over onto the top half of the CPU, so I ended up breaking out the q-tips for simplicity's sake.

    Everything is running well. I wish I would have thought to record my temps before doing it though. Mine wasn't too dusty so I'm not even sure it needed it, but I also have no clue how old the paste was. I bought it refurbished for like $200 a couple years ago, put 16GB of RAM in it and a 500GB Samsung 850 Evo. Next I wanna do the screen upgrade because the resolution is very low by today's standards. No doubt I would run this as my daily driver if I didn't already have a desktop that's much more up-to-date.

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  13. Thanks for your detailed video! Did the same today with my T420 and I can confirm that it was a major improvement! Now, next I am going to try with an X430, which is somewhat more challenging, because you have to almost completely disassemle it to get hold of the fan & heatpipe.

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  14. For anyone wondering, the alchohol doesn't need to be isopropyl, it could be methanol or ethanol, it also doesn't have to be 90 percent or higher, because even 70 percent alchohol dries all the water off the surface that's been wiped, it just takes more time to dry, but we are talking seconds. Also, you don't really need to avoid q tips and cotton in general, just be careful not to leave any of it in the laptop, and that's about it. It is easier to use a microfiber cloth because it doesn't leave fibers, but even that is not really that important. I don't even wanna talk about buying coffee filters for the sole purpose of cleaning one cpu with them. This guide isn't bad but if you know a bit about the subject at hand you'll know that many of these steps require unnecessary effort.

    Reply
  15. Good video! my T420 was running kinda hot. I just followed the video, and its running cooler now. One note, if you work from the left side (where the hard drive bay is) and around to the front when removing the bezel, it will come off easier because of the headphone jack on the right side. Also I followed the recommendation from Arctic Silver 5 that on laptops you spread the thermal paste around. Thanks for the very helpful video!

    Reply
  16. Thank you very much for this video. I'm having similar issues with my 5-year old W530 and thought the slowdowns were related to malware or software updates, etc… Since our PCs are about the same age, I'd bet my thermal paste is as dried up as yours was.

    Reply

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