My laptop is in dire straits.

It’s been running a little strange, but I was (and am) willing to blame that on Linux. Sound was not coming out the headphone jack, but instead out the microphone jack.

That was strange.

It always ran hot under Windows, especially running games. I guess that sounds obvious, but it’s ostensibly a gaming laptop and has pretty good airflow & heatsinks, but I guess not good enough.

Heat-throttling is pretty annoying: things run mostly fine up to the “hot threshold”, then it runs fine 80% then lags like crazy 20%, rinse & repeat.

Heat soak is something that happens to turbo’d cars. And, evidently, my laptop.

So I thought I’d put Windows back on it. But to have any hope of running cool, I’d have to reseat the heatsinks.

I have a tube of Arctic Silver Ceramique sitting around, so why not?

Lots of unscrewing later, I thought I’d been defeated by the fan power cables, which seemed to snake to the backside of the PCB where I couldn’t disconnect them.

So I put it all back together, and booted on. A funny thing happened though, when I was opening it up I remember the left side popped open kinda violently. I had dropped it maybe a year ago, so it seemed related.

But once all back together, a plastic tab snapped and the left side of the palmrest was noticeably bulging upwards. Like I had stuffed a deck of cards in the case on the way back together. Seriously. It was kind of ridiculous. I remember seeing something kind of bulging, so back apart it goes. Either I left a screw inside, or it was the battery.

And indeed, most of the battery is noticeably puffy.

So it needs to go.

I guess the case was just barely holding together the pressure, but once I had released it, I couldn’t re-engage all of the clips and locks quite the same way, so it busted.

I look for photos of replacement batteries, and the puffy sections on mine are actually kind of recessed on theirs, like they are puff reservoirs and mine are all used up.

Bad news.

Plans

  1. try running the laptop with no battery, AC power only
  2. buy a replacement battery on eBay, hope for the best
  3. pull the drives & memory, and throw it all in the fucking trash
  4. same as Option 3, but I smash it with a fucking framing hammer

Option 1 is free, at least, so I should try that. It does require a bunch of time and assembly, but that’s basically free.

Option 2 leaves me out $80, at least, more if the battery that comes is half-swollen itself (these are old things!). The replacements will likely be of the same evidently-cheap construction (made in a large country that also makes nice iPhones, but Dell cheaped out I guess), or worse.

Option 3 is short-term satisfaction, but it does leave me down a laptop. 2.5 years for a gaming laptop is not bad. I think I played through Half-Life 2 & Doom 3 twice each. A lot of StarCraft II, and Counter-Strike. Far Cry, Far Cry 2. Factorio. Skyrim. I pretty much got the laptop for these reasons.

So in that sense, it worked out. I don’t really play a lot of new games, that’s the thing. I don’t think it could really run DOOM (the recent one, not 95). I think I beat Doom 1 on this laptop, too.

That’s pretty much it, though. I’m not a huge huge computer gamer anymore. The lesson remains the same: the hardware is just too fucking expensive!!! I like StarCraft, and you can play that on just about any PC, but keeping up with AAA titles is insane. I just don’t want to drop a thousand dollars to play DOOM or some VR Half-Life.

Obviously, I should have just gotten a desktop to play games on Windows, but I didn’t feel like doing that 2 years ago.

I have built a Ryzen workstation, but I’m pretty happy so far running Linux, although it has ups & downs. It froze once until I ssh’d in and killed Firefox(?) or maybe the window manager. Dragging stuff sometimes gets glitchy. Sometimes the mouse cursor turns invisible. Minor stuff.

On the other hand, consoles + TVs just kick ass year in, year out.

I still play my PS4. I just recently beat Bloodborne again1! I haven’t even started on the Dark Souls series. I can’t imagine playing Counter-Strike with a controller, to be fair, unless you use auto-aim (which defeats the purpose, largely).

I’ll probably get the PS5 this winter. Instead of another laptop…

The true replacement for my laptop may be a 5-disc CD player & a PS5 to follow.

I don’t miss Windows. Nor do I miss weird hardware issues in Linux.

  1. I became an infant Great One, and now hang out with the Doll