Lenovo Thinkpad T500 is overheating - novice needs help

My Thinkpad T500 is overheating.

Here are my specs:

Model: T500 (Type: 2055)

Processor: P8600 (2.40GHz)

GPU: ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650

When I'm doing most regular activities (browsing,emailing, documents), laptop is fine. The unit gets warm underneath, but I've not had problems.

If I'm doing more intensive activities (watching local video,Netflix, or Skyping), laptop starts to heat up enough so that it's uncomfortable on my lap.

When I play games (Nothing crazy intensive: e.g. Minecraft, Civilization 4), and sometimes when I Skype, the unit gets extremely hot underneath and shuts off without warning.

The heat seems to be originating from the left-hand side of the laptop, near the back. Unless I'm mistaken, this is where the GPU is located. And this makes sense, since the overheating seems to be related to graphics-intensive activities.

So, my questions are:

1. How can I diagnose this problem further? What's a good utility to use to monitor heat of GPU and CPU? Anything else I can use ?

2. Are there any settings I can change on my laptop to prevent the automatic shut-downs and excessive heat?

3. I've seen some mention of people cleaning fans, replacing fans / cooling units, or adding thermal paste. Need some advice there too.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Thank you!
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  1. Best answer
    1) To monitor your system temperature I would recommend: Real Temp -
    It even has an alarm to tell you when your temps are too high.

    2) It depends on your BIOS config, sometimes you can change the settings to have the laptop shut off at higher temperatures BUT, i would highly recommend against this, the automatic shut-downs are there for a reason; to prevent damage to your system. To be on the safe side, don't touch any settings unless you're 100% sure you know what they will do.

    3) Those people are probably right. The most logical first step is to try cleaning the fans/ heat sinks. There is most likely some dust in there which prevents proper cooling. If that doesn't solve your problem it could be your thermal paste is dried up and doesn't transfer the heat away from the CPU/GPU properly anymore. Take a look at the Lenovo manuals:

    Also it could be an electrical issue, perhaps when your CPU and GPU are under heavy load and requiring more current (power) that your power adaptor can't deliver it. One way to test that is to run your computer with only the battery, don't plug it into the wall. And see if then it still shuts down.
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