Overheating graphics chip - Help

Need some advice for my Dell XPS m1330 graphics chip overheating. Chip is a nVidia Geforce 8400M GS

Idle: Core 1&2 temp average 47C - Graphics temp average 74C
Running World of Warcraft: Core 1&2 temp average 74C - Graphics Average 96C

I know this goes higher because while playing The Sims 3 it is causing my computer to have serious graphical issues with dancing pixels and layered boxes everywhere. Even after closing the game, Firefox does this as well, but not my desktop or any loading screens. Restarting fixes it. Last time attempted got a black screen and ended up having to manually shut it down so not going to attempt to measure the temperature again. All my games run on lowest settings.

This has been a persistent problem since getting my laptop several years ago. Until now though it would just drop my framerates down to 3-7 until I restarted my laptop. It has always runs really hot. These temps are with six fans running on a coolermaster mat as well. Warranty is out, so naturally looking for a cheap option (don't want to invest a lot of cash in a system that I plan to replace in a few months)

So what I'd like to know...is the temperature on my chip being noticeably higher (Maxed at 104C seems ridiculous to me, and that's only with WoW) a large cause for concern? Or are temp differences like that normal? And if my graphics are glitching out that badly but only after running The Sims 3, is it basically toast and I'm looking at a new Motherboard or there's still hope by reducing the heat? I read something about cleaning out the Heat sink and applying thermal gel, which I will look further into, but not terribly comfortable digging around in there. Any suggestions would be very appreciated. Thank you.

EDIT: Corrected graphics chip. Is 8400M GS not 8600
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  1. Try cleaning out the internal fans with compressed air as that might lower your temps.

    Replacing the thermal paste is also a very good way forward. I would say over 100c is dangerous for your GPU. I think thermal death is about 109 or similar hence the massive throttling.
  2. If you decide to take Darth's advice, be sure you do not allow the fan to "freewheel" while you're blowing compressed air through them. They aren't meant to spin at that speed and you'll very possibly destroy the bearings. Hold the fan from spinning with a q-tip, finger or whatever it takes and let it turn one or two blades at a time while blowing the compressed air through.

    The "thermal paste" on the GPU chip isn't likely to be thermal paste at all but rather, a thermal pad for conducting heat away from the chip. Be sure you have a spare pad on hand as well as thermal paste.

    The service manual for your Dell is here -> http://www.dell.com/support/troubleshooting/us/en/19/Product/xps-m1330 it will show you how to disassemble the back panel to get to the fans and heatsink of the GPU.

    Good luck.
  3. You would only need paste as opposed to a pad. Something such as mx4 or similar and use the least amount you can get away with.

    Thermal pads are cheap methods of putting conductive material onto heatsinks in a mass production way.
  4. Thank you, Jeaux, I will definitely keep in mind not to allow it to freewheel.

    Darth, I looked into it further and it seems that Jeaux is correct and my laptop does in fact come with a thermal pad. So you are saying that I can ignore the pad entirely and still stick with the paste even though it was not there previously? Forgive me, this all very new to me >.<

    This is probably a long shot in the dark, but every time I look up overheating and graphical issues for my laptop and specific graphics chip I find a lot of information about them being faulty. This computer is several years old, probably four, possibly five. Just wondering if anyone knows anything about this, because if it was made in that time frame, it sounds like I would need a new motherboard. /crosses fingers all she needs is a good cleaning lol. This only concerns me because I've always had overheating issues, and issues like everything going black and white, so thought it would be worth a mention.
  5. The thermal pad may or may not have adhesive to hold the sink in place, replace that with thermal compound only and the sink is going to be rattling around in your laptop case the first time it gets hot. Or, if it's a single large sink covering multiple items, the thermal paste will simply not fill the gap. Get a pad that is ~ 3.2W/mK, it should work better than a factory pad.
  6. You need to use remove the thermal pad with isopropyl alcohol and then apply the thermal paste. A thermal pad may be needed put only if your heatsink are secured in no other way but that is instead of paste
  7. Great, thanks guys, I think I have the information I needed. Really appreciate the help!
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