In November my four-year old laptop started acting up. First it shut itself down a couple of times when doing heavy calculations. Later the screen started showing artefacts in text mode and would hang the X server. I bought this machine from BTO because they offered quite a lot of customization with regard to the parts that go into the laptop. Since I was able to try the laptop at their local reseller Aragorn (my usual place for computer hardware), I was sure that FreeBSD wouldn’t have any problems with the hardware.
At that point I started to realize that the laptop’s fan was on more or less continuously. That should have caught my eye (or rather ear) earlier! When I opened up the back of the laptop, there was a huge dust puppy blocking airflow through the heat exchanger. I removed that, and the fan’s behavior returned to normal.
But the damage was already done. The graphics chip on the motherboard was probably cooked and started acting up more and more. I had the people at Aragorn take a look at it, and the verdict was that the chip was broken and that the motherboard needed to be replaced. At that point I contacted the manufacturer, BTO. Honestly I didn’t expect them to have service parts for a machine that was relatively old in computer terms.
Color me surprised when I got an e-mail that they indeed had an identical spare part! With transport and insurance the total cost was approximately €300. Not a trivial amount of money, but certainly a lot less than a new laptop would have cost me! And I wouldn’t have to spend the not insignificant amount of time to configure a new laptop.
Within two weeks from my submission of an repair request, I had the repaired laptop back, and it works fine again. I will certainly make it a habit to check and clean the fan and heat exchanger more often. For my desktop I to that every year, and I’m going to do the same for the laptop.
Compliments to Aragorn for the help and especially BTO for the excellent service! Both have my recommendation.