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How does smoking disable a Laptop?

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The tar and oils collect on the cooling system mainly. You get the same effect if you use it near a kitchen from cooking oils or someone in your house is a user of perfumes - base oils. It's made worse by gas heating or living in a dusty area or if you have pets. The oils get sucked in and collect, the dust/pollen/etc stick to the oil and create a very nice insulating sludge layer. Thinks heat up and yes eventually the smoke gets let out of the chips. Usually they just slow down trying to protect themselves or get nice and wonky. There are some brands worse than others due to the design of the cooling systems but all of them suffer from this. If you clean them out about all you see is a small puff of dust (and maybe lint/hair) thats all it takes to overheat and cause damage. To put this in a smokers perspective take a drag and exhale. The amount of smoke you see is about 3-4 times the amount that is doing the damage. That is how little smoke/dust it takes. I doubt the acids in the tars or oils had time to really do anything. If you are lucky you should be able to get a tech to clean out the cooling system ($40+) and it will run normally again. If this is bad enough there will be cpu damage but that's usually the extent of it. It's just a overheat situation.