The video chip is situated within your laptop, usually connected to the motherboard. Without a video chip a laptop would not produce a display on its screen and is vulnerable to failure especially if the laptop is abused.
There are two large chips located underneath a heat sink. They are the graphics chip and CPU respectively. Both of these chips are very complex and produce plenty of heat during use. The graphics chip though generates the most heat. The CPU is almost always found in a socket that permits it to be rapidly removed and replaced should it fail or require upgrading. The graphics chip, however, is almost never incorporated into a socket so cannot easily be upgraded or replaced.
As a general rule, the hotter a chip operates at, the shorter its life expectancy, when a failure can be expected. If the laptop and particularly its graphics chip are kept as cool as possible then this should help increase the life expectancy of the laptop.
With a bit of thought you should be able to keep your laptop operating cool rather than hot and damaging the graphics chip. Make sure that you do not block the air inlet and air outlet being especially careful never to use the laptop on a fluffy surface like a bed or rug. If you notice that the air exiting the exhaust outlet is slow or very hot then you will probably need to have the fan and vents cleaned by a laptop repair agent. The majority of users do not realise that certain applications generate considerably more heat from the graphics chip than others. Allowing the laptop idle on the web should not cause the graphics chip to generate much heat, however, playing a game where advanced graphics are running will in most cases make it generate considerable heat. Amazingly, playing films via DVD or directly from the web will result in the graphics chip producing maximum heat. If this is done excessively, and the in-take is slightly blocked, then the chip is very likely to fail. So bear this in mind if you intend to play many films through your laptop.
If the wrong or an old graphics driver has been installed on the laptop then this might cause the graphics chip to overheat and will likely cause graphics intensive applications to judder or crash the laptop. Most laptop manufacturers offer a free service where the correct driver or drivers can be downloaded to help keep it operating exactly they intended when designed.
Upgrading the graphics chip on a laptop is frequently almost impossible since it is very difficult to remove the old chip from the motherboard. There are though, a few high specification laptops which have the graphics chip installed on a separate sub assembly circuit board that plugs into the main motherboard. This will make it easy, thought quiet expensive, to upgrade or replace the graphics chip as necessary.
Always treat your laptop carefully, being aware that if it is getting too hot then the graphics chip may fail immediately or may have a reduced life. Look after your laptop’s graphic chip as it is either extremely expensive or impossible to replace.
Graham Kelly is experienced at repairing broken and damaged laptops and USB RAM drives. He has spent in excess of 30 years inside the electronics industry focusing on electronic design and repair. He has published many articles relating to laptop and notebook faults to assist users diagnose and perhaps perform simple laptop repairs by themselves where appropriate. He is always happy to give technical guidance and may be contacted at Trilogic’s internet site for laptop power connector repair or memory stick repair.