I took my laptop apart as much as I could since I didn't find my exact model on that page. I didn't find a whole lot of dust in the machine which surprised me. I did find some dust by the back vent by the fan. This dust had the vent to the outside blocked by about 25%. I vacuumed all of that dust out and re-ran my overheating test (similar to the one in the previous thread in my first post). Here are the results of that test:
6:00pm I started SpeedFan. HD - 91, CPU - 113 CPU usage is consistently 0.0% - 2.0%.
HD - 93, CPU - 113
HD - 99, CPU - 113
HD - 104, CPU 113
HD - 108, CPU - 113
6:18pm HD - 108, CPU - 113 CPU starts to go to 20%-60% usage. The fan speed increases. There is a program from Microsoft Windows Defender that tries to access the internet and just sends my laptop in to a tizzy. I kill the program and the laptop settles down. The program comes back about 20 seconds later and the laptop ramps up again so I uninstall Windows Defender.
6:45pm HD - 113, CPU - 163 First reading after it was uninstalled
6:47pm HD - 113, CPU - 160
6:55pm HD - 113, CPU - 160 test ended.
So I ran the same test this morning and the laptop worked more or less normally. The CPU didn't spike. It was on for about an hour and the CPU temperature hung out at 113F for the entire time. All I did was watch the temps and surf to three or four websites. The hard drive temperature started out at 81F and climbed to around 120F. It would be steady and go up for a few refreshes, then down for one refresh, then steady, then up again. So it was steadily climbing for most of the hour it was on and that's what worries me. I don't know what's normal operating temperatures for this laptop, but this is the most normal behavior I've seen out of it in quite some time.
Could that little bit of dust blocking 25% of the outside vent have that much of an impact? Should I take it back apart and "dig deeper" to see if there is any more dust? What's normal running temperature for a laptop's CPU and hard drive? I would have left it on to see if the temps ever peaked, but I'm still afraid of damaging the hardware.