Is your laptop running too hot? Before you rush out to get it fixed or replaced, try out these five methods for keeping your laptop cool.
The growth of the tech industry seems to ebb and flow towards smaller devices, then bigger devices, then back again—but in the last few years, when it comes to consumer-level computers, a lot of people have been prioritizing compact size and mobility over raw power.
Laptops have long surpassed the desktop in popularity, particularly among young professionals and students. Even larger number of PC gamers are opting for the mobility of a gaming laptop over the more powerful—but stationary— desktop. Sure, the price points can be vastly different, but with the trend in PC gaming moving towards less-demanding esports titles like League of Legends, Dota 2, Overwatch, and Rocket League (to name a few), even budget-friendly gaming laptops are having no problems running them.
However, anybody who has spent a few hours gaming on a laptop knows that the biggest problem that laptops have is that they run too hot. It’s a frustrating problem, and it can take a toll on the hardware in your laptop, too.
While cooling off a laptop isn’t nearly as easy as keeping a desktop computer cool, there are some handy workarounds and tricks you can employ to keep your laptop cool. In this guide, we’ll go over five different methods you can use to cool down your laptop and prevent it from getting too hot in the first place.
1. Get A Laptop Cooler
Due to the compact design of laptops, its not uncommon for them to overheat. The compact design on laptops limits the amount of cooling they can have. So, if you can add more cooling to your laptop, that is going to help your laptop run cooler.
Fortunately, there are a lot of laptop cooling pads on the market, and they work simply enough: a laptop cooler is, in essence, a fan built into a small laptop stand/tray. You place the pad on whatever surface you’re using your laptop on, then you put your laptop on top of the pad and turn it on. The pad’s fan starts to direct air to the bottom side of your laptop, thus cooling it down.
Cooling pads are, thankfully, fairly inexpensive—and they usually do a solid job at keeping your laptop cool during those hours-long gaming sessions. This comes as no surprise, as you’re essentially adding an extra fan to the outside of your laptop to promote good airflow.
But if you don’t have the money for a cooling pad, you can always just invest in a regular stand—a tiny little block that you place your laptop on, thus giving it space to let air flow more freely. Many stands are even made of material that acts as a heat sink, like aluminum.
And, though it’s a much less common solution, you can also invest in an external GPU. They cost a little more than you might be willing to spend, but if you’ve got the cash to spare, an external GPU will provide older laptops with more power than onboard/integrated graphics, and generate heat away from the rest of your laptop’s components.
2. Use Your Laptop on A Table or Desk When Possible
Seriously, laptop placement is everything. While lounging on your side in bed is an excellent way to relax, keeping your laptop positioned atop your mound of covers or between your legs on your mattress is hardly the best idea. When it comes to “where,” your best bet is to set your laptop on a hard, flat surface—and not on a softer surface.
Floors, even hardwood, aren’t ideal locations for laptop placement, either—mostly due to the excess of dust particles floating around where you put your feet. Using your laptop on a computer desk or table is ideal, particularly one that’s set up in a nice, cool room. Sure, using your laptop wherever you want is one of the biggest perks of owning one, but if you’re gaming or doing some CPU intensive tasks, then you’re going to need all the help you can get.
3. Keep Your Laptop Clean
Surely this goes without saying, but if your laptop is clogged up with dust and other unmentionable debris, the exhaust fans just aren’t able to do their jobs. Even if you don’t live somewhere where there’s lots of dirt or other particles in the air, every square inch of earth is covered in some sort of dust. If you aren’t a diligent home cleaner, especially if you’ve got pets, your whole home is filled with dust. That dust is making its way into your laptop through its vents and clogging the whole machine up.
The easiest way to get this job done is to buy a can of compressed air, turn your laptop off and take it outside, then spray short bursts of air into the vents. You can also take off the panels off of your laptop to get better access to the dirtiest areas, but be aware that his might void your warranty, and if you are too aggressive with the compressed air, you could damage components inside of your laptop.
Once you’ve cleaned out as much dust as possible from your laptop, you can always come back with some dry cotton swabs to get the last little remnants of gunk out of those hard to reach spots.
4. Change Settings on Your Laptop
Believe it or not, there are settings you can adjust on your machine to ensure that it’s running at optimal temperatures. Aside from ensuring that you purchase a laptop that’s able to meet the demands of the games you’re playing, you’d be smart to check and update your drivers regularly.
Options include lowering your screen’s brightness, making sure that nothing is plugged in that doesn’t need to be plugged in, and closing resource-hogging applications that you’re not using. Also double check your laptop’s power management settings, where you’ll find a variety of options and pre-determined configurations that will maximize saved energy.
If you want to be doubly sure that your changes are helping, you can always download free software like SpeedFan to actively monitor your computer’s temperature. Not every fan or piece of hardware on the market has a built-in temp gauge, but you should be able to get a good read on your machine’s heat output nonetheless.
Also, even though it’s a much less common problem, you may want to see if your BIOS needs to be updated. There are settings in your BIOS menu that tell your fans at what temperature they should turn on, and newer BIOS versions may have adjusted temp read settings based on the proliferation of video games. If your fans are going to work sooner, it may stave off high temps for longer.
5. Routine Maintenance and Battery/Charger Management
Like any electronic devices, laptops just aren’t built to last in the way that other products might be. As such, everything inside your laptop is working with a limited lifespan. So, routine maintenance on your laptop is a must. And, while cleaning out your laptop on a regular basis is a part of good laptop maintenance, there are other things that you might want to check on a regular basis to help keep your laptop running as cool as possible.
If your laptop has only recently developed overheating issues, you might just need to replace a faulty fan. You can usually tell if a fan’s gone bad by the noise it’s making. Rattling or grinding is a sure sign of a problem, but a complete lack of noise is just as bad. If your system isn’t idling but your fans still aren’t working, they may be broken.
You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t abuse your laptop’s charger and battery. One of the easiest ways to break your laptop is to over charge it. On most laptops, the charging jack is soldered onto the motherboard and if it goes out, it will be more expensive to fix than to just get a new laptop altogether. Keeping your laptop plugged in all the time is an easy way to quickly kill the charging jack.
Also, your laptop’s battery is going to be hotter when it is charging than when it isn’t. So, charging your laptop at night after you’re done using it and then only charging it while you are using it when you absolutely must, is one way to ensure that your laptop will run cooler.
Ultimately, if your laptop is overheating and you are looking for ways to help it run cooler, the five methods listed above should help you out. If you have an older laptop, though, it might just be time for an upgrade. You can check out the guides below for our top laptop recommendations: