It’s natural to scour the Internet to learn how to cool down your laptop. However, some workarounds are ineffective and can mislead you into spending on futile accessories.
This article focuses on methods for cooling overheating laptops. We’ll cover their advantages and disadvantages and expose the tricks and products you should avoid.
Is Laptop Overheating Normal?
Yes, laptops commonly heat up when computers run power-intensive tasks, such as gaming and simulation, for extended periods.
Anything above those levels may mean your laptop is overheating, and you must act. That’s because heat is terrible for other components on your laptop.
Also, sustained heat levels when gaming can shorten the lifespan of your electronic devices, from your hard drive to RAM.
Your computer has a default defense mechanism called thermal throttling. It allows the CPU and GPU to reduce clock speeds when they start edging close to hazardous heat levels.
Further Reading: How to Check and Monitor CPU Temperature on Your Windows 10/11 PC?
How to Cool Down a Laptop: Hardware Solutions
Learning how to cool down your laptop involves knowing what to do and what to avoid. Every laptop’s cooling technology determines how fast its temperature will rise, how much heat it will generate, and the computer’s sustained performance. You can directly reduce the heat your laptop produces by troubleshooting your cooling solution and engaging in other practices focused on your computer’s exterior.
It is worth noting that your CPU and GPU also affect how much heat comes from your laptop, as some chips are more power-efficient than others.
That said, some accessories and external devices are being marketed to be the best thing for thermal performance. We’ll cover every proposed solution and show you the ones to take seriously.
Using Cooling Pads
If you’ve heard people talking about cooling mats, laptop coolers, chill mats, or cooling stands, they’re referring to cooling pads.These are accessories designed to regulate laptop/notebook temperature. They are typically flat, placed under laptops, and contain fans engineered to improve airflow and cool down a heating computer.
So, how do laptop cooling pads work?
Cooling pads have different configurations. Some are designed to pump cool air into the laptop, while others draw hot air away from the computer. There are also basic and advanced cooling systems. Some units only come with fans and allow you to plug them into your laptop’s USB port. Others are more advanced, fitted with RGB colors, with software controls for fans.
But it’s not that simple. While these products have their uses, they will not greatly improve your computer’s heating situation. Most marketing messages inflate the effect of water coolers. If you end up buying one, you may start asking, “Are laptop cooling pads worth it?”
- Cooling pads can make your laptop more comfortable if you always place the system on your lap. That’s because they reduce the effect of the heat coming from your computer.
- Cooling pads can help you experience small gains in reducing laptop temperatures, especially when they draw the hot air away from your computer.
- Cooling pads don’t generally reduce overheating enough to make them worth the cost.
- Cooling pads may distract you from the problem as they keep your lap cool. That way, you may not notice when the heating issues start causing significant problems.
- External laptop coolers can be noisy because they typically rely on fans. Coupled with your laptop’s internal fans, they can cause significant noise pollution.
- Not every cooling pad is compatible with every laptop. Some notebooks have peculiar heat dissipation systems that make it difficult for them to work with external accessories.
Water cooling kits
External water cooling kits are not typical for laptops. Those that exist are highly specialized and designed by OEMs to work with specific computers. These computers have provisions that allow them to connect with a water cooler. Advanced engineering is also in place to keep the system sealed to prevent leaks.
- Water cooling kits can provide small but noticeable gains in reduced temperatures and even increased performance.
- Some advanced water cooling systems also run quietly and maintain the same temperatures for longer.
- The effectiveness of external water coolants is a myth for laptops without the internal engineering that allows cool liquids to contact the CPU or GPU.
- Having a laptop with water-cooling properties exposes you to the risk of disaster when a leak occurs.
- Water coolers are not portable, as these units can be pretty bulky.
- External water cooling units can consume more energy as they need to draw extra power from the grid.
- Water coolers are expensive.
Further Reading: How to Clean the Water Cooling System on Your PC
Using Thermal Paste
Thermal paste is referred to as TIM (Thermal Interface Material) and thermal compound. It is a substance that improves the thermal conductivity between CPUs or GPUs and their heat sinks or cooling solutions.
By default, every computer comes with thermal material, however, these materials can degrade over time and lose function, causing a significant bump in temperature levels.
Changing your computer’s thermal paste, especially with high-quality material, can result in substantial heat reduction if the current paste is no longer functioning as it should. You may also successfully reduce heat if the thermal material you want to apply is an upgrade over the old one.
- Substantially improve heat transfer between CPUs or GPUs and heat sinks or cooling solutions, reducing overheating.
- Reduce throttling and improve computer performance as CPUs and GPUs take longer to overheat.
- The thermal paste’s effectiveness will take a hit if not properly applied. Uneven spreading or excess pasting can cause poor heat transfer.
- Low-quality thermal pastes can dry out or degrade faster, causing the overheating issue to resurface.
- Different thermal pastes have varying thermal conductivities. Lower-quality pastes may not perform as well as higher-end alternatives, so the choice of thermal paste can impact overall effectiveness.
- You risk short-circuiting some sensitive components if the thermal paste accidentally comes into contact with them, especially if it is non-conductive and designed to prevent such issues.
Maintaining Laptop Fans
Your laptop’s internal fans are the most integral parts of its cooling system. They are designed to blow hot air out of the heat pipes. The fans can be obstructed by debris and dust picked over time.
This obstruction can lead to overheating as the cooling system no longer functions optimally. You can open your computer to eliminate the debris and dust so your fans can keep your laptop cool again.
Another option is upgrading your laptop’s fans if your system’s OEM provides such an upgrade. You should note that changing any part of a laptop’s internal cooling system can be risky and almost impossible unless there are specific provisions for the computer.
- Clearing out dust and debris from your laptop’s fans ensures your system’s cooling unit continues to do its job.
- Maintenance prolongs the cooling unit’s lifespan.
- Upgrading the laptop’s fans can improve its cooling capabilities, leaving the computer cooler and significantly reducing throttling.
- Changing laptop fans is a delicate task, and you may cause permanent damage if you don’t know what you’re doing.
- Changing laptop fans is almost impossible as they are made-to-measure for every model, and manufacturers don’t always provide upgrades for internal cooling solutions.
How to Cool Down a Laptop: Software Solutions
You can apply tweaks and settings in your operating system to reduce your CPU’s power needs and computer’s heat.
Increased computer heat is a direct result of high voltage. GPUs and CPUs generally require a higher power supply to handle high computing demands. Temperatures will continue to rise as computing power and voltage demand increases.
Undervolting can help in this case, as it involves reducing CPU and GPU voltage supply.
Undervolting any processing unit reduces its operating voltage. In turn, it reduces its clock speed (how many instructions it can complete per second) and overall heat generation.
Undervolting is generally considered safe when done within reasonable limits. Most modern processors often come with some margin for undervolting without causing instability. That said, there can be different points of failure and risks attached to the practice.
- Undervolting can significantly bring down heat and boost battery life since it reduces your processing unit’s power consumption.
- Heat reduction means your components can last longer.
- Extreme undervolting can lead to system instability, causing crashes, freezes, or performance lags that render your computer unusable.
- Finding a balance that optimizes temperature reduction without sacrificing reduced performance can be tricky. Sometimes, you may find yourself in the impossible situation of choosing between poor performance and overheating.
- Undervolting may not completely solve severe overheating issues, especially if the laptop’s cooling system is inadequate or other components contribute significantly to the overall heat.
- You may void your computer’s warranty if you undervolt beyond the manufacturer’s limits.
Further Reading: What Is Undervolting a CPU? Explained in Detail
While underclocking may sound like undervolting, they’re markedly different.
Frequency and clock speed refer to the rate at which the processors execute operations. For example, a 2.5 gigahertz CPU will process 2.5 billion instructions per second.
The lower the GPU or CPU’s frequency, the lower the voltage it demands.
- Reduces electricity draw and power consumption.
- When components are correctly underclocked, it reduces or even eliminates the need for cooling solutions, eliminating noise.
- Prevents thermal throttling.
- Underclocking can drastically reduce CPU performance and disrupt activity, including gaming, 3D modeling, and video production.
- Your quest to discover the sweet spot between optimal performance and sustainable thermal operation may lead to risky adjustments that can crash your computer.
Other Practices for Reducing Laptop Heat
Apart from the specific hardware and software solutions, small routine tasks can make the difference between overheating and a cooled-down computer.
- Clean Your Laptop Regularly
Cleaning your laptop, especially the fans and heat sink area can significantly reduce overheating. Dust and debris build up over time around those areas, restricting airflow and crippling the laptop’s heat dissipation system. So, ensure you take time to carefully clean your fans, vents, heat pipe areas, and other internal components. You can get help from a professional if you cannot disassemble your system yourself.
Further Reading: Enjoy a Dust-Free PC: Expert Tips on How to Clean a Computer
- Use Windows Power Settings
Windows has different power settings that can be used to tweak PC performance. You can use the advanced power options to determine your CPU and GPU speed and hard drive performance, which can help you tone down the heat.
- Limit CPU Speed Using Registry Editor
You can adjust the Windows registry to limit your CPU’s peak frequency. That way, you can reduce how much heat it generates since lower clock speeds draw lower voltage. However, you must be careful while adjusting low-level settings in the Windows registry, as you can damage Windows if you make the wrong move. Our guide on cooling down the CPU through the registry will show you the proper steps.
- Keep Your Laptop Raised When Running Heavy Tasks
Elevating your laptop with a laptop riser or stand can improve airflow, especially with laptops that have vents on the bottom.
- Place Your Laptop Over Hard Surfaces
If you can’t elevate your laptop, place it over a hard, flat surface like a table. Setting the computer on an uneven or soft surface, such as a pillow, bed, or cushion, can restrict airflow and increase heat.
- Avoid Heavy Applications and Disable Some Background Programs
Your computer will constantly overheat when you run heavy applications for long periods. Background apps can also bump the heat if you keep them open while running other regular programs. You can reduce the frequency with which you run heavy programs and kill background processes. One way to do that is by turning off high-impact startup applications.
Further Reading: Ultimate Guide: How to Stop a Laptop from Overheating
A constantly hot laptop puts your internal components at risk. But you can keep your computer’s temperature down with the right hardware and software tweaks. Always use safe practices to ensure your laptop can adequately dissipate heat.
Use the comments section below to tell us about your overheating experience and how you resolved the problem. You can also let us know if you need help with any other Windows problems.