The best thing about laptops is not their performance but rather their portability. And while certain models are astonishingly powerful, they’re still not as potent as full-fledged desktop PCs — hardly a surprise given their many differences.
Laptops, being as small and portable as they are, present a series of endlessly intricate challenges.
The biggest one pertains to their cooling.
Lowering the temperatures of exceedingly powerful components is never an easy task, especially when there are so many physical constraints and limitations.
The reality of it all is that some laptops tend to run hotter than others. This, in turn, affects not only their performance but their longevity as well.
It is, therefore, paramount to keep an eye on internal temperatures and, preferably, to ensure as much airflow as you possibly can to prolong the lifespan of your laptop.
Down below you’ll find numerous tips on how to best achieve this!
Signs of Laptop Overheating
If you notice any of the following signs, there’s a very real possibility that your laptop might be overheating:
- Loud whirring noises from your laptop’s fans
- Unresponsive OS
- Unexpected error messages
- Random shutdowns during demanding workloads
- Applications and peripherals constantly freezing
If you notice any of this, you should definitely check how hot your CPU/GPU is running.
To do this, download HWMonitor.
It is a phenomenal program that’ll provide you with all the information you need, by which we mean the readings from all temperature sensors within your laptop.
Dangers of Laptop Overheating
Running at extremely high temperatures for extended periods of time can cause irreversible damage to your laptop’s components. We’re not just talking about graphics cards here, but motherboards, disk drives, memory modules, and so on.
Moreover, overheating laptops can actually be a fire hazard. In 2010, Sony recalled more than 230,000 VAIO laptops, following the reports of units overheating to such a degree that their casings and keyboards had deformed.
Overheating vs. Thermal Throttling
Overheating is when your laptop’s components fail to handle extreme temperatures due to a subpar cooling solution. Whenever that happens, you run the risk of causing irreversible damage.
Thermal throttling, on the other hand, is a mechanism used to prevent laptops and desktop computers from overheating. This is done by lowering the frequencies of core components — the CPU and GPU, to be more exact.
How to Cool Down Your Laptop
If your laptop’s temperatures are too high and you’ve started noticing signs of thermal throttling, you have to react in one way or another.
Cooling down your laptop can take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, depending on the initial temperature, the size of your laptop (and, by proxy, its fans/cooling solution), room temperature, and a myriad of other elements as well.
Here are three quick methods you can employ:
Laptop Coolers — The Best Possible Choice
This is pretty much the ideal solution.
If you’re looking for the most optimal way to cool down your laptop (one that isn’t going to break the bank), then buying a laptop cooler/cooling pad is definitely the way to go!
They come in various different shapes and sizes but they all share the exact same purpose — and they all do their job wonderfully!
Cooling pads are the most effective option out there.
They not only raise your laptop off the surface (and, in doing so, provide better airflow) but a good number of them have built-in fans as well — fans that blow cold air directly into the underside of your laptop, therefore lowering its internal temperatures and ensuring a more enjoyable user experience (one that is freed from thermal throttling and any unwanted consequences).
Laptop coolers can be found on Amazon (amongst other places) and their prices vary from $10 to $100. Neither of these two extremes is advisable, though. \
The cheapest options often don’t work all that well whereas the most expensive ones don’t really justify their MSRPs — they’re priced in such a way primarily because of their build quality and, at times, a bunch of features you don’t really need.
You should, therefore, go with a “mid-range” option as that’ll net you the most “bang for your buck.”
Ensure Your Laptop’s Airflow Isn’t Choked
Dust and debris constantly build up inside our hardware, and that holds true for both desktop computers and laptops alike.
As more dust accumulates, your laptop’s airflow will deteriorate; this, in turn, will prevent it from dispersing heat away from its core components.
To check whether your laptop’s airflow is choked, simply remove the bottom panel and examine the fans as well as all air vents on the case.
If you happen to find any dust, make sure to remove it (either with a dry tissue or with a compressed air duster) and reattach the bottom part of the housing.
Also make sure your Laptop isn’t placed on a soft surface such as a bed or rug that might cover the fan-intake holes on the underside of some laptops.
Make Sure You’re Not Dealing with a Faulty Laptop Fan
Laptop fans eventually give out, much like most other components. To see whether you’re dealing with a faulty fan, download HWMONITOR and check if everything works as it’s supposed to.
If one of your fans happens to have malfunctioned (assuming you have more than one), you can (almost) always purchase a replacement and have a professional make the swap.
Or, conversely, you can roll up your sleeves and do it yourself if you happen to be tech-savvy.
Overutilization from Tasks / Software
All of the above tips won’t help if you have tasks running that overutilize your CPU or GPU, especially if they’re not supposed to.
There are a lot of ways this can happen:
- Antivirus Software constantly scanning your hard drives
- Any kind of Virus that makes use of your hardware’s resources, e.g. :
- A Virus / Miner using your CPU / GPU without your knowing
- Too many Chrome or other browser tabs opened at the same time eating up a lot of resources
- Windows Search Indexer having trouble scanning all your files
You can find such tasks by opening your windows taskmanager (CTRL + SHIFT + ESC; Process tab) and checking if any of the running tasks are using up a lot of CPU or GPU resources.
If your Laptop is idle, both CPU and GPU utilization should be below 10%. If it’s above that, hone in on the culprit and end that task to see if it helps calm down your fans and reduces Laptop heat.
Can Faulty Laptop Fans Cause Overheating?
If a fan is not working properly, your laptop will overheat almost immediately.
No matter if it has one or two fans, if just one of them stops working, CPU/GPU temperatures will skyrocket and will almost surely cause stability issues.
Can Overheating Damage My Laptop?
Yes, overheating can definitely damage your laptop.
In fact, it can cause irreversible damage to its components, including its graphics card, processor, motherboard, RAM, and even disk drives.
Even though most modern laptops now come with thermal throttling mechanisms and can shut down to prevent damage, running at extreme temperatures for prolonged periods of time can still cause issues in the long run.
How to Quickly Cool Down a Laptop?
The quickest option would be to simply shut it down and wait for it to properly cool down.
A more long-term solution (and a most advisable one) would be to purchase a cooler/cooling pad and, in doing so, ensure the absolute best airflow your laptop can get.
Cleaning its fans from dust and debris is also a must, especially if you’re dealing with an older laptop.
Last but certainly not least, make sure your laptop is positioned on a hard surface. Putting it on your bed or carpet flooring will immediately choke up its airflow and, in turn, affect its performance.
Over to You
Cooling down your laptop is absolutely necessary if you want to prolong its life span, improve its performance, and prevent any components from overheating and causing irreparable damage.