Have you suffered from a laptop that runs a little hotter than you’d like? Perhaps you’ve opened up a temperature monitor and found your components are burning up, or perhaps you’ve even seen the nasty effects of overheating, such as CPU throttling, bluescreens, hard freezes, and sudden restarts and shutdowns.
The problem is solving an overheating laptop isn’t as simple as solving an overheating PC. If the heatsink in a PC isn’t doing the job, you can replace it. If the airflow through the case isn’t adequate, you can stick fans around the PC to keep the cool air flowing. Laptops, however, have all their components bundled in one tight space. This makes it particularly tricky to solve an overheating laptop problem.
If you find your laptop getting a little too toasty for your liking, try some of the steps below to see if you can help cool it off.
If your laptop is particularly old, it may be very dusty. It’s hard to tell sometimes, as most of the dust will be hidden away inside the machine or on the heat vents. Dust acts as both a fantastic insulator and blocker of airflow, which makes it a solid culprit for overheating devices.
Unlike a PC, it’s hard to get at the dust within a laptop. However, there are some key spots you can check from the outside. Look for places where air enters and leaves the machine. If you spy any dust on these, clean it off the best you can. Cans of compressed air works wonders on these vents as long as you ensure the laptop is turned off and unplugged, and you use short controlled bursts of air.
If your vents are clean, there is the option of unscrewing the panels on the bottom of the laptop to check for dust. However, this has its dangers! Some laptop manufacturers dislike you doing this, even going so far as to put stickers on the screws holding the laptop bottom in. If your manufacturer has a strict policy and discovers you opened your laptop, it will void your warranty.
Even worse, if you open up your laptop’s underside and accidentally damage hardware within, there’s an even higher chance (if not guaranteed) your warranty will be voided and your laptop won’t be usable anymore. If you’re worried about voiding warranties or damaging hardware, contact your manufacturer about how to solve your issue. If you’re lucky, your laptop will have a panel for each individual fan, allowing you to safely clean them. Otherwise, you may need your manufacturer to send someone to you, so you can get it fixed safely and without voiding the warranty,
Check the Fans
Your laptop has vents with fans in it to allow hot air to flow out of the unit. If these fans are particularly old, they may not be working as well as they did in their prime and could be causing the laptop to overheat.
If your laptop is putting on the years, check to see if air is flowing out of its vents properly. You can do this by simply putting your hand near the vent while the laptop is on and feeling for a hot air flow. If you notice a considerable lack of airflow (or, even more terrifying, none at all!), then the fan is either wearing out or clogged with dust.
This goes double if a fan has ever made a strange grinding or whirring noise; a telltale sign that it’s having issues shifting air. Should you find the fans to not be doing their job, either try one of the below cooling methods to try to “make up” the deficiency, or contact your manufacturer to see if you can get it fixed, especially if it’s still under warranty.
If you want to tweak the speed your fans blow at, you can use tools such as SpeedFan to tweak them, but this can cause physical damage to hardware if you’re unsure on what you’re doing.
The above solutions are good if you have an older machine that just needs a little maintenance. They don’t, however, solve the issue of a months-old (or even weeks-old) system that’s overheating. If your device is new, or you’re sure dust is not the issue, what can you do?
One thing you can try is to purchase an external cooler. These usually sit outside of your laptop and blow cool air at it to help reduce its temperature. When my own laptop was getting a little too warm, a solution that worked for me were cooling pads. These are stands that not only give the laptop some elevation but come with fans attached to help cool down the underside of the laptop. They’re useful for bringing temperatures down, but you have to be careful: it’s very easy for manufacturers to stick a fan on a stand and call it a cooling product. When looking for a stand, make sure you read customer reviews and choose a model proven to really make a dent in a laptop’s temperature.
Check the Surface It’s On
Are you a big fan of using the laptop in bed? If so, it might be causing the unit to overheat! In order to properly take in cool air and dissipate hot air, laptops need their undersides to be unobstructed. This is fine when using it on a flat surface like a table, as the feet raise the laptop high enough to get an air flow moving. Placing a laptop on your duvet will cause it to smother your vents and stop the airflow from happening. Even worse, duvets are made to contain and trap heat, which won’t help matters at all!
If you really want to watch Netflix from the comfort of your own bed, consider purchasing a board or tray you can place the laptop on so that it can get a good air flow going. Even if you’re not noticing any dramatic overheating issues, doing this will hopefully help the hardware within the laptop last a little longer.
Reduce the Load
If none of the above works, you can reduce the temperatures by reducing the workload the laptop is taking on. This will, in turn, keep the temperatures low and stop it from overheating.
To do this, download software that will help keep track of how toasty your devices are getting, such as Speccy. Keep an eye on your CPU and GPU and note when it’s undergoing quite a bit of load. You may notice specific software makes your laptop particularly heated, such as games. If this is the case, see if you can turn down any settings or apply tweaks to reduce the load. You can also put the laptop on a lower power plan (such as Power Saver) and tweak it so that it uses less processing power overall.
Keeping Your Cool
Overheating laptops can be a pain, given how they’re not as customisable and easy to clean as a desktop. This doesn’t mean they can’t be cooled off, however; with the above tips, hopefully you’ll be able to keep a heated laptop from going over the edge.
Have you had an extra-hot laptop you managed to cool off? How did you do it? Share your stories below.