5 Tips for Making a Hot Laptop Cooler

Prevent laptop damage by keeping it cool

Laptops naturally run warm because of their shape and size. If they stay hot for prolonged periods of time, however, they could overheat, slow down or become seriously damaged.

Whether or not you're experiencing the warning signs and dangers of your laptop overheating, take the simple and inexpensive protective measures below to keep your laptop cool and make it work more reliably.

The Energy Saver dialog box.

5 Ways to Keep a Laptop Cool

  1. Adjust your power settings from High Performance to a Balanced or Power Saver plan. This tweak will tell the system to only use the power required to run your applications, rather than always using the maximum processor speed. If you need to play games or other intensive work, you can switch back to the high-performance plan as needed.
  2. Use dust remover spray to clean the laptop's vents. Dust accumulates in the laptop's fan vents—a problem easily solved with a can of compressed air, usually less than $10. Turn off your laptop and spray the vent to remove the dust.
  3. Use a laptop cooling pad that has a fan or two. Laptop pads that have vents but no fans can also increase the airflow around your laptop but for stronger cooling needs, a fan is the best way to go. We've used the Belkin F5L055 (under $30) and been happy with it, but there are many other options in the market.
  4. Keep your working environment or computer room as comfortably cool as possible. Computers, like most people, work much better in air-conditioned environments. Most server rooms or data centers operate at 70 degrees Fahrenheit or less, according to Server Fault, and that seems like an ideal temperature recommendation for home offices as well.
  5. Shut down your computer when it's not in use, and especially when you are not at home. The last thing you need when you get home is to find out your laptop was a fire hazard—one of the dangers of overheating laptops.

Taking the steps above brought down the internal temperature of an old and dangerously hot laptop from 181° Fahrenheit (83° Celsius) to 106° F (41° C)—a difference of 41 percent after one hour of using the active laptop cooling pad and bringing the room temperature down to 68 degrees.

Beyond these systemic approaches, watch for in-the-moment problems that aren't indicative of an environmental problem but which nevertheless can adversely affect your laptop. Perhaps the most significant contributor to temporary overheating is putting the laptop in your lap, cushioned by insulators like blankets that both trap heat and block fans.