How to stop overheating laptop: 3 Key Tips and Solutions
Your laptop offers impressive computing power and storage in a tiny space. This level of efficiency comes at a price: excess heat. The biggest threat to your laptop, aside from coffee, is overheating. It can cause hardware failure and permanent damage.
Let’s take a look at how to prevent or repair your laptop from overheating to improve its performance and extend its life.
The basics of overheating computers even while your laptop may look warm, it may not actually be overheating.
How can you tell if your laptop is getting too hot?
A sure sign that your computer is overheating is when you hear your fan running at full speed all the time. Laptop fans can make a lot of noise, so for that alone, you should want to get it fixed. Due to insufficient cooling, laptops can become so hot that the chassis is unsafe to touch.
At this point, you may even experience reduced performance, as modern processors can reduce the clock speed to reduce thermal stress. In addition, fail-safe software can trigger a sudden shutdown to prevent hardware damage.
If you want to measure the actual temperature inside the laptop, you can use a tool like HWMonitor (see above). This can also reveal which part of your laptop is overheating. You will usually find the central processing unit (CPU) or graphics processing unit (GPU) overheating the most. Notebooks with integrated graphics may not display separate GPU temperatures.
Why is your laptop overheating?
Your laptop is constantly overheating due to insufficient cooling.
Possible reasons include dust blocking the intake grills or exhaust ports, a clogged fan, or degenerating thermal paste or pad. A thermal pad or thermal paste is a thermally conductive material that connects the CPU or GPU to a metal heatsink that dissipates heat away from the CPU units, usually to a cooling fan.
You can fix an overheating laptop yourself, although some jobs, like applying fresh thermal paste to the CPU, are more complex than others. If you need a quick fix and don’t have the skills to remove the CPU or GPU shroud and apply fresh thermal compound, try our easy solutions first.
Can a passive cooling fanless laptop overheat?
Fanless laptops use passive cooling techniques such as spreading heat throughout the metal body or limiting the processor speed to regulate heat.
Your laptop is probably running on passive cooling if you can’t hear a fan or find intake grills or exhaust vents. This means that your computer will not overheat, but you may experience a drop in performance in response to the increased heat load.
Since passively cooled laptops don’t have fans, there’s little you can fix. However, you can recover the processing power lost in CPU throttling by solving the excessive heat with external cooling. If you have a laptop without a fan, skip to the cooling pad section below.
How to prevent your laptop from overheating
1. Repair the internal cooling
When your laptop is overheating, the first and most important thing to do is to clean the fan(s) that provide cooling to the CPU and graphics card. Over time, they build up layers of dirt and dust that slow them down and block airflow. Refer to your notebook or manufacturer’s manual for information on how to open your computer to access and clean these parts.
But before you attempt any cleaning, do the following:
Look for the laptop’s exhaust ports when it is operating; they ought to let hot air out.
Turn off the computer
Disconnect all cables
Remove the battery (if possible)
Ground yourself to prevent electrostatic discharge.
When you’re ready, take a close look at your laptop, inside and out, and clean the following areas:
If you can open the laptop, carefully clean the fan(s) with a cotton swab dipped in a drop of isopropyl alcohol. Make sure the alcohol has completely evaporated before reconnecting the laptop to power.
You can also use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust and debris that is driving the fan(s). To prevent damage to the fan, do not let it rotate while blowing air on it. To use canned air to clean the fan, hold it down to stop it from spinning.
You can also clean the exhaust hole with a vacuum cleaner. It usually sits on the side of the laptop, but you can also find it on the back. Unlike intake grills, exhaust vents release warm or hot air, making them easy to find.
External intake grills cover the fans that draw cooler air into the laptop. They can be located on the sides or bottom of your computer. To clean the intake grills, spray them with air from a can.
Finally, you can apply fresh thermal paste to the interface between the CPU and GPU and its heatsink. Again, please refer to your notebook or manufacturer’s manual for instructions on disassembling these components.
2. Keep the laptop on a hard and flat surface
If your laptop’s intake grills are down, then uneven surfaces like a blanket, pillow, or lap will block airflow. Subsequently, cooling will deteriorate, heat will accumulate, the surface of the notebook will heat up, the internal temperature will increase and finally, the notebook will overheat.
By keeping the laptop on a solid, level surface, you may easily prevent this situation. You can purchase a special laptop holder or lap stand or utilize something as basic as a tray. I have a foldable bamboo laptop table that I use.
3. Purchase a cooling pad or laptop cooler.
The purpose of laptop coolers is to provide additional cooling. However, picking the incorrect cooler could exacerbate the issue. Therefore, you must comprehend the airflow to and from your laptop before making a cooler purchase.
Most laptops pull cooling air from the bottom, as was already indicated. This makes sense because warm air rises. However, the heatsink that sits under the laptop and draws air from it does not help cool the laptop and instead accelerates overheating.
If your laptop has grills on the bottom, buy a cooler that blows cold air upwards, into the computer. You can also use a passive cooler like the Hagibis ergonomic laptop stand to raise the laptop and increase airflow.
You can make your own laptop cooler or cooling pad if you’re handy. We even came up with a fix that will only set you back $5!
Can you fix an overheating laptop with software?
If none of the hardware fixes lead to permanent improvements, you can go back to software fixes that address your laptop’s performance and power consumption. However, addressing excessive heat with a software fix means you’re giving up performance in favor of preserving the hardware.
You can reduce screen brightness or processor speed. In Windows, underclocking or undervolting is done in the BIOS, but it can also be controlled using software tools. If your laptop has an Intel chip, you can probably find it under the Intel XTU voltage. You can also under-solder graphics cards or underclock GPUs. And in case you were wondering, undervolting and underclocking are not the same thing.
Protect your laptop from overheating
Even if you have a new laptop that doesn’t show any obvious signs of overheating, it’s a good idea to clean its vents and fans to prevent dust from accumulating on a regular basis. And if you want to be extra careful, always place the laptop on a firm, flat surface.
Using a laptop table while couch surfing will ensure good airflow and reduce dust getting in and blocking vents and fans. And if you think you need a new cooling system for your computer, check out our list of the best.