How to Cool Down a Hot Laptop

Step One: Find the Heat Source

RELATED: How to Tell If Your Computer Is Overheating and What to Do About It

The first thing you’ll want to do in diagnosing an overheating problem is to find where the heat is coming from.

Check Air Flow and Heat Transfer

Just like with desktop computers, laptops need a way to expel the hot air created by their components. No air flow means no heat transfer, so your first step should be figuring out where the air vents are located. Most laptops have vents on the bottom.

And some—especially thicker models—hav

And some—especially thicker models—have vents on the back panel.

You’ll likely see multiple vents. Some are i

You’ll likely see multiple vents. Some are intake vents where cool air gets drawn into the laptop and some are outflow vents where fans expel the hot air.

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While the laptop is running—and ideally while it’s running a taxing app—check to see if the outflow vents are blowing hot air and the intake vents are letting air in. If you’re not feeling much airflow at all, the most common cause is an accumulation of dust in the vents, fans, and cooling channels. It’s not too hard to clean out this dust. Turn your laptop upside-down and look at what you’ve got.

You may be able to get by with just blowing the dust from the vents using a can of compressed air. If you have a laptop that makes the fans easily accessible through panels you can remove, unscrew those panels and lift out the fan so you can blow the dust out even better.

And while the fan is out, don’t forget to bl

And while the fan is out, don’t forget to blow out the area where the fan sits, as well.

If you find that a fan is spinning erratically, yo

If you find that a fan is spinning erratically, you may want to try lifting the sticker off of the axle and putting a drop of mineral oil to keep it going. You can also use contact cleaner, which is designed to evaporate quickly and leave no residue.

If you find that your fan is too gummed up with du

If you find that your fan is too gummed up with dust or other debris and just doesn’t spin freely, you can also try to look up the part number from your laptop’s user manual or by searching your laptop model number online. Once you have that, you can find replacements pretty easily on eBay and the like.

Check for Dying Batteries

There are plenty of different types of batteries, and many different schools of thought on battery maintenance and life span, but one thing that seems pretty unanimous is that batteries aren’t meant to be stored at 100% or 0% capacity. I know plenty of people who buy laptops and always keep the charger in—never actually using the battery. This can definitely reduce a battery’s life span, since you’re essentially storing the battery when it’s full. And bad batteries don’t just give out all of a sudden. As they slowly get less efficient (and finally die), they can generate a lot of heat.

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You can buy replacement batteries pretty easily online—even for older laptops. You just need to know the model your computer and battery. If you can’t find a replacement, you could also consider using your laptop as a desktop by removing the overheating battery completely from the equation.

Deal with Persistent Overheating

If you’ve eliminated dirty air vents and a dying battery as your problem, then you might have a more persistent heat issue. Sometimes a dusty hard drive can cause heat problems and data loss. Some laptops just “run hot,” even without a major load on the CPU. Try cleaning out these areas as best you can before you move on to another solution.

Dust under the processor and RAM doors to get rid

Dust under the processor and RAM doors to get rid of any dust and debris. If you’ve got a netbook or a laptop without compartments underneath, things might be more difficult. You should be able to find instructions for getting the back off so you can clean things properly, but it often involves a fair bit of disassembly.

Video

Video

Laptop temperatures: how hot is too hot?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here, but generally speaking, you should start getting concerned when your CPU reaches about 80 °C (176 °F). Most laptops will shut down automatically when the CPU reaches a certain temperature (usually somewhere between 80-100 °C or 176-212 °F).

How to Stop Your Computer From Overheating

Similar to the laptop tips above:

  • Configure your settings to balance the load on the processor
  • Ensure the air vents are kept clean
  • Ensure your computer case is free from obstruction and has free space all around it
  • Keep in a room that isn’t too hot/cold
  • Avoid having your computer next to a heat source or any other hot electrical gadgets

Also, consider the following for optimal airflow inside the case:

Check for Faulty Fans

Whenever you start to hear strange grinding noises or vibrations coming from your computer, this may be a sign that it needs to be replaced. Sometimes the component fans will die without notice. If you suspect this may be the cause of the problem, open the case and see whether any of the fans have stopped spinning.

Add Extra Case Fans

Case fans help to move air through the computer. They’re small enough to attach to the inside front or back of the computer case. The best way to keep the computer cool using case fans is to install one to move warm air out of the computer and the other for moving cool air in. They’re straightforward to install, much easier than installing a CPU fan.

Upgrade Your CPU Fan

Your Central Processing Unit (CPU) is like the heart of the system and is probably the most sensitive part of your computer; it’s prone to overheating. It comes with its own fan but generally, it will need replacing over time.

Upgrading your fan helps to keep the internal components from overheating as well as increase the lifetime of other components. They work by dispersing heat from your processor over a large surface area, cooling it down with air or liquid.

What are the signs of an overheating laptop?

Heat management has become a growing concern in recent years as manufacturers continue to make laptops thinner and thinner in the name of modern design. As a result, many laptops run relatively warm, which can make it tricky to tell if something is actually wrong.

Here are a few signs that your laptop may be overheating:

  • The laptop feels uncomfortably hot to touch.
  • The fan is constantly running and making strange noises.
  • The fan never runs, even when you perform demanding tasks.
  • Your laptop suddenly shuts down without warning.
  • You start seeing error messages.
  • The system slows down for no discernible reason.
  • The screen freezes, including the mouse cursor.

Some of the signs above can be a bit ambiguous in that they can be attributed to other problems not related to heat. With this in mind, the best way to tell if your laptop is overheating is to test its temperature.

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