How To Find And Fix An Overheating Laptop?

Is your laptop overheating? Try these methods to keep it cool

The past couple of years have seen an unbelievable amount of development in laptops. A steep increase in performance was enabled by chips that are ever more densely packed with transistors. Similarly, the amount of processors was multiplied, the hardware was put into slimmer cases, and better graphics cards enabled bigger screens with higher resolutions. However, these developments came at a price: heating issues.

Many laptops overheat because the fan on the bottom is blocked, and the hard drive then quickly fails. In laptops, the cooling is normally performed by a fan and some kind of metal conductor like copper or aluminium called a heat sink. The CPU, and lately the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), are connected to the metal heat sink via a thermal grease or compound. This grease generates heat but not electricity.

In this article, we will find out the reasons for overheating, signs of overheating and methods that can prevent or fix an overheating laptop thereby enhancing the performance and extend the lifespan of your laptop.

Why Your Laptop Is Overheating?

There are three major reasons why laptops have more of an overheating problem than desktops. Firstly, since laptops are smaller than desktops, those electronic components are crammed in there more tightly. Since they are closer together, and since the casing of a laptop is so narrow, there is not much room for the heat to dissipate.

The other issue is power. As laptops get more powerful processors, and as operating systems require more of that processing power to run, more heat is being generated inside the case.

While laptop manufacturers know about this, the task for them is to do away with as much heat as possible using as small fan and heat sink as the CPU will allow. Fans, heat sinks and air vents all work to cool down a laptop while it’s running. Though sometimes, it’s just not enough. Overheating can happen when a fan isn’t working properly or there’s some other malfunction. However, sometimes it is more the user’s fault than the machines’.

Lastly, the most common cause of overheating is the accumulation of dust inside the laptop.

What Are The Signs Of Overheating?

A sure signal that your laptop gets too hot is when your fan always runs at maximum speed. You may also experience reduced performance because the CPU cuts back its clock speed to escape heat pressure. Moreover, the fail safe software may trigger a sudden shutdown to prevent hardware damage.

Methods To Keep Your Laptop Cool

1. Elevation

Raise the level of the laptop. When sitting at your desk, put a small book or item (like the docking station for your iPod) under your computer’s battery. This slight tilt allows a lot more air to flow under the laptop, keeping it considerably cooler. Make sure that the book is not obstructing the bottom fan hole.

You can also try something more uneven if a book is not being much help to you. Try sticking four sockets from an egg tray on four corners of your laptop. Either you can stick them with a sticky tape/masking tape or use hook and loop tape for flexible design.

2. Keep it cool

(a) Buy a laptop cooling mat. There are many brands to choose from (Thermaltake, Xion, Targus) and are available at computer stores or online. You can also buy risers, or computer stands, that have ventilation.

If you are unable to afford or find cooling mat, you can always prefer to keep something hard under the laptop instead of something soft. For instance, use a lap desk, a plastic casing, a tray table or even a wooden cutting board to provide a solid, flat surface to allow proper airflow.

Don’t use your laptop on soft surfaces such as a sofa, carpeting, folded quilt or pillow. It can cause overheating, as any vents situated at the bottom of your laptop will be blocked and airflow will be reduced. It may even overheat enough to catch on fire.

(b) Keep a cool environment. Try keeping your laptop in an air-conditioned or cool area to allow your system to cool down and stop it from overheating.

(c) Think of using a heat sink. Use a steel flat bar as an external heat sink. It works because your computer has to heat up more mass before it overheats. This also means, that the larger the bar, the longer it will take for it to overheat. It will only work if your laptop has a metal case, and it feels hot.

3. PC’s Setting

(a) Get a program to keep track of your temperature.

(b) Stop overclocking. If you overclock your computer, it will be hotter than usual. If you have not done it, you don’t need to underclock since that will make your computer lag.

(c) Lesser the Maximum Processor states. However, this is for Windows only. You might be able to do this on Mac but Windows is easier. Click the battery, select more power option. Change plan settings for the one you use. Then, click on advanced power settings. Click processor power management, then maximum, processor states. Set both to around 70-90%. (80% is recommended).

(d) Lower the brightness.

If all the three above methods fail, you can always try out a recent cooling hack by a Japanese student. He found out that neatly stacking copper coins on your laptop cools it down considerably using thermodynamics.

In the meantime you can learn about how to prevent your smartphone from overheating here.

Do you have any additional tips and tricks to share? If yes, do let us know in the comments section below:

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Kavita Iyer
Kavita Iyer
An individual, optimist, homemaker, foodie, a die hard cricket fan and most importantly one who believes in Being Human!!!


  1. My no-brainer solution is: Screwed plastic caps from bottled water placed under the 4 original supportting tabs does a fantastic job as it allows air to flow freely underneath the overheating beast. Easy to carry & keep in the carry case of your hot laptop.


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