When you first turn on your laptop it should be cool to the touch and ready for work. Run a few intensive tasks, or play some graphically demanding games, and this can soon change to the point where keeping the device on your lap becomes a challenge due to the heat emanating from its hull.
Ensuring that a device remains at a sensible temperature not only means that you won’t cook your thighs while editing a video, but could also prevent damage to the internal components. So here are some simple ways to keep your laptop cool.
Why does my laptop get so hot?
Most of the heat from a laptop is generated by the processor and other components that get increasingly warm as more demands are put upon them. So, if you’re casually browsing Facebook then the heat should be minimal, but if you’re playing with 3D models in Windows 10 while transcoding some video in the background then the machine is working much harder and will soon heat up.
Manufacturers counter this perennial problem by placing fans inside, which spin up when the laptop reaches certain temperature thresholds, thus creating an airflow that cools down the components. That’s why laptops also get noisier as they get hotter.
Cleaning the fans and vents
Fans are vital when it comes to keeping your laptop cool. Therefore, it’s important that you check them regularly to see if they’re getting clogged up with dust and dirt.
This, unfortunately, isn't possible on a lot of laptops because the fans are located deep inside where you can't get to them. You might, however, be able to unscrew a panel underneath the device and give any fans you can see a quick once over.
If there's any kind of dust build-up, then a spot of hoovering (ensuring that a plastic nozzle is attached to the end of the vacuum cleaner) can put things right in a couple of minutes.
Cans of compressed air are also a good way to dislodge the detritus that can make its home in your fans, and these are widely available online or from shops such as Maplin.
The other area that needs to be kept clean is the vents which allow the hot air to escape. These are generally slots in the plastic or metal frames of the laptop, which are found on the sides or bottom of the case.
Give these the same attention as the fans and hopefully you’ll see an improvement in temperature of your laptop.
For more details check out our How to clean a laptop fan guide.
Keep air flowing around the laptop itself
If you like to use your laptop while on the sofa, in bed, or anywhere other than a desk, then sometimes it can be a cause of heat build-up. The reason for this is because the vents can be blocked by blankets, or pillows.
A much better option is to purchase a laptop cooling pad. These are essentially padded trays that you place on your lap, but which contain additional fans and vents which keep your device cool.
Price start from as low as around £10, and are a great way to prolong the life of your PC (not to mention your lower portions).
Is software making my laptop hot?
Sometimes your laptop can be overworked by an application that’s gone a bit rogue, demanding more and more performance from your processor, RAM, and hard drives.
A quick way to see if this is happening is to use the Task Manager.
To open it, press Ctrl-Shift-Esc together on your keyboard.
You’ll see a list of all the programs running, with how much of its resources are being allocated to each app. If one seems to be hogging more than its fair share then it might be worth shutting that program, or at least restarting it to see if things calm down.
Sometimes it's Windows that causes the problem: try to identify exactly which process or program is using too much CPU or disk and search for that online to find a specific guide on how to fix it.
How can I control my laptop fan speeds?
One last option you can try is to alter the fan settings on your machine by using either the BIOS or third-party software. Either route can often allow you to set certain thresholds, which means that your PC will automatically begin the cooling process earlier to avoid a concentration of heat.
This route is a little more technical than those above, but grants you a lot more control over how the heat is expelled from your machine.
We’ve already created a guide on how to control fan speed, so take a look at that and you should achieve cool running before too long.