Is A Laptop Cooler Necessary?
If you have experienced overheating whilst using your laptop, you may be wondering whether or not you should use a laptop cooling pad. You may also be of the opinion that manufacturers of laptops should really design their product so that it doesn’t heat up so much in the first place.
It’s a fair point, but the manufacturers are trying to keep the cost to us consumers down, whilst boosting their own profits of course. It’s unlikely that your laptop is continually overheating – but if it is, you should take action. If it’s a problem of discomfort when you use it on your lap, or when you run a particular game or program, a laptop cooler may be a smart choice.
Why Do Laptops Overheat In The First Place?
Laptops, like other computers, have been getting progressively more powerful over the years. More power means more heat generated.
However, there’s a limit on the physical size and weight of the device which people are prepared to lug around with them. That means that there’s restricted space to fit cooling vents and fans. Fans will tend to be somewhat smaller that they would be in a similarly powered desktop machine.
The components that generate the heat may also be mounted closer together in a laptop. It means that laptops will be more prone to heat build up.
The fact that more and more people use laptops as their main computer these days is also a factor. Many laptops will be turned on early in the morning and will remain on until the evening.
Is Laptop Overheating A Problem?
Since laptops are electronic devices, a certain amount of heat is only to be expected. Electrical and electronic devices age according to their temperature; the hotter they operate, the more “life per minute” they use up and the quicker they will fail.
However, nothing lasts forever and, if your laptop is ageing at a “normal” rate, there is probably no cause for concern.
In summary, heating is not a problem, but overheating is. That’s a bit of a useless definition isn’t it? How do you tell the difference between heating and overheating?
Your laptop may be overheating if you experience one or more of the following:
- It becomes too hot for you to use on your lap or the heat generated damages or discolors the surface of the worktop it is resting on.
- The internal fan operates all, or most of, the time.
- Your laptop cuts out occasionally, especially when performing tasks which put a high load on the central processing unit (CPU) – e.g. playing games.
- Your laptop cuts out frequently, often within a short time after start up.
The above are good indicators as to whether you may have a problem with laptop overheating. If you want to have a more quantifiable technique, there are a number of software apps which you can download to discover the temperature of your CPU.
You can find one free to dowload app at http://www.alcpu.com/CoreTemp/ – or just Google for “how to find laptop temperature”, there are plenty of apps and programs available, many of which are free.
What To Do If You Think That Your Laptop Is Overheating
There are a variety of things that you can do if you are worried about your laptop overheating. The list above is arranged in increasing severity, the higher the number, the more serious the problem may be.
If you find that your laptop is uncomfortable when you use it on your knee, but there are no other symptoms of overheating, then you may address this by placing it on a hard surface. This will do two things:
- It will shield your lap from the heat source and make it more comfortable for you to use.
- It will ensure that the cooling vents, which are normally located on the underside of the laptop, are not blocked and allow cooling air to get into the laptop’s cold air inlet vents.
This is a simple solution which can be more than adequate in cases of mild overheating. If you use your laptop on your knee, or on a soft fabric surface such as a bed or sofa, the cooler inlet vents can often become blocked. Mounting your laptop on a hard surface will prevent this and drop the temperature.
You can achieve this using a passive (no fans) laptop cooling pad or even just a hard surface, such as a large book or a serving tray if you like.
This may also be effective if you find that the internal laptop fan is running most of the time.
If you find that your laptop’s overheating is dependent upon what activities you are using it for, if it overheats mainly when you use a particular program or play games for example, then you may need to take a different approach.
In such a case, you might be a lot better off with an active laptop cooling pad – one which uses a fan, or fans, to blast additional air into the laptop cooling vents.
As mentioned earlier, most laptops have their cooling inlet valves on the underside of the base and the warm air exhaust at he sides of the device. You will probably want a cooling pad which has the fan blowing air vertically upwards into the cooling vents – but if you’re not sure, check this post to see how to easily assess the correct configuration to use.
There is a huge selection of these available. Most draw power for the fans from a spare usb port on your laptop. If you already use all of your usb ports then you can get cooling pads with “through” usb connectors or even built in usb hubs these days.
Choose a well known brand and don’t buy a cheap import to save a few dollars. You should be able to get a very effective laptop cooling pad starting at around $20 (you can pay more if you wish to) – which is a small price to pay to protect your valuable laptop hardware – plus all of the data, files, photos etc. stored on its hard drive.
If your laptop is cutting out continually, especially if this happens fairly quickly after startup, you probably have a more serious problem which is unlikely to be addressed by the use of a laptop cooler. You should take it to a repair shop as quickly as possible.
Benefits Of Laptop Cooling Pads
Obviously a laptop cooling pad may be a help if your laptop is overheating. However, even if it isn’t overheating, dropping the operating temperature will, as mentioned previously, extend the life of your laptop.
The rate of life use does not increase linearly with temperature. A small increase can result in a much larger percentage rise in the rate at which working life is consumed. Conversely, a fairly modest reduction in the operating temperature can produce a significant increase in the operating lifespan of your laptop.
You can also find laptop cooling stands which, combined with an external keyboard and mouse, will make your computer setup more ergonomic and improve your posture. These are well worth looking at if you suffer from back or neck pain after using your laptop for any length of time.
All things considered, laptop cooling pads offer a great many benefits for a relatively small investment.