Gaming laptops suffer from overheating. We’ll show you how to keep your laptop cool while gaming, no matter how long or intense the session may be.
Gaming laptops are truly amazing. The tablets are (relatively) light, portable, and pack a desktop’s worth of graphics processing power into a tablet’s compact, easy-to-handle frame. Unfortunately, this very compactness is also their greatest weakness.
Laptops can generate and trap a great deal of heat. If you put a powerful GPU inside, the situation gets much, much worse.
In the end, hardware manufacturers can only do so much to keep such a cramped space cool when both the CPU and GPU are under heavy load.
So, how do you keep your laptop cool while gaming?
You can do several things to ensure your PC’s cooling system is functioning properly, and you can even give it a little extra push if need be!
Find out what we’re talking about by reading on.
Step One: Proper Placement
When in use, and especially when under heavy load, a laptop should be placed on a flat, solid surface.
When placed on a soft surface such as a bed or your lap, some or potentially all of the fan intakes on the underside will become blocked, preventing airflow and preventing the cooling system from properly working. When a laptop is placed on a hard surface, its rubber feet elevate it slightly to allow its fans to draw in enough cool air.
In the absence of a solid surface to place the laptop on, you can do one of the following:
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- Make sure you don’t block the fan intakes while keeping it on your lap.
- Use a book, a box, or any other solid object as a stand.
Step Two: Cleaning
Since air constantly circulates through a laptop, dust will eventually build up. You cannot prevent this, and the best thing you can do is clean your laptop regularly, preferably every three to six months.
Now, cleaning a laptop is quite simple. Here’s how to go about it:
- Purchase a can of compressed air. The only tool you’ll need to clean your laptop without opening it is this.
- Start the laptop after it has cooled down and is not powered on.
- Turn the laptop on its side to expose the intake fan grilles on the bottom.
- Spray the can close to the grille. Make sure the can is in an upright position, otherwise the liquid air may escape and damage the hardware.
- Clean the intake thoroughly from all angles by moving and tilting the laptop. Do this until you can no longer see any dust coming out.
- For each intake, repeat the above steps.
Step Three: Additional Cooling
Did you know that in addition to taking steps to ensure that your laptop’s internal cooling system is working properly, you can also get a laptop cooler, or cooling pad, as they’re sometimes called?
This is a simple and relatively inexpensive accessory that can greatly help you if you are experiencing overheating issues. In fact, gaming laptops almost always come with a cooling pad.
It is very simple to use cooling pads: you place them on a surface, place your laptop on top of them, plug them into one of the laptop’s USB ports, and let the fan(s) do their work. As a result, you will experience lower temperatures during long gaming sessions.
See: Best Gaming Laptop
If you’ve done all the above, but your laptop still overheats, there is likely a hardware or software issue.
Insufficiently Powerful Hardware
A dedicated GPU always generates a fair amount of heat, but if a low-end GPU is being pushed too hard by modern games, the temperatures could get out of control. It’s the same for CPUs with integrated graphics chips (e.g., nearly every Intel CPU) or AMD’s APUs.
Then, if you notice noticeable performance drops along with the heat increase, it means your graphics processor is reaching critical temperatures. You can advance the cooling by cleaning it or getting a cooling pad, and preferably both.
If that doesn’t help, there are two things you can do:
- Reduce the in-game settings. By doing this, the GPU will work less hard and produce less heat. Start with GPU-intensive features such as ambient occlusion or anti-aliasing. However, lowering the display resolution is a surefire way to help an old or underpowered GPU keep up with the times.
- Install an external GPU. This is an excellent way to get desktop-level graphics on a laptop while greatly reducing its internal heating. Although they are quite pricey, you should make sure that your CPU can handle the GPU you intend to buy.
Laptops (especially those designed for gaming) have multiple internal fans to keep all of the components cool. Even if one of those fans failed, you’d notice a spike in temperature.
You can easily check this without opening the laptop by simply using your ears. Listen closely to each intake by putting the system under heavy load so that all the fans are spinning at high speeds. Keep an ear out for these two giveaways:
- An ill-fated fan is likely to produce rattling, grinding, or heaving noises long before it fails completely. When your fan is not making the usual steady humming of a spinning fan, there is a chance that it is not operating at its best.
- While a laptop is under heavy load, there will be no idle fan. While the laptop is under pressure, if a fan does not generate any noise, then it is almost certainly broken and should be replaced.
As you know, tinkering with a laptop is not as easy as it is with a desktop PC. It’s best to have your laptop repaired by a professional rather than trying to do it yourself.
It is best not to open your laptop if it is still covered by the warranty, since doing so will most likely void the warranty.