Laptop cooling setups are limited due to the limited space, unlike desktop PCs. Due to this, the average temperature is higher when compared to desktop computers. It is not uncommon for CPU temperatures to surpass 90 degrees Celsius on many models. Thermal throttling may result from inadequate thermal setups. The CPU and GPU clocks are reduced to keep components below their upper thermal throttling threshold (usually set at 90-95 degrees Celsius for CPUs).
On most convertibles, you can keep the CPU cooler under load by lowering the CPU thermals. The thermal performance of some models, usually high-end ones with beastly CPUs, may not improve. Conversely, the CPU could reach higher clock speeds before thermal throttling kicks in. You won’t be able to get lower CPU thermals on some models, but you will be able to get better performance.
It is normal to see CPU thermal throttling on some devices. This is because high-end mobile CPUs can seriously heat up even the best cooling setup on laptops when at maximum TDP. You should be concerned if the CPU temperature exceeds 95 degrees Celsius and performance drops significantly. Loads that are light, watching YouTube videos, or using undemanding apps such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs can cause lag.lag.lag. Let’s see what you can do to lower your laptop’s CPU temperature, or at least increase the clock speed before thermal throttling occurs.
1. Tweak Power Options on Your Notebook
Let’s start with the simplest (and least invasive) things you can do to lower CPU temperatures. The first thing you should do is check which power option is used by default on your device. There are several power plans available for mobile PCs (such as silent, performance, or maximum performance). Max performance usually results in the highest temperatures.
If you don’t need all the MHz from your CPU, try setting the middle option (performance or whatever it’s called on your laptop) and see if the CPU temperature drops. By using a less demanding power plan, the CPU TDP will be lower, which results in lower thermals and clocks.
If you are okay with having less performance, you can stay at this step. Try some of the things listed below if you want lower thermals while using the most performant power plan. Additionally, changing the power plan could also result in a lower GPU clock on devices equipped with dedicated graphics cards.
2. Basic Things to Do That Can Decrease CPU Thermals
Be sure to use your convertible on a flat and firm surface. This means no desk pads, no placing the device on a bed or couch, or covering it in blankets. In this way, you’ll likely increase the airflow and improve CPU performance. Get higher clocks before thermal throttling kicks in.
You should also make sure that the exhausts aren’t covered in dust, stickers, or anything else. You’d be surprised at the negative impact clogged exhausts can have on CPU and GPU temperatures. In reality, even a cabin in the middle of the mountains will get clogged with dust after a while because dust is everywhere. Use compressed air to clean the vents.
Take your device outside, or at least somewhere where you don’t mind dust all over it. Then, spray compressed air in short bursts over the exhausts. Restart the laptop after you’ve completed the procedure. Install and run a monitoring software and a CPU benchmark to check the CPU’s thermals. We recommend HWiNFO combined with any version of Cinebench.
Last but not least, if you don’t hear any fan noise while using your notebook and you are certain it has active fans, check the cooling fans to make sure they are working properly. You should download a CPU fan speed monitoring program, such as HWiNFO, before you do anything else. Watch the CPU fan speed.ing software shows zero or a low number (less than 500 RPM, for example, which is low for the tiny fans found in convertibles), maybe something is wrong with your cooling fans. You can either try to find an answer online or visit your nearest laptop repair shop.
Check to see if your device’s fans are on passive mode before visiting the service. After typing “Control Panel” into the Windows 10 search box, click on “Hardware and Sound.” Once you’re in the H&S menu, click on “Power Options,” and then select the “Change Plan Settings” option. After clicking on the “Change Advanced Power Settings,” click the “Advanced Settings” tab on the “Power Options” box.
Next, click the “+” icon next to the “Processor Power Management” option. You should see additional options after clicking the “+” symbol. Once the drop-down menu appears, select the “Active” option. Click “Apply” after selecting “Active” and then click “OK” to confirm the change. The system fans should now run faster. Rerun Cinebench while monitoring fan RPM and CPU temperature after the change.
Using a fan control app, you could create a custom fan curve if you still have issues. We recommend Fan Control. Watch the YouTube tutorial playlist for the app after you download it. After you learn how to use the program, you can tie the fan speed to the CPU temperature. As soon as the CPU exceeds a relatively low temperature (70 degrees Celsius or lower, for example), set the fans to 100 percent. You can create a custom fan curve if everything works as expected. During light loads, the CPU fan is turned on to see if it will lower the CPU temperature.
3. Buy a Cooling Pad
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Getting a cooling pad is another simple way to lower the CPU temperature on your mobile PC. It is possible to achieve lower thermals or at least higher clock speeds before the CPU thermal throttles, depending on the model. Choose a cooling pad with an active cooling fan. Thermals should be lowered by a couple of degrees more with an active fan than with a passive cooling pad. Also, make sure you purchase a model that supports multiple heights so you can find the one that is most comfortable for you.
4. If Possible, Undervolt Your CPU
By undervolting desktop CPUs, thermals can be significantly reduced. Performance can also be improved. Unfortunately, neither Intel nor AMD provides undervolting support for their newer mobile CPUs (10th gen Intel CPUs and Ryzen mobile CPUs in general). If you have an Intel mobile processor from 10th generation or a newer AMD Ryzen processor, you’re out of luck.
On the other hand, if you own a convertible with a 9th gen or older Intel CPU, you can undervolt your CPU and get lower temperatures. The first tool is Intel’s XTU (Extreme Tuning Utility), but ThrottleStop wins our vote. It’s an advanced tool that supports CPU undervolting and provides extra features that can further reduce CPU thermals. Douglas Black has posted a detailed guide on how to use ThrottleStop.
There is also a silver lining for those who own AMD Ryzen Mobile CPUs. Ryzen Mobile CPUs cannot be undervolted, but a tool called Ryzen Controller can tweak their power levels and TDP. As we don’t have access to a Ryzen-based device, we found this guide on how to use the Ryzen Controller, thanks to Hamster Harris’ YouTube channel. It contains all the information you need about the tool, and is quite informative.
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5. Open the Rear Lid and Clean Insides
At this point, we’ve reached a little invasive method. Certain models may void their warranties if you open the cover. Opening the lid does not void the warranty in most cases. Some manufacturers even include instructions on how to open the lid in their documentation. To be sure, check online for confirmation before opening the lid. You don’t have to use an antistatic mat, but if you want to be sure, you can.
Depending on your particular model, you should have one or more cooling fans coupled with one or more heatsinks. Even if you do not think there’s a lot of dust inside the fans/heatsinks, you should clean both of them. Even a small amount of dust can affect your CPU’s performance.
The heatsink(s) and fan(s) can be seen once the lid has been opened. The fan need not be removed, but it is an option. Rather than removing it, we recommend spraying compressed air in short, controlled bursts until you see no more dust coming out. As you aim the can at the heatsink, ensure that the air is flowing from the inside to the outside of the notebook.
By doing this, you’ll make sure that dust coming out of the heatsink doesn’t settle on the motherboard or other components. If the heatsink is connected to a cooling fan, aim the air both at the fan and at the heatsink. You should be able to blow most of the dust out of the heatsink in this manner. You can find a detailed video guide here, courtesy of Gaming Nexus. There are also cleaning guides available on YouTube.
6. Apply a new Layer of Thermal Paste
The following method is even more invasive, as it involves removing the cooling fans and the cooling setup as a whole. On notebooks over a year old, the default thermal paste layer should provide adequate cooling performance during the warranty period. It is time to get some thermal paste if you have an older laptop and the methods mentioned earlier did not lower CPU temperatures.
We can wholeheartedly recommend the Arctic MX-4 if you don’t want to spend too much money on thermal compounds. The thermal paste is affordable and can compete with even the most expensive thermal compounds. It contains detailed information on how to replace the thermal paste on the CPU in the Gamers Nexus guide above. YouTube may also have thermal paste replacement guides tailored to your model. It’s not a good idea to do this while your laptop is under warranty.
7. Replace Thermal Paste With Liquid Metal
The best cooling potential is found in compounds based on liquid metal. In comparison to regular grease, liquid metal has a much higher thermal conductivity. With liquid metal, you can drastically reduce CPU thermals and achieve impressive results. However, liquid metal-based thermal compounds can be tricky to apply. Additionally, they can damage your components since they are electrically conductive, are liquid, and can leak. Liquid metal can also damage aluminum heatsinks. Make sure yours isn’t made of aluminum.
One more thing. Compared to regular thermal compounds, liquid metal compounds are quite expensive. You should not perform this procedure, and you should do so at your own risk. The most effective way to lower mobile CPU temperatures is to use this method. The LTT YouTube channel did a comprehensive guide on how to apply liquid metal to mobile CPUs. If you plan to go full-on liquid metal, you should watch this film.
8. Using Cutting Tools To Drill Holes in Bottom Cover and Create More Airflow
Last but not least, we’ll DIY extremes. Again, this method can damage your notebook and make it unusable, but if you want to try it, try it. It’s your device. This procedure will not improve your CPU’s thermal performance if your rear lid already has air vents that direct air to the cooling fans. As a final note, you might not get drastically lower thermals if your model always pushes the CPU until it throttles, but you can get better performance.
There are a couple of helpful guides on how to do this. As a starting point, here is a written guide accompanied by photos for each step. Next, here is a video from Hardware Unboxed. With a Dremel tool, they cut long and narrow openings on the back lid, in line with other air vents found on the device they used.
Watch this video, courtesy of Wolfgang’s Channel. The holes were cut with a drill, which didn’t ruin the aesthetic too much. And here’s a detailed guide by Bill Owen. This guide is for a desktop case, but the basics are the same.
The last method we could use to lower CPU temperatures was this one. If you cut holes in the lid, you will not only potentially ruin the cover, you will also lower the laptop’s resale value. Once again, we recommend trying out other methods in this guide before drilling holes or using liquid metal instead of a regular thermal compound.