Keeping your laptop cool can be a constant battle. Many manufacturers don’t even call them laptops anymore because they get so hot they could actually burn you. You might imagine anything over 100 degrees Fahrenheit being unreasonable, but the internal components like the graphics card and processor can exceed temperatures of 180 degrees if you’re working on a particularly taxing program.
So popular belief has you using a traditional USB-powered cooling pad with fans blowing on the underside of the laptop in order to keep the external temperature down. These devices drive heat away from the underside of the computer, which makes it easier for the system to regulate temperature. This could be done to keep it from overheating and risking shut down, but often users prefer the light hum of the cooling pad to the whirring jet engine sound the laptop’s internal cooling fans make when they hit higher RPMs.
In order to prevent overheating, there are a few variables that have to be in play. Elevation, unrestricted air flow, and software settings are some of the most important factors you can control as a user. Keeping your laptop elevated allows air to pass under the device and carry some of the heat away. Clogged and blocked air vents make it almost impossible for a laptop to stay cool. Using built-in and third-party software options, you can gain better control over the internal fans in order to cool it more efficiently.
BlueLounge Cool Feet
To solve the first two big issues, I decided to purchase a product called Cool Feet by BlueLounge. These inexpensive rubber feet attach to the bottom of your laptop by way of suction cups and add some extra elevation, allowing air to flow freely under the device.
You can attach them directly to the bottom of the laptop or to specially designed smooth pads you can apply to the laptop’s bottom so the suction cups don’t pop off.
The downside of this particular product is that the feet aren’t totally stable. They wobble a bit and this could annoy a user after a while. Still, the elevation does put your keyboard in a more comfortable position that makes it easier to type for extended periods of time without contributing to repetitive motion injuries.
Whether you’re using Windows, Linux, or OS X, there are third-party temperature monitoring applications that can help you get a very real idea of what’s going on under the cover of your laptop. Keeping temperatures within the acceptable range is the job of the internal fan and sometimes the default settings are intentionally low to trade fan volume for early prevention of overheating. It isn’t until the temperature reaches a point where the fans have to work overtime to bring the temperature down that the default settings in many laptops trigger increased fan speeds.
Using third-party software like SpeedFan on Windows and Fan Control for OS X can give you more control over your system’s internal fans. These applications should only be used at your own risk, as setting the speed levels too low will lead to overheating. Setting them too high will make your device quite a bit louder even when it’s idling.
A lot of users put their laptops on a pillow and sit the pillow on their lap. This isn’t really a great idea, especially if the air vents are located on the bottom of the device. It’s like pressing the pillow over your face and trying to breathe. The same would apply for some beds, couches, and other soft surfaces that would cover a vent if the laptop is placed over it.
Some users have a habit of sticking laptops in drawers or other enclosed places and hooking them up to an external monitor. Air flow must still be maintained even when the laptop is closed as long as it’s on. Laptop docks and stands are specially designed to maintain air flow even when the cover is closed.
What are your laptop cooling tips and tricks?