Airflow is an important part of keeping your computer running efficiently and increasing its lifespan. Any computer component put under prolonged conditions of heat can be damaged. While desktops are much easier to keep cool with spacious cases allowing for maximum airflow that can be tweaked to use water cooling if necessary, laptops suffer from tiny fans in cramped cases, relying on heatsinks that snake through the case to give their heat off at a vent.
Keeping it Cool
Map it Out
The first step in keeping a laptop cool is to know where the heat comes from. Either finding a take apart guide for your model, or just launching an intensive program to find the biggest heat source, which will be your CPU or graphics card. Using this information, make sure these parts get the best air flow, if they cool down, your whole case will cool down.
Next, you need to make sure any vents are not blocked, and while they may not appear blocked because they’re a few inches from something, if the hot air builds up in that pocket, then the vent is rendered useless.
Help it Out
There are countless “Laptop Cooling Pads” out on the market, and many people buy them because either their computer gets too hot, or they are being proactive which is great in prolonging the life of their computer. However, they are often used improperly because the pads contain no documentation regarding how to optimize air flow.
I own a cooling pad like the one above, and I found it online for less than 5 bucks, but it can push some serious air once I really figured out how to use it. It probably seems like a no brainer how to use something like this, plop it under your laptop and plug it in, but it won’t help much. I initially put it down on the table, put my laptop on top of it, plugged it in and went about business as usual, feeling no decrease in heat.
I downloaded software to monitor my temperature sensors, and saw that it really contributed to no heat decrease. So I lifted it up to check if it was working and realized what i was doing wrong. As I lifted it, I felt the air suddenly rush into my face. I was blocking the rear of the fans. Fans need to have a place to draw air from, and if there is a half inch of space under the fans, it restricts how much air can be pulled in.
So I grabbed 2 tray tables and perched it between them in front of the couch, check my temperature sensors and it cooled it off almost 20 degrees celsius, from 80 to 61, that is a massive heat drop.
The bottom line is, give it space. It has to draw the air from somewhere, make sure it has room to do so, use a laptop riser and an external keyboard if you’re at a desk. If you can keep it cool it’ll run faster and longer.
Image by abooth202
(By) Harris Borawski, Software Engineering Major at Rochester Institute of Technology, and lover of all things Tech.