5 Tips To Keep Your Gaming Laptop Cool

Almost all laptops heat up when playing games. But gaming laptops, thanks to their performance optimizations, can reach insane levels of temperature. Sometimes the chassis becomes so hot that it can burn your skin on contact. What can you do about it? You could always sell that and buy a new gaming machine that’ll generate far less heat. Or else, you can follow these tips to keep that oven-like machine from overheating.

Why does gaming laptops gets so hot?

Gaming laptops are awesome machines. They offer the performance levels of a desktop, while keeping things relatively compact and portable. But why do they get so hot? To answer that question, you need to understand what makes a gaming laptop different from an usual laptop.

Lenovo Y740 seen on a thermal camera
A laptop viewed on a thermal Cam

Optimized for performance

There are two parts of a laptop that really gets hot: the CPU and the GPU. Processing units are like small heat generators. They contain billions of transistors that turns on and off insanely fast. This process generates a lot of heat as a byproduct, which needs to be dissipated to keep things going. In short, the higher the processing power, the higher the amount of heat generated.

That’s why Ultrabooks use a power-saving CPU that generates less heat, so the cooling unit doesn’t need to be bulky, and laptop size can be shrinked. Most ultrabooks don’t even offer a dedicated GPU because of this.

But in Gaming laptops, manufacturers usually pairs high performance CPU and GPU together. The GPU alone generates a lot of heat. And combined, these high frequency processors are like a small oven.Of course, the cooling system is bigger and more efficient, but they can’t keep the temperature low at higher frequencies. To compensate, many manufacturers limit maximum frequencies of the chips, and put maximum power restrictions.

For these reasons, manufacturers design gaming laptops to run optimally at higher temperatures.

What temperature is normal?

On idle, a gaming laptop’s temperature should average between 30°C and 40°C. And when under load, the temperatures of both the CPU and GPU can reach 70°C or higher. These days, anything below 90°C is considered a safe temperature. Beyond 95°C, most gaming laptops will start to throttle, and even shutdown for safety.

Most gaming laptops won’t work properly at temperature above 99°C. At that temparature. your laptop is most likey to shut down in order prevent permanent damage to the CPU, GPU, and other components soldered onto the motherboard.

How to keep a gaming laptop cool

Since gaming laptops are built for performance, they get hot pretty easily. But you don’t need to worry unless the temperature gets very high. For example, if it often hits 90°C or higher and stays that way for long periods. The high temperature can potentially damage the motherboard components or shorten their lifespan.

You can check your GPU and CPU temperature using third party softwares like CoreTemp and GPU-Z. See how often it hits the 90 mark.

Core temp showing an overheating cpu
Coretemp showing an overheating CPU (probably faulty thermal sensors)

Clean the laptop inside out

Most manufacturers don’t want you to open laptops. But over time, dust builds up inside a laptop. Dust and other particles can clogg up in your laptop’s fans, air intake vents, reducing their efficiency. This maybe one reason your laptop gets hot, especially if it’s old.

You can surely find a dissambemly tutorial on youtube for your laptop. You can follow that and clean the laptop. Or instead, you can use a vacuum to clean the air vents and the insides.

Use an additional cooler pad when Gaming

If your gaming laptop gets very hot when playing games, you can use a cooler pad to keep the temperature in check. A cooler pad is essentially an external fan that adds to the strength of airflow inside the laptop. But before you buy one, make sure the air intake vents are underneath the laptop.

Disable unwanted programs and services

Install an antivirus (or update windows defender), and scan your computer for viruses and hidden malwares. These can use resources in the background and keep the CPU in higher frequencies. And close all unnecessary applications when gaming. This can boost performance and reduce resource usage, thus minimizing heat production.

You can also install a third party software like Advanced SystemCare. It comes with a feature called Game mode, which stops all optional services and frees up resources.

Put something solid underneath when using on a bed

If you have a habit of using the laptop on a bed, make sure you put something solid under it. Many laptops place the air vents underneath the laptop. And these vents don’t work properly on soft surfaces. Even if the air vents are at the sides, soft beds are still good insulators of heat, so it’s always a good idea to put a book under the laptop.

Reduce CPU/GPU Performance

Lastly, you can reduce the performance the laptop to reduce heat. On windows, you can change power plan to Balanced mode or Battery saver mode. You can also reduce GPU performance from the graphics driver’s control panel.

The performance-or-efficiency problem

When optimizing a chip or hardware, you can only go one way: maximize performance or boost efficiency. There hasn’t been a solid CPU or GPU that can boast qualities of both types, but developments are on the rise. CPUs and GPUs are getting much more efficient than ever before. Perhaps in the future, we might see a gaming laptop with the sleekness of an ultrabook.

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