How to Keep Your Gaming Laptop Cool (and Prevent It From Overheating)

Being a hardcore gamer can be tough going, but it can also be super rewarding. And the rewards are higher for those who have the best equipment. That’s why I recommend keeping your laptop from overheating with these tips.

There’s nothing more annoying than having a game crash on you mid-play, when gamers experience lag or game freezing, it is soo frustrating, especially when it can be interrupted at any point during the game.

The phenomenon of lag, or “reduced responsiveness” in video games, results when the computer resources needed for smooth gameplay are not adequate. This is often seen as an issue with network latency and bandwidth, which isn’t usually true and is more to do with the hardware, software, and of course how hot the machine is getting.

With that in mind, I’ve researched to find the best advice out there on preventing overheating so you can continue gaming without feeling anxious that your laptop is going to give up on you!

How To Keep Your Laptop Cool While Gaming

1. Laptop Location – Hard / Flat Surface Vs A Bed or Lap

A laptop can overheat due to improper ventilation inside the computer, using a laptop on a bed or on any other uneven surface, for example where the user’s thighs are, may block proper ventilation.

If your laptop is too warm, there are some safe and easy things you can do to keep it cool. If your laptop is sitting on a table or work surface, try moving it to the floor. Laptops typically run cooler on the floor since the air coming into them from beneath is cooler than the air surrounding them.

An alternative is a laptop stand which allows more airflow into the components to keep it cool as it is in an elevated position.

On the topic of location, ensure you keep the laptop away from direct sunlight, which can cause overheating, especially if near windows that are absorbing and radiating the heat indoors.

2. Clean, Dust-Free Vents: A Can of Compressed Air Is Your Friend

A dust free laptop is a happy, well ventilated laptop. And a lot less likely to overheat from a build up of dust bunnies.

Consider keeping a can of air handy on your desk, so that if something starts to get too hot, you can just pop open the can and cool down the surrounding area, while blowing out all the accumulated dust.

Check the Laptop’s Air Vents for Obstructed Airflow

A closed air vent is a hot spot, and with fewer air vents to use, your laptop will be warmer. The best way to check whether your laptop’s vents are obstructed is to unplug the charger, and look at what remains of the ventilation holes on the motherboard.

If those round holes are not completely clear, you can expect your computer’s speed to slow down. If the fan vents are covered up, make sure your laptop doesn’t have a loose or bulging battery and that the vents are not obstructed.

A constant airflow is exactly what a laptop needs to keep cool while playing games and running other intense processes.

Repeat this cleaning schedule every 2-3 months.

3. Extra Laptop Cooling with Cooling Pads

You may have spent $1500 on a top gaming laptop, and it’s overheating on your favorite game? One of the easiest ways to keep your laptop cool is by using a laptop cooling pad.

This will provide efficient cooling for your laptop while you use it, and it’s a good idea to put the cooling pad on top of your desk so that any hot air can easily dissipate there.

Laptop cooling pads are an easy way to keep your laptop cool in a convenient location. They are designed to be used while you use your laptop on a desk, bed, or lap while some offer different levels of protection for your laptop.

These are specially designed pads with fans built in that blow cold air out from within a plastic casing around the computer’s keyboard and screen.

You can get a 1 fan cooling pad or one with 4-5 fan cooling pads, but just be sure to use the correct settings for your specific laptop.

Worth keeping in mind that certain cooling pads are designed to force air away from the laptop, while some push air into the laptop.

I like to know what surface it is designed for because some people use their laptops on their laps and others prefer to place it on top of a desk or bed. If you’re a serious gamer you’ll want a pad that can be taken anywhere with you, but ideally, one that can perch on your desk will be fine.

4. Thermal Paste To Help Cooling Efficiency

Thermal paste is designed to transfer heat from vital components within your laptop more efficiently, such as the CPU. It’s a necessity for a computer that operates at high temperatures.

Over time, your laptop’s cooling system can become ineffective and may not be able to dissipate heat properly. This can cause your computer to overheat and become sluggish. It can also cause permanent damage to your GPU.

If your computer overheats, stop what you are doing immediately and allow your computer to cool down. If the temperature continues to soar even after cooling down, the internal components of your laptop may be overheating enough to cause irreversible damage.

Before thermal paste can be used again, it must be cleaned off using a small brush, razor blade, or flat-head screwdriver. Thermal paste is cheap and can be bought from computer retailers and online retailers. However, re-applying thermal paste can save you hundreds of dollars in repairs.

Thermal paste is a silicon-based substance that is applied to the areas of a computer’s circuit board that require heat transfer. In this way, the paste speeds up the transfer process and also reduces CPU overheating.

An excessive amount of heat can damage your hardware in ways that are undetectable at first and only become evident over time. While there will always be temperature fluctuations between different parts on your computer, those fluctuations shouldn’t be extreme enough to cause erratic behavior or crashing.

Youtube tutorial on applying thermal paste:

5. Windows laptops – Use Task Manager To Close Uncessesary Apps & Programs

Unburnden your processor by disabling programs within Windows task manager. End processes that you are sure you don’t need and are clogging up vital CPU power.

The more programs you have open and running the more that is using CPU power. The same goes for uninstalling bloatware and any programs you rarely use.

6. Change Game Settings – Lower FPS & Graphics

FPS is the number of frames of animation, or video, that are shown each second in a display device. A computer monitor typically displays images at 60 frames per second (fps).

Lowering the FPS – If you’re playing on a laptop that has an easily accessible keyboard, then you can press ‘F11’ to lower the FPS. Secondly, you could go to the Video Settings and change the Frame Rate Limit option and set it to a lower value.

You can unburden the GPU by also lowering the graphics settings in the game you’re playing. Things that help are reducing the display resolution, anti-aliasing and ambient occlusion.

Or you could get an external GPU with the power of an entire country. Kidding! But an external GPU will reduce heat build up as it’ll be external, it’ll allow for improved gaming experience as the graphics will be far superior. The one thing you need to keep in mind is, can your CPU support the GPU? If not, there will be a big discrepancy and the processor won’t be able to keep up.

7. Cooler Room – Ventilation / AC or Fan in warmer months

This one is closely related to laptop location. Whatever room you’re gaming in, make sure there’s plenty of ventilation (cool air) coming in and a safe way for hot air to escape, particularly in the hotter months of the year.

In the summer, you want to keep the room as cool as possible. You don’t want the room getting hotter than 30 degrees Celsius.

How large your room is also plays a key role. Rooms with an open layout are more susceptible to heat build up and won’t be able to maintain a cool temperature. Adding curtains or blinds on windows can help too. If you have air conditioning, you’re a step ahead. Otherwise a fan can help keep the ventilation even.

8. Checking Your Fans – Could They Be Faulty?

Speaking of fans, you should also ensure that all fans are working properly and turning on their respective cooling mode in your operating system.

A fan that’s not working will most definitely result in the temp going up. Here’s how to check if the internal fans are working:

  • Put the laptop under load with your favorite game and listen to the fans.
  • If they make buzzing or rattling noises they could be not working and you may have to replace them or try to find a way to clean them out(blow compressed air through them)
  • If they’re silent, that could also mean they’re broken or not starting up for some reason and may require further diagnosis.

8a. Check Your Fans Adjust As Required (To reduce temp)

This is done by the processor automatically increasing and decreasing the fan speed as necessary to maintain an acceptable temperature. If it gets hotter, the fans should kick in, and when it’s cooled down they should slow down or stop. A useful app for this is SpeedFan available here – http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php

9. Check Hardware – Is it up to the job?

Make sure your laptop meets the minimum requirements for gaming, otherwise you’re going to be in for a hard time and your laptop unfortunately won’t keep up. What’s more you would probably be reducing the lifespan of the laptop by making too much demand on it’s internal components, CPU, etc – meaning it’s more likely to overheat and fail, permanently.

Keep Cool Power Supply Unit (PSU)

The power supply unit of a computer provides the heat for the electronic components that make up a laptop.

If your power supply unit is not working efficiently, you might be seeing higher temperatures in your laptop. You will need to go out and buy a new PSU for your computer.

10. Undervolt & Underclock CPU & GPU

This is a process that reduces the voltage your CPU and GPU receive. These are the parts of your computer that require more power and generate heat, you can make considerable reductions in temperature by tweaking these settings.

Undervolting will keep these two components at a lower temperature threshold, which means they’re less likely to overheat or cause damage to other components in the computer.

CPU underclocking is when a computer’s processor slows down due to decreased demand or purposely forcing it to make fewer calculations in order to reduce load on the CPU and GPU. In effect reducing the risk of it overheating.

Monitor Temp & Fans – Adjust CPU & GPU underclock and undervolt with the following software:

Intel’s XTU (Intel Extreme Tuning Utility) is available here https://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-Extreme-Tuning-Utility-XTU-Undervolting-Guide.272120.0.html
There are various other software you can download to underclock and undervolt the graphics card and processor:

BIOS Settings

Fan settings can be adjusted in the BIOS settings also.

  • Check the Fan Speed Control and push this to maximum speed to increase airflow.
  • Set Nvme boot to Optimal Performance in BIOS. This will speed up the SSD after the OS loads (again, this is not for Intel SSD).
  • Disable Cpu Turbo Boost – Save Power
    This is a strong and frequent fix for overheating laptops. You can disable turbo boost by going into your bios settings and then disabling it in the turbo boost section.

11. Extra Things You Can Do To Keep Temperature at Bay

One way to keep a laptop from overheating is to make sure that there are no other programs running in your background while you are using your computer.

  • Close any torrents / browsers / streaming / apps running in background
  • Keep your laptop turned off when not in use to decrease energy use.
  • Turn off automatic updates and set your laptop up for “airplane mode”.
  • Close anything you’re not using / do not need.
  • Let your laptop have some downtime / break from gaming too, so it can cool down!

Conclusion

Following the steps outlined above should keep overheating in check on your laptop, whether it’s for gaming or any other demanding programs or applications that suck up CPU & GPU power.

The laptop is a popular device used to game nowadays. Not only that, it’s also used as a multipurpose computer so suffice to say todays laptops are definitely put through their paces.

Laptop temperature management can also be a huge issue as overlooking it can lead to permanent damage on hardware components.

Hopefully this article has helped you to keep your computer cool and learn some new techniques for improving the cooling process!

If you would like to suggest any other methods for reducing heat/overheating on laptops please let us know!