How to Fix Overheated Laptop
Your laptop will slowly die if it gets too hot. Here’s how to fix overheated laptop and keep your laptop cool and avoid overheating!
The laptop you own packs an incredible amount of processing power and storage into a small package. Progress in efficiency has a cost: more heat generated.
Apart from your coffee, overheating is the greatest threat to your laptop. It can damage hardware and result in permanent damage.
Let’s see what we can do to prevent or fix an overheated laptop so that it will run better and last longer.
A brief overview of overheated laptop:
Your laptop may seem hot, but it may not be an overheated laptop.
What Are the Signs of overheated laptop?
The most telling sign that your computer is overheating is when you hear the fan running continuously at maximum speed.
In addition, modern CPUs can reduce clock speed to reduce heat stress, resulting in reduced performance. Furthermore, the fail-safe program may shut the computer down suddenly in order to protect it from damage.
Using a tool like HWMonitor (shown above) can help you measure the actual temperatures inside your laptop.
It will also let you know where the heat is coming from. You’ll usually find that the central processing unit (CPU) or the graphics processing unit (GPU) overheat the most. Some laptops with onboard graphics may not display separate GPU temperatures.
Why Does Your Laptop Overheat?
Overheating is a result of insufficient cooling.
The cause of this may be dust blocking intake grills and exhaust ports, a clogged-up fan, or degrading thermal paste.
A thermal paste (sometimes called a pad) is a heat conductive material that connects the CPU or GPU with the metal heat sink; the heat sink directs heat away from the processor units to a cooling fan.
You can fix all these things yourself, though some jobs are more difficult than others. Read on if you need a quick fix and don’t know how to de-lid your CPU or GPU and apply fresh thermal compound.
Does a Fanless Laptop With Passive Cooling Overheat?
Fans-less laptops use passive cooling techniques like spreading heat across entire metal frames or regulating CPU clock speeds to regulate heat.
If you cannot hear the fan or find intake grilles or exhaust ports, the laptop may run on passive cooling. Consequently, your laptop won’t overheat, but you may observe slower performance due to increased heat stress.
As passive cooling laptops don’t have fans, you can’t fix the problem. However, external cooling can help to recover any processing power lost because of CPU throttling.
How to repair overheated laptop?
There are a few simple hardware fixes that can fix any overheated laptop.
1. Fixing internal cooling:
The first thing you should do when your laptop is overheating is to clean the fan(s) that provide(s) cooling to the GPU and CPU. Eventually, they build up layers of dirt and dust that slow them down and restrict airflow. Consult your laptop’s user guide or the manufacturer to find out how you can open the laptop to reach and clean these parts.
Before you start to do any cleaning, however, follow these steps:
- Shut down the computer.
- Unplug all the cables.
- Turn off the battery (if possible).
- Ground yourself.
When you’re ready, look closely at your laptop, outside and inside, and clean the following parts:
A. Clean overheated laptop fans Using cotton swab:
If you can open up your laptop, carefully clean the fan(s) with a cotton swab dipped in a drop of isopropyl alcohol. Make sure the alcohol has completely evaporated before you turn the laptop back on.
B. Remove overheated laptop dust Use a blower:
You can also use a blower to remove dust and dirt that clocks up the fan(s). To avoid damage to a fan, do not let it revolve in the wrong direction. If you want to use canned air to clean a fan, stop it from rotating by holding it down.
C. Use a vacuum cleaner:
Next, you can clean the exhaust hose with a vacuum cleaner. It typically sits on the side of the laptop, but you may also find it on the back. Unlike intake grills, exhaust ports release warm or hot air, making them easy to find.
D. Intake grills:
External intake grills cover fans that pull cooler air into the laptop. They can sit on the sides or at the bottom of your notebook. To clear the intake grills, blow them with canned air.
E. Apply fresh thermal grease:
Finally, you can apply fresh thermal grease to the contact points between the CPU and GPU and its heat sink. Again, please consult the laptop’s guide or manufacturer to obtain instructions on taking apart these components.
See our instructions on cleaning out dust from your MacBook or iMac if that’s the hardware you use.
Additionally, Inside My Laptop has some great tutorials on fixing your laptop, including how to apply thermal grease to your laptop’s processor.
2. Keep the overheated Laptop on a Stable and Flat Surface
If your laptop’s intake grills are at the bottom, then uneven surfaces, like a pillow, blanket, or your lap, will restrict its airflow. Subsequently, cooling is impaired, heat builds up, your laptop surfaces get hot, the internal temperature increases, and eventually, the laptop will overheat.
You can prevent this problem by keeping the laptop on a hard and flat surface. You can use something as simple as a tray or buy a special laptop holder or lap stand.
Personally, I use this portable bamboo laptop desk.
3. Invest in a cooling pad or laptop cooler
Laptop coolers are designed to provide additional cooling. However, getting the wrong cooler can actually result in a worse problem. Before you buy a cooler, you need to know how air flows into and out of your laptop.
As mentioned above, most laptops suck in cooling air through the bottom. It is normal because warm air rises upwards. However, a cooler that sits underneath the laptop and sucks air away from it doesn’t contribute to laptop cooling and instead leads to overheating.
If your laptop has intake grills at its bottom, buy a cooler that blows cool air upwards, i.e., into the laptop. You can also get a passive cooler that does not consume power and simply absorbs heat.
With a little time and effort, you can build your own laptop cooler or cooling pad.
What Are Potential Software Repairs?
If none of the hardware fixes result in lasting solutions, you can also revert to software fixes that address your laptop’s power consumption and performance. However, addressing excessive heat with a software fix means you give up performance in exchange for preserving the hardware.
You can either reduce the screen brightness or reduce the CPU clock speed. In Windows, underclocking or undervolting is done in the BIOS but can also be controlled via software tools. Consult our undervolting article for more information about this procedure.
You should protect your laptop from overheating
Even if you have a device that doesn’t exhibit any clear evidence of overheating, it would be wise to clean its vents and fans to prevent dust buildup regularly. And if you want to be extra cautious, always place your laptop on a firm and even surface.
If you use a laptop pillow while Working on the sofa, you’ll not only ensure adequate airflow but also reduce the amount of dust that enters and blocks vents and fans.