Modern laptops are incredible, with so much power and capability packed into increasingly slimmer and lighter models. However, their complex designs can be an issue if you encounter one of the most common IT issues - overheating.
You may cause more damage than good should you attempt to open up your machine on your own. If you’ve ever needed to know how to fix overheating laptop without taking it apart, this guide has all the answers.
While it’s normal for laptops to heat up, especially when running high graphics video games or HD movies, it shouldn’t be excessively hot for an extended period of time. If your laptop constantly seems to overheat, it's important to uncover the root problem quickly, or it may impact how well your laptop can function.
Avoid leaving your laptop in hot environments for too long, such as cars on warm days or in direct sunlight. Some effects of an overheated laptop include:
Why Do Laptops Overheat So Fast? (Possible Causes)
Blockage in Laptop Exhaust Vents
The most common cause of laptop overheating is dust in the fan or ventilation system, which can be found either on the side or the bottom of your machine. If the airflow is blocked, the fans cannot cool the laptop well. Regularly cleaning the fan and stopping dust and debris from accumulating in your exhaust vents is a great way to prevent it from overheating so quickly.
Laptops should not be kept in too warm an environment for too long. The external heat will also cause damage to the laptop, making it run slower and less efficiently.
Incorrect Laptop Placement
The ventilation and fan system can also be stopped from working as well if it is blocked due to where you’re using it. Use your laptop on a tray, a laptop stand, or a cooling mat to allow as much airflow as possible, and avoid placing it directly on your lap or on a pillow.
Faulty Laptop Fan
The fan is there to stop your laptop from overheating. A constantly noisy fan is an indicator of an internal issue causing the laptop to run hotter than usual. The laptop can also overheat if the fan itself is broken, as, without it, the laptop cannot keep cool.
If you notice your fan stopping working, try turning off your laptop for a few minutes. If the problem persists, contact an IT technician as soon as possible.
There’s great appeal in adding more accessories to your laptop, such as RAM, a hard disk, and a new graphics or sound card. However, extra hardware means more processes for the laptop to run, therefore increasing the chance of overheating. It may also overheat if the hardware used isn’t compatible with your particular model.
Underperforming Heat Sink
If any component of your laptop stops working properly, it can impact how well your laptop works. Should the heat sink begin to underperform, it will not be as effective as cooling the CPU.
Degenerate Thermal Compound
The CPU is covered with thermal grease, designed to prevent air particles from being trapped between the CPU and heat sink, which would prevent the CPU from cooling as well. The thermal grease can degenerate as it ages, allowing the air particles in and causing overheating.
You can check out our complete guide for applying new thermal paste here.
Incompatible Operating System
This shouldn’t be an issue with a new laptop, but updates to the operating system can sometimes cause overheating.
Common Signs Your Laptop Is Overheating
Aside from the heat your laptop will be emitting, there are other warning signs that let you know too much heat is damaging your laptop. If you notice these signs, take action as soon as possible. Should you smell burning or see smoke, stop using your computer immediately and contact the manufacturer or a laptop repair specialist.
How To Fix Overheating Laptop Without Taking It Apart (DIY Guide)
The most effective way of preventing your laptop from overheating is opening it up and fixing or replacing broken components, and clearing out all dust. However, this will void any warranties and risk further harm to your laptop if you don’t know what you are doing. These methods are short-term fixes and first resorts.
Always consult a professional if you are worried about your laptop constantly overheating. These tips may prevent you from having to take your laptop apart.
Track the progress of these methods by downloading a temperature tracking software like MSI Afterburner, which will show how hot your computer currently is. Also, make sure to back up any data before just in case something goes wrong.
Buy a Laptop Cooler/Cooling Pad
The major premise of a cooling pad is that heat is attracted to colder surfaces, so the pad will take the heat from your laptop and help to cool it down. These pads can also have external USB-connected fans to add an extra cooling system for your laptop. The cooling pad is a good investment to help prevent severe overheating for longer.
Spray Vents With Compressed Air
Compressed air is a staple for many IT professionals. This is not a solution to larger issues with internal components or operating systems but can be a good quick fix if your big problem is dust blocking the vents.
By spraying compressed air into the vents, it can clear a path for the fan. You can also use a vacuum cleaner with great care to achieve a similar result. This is not a replacement for a good deep clean, which will require taking the computer apart.
Turn Off CPU Booster
The CPU running too many tasks can be a cause of overheating, so shutting down some unnecessary processes is a good idea. One of these may be the CPU turbo boost. Some feel this is not the best solution and does not let the laptop cool much, but it may be worth a try, as this process takes more power to allow your CPU to keep running tasks in the background.
You may find your laptop running a bit slower without the turbo boost, but this is preferable to it constantly overheating. This can be done by entering the Power Options in the Hardware & Sound section of the control panel if you are using Windows 10.
Adjust Laptop Placement
Using your laptop on the wrong surface may block the vents and allow more dust and debris to clog up the fan. Use a laptop stand, cooling mat, or lap tray when using your laptop, and don’t leave it on standby in any hot environments.
Check Your Task Manager
Too many unnecessary background applications or processes can overload your CPU and stop it from working as well, along with making it far too hot. Use CTRL + ALT + DELETE to access the task manager and determine which processes are draining the power. Google any you don't know the purpose of to prevent you from canceling anything vital to the computer's performance.
Dim Screen Brightness
This is another easy method to give your poor overworked laptop a little break from running at full capacity.
Cap Frame Rate On Video Games
If your laptop is used often for gaming and you notice an increase in temperatures while you play, this solution may be for you. This will not be useful for competitive games that need you to be accurate with a mouse, but they will help with other types of games. In your game’s graphic settings, enable V-sync.
This will lock the game’s framerate to your monitor’s refresh rate, only showing the frames you need and saving laptop resources and power. Give your poor graphics card a break!
People Also Ask (FAQs)
How often should I clean my laptop fan?
Depending on how dusty the conditions are around the laptop, you should try and clean it every 3 to 6 months to stop a build-up of dust.
What is a normal temperature range for laptops?
Normally laptops may run between 150 - 195 degrees Fahrenheit
Where should I put my laptop when using it?
To help your laptop keep itself as cool as possible, always use your laptop on a tray, laptop stand, or cooling mat. Avoid cushions, blankets, or directly on your lap.
Will my laptop shut down if it overheats?
Most laptops have a failsafe should the laptop become too hot. They will shut down after displaying an error message.
There can be several causes of an overheating laptop, and some can be resolved without taking your laptop apart. If you are concerned about your laptop, always contact a professional as soon as possible before attempting to take it apart yourself.
Jake Redman is a UK-born-digital nomad & founder of Ultimate Quality Content, a collective of high-end copywriters formed to provide detailed insight into everything technology-related. Jake is the definition of a man-nerd. He gets excited over things like processor architecture, ray-tracing, & is an avid E-Sports fan, specifically League of Legends. When he isn’t writing detailed tech-related articles, Jake can be found performing fire-breathing shows & wields a dragon staff, or on the sofa playing Mario Kart.