How To How to Cool an Overheating Gaming Laptop

As technology advances we see computers grow substantially more powerful, even as the form factor shrinks. While owning a laptop with substantial horsepower has never been easier, one drawback to all this power is that these slim, sleek machines generate substantial heat.

Not every troubleshooting step will be possible for every user, so consider your comfort level before trying the steps that involve opening your laptop to perform maintenance.


Cooling an Overheating Laptop

  • Starting with the basics, check which specific programs use the most resources and find ways to reduce how much power they use. For gaming, this means reducing the performance settings within the program to make it less resource intensive.
    • While testing performance, modify all settings to the lowest available option, even if you don't want to play the game consistently at these settings.
    • If the heating issues are reduced by the lower settings, slowly adjust the settings up, a bit at a time, to see which settings have the biggest impact so you can find the right balance between power and longevity.
  • Identify every vent on your laptop model and make sure the area where you use your laptop allows for open air to feed into the cooling fans.
    • If your laptop has vents on the bottom, find a way to raise the back of the laptop up off the ground slightly to allow proper airflow (plus some ergonomic advantages to using your keyboard at a more comfortable angle for your wrists).
    • If you use your laptop in bed, placing the computer on a soft surface will very effectively block vents and reduce performance. Use a hard surface placed on the bed to reduce this type of issue.
    • In some cases, purchasing a dedicated laptop cooler can be your best option, but that's definitely not always the case. If you're thinking about picking one up, be sure to ask in the Tom's Hardware forums for buying advice based on your model.
  • Check with your laptop manufacturer to find all the latest drivers.
    • Laptop components are custom built to fit into specific cases, which means the default graphics driver for a desktop version of a GPU won't work as efficiently as a driver designed for the specific device in your laptop
  • If your laptop uses an Intel processor between the 5th and 8th Generations you have the option to try something known as dynamic voltage scaling, or undervolting.

    By reducing the amount of power your laptop is able to feed to components you can substantially reduce heat and potentially extend the life of components, but with a performance decrease as a result.

  • If you're not comfortable with popping open a laptop to see how things work, you may try reaching out to the manufacturer, or a local repair shop to go about having a cleaning and general maintenance performed.
  • If you are comfortable with digging into the hardware directly, disassemble the laptop and give the laptop a good maintenance run, cleaning out the venting as well as the heatsink assembly.
    • You will need to remove the heatsink assembly from the casing to get a better look at dust and/or debris build if the laptop has been in service for a while.

    • Any form of mechanical cooling will introduce dust into the vents, so the intake and exhaust will clog up more frequently if using external cooling fans.
  • Laptops may not have a very high quality thermal paste over the CPU, which means the processor will run hotter. Change the thermal paste on your CPU to a newer, more efficient aftermarket version.
    • You can pick a high pedigree thermal paste such as those made by Noctua, Thermal Grizzly, Arctic Cooling and their ilk, or go for liquid metal. The last option will give you better results but you need to be careful in your application since a botched application can impede thermals as opposed to improving them.
  • BIOS is the firmware on your motherboard. As a component ages, the community reports issues and the development teams work to address those and improve efficiency. This means there can be a real boost in laptop performance by keeping your BIOS regularly updated.
    • Check with your laptop manufacturer for how to get the latest firmware.
  • Your laptop manufacturer may also be running their own, standardized version of Windows. Check periodically to see if you have any pending Windows updates either from Microsoft or your manufacturer directly.
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Another excellent guide, you're on a heck of a roll, man!
If you are comfortable with digging into the hardware directly
The rare few times I had to dig in, I found it essential to find a YouTube video re disassembling the exact model of laptop I was working on. There's always one more screw or cable holding something, so it's great to know 1) How Many, and 2) Where, all these little things are.
  • Love
Reactions: Lutfij
+ Thank YOU, kind sir!

Correct! YT has saved my derrière a lot of times when it came to laptop disassembly. I found that placing the screws in a surrogate manner on a desk/sheet of paper to help track them aids a lot in disassembling/reassembling. I've seen people who disassemble a laptop, do their tasks, reassemble it and end up with spare screws...when they had none to begin with.
  • Haha
Reactions: Brian Boru
Great guide.

We're at a point now where laptops are going to fall farther and farther behind their desktop counterparts because the power requirements keep going up, but you can't follow that trend in laptops. You are going to end up with a GPU that is fed 300 watts less than the desktop version, which is crazy to think about. But if you can keep your heat under control by following guides like this, you might be able to overclock your GPU a bit. I've done that on mine in the past, and it can help significantly with performance.
Thank you for the praise, sir!

Agreed, manufacturer's will always find a way to rebadge and recycle their older tech albeit with some crippling and some clever programming.

When it came to undervolting, there was a forum by Notebookreviews. They had a wealth of information and practically every laptop imaginable mentioned in their catalogue of threads. Not to mention the number of folks who tried everything under the sun to keep a laptop purring peacefully. News of it closing left me with a deep void. That site aided in a lot of the older laptop mods/repairs/maintenance's as well as upgrades. Hopefully guides like these keep that trend moving forward in a surrogate mindset.
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^ when I lived with my mum and siblings, I'd have spaghetti night every Thursday...until I moved out. It's actually easy, need to put lots of love into Italian cuisine but the results are well worth it.

Laptop's, Colif, laptop's! Not Spaghetti!


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