A laptop with heat problems can quickly become a serious problem. Following are the steps that must be taken to control temperature.
Heat is a natural byproduct of the CPU and other components in laptops, but if you feel like your fans are louder than normal and things feel like they’re burning inside, there could be a problem. Here are a few ways to fix it and get back to work – or play.
How do I know if my laptop is overheating?
It’s not uncommon for enthusiasts to spin aggressively when you’re running demanding software tasks like graphics-intensive gaming or video rendering. But if you only use Word to write documents or use a web browser to buy things from Amazon, then there’s no reason for the machine to overheat.
Apart from fan noise and a hot surface on the laptop, other signs that things are not quite right are sluggish performance, error messages and sudden shutdowns. If you smell burning at any point, we recommend turning off the device immediately, removing the battery if anything can be removed, then making an appointment with your local PC repair shop to see what could be causing the problem.
Check the airflow around your laptop
One common cause of overheating is a fan getting blocked because you put the laptop on something soft – like a blanket – or they can’t get their air out because the vents are blocked by dust and dirt. To help prevent this, look at your laptop and see where the fans are. Thinner models often place them near the hinges for display, but you’ll also find them on the sides and sometimes under the chassis. If you’re not sure, just wait until you hear it start turning, then run your hands around your body and see where you can feel a little wind.
You want to make sure the airflow for the fan is clean, and that there is room to let hot air out. So, do not place the machine too close to items such as books, paper or partitions that can block the moving air.
If you use the laptop on your lap, it is possible that the softer material of clothing, blankets, or pillows that you lean against can cover the vents and stop air escaping from the device. In these cases, it would be best to move to a table or desk, but you can also use a dedicated laptop back such as a Huanuo laptop stand (£ 24.99 / $ 32) that sits on your lap or one that has short legs like acting as a mini table. when you’re in bed, like with the Wa-Very Laptop Bed Tray (£ 21.99 / $ 27.99).
If your laptop is old and just struggling to keep up with the work you’re asking for, adding a cooling stand like the TECKNET Quiet Laptop Cooler (£ 21.99 / $ 27.99) can at least help it stay at a safer temperature.
Check if your fan is in good shape
Not only surfaces and items can block fan vents, over time they can become filled with dust and other debris from around the house or office. Check the vents on your laptop for buildup which could be causing the problem. You can carefully try to hold the small nozzle joint of the vacuum cleaner near the vent to see if this is removing debris.
Those brave enough to open the device, considering that it could void your warranty, can check that the fan spins freely. If not, try using a can of compressed air to clean the area around it and see if that helps. For more ideas, read how to clean a laptop fan.
How to check if your CPU is running too hot
Sometimes the problem doesn’t always have to do with hardware, as software or a rogue bug can get your PC stuck in a loop that consumes resources and overloads the system. One way to look at the cause is to use the Task Manager to see what’s occupying the CPU.
To do this, press Ctrl-Shift-Esc together, or open the Start Menu and type task manager. Select the option at the top of the list (it should just be Task Manager) then when the window opens click on the Processes tab and look in the CPU column to see what is using up the most resources. If you don’t see it, click ‘More details’ at the bottom of the Task Manager window.
If it’s something you don’t really use, then it could be a problem. To see how the CPU itself behaves, select the Performance tab and click the CPU option.
Rebooting a PC can often solve problems like this one, so it’s always worth a try. We recommend that you also run any updates available for Windows or installed software, as there could be a bug causing the problem and updating could clear the error. If the behavior persists, you may want to check that the CPU is not getting too hot under load, as this could cause damage if it lasts too long.
How to control your PC fan
If nothing seems wrong, but your fans are still in action, then it could be that one of the sensors is playing and telling the fans to cool off. There are a variety of applications available, usually free, that allow you to adjust fan behavior. See our guide on how to control fan speed for more details.
Message of repair
Once you’ve gone through the steps above, if the problem persists you should consider taking the PC to a qualified repairman. Try Googling PC fixes and your zip codes to see which ones are around. If you purchased a PC in the past year, it is under warranty, so contact your retailer or manufacturer to discuss how to fix it. If the problem unfortunately turns out to be the terminal, check out our roundup of the best budget laptops, the best laptops and our best laptop deals to make sure your new model is a viable replacement.