Laptop Overheating? 8 Proven Ways to Solve It
Laptops are fantastic for portability and convenience, but they can overheat. Gaming is a culprit as it's resource-intensive, and your computer can't dissipate that heat effectively. So it will overheat.
As a gamer, it's painful if your laptop overheats and shuts down in the middle of a session. It's not only frustrating, but overheating can damage your computer and cause it to malfunction. By knowing what causes overheating and taking proper precautionary steps, you can keep your laptop cool and avoid overheating.
Why does my laptop overheat?
Your laptop overheats due to insufficient cooling. As computers have become more powerful, they generate more heat. Laptops are more compact than desktop computers and have less room for all their components. So the temperature rises when you do complex tasks like:
- Playing video games
- Streaming movies
- Video editing
- Multi-tasking: too many applications running simultaneously
Internal fans will try to cool everything down, but your laptop can still get too hot and start slowing down.
What causes my laptop to overheat?
Multiple factors usually cause your computer to overheat. The most common reason for overheating is inadequate airflow within the device. Some other potential reasons why your laptop might overheat are:
- Blocked air vents. Placing your laptop on a soft or uneven surface like a bed, rug, or couch reduces airflow as the vents are covered.
- Clogged-up fan. Dust and grime cause severe airflow restrictions and stick to your fan, which creates friction and heat. The laptop overheats if your fan can't pull in cooler air and push out warm air efficiently.
- Excessive Temperature. Laptops' safe temperature ranges between 50 - 95°F (10 - 35°C).
- Decaying thermal paste. Thermal paste helps stop overheating by transferring heat from the CPU and into the heat sink. Over time this substance can degrade and dry out, reducing its effectiveness.
- Battery Degradation. If your laptop battery is old or has a defect, it can expand and swell, causing the battery to generate more heat. If you notice your laptop getting hotter than usual and taking longer to charge, it might be wise to get a new battery.
Does overheating damage my laptop?
A laptop that severely overheats causes irreparable damage to its internal components, including:
- Hard drives
- Video cards
Overheating can decrease your laptop's lifespan. Usually, before this happens, the notebook will attempt to shut itself down. However, in rare instances, faulty laptops can even start fires.
How to tell if your laptop is overheating?
If you're noticing that your laptop is getting hotter and slower to operate, there's a good chance it's overheating. The first sign of overheating is when you hear the laptop fan constantly whirring at full speed. Common symptoms of an overheating laptop are:
- Abnormal fan noise
- Reduced battery life
- Decreased performance
- Increase in temperature
- Abrupt system shutdowns
- Visual distortions on the screen
- System freezes or BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) appears
- Certain areas underneath the laptop are hot, including the fan, processor, or battery locations
If your laptop is overheating, it's essential to take steps to fix the problem. Otherwise, you risk damaging it and losing important data.
How to diagnose an overheating laptop
If your laptop is overheating, it's essential to identify which components are causing the problem. The culprit is usually the central processing unit (CPU) or the graphics processing unit (GPU). To diagnose, use free software that monitors your laptop's temperatures in real time:
Watch for temperatures that reach 90°C or higher, which is the upper limit of most CPUs and GPUs. Monitoring your laptop's temperatures will help you pinpoint the source of the problem and take the necessary steps to fix it.
Disclaimer: Acer doesn’t endorse any third-party software. Use at your own risk.
8 Ways to Fix an Overheating Laptop
1) Run The Power Troubleshooter Menu
If the root cause of laptop overheating is faulty software, running Windows Power Troubleshooter can sometimes resolve it. To perform the power troubleshooting, you need to go through the following steps:
- Press the Windows Button + I
- Choose Update and Security
- Click on the Troubleshoot option on the right side
- Click on the Power option
- Select the Run the Troubleshooter option
2) Clean your computer's fans and vents
It's essential to clean out the vents and fans to keep your laptop cool. Over time, these can become clogged with dust and other debris, which can prevent proper airflow and cause your computer to overheat.
The laptop's fan works if you feel hot air blowing out of the vents. Dust could be the issue if you feel little or no air.
- You'll need to power down your computer and unplug any cables to clean your vents and fans.
- Use a can of compressed air to blow away any dust and debris.
- Use cotton swabs or a microfiber dusting cloth to wipe the dust out of your vents and crevices
- Once you've cleaned the vents and fans, you can power your computer back on
- Do this cleaning regularly, as vents and fans can quickly become clogged again
Some Acer laptops use a LiquidLoop - a fanless cooling system - so the above steps are redundant.
3) Use your Laptop on a hard, flat surface
Most laptops have intake vents on the bottom to allow cool air to reach the components inside. A soft, uneven surface, such as a sofa, bed, or rug, can block these vents and cause the laptop to overheat. So - ensure you're using your computer on a hard surface to allow the vents to stay clear and air to circulate more easily.
4) Elevate your laptop at a comfortable angle
You can use a laptop stand or a book to elevate your laptop. Leave two to three inches of space on all sides to keep it cool and prevent it from overheating.
5) Use the original/certified charger
The battery or charger could be a problem if your laptop is overheating. As the temperature rises, the battery sensor may misfire, telling the system that the battery is either fully charged or missing. This can cause charging problems or cause your system to shut down to prevent overheating the battery.
If your battery is hot, remove it from the laptop and allow it to cool to room temperature before using it again. A genuine or certified laptop charger and battery are always better than third-party compatible products.
6) Keep your laptop out of the sun
If your laptop is in the sun, it will raise its internal temperature. High temperatures may cause your notebook to overheat due to an expansion of the hard drive and battery damage. In extreme temperatures, small plastic parts may even warp. So, avoid leaving your laptop in a vehicle and keep your laptop in the shade whenever temperatures are high.
7) Check your Windows power settings
You can alter a few Windows settings to help your laptop beat the heat.
- Lower your display's brightness.
- Change the power plan settings to Balanced
- Change the System cooling policy for Plugged In from Passive to Active
Doing this can help extend your laptop's life and keep it running cooler.
8) Invest in a laptop cooling fan
For a low-cost product, laptop cooling fans are simple and effective at keeping your laptop cool. Simply place your laptop on the pad and turn it on. The laptop cooler contains a bed of multiple cooling fans that will start circulating air around your laptop's underside, keeping it cool and preventing overheating.
You can also use it on a bed, so you're not restricted to using your laptop on a hard flat surface. Overall, the laptop cooler is an almost must-have for all laptop owners.
How does Acer combat overheating?
Acer increases performance and reliability with less noise with three advanced thermal technologies:
1) Acer AeroBlade™ Fan
The ultrathin AeroBlade™ Fan, the world's thinnest metal fins (just 0.1mm), offers advanced aerodynamics and airflow to keep your system:
2) Acer DustDefender
DustDefender fans are stronger and lighter. They propel dust and heat away from the device in alternating directions at extreme speeds.
3) Acer LiquidLoop™
Acer LiquidLoop is a liquid cooling system that expels heat without fans or exhaust vents. So, you won't need to worry about dust or noise.
Here's hoping the solutions we've listed above will help you identify your overheating problem. By identifying the issue, you can take steps to prevent overheating and any damage to the hardware. Check out our Acer guide to the Best Big Screen Laptops if you're after a new machine.
*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.
About Robert Stark: Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.