Why do I need a laptop cooler | should I have a laptop cooler for my laptop

I have quite often been asked : “Do I need a Laptop Cooler for my Laptop computer”?

I don't like to answer that with a direct Yes or No reply.

I would like the customer to make their own decision on whether they need a laptop cooler or not and to understand why they came to that conclusion. This is how I explain the situation!

As an electronics engineer I know what damage excessive 'heat' can do to a piece of electronic equipment and after all a laptop computer is precisely that.

I have seen charred circuit boards which had to be replaced at a great expense!

One thing a Laptop user should be aware of is that all electronic equipment generate energy simply by being used!

This energy must be used up and is dispersed in the form of 'heat'.

Manufacturers of these devises are aware of this and build the Laptops to a standard that can handle this 'heat'. eg they will include in their design such things as:

  • fans that automatically switch on and off.
  • cooling slots.
  • feet to raise the laptop from a bench to allow free passage of air.

Is this how hot your laptop gets without a laptop cooler?
Is this how hot your laptop gets without a laptop cooler?
Air vents underneath a Toshiba Laptop Computer
Air vents underneath a Toshiba Laptop Computer
Toshiba Laptop sitting on a nice flat bench with air flow !
Toshiba Laptop sitting on a nice flat bench with air flow !

Factors causing Excessive Heat in a Laptop Computer

So you will now appreciate that with a Laptop Computer, as with most electronic equipment, 'heat' as such is a fact of life and controlling this heat is a factor that manufacturers 'try' to build into the Laptops.

You can see by the diagram that if there were no feet on the computer there would also be no air flow to keep the laptop computer as cool as possible!

However there is no way that the manufacturer can control how their beautifully made Laptop is used by the consumer, this is where the decision arises on whether to buy a Laptop Cooler is raised!

There are many factors that cause a Laptop to develop enough excessive heat to cause damage to your lovely new purchase.

One reason can simply be 'ambient' temperature. Most consumer electronic machinery is built to operate at a temperature of up to 50 degrees Celsius maximum.

Now consider what would happen if you lived in a zone that had ambient temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius for days on end. You can see that your Laptop could quite easily reach a temperature over 50 c inside of its case. Remember that heat is an insidious enemy of your Laptop and the problem may only manifest itself over time!

That is one very good reason for buying a Laptop Cooler.

air vents on side of Toshiba Laptop Computer
air vents on side of Toshiba Laptop Computer
Cushion blocking air vent on a Toshiba Laptop Computer
Cushion blocking air vent on a Toshiba Laptop Computer
It would be better to use a Stable Table under your LapTop computer than a cushion!
It would be better to use a Stable Table under your LapTop computer than a cushion!

Another reason for Excessive Heat in a Laptop Computer

Another reason for buying a Laptop Cooler is the position where the Laptop is being used!

Lets say the user is sitting on a lovely comfortable lounge chair. They decide to use their laptop whilst watching TV.

OK the Laptop is sitting on their lap (for health reasons this is not good for a start ) so they decide to stuff a cushion under the laptop to raise the screen!

Can you see the danger here? The Laptop settles nicely into it's nice comfy cushion which immediately come up around the side of the laptop with the potential to block off all the air vents, preventing any cooling air to escape from the Laptop.

The cushion also may act like an insulation blanket keeping the laptop from dispersing all of the heat necessary to remain in its own safe temperature range!

You may not notice it straight away but do this too many times and over time your lovely new Laptop will not be operating so well.

My suggestion as an alternative to a cushion is something you already have in the kitchen and is what is called a Stable Table. 

This will act as a cushion for you lap and keep the heat away from your important groin area and will allow for air to flow under your Laptop Computer and carry away the heat!

So : Do I need a Laptop Cooler

As most good engineers will tell you equipment is not designed to be run at it's maximum capacity for any length of time.

So in answer to your Question : Do I need a Laptop Cooler

My advise would be to err on the side of caution!

If the expensive of buying a cooler is not a problem then  " yes"  buy one for the occasions that warrant having one.  If you can't afford one then follow the safety factors above!  

Remember it would be  a big enough worry when your laptop crashes but what about all of the data that you have stored on the Hard Drive of the Laptop Computer?

By the way did you 'back it' up like you have been advised?

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Comments 54 comments

earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

I wish I had bought a cooler for my last laptop. It overheated. A very expensive mistake.

My laptop works hard, being used as a desktop and running all the extra USB items.

I definitely need a laptop cooler.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Yes earnestshub I would say if you or anyone else is using their Laptop Computer as a Desktop Computer they are certainly in need of a Laptop Cooler or at least a Laptop cooling pad.

GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA

agvulpes - The last time I used a laptop computer, it's purpose was both as a controller for a large nuclear absorptiometry system and as a recorder for its output. Fortunately for me, the computer was used intermittently, perhaps 30 or so times during the day for periods of only about 10 minutes each. It seemed to work just fine from Florida to New York to California and Arizona. It did take a good knocking from being hauled about on airplanes all the time. (Me too!)

Gus :-)))

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

G'day Gus, thanks for sharing your great story about the Laptop. Maybe the world is very lucky that the laptop did not get too hot and start mixing up some of those zero's and one's. lol God knows where could be now and He ain't sayin!

Funny thing is Laptops seem to be able to take a fair amount of physical abuse, it is the internals you have to worry about and Heat is one of them.

BTW who had the most beer on the plane you or the Laptop lol

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nbbatt.com 6 years ago from bear, de, 19701

Thanks for your information it is very useful and the need for the laptop cooler is must for everyone it reduces the heat so we should not keep it on our laps.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

You are quite correct. It is not healthy for both your laptop and your groin to have a hot computer sitting on your lap. I believe it is something to do with the reproductive organ of a mans body? So if you of a child bearing age best to be safe and use a Laptop cooler!

Thanks for dropping in and leaving a great comment!

carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

I think I need to take your advice....

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Each person should weigh up their own circumstances and evaluate the situation. There is no hard and fast rule that fits everyone. I am pleased that my advice has been some assistance to you!

d.william profile image

d.william 6 years ago from Somewhere in the south

Good hub. Very informative. I don't have a laptop, but i had heard the term "laptop cooler", so i went out and bought a cooler for my PC, filled it with beer, and put it next to my chair. Now I don't have to make that long walk to the refrig every time i want a cool one. Now i find out what that term really means. My bad. LOL

rmr profile image

rmr 6 years ago from Livonia, MI

Good advice, Ag. I've only just started reading up on these. My Asus laptop seems to stay pretty cool, but I swear I can almost smell smoke from my Toshiba, and it's less than a year old!

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

@d.william, LOL you indeed have come up with another novel use for a laptop cooler. Why did I not think of that lol

You are indeed 'my bad' but also 'my funny' if that is a term ?

Thanks for adding some much needed humor into my day :-)

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

@rmr, yes now that Asus has started making their own laptops the other players will need to sit up and take notice! Toshiba has been on top of the pile for some time and I get the feeling that they may have dropped the ball and need to catch up! Has Toshiba started building down to a price I wonder?

Thanks for dropping by and leaving an interesting comment :-)

Lita C. Malicdem profile image

Lita C. Malicdem 6 years ago from Philippines

My girls gifted me with this Asus laptop with the cooler. They must have sensed that I would be tinkering with my new baby for longer hours than usual compared to our old desk top. And besides, they live far from home and this idea just clicked with me, I sometimes forget to switch off. Haha! It's really advisable to have one's cooler. Thank you.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Well Lita it is my opinion that your girls made a very good choice of computer. I have the highest regard for the Asus brand. And you are so correct you just never know when you might need a laptop cooler do you?

Thank you very much for sharing your story with us here on my Hub :-)

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

Thanks, my friend. This information really useful for us. I am glad to follow your tips. I have Acer Aspire 5050 and it was running well until now. But I never tried using laptop cooler before. This must be great idea. Good to see you again. Rating up!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Thank you Prasetio for dropping in and leaving such a nice comment. It is also good to see you visit one of my Hubs :-)

I try only to supply information that can be useful to my friends. The choice is up to them to make the final decision. I like the Acer brand I am using one of their Acer Laptops in my Art Society and find it very impressive.

I know that it can get very hot and humid where you live so I would advise you to make sure that you keep good air flow around your Acer Laptop.

Cheers Ag

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i4u 6 years ago

When I own a laptop in the future if huh. the I will definitely think of this suggestion from your side.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

i4u thank you for considering my suggestion on using a laptop cooler. Especially worth considering if you are in a tropical area :-)

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

What a wonderfully interesting hub!

Very well done!!! :-))

Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

My older laptop I think I got it in 2002, an HP and it cost $1200 and it would get so hot it scared me. I never knew anything about a cooler until a few years ago. It seems like the newer computers are not as bad about getting really hot...Is this true? Fab hub, I rate up up and thank you Darski

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

@ De Greek. Thanks for your kind comment :-)

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Darski thanks for dropping by and leaving such an insightful comment! I believe that with the evolution of the Laptop and the advancement in Battery Technology there is a only a perceived improvement in the heat area.

A big portion of the problem is not in the 'manufacturers' ability to control.

Things like ambient temperature, users environment are factors over which the manufacturer has no control.

So my advise to anyone who asked would be to use a Laptop cooler whenever there is a risk of over-heating, the call is up to the user!

Darski. Thanks again for your very kind comment and adding to the discussion:-)

jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

What a highly informative hub! I really learned a lot here.

I received an email the other day that told about a boy dying of fire because he kept his laptop on his bed and he fell asleep while using it. I have not yet checked the veracity of this report but I just want to ask - is that possible?

Thanks for sharing this.

Voted up and useful!

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

G'day 'Jill of alltrades' and thanks for the great comment which I will try to answer!

Firstly I always keep an open mind on matters like this report. I never discount anything as being impossible!

However having said that the report as I am reading it states that he was only using the laptop, it does not say it was the cause of the fire, there may be other factors ie was he smoking when he fell asleep (smoking here is a major cause of starting fires in bed).

Did he have his 'power pack' plugged in to the computer? I believe these can be a major cause of fires!

Was the laptop plugged into an external Monitor once again these rate high on the cause of fires.

To answer your question:

For the Laptop on its own to start the fire, without any other mitigating factors, I really would have my doubts and would like to see all of the evidence before making a call! As you know some fires do not leave evidence of of the cause of the fire only where the fire started and an educated guess is made by assessors and the laws of probabilities come into play!

However this does not diminish the fact that users must be careful when using their Laptops as to the surrounding environment and to whether they should be using a Laptop Cooler!

Sorry if my reply was long winded but you did raise a very important factor!

And we should all be thankful to you :-)

Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia

Until you raised the question, I didn't know there was such a thing as a laptop cooler. My laptop sits on a flat surface and does heat up to the point of being too hot to touch. Thanks for the info, I'll have to look into this.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Hi Karanda, thanks for your comment! I know that Queensland can get hot and humid. I'm not quite sure which part of the state you live. I am very concerned that your laptop gets too hot to touch! Is the cooling fan running?

Heading into summer now you are more than likely looking at temperatures in the 40 degree mark! Then the nights can get down pretty low. Coupling this with the high humidity in parts of Queensland I would strongly advise you to look at getting a Laptop cooler sooner rather than later.

Thanks again for dropping by :-)

Karanda profile image

Karanda 6 years ago from Australia

Oh yes, we are hot and humid, but mild enough to reach 35, at most, sea breezes cool things down. The cooling fan seems to work okay, but it has always been a hot little machine. There is no way I can work with it on my lap, you know, the way it was intended to be used in the first place!

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

You are fortunate to only reach 35 degrees and nice sea breezes in the afternoon are great aren't they?

The thing about electronic equipment is that they like to work in a stable environment, you will find that most large computer installations are in a controlled climate situation and that is not for the benefit of the workers lol

Changing temperatures too quickly leads to expansion and contraction too quickly for the components and eventually over time a failure can occur.

For my own safety I would certainly not work with any laptop on my lap without something under the laptop preferably a well designed Laptop cooler!

quicklysilver profile image

quicklysilver 6 years ago from wexford, ireland

thanks for the advice, its something i'd never think of

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

quicklysilver, thanks for dropping by, I am glad to be of service:-) I think everyone should think about a laptop cooler :-)

SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 6 years ago from Southern California, USA

A few years ago I was silly and used a laptop to warm myself up, but these days I leave mine on the desk for computer use. This hub has good information for anyone who experiences overheating laptops.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Hi SweetiePie. I can assure you that when you are cold it is not silly to use anything to get warm. You may have actually been doing your Laptop a favor by using yourself as a Laptop Cooler and soaking up the heat with your own body. Thanks so much for your contribution to the discussion on Laptop coolers :-)

Ladybird33 profile image

Ladybird33 6 years ago from Georgia USA

very good info and much needed! I usually sit on my couch and work, I get hot! But I truly do appreciate the great tips and hub!

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

If your laptop cooler makes you feel hot then you most certainly need something to channel the heat away. Either a laptop cooler or something like what we call a 'stable table'

Ladybird 33 I appreciate you dropping by and leaving a comment :-)

Benjimester profile image

Benjimester 6 years ago from San Diego, California

I hate when laptops start overheating. My last laptop always ran hot. It made me sweat just to work around it, haha. It gave off so much heat. I've gotten one of those stable tables since then. You're right. They're essential.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Yes it seems to me that the manufacturers do not put enough effort into getting laptops to run cooler. They may not have appreciated that laptops are now being used more as desktops and more is expected of them.

I'm the same as yourself, when we use our laptop off the desk we use a stable table as a laptop cooler!

Benjimester thanks for dropping by and leaving a nice comment :-)

ed77burns 6 years ago

Soon I"ll buy it for my Lappy.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 6 years ago from Australia Author

Ok soon is good but don't wait till the middle of summer lol

Seriously thanks for taking the time to read about Laptop coolers!

Alladream74 profile image

Alladream74 5 years ago from Oakland, California

I think a laptop cooler is the best thing I bought.I had an artists' residency in Crete and the heat was just unbelievable,without the cooler my laptop heated up so much and was very slow,I am glad I brought it along. Word of advice, do not buy the run off the mill coolers, consult a trusted electronics shop for the best choice.The down side of it is ,it drains your battery, but better shorter working hours than no hours at all.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

Alladream nice to hear from someone with personal experience, and thanks for sharing your story.

Your computer must have thanked you for using a cooler lol and I hope that the heat has not done any lasting damage to your computer!

I would definitely agree with you that,if technically challenged, consult a trusted electronics shop with a variety of laptop coolers to choose from!

Thanks again for dropping by and sharing :-)

tracer 5 years ago

If you use a laptop as a substitute for a desktop and are running it for long periods, it will overheat even with a cooler. There is no laptop that can substitue for a desktop. Laptops main feature is portability, not heavy usage.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

@tracer, I would agree with you up to a point!

It is my firm belief that the market is 'user' driven and it is my opinion that the 'user' is looking for a machine that can be used for longer periods and driven harder!

The savy manufacturer will cotton onto this very soon (if they have not already)and when they do it will be a whole new ball game in the laptop area. Then everyone will need a laptop cooler lol

billips profile image

billips 5 years ago from Central Texas

I found this article very interesting - my daughter's old laptop got so hot she had to have a pillow between it and her knees - her new one presents no such problem - she uses it a lot, so whether it's just luck or a better computer, I'm not knowledgeable enough to know - B.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

Hi B - if your daughter is going to have a problem with her new computer over heating it may not show up until a bit further down the track!

If I may make a suggestion to your daughter?

After she has been using it for a while and it is warmed up get her to check where the warm air is venting (as per the diagrams above) The air needs to have a path to travel! It must have an inlet and then an exhaust path,(similar to a vacuum cleaner) If either of these paths are impeded in some way there will be an overheating problem at a later date(often imperceptible).

If it is felt that a pillow is necessary to protect your daughter from the heat then it is my educated guess that there is too much heat. If she must use a pillow then get her to put some sort of board (eg bread board or stable table as in the image above) between the laptop and the pillow to allow the correct airflow.

Better still why not buy her a laptop cooler for a Christmas present :-)

billips thanks for sharing I'm sure there are many other people having this same experience.

billips profile image

billips 5 years ago from Central Texas

Thank you so much for taking the time to pass on all this good information - a bit late for the Christmas gift, but there is a birthday coming up soon - regards, B.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

You are welcome and I hope you had a great Christmas as we did here in Australia. Although the day finished off with some bad weather for Victoria and Melbourne in particular!

As a small piece of info a friend of mine uses a grill shelf from an old fridge as a laptop cooler and it seems to do the job very well:-)

I hope your daughter has a lovely birthday and thanks again for dropping by :-)

Anonymous 5 years ago

Laptop coolers are counter intuitive...

Think about it, it is shooting the air that you laptop wants to get out, back in.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 4 years ago from Australia Author

Anonymous. Counter intuitive? Unfortunately what you are saying is only half true. If the ambient temperature of the location were the same as the temperature of the laptop what you say may be true but... fortunately for the user this is not generally the case.

By the time (if ever)the expelled hot air from the laptop has recirculated to the inlet of the laptop or cooler it has adjusted to the ambient temperature of the location.

The air that your laptop is pulling into the case is cooler than the air being expelled! All the Laptop Cooler is doing is allowing the flow of air to be more efficient or in the case of a powered Laptop Cooler it is force feeding the air flow through the laptop to carry away more hot air endeavoring to keep the laptop at the current ambient temperature.

howtoguides2learn profile image

howtoguides2learn 4 years ago from Chennai, India

Very useful advice. Will buy a cooler soon.

Peter 4 years ago

Thank for the great information, if only I had read it sooner. My question now is what do I do if my laptop overheated and now it does not want to work. The screen turned into different colors, I can´t log in, it´s a dell laptop. Any way to fix this?

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 4 years ago from Australia Author

G'day howtoguides . If you are in India I believe that the ambient temperature is always warm to hot? So it would indeed be a good idea to use a laptop cooler.

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 4 years ago from Australia Author

G'day Peter. It would appear that your problem could indeed be associated with a heating problem? Unfortunately there is not much, if anything that you can do to reverse the problem without taking it to the 'shop'. Let me state again that I am not a 'computer' expert but it would appear to me that you have some sort of faulty connection and you need to have a technician look at the problem.

I would be asking myself some questions along these lines: 1) How much will it cost me to get repaired? 2)How old is the machine? 3) Can I afford to buy a new laptop including a laptop cooler? 4) If I buy a new laptop will the vendor recover my data from the old laptop? ( If you have not backed it up on to an external harddrive)

Here in Australia laptop prices have plummeted and the cost of repairing a laptop is hardly worth while when you consider that the repaired machine is almost certainly 'obsolete' in computer terms?

loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

I so agree with you, I just recently finished fussing with my daughter about sitting the laptop on the bed for hours at a time while she surfs the web. I believe that even if you feel that you don't need one not only are they a good investment but they are fairly reasonable in price. Thanks for the heads-up

agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 4 years ago from Australia Author

@loveofnight, I have noticed on many sit-coms that is exactly what teen-agers do and the laptop manufacturers are laughing all the way to the bank :).

Oh well I guess they will at least have warm beds :)

Even a bread board or something similar placed under the laptop will act as some form of laptop cooler!

Thanks for sharing and I hope your daughter has to pay for her next laptop from her own pocket? lol

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