How to Fix an Overheating Laptop Without Taking it Apart?

So you’re using your laptop normally and you notice the bottom is getting uncomfortably hot. Overheating can cause all kinds of problems for laptops, the worse being fried components, but it also slows performance to a crawl.

What can you do about it? Here are some ideas for less tech-savvy laptop owners:

Steps to Fix an Overheating Laptop Without Taking it Apart:

  • Buy a Laptop Cooling Pad (either metallic or with external fans)
  • Disable CPU Turbo Boost
  • Reconfigure Fan Curve
  • Close Resource-Heavy Applications
  • Cap Framerate on Video Games
  • Spray the Vents with Compressed Air

Laptops are known to overheat, and the most common reason for that is dust building up inside the fans and blocking the ventilation. The only way to fix that is to take that laptop apart and clean the fans and vents.

But in some cases, a brand new laptop can overheat too, in which case, it’s important to learn how to fix an overheating laptop without taking it apart. Maybe you don’t want to void your warranty or you’re simply not comfortable with opening a laptop.

Get a Temperature Tracking Software:

To test if the fixes are making a difference on temperature, you’ll need to find good temperature tracking software. Luckily, there are lots of free ones out there, I like MSI Afterburner.

It’s a good idea to have the program open in the background, so you can see how hot the laptop gets under regular use. The good news is you can usually bring down the temperature with a few easy fixes that don’t require much tech knowledge. Let me expand on the points above.

Buy a Laptop Cooling Pad

Generally, laptops always run a bit hot because there are so many components in such a small area. If you feel like your laptop is unusually hot, buying a laptop cooling pad is a good idea.

You can find cooling pads with external exhaust fans that are powered by a USB cable, those are worth a look. Even using an angled cooling stand can provide more airflow to the laptop and cool it down. Alternatively, simply using the laptop on a desk, making sure the vents are not blocked, is also a good idea.

Disable CPU Turbo Boost

Disabling your CPU’s turbo boost is a subject of debate, but many laptop users have noticed that disabling it will bring down internal temperatures by a few degrees.

Basically, what turbo boost does is automatically overclock your CPU so it can keep up with demanding tasks. Naturally, that consumes more power, which creates higher temperatures. The sacrifice is a tiny bit of CPU performance, but that might not even be noticeable.

How to disable turbo boost on Windows 10:

  • Open Control Panel
  • Click on Hardware & Sound
  • Select Power Options
  • Click “Change Plan Settings” Next to the Selected Power Mode
  • Change Advanced Power Settings
  • Expand “Processor Power Management”
  • Expand “Maximum Processor State”
  • Change the Value to 99%

From my experience, changing this one setting can lower your heavy-load CPU temperature by 10 to 20 degrees, especially when playing video games.

Reconfigure Fan Curve

If you suspect that your laptop is hot because your fans aren’t spinning fast enough, you can try to create a more aggressive fan curve. The result will be a louder laptop but lower temperatures.

It’s hard to say exactly how to do this because some manufacturers don’t allow you to change the fan speed on laptops. You can take a look in your BIOS settings for fan settings or use software such as MSI Afterburner or Speedfan to check if your computer allows you to configure the fans.

Close Resource Heavy Applications

The easiest solution on the list. Open task manager and look for processes that are using a lot of your CPU.

These could be background processors that you don’t see on your screen. For example, sometimes Windows configures updates or runs virus scans in the background, and that can heat up the computer.

It’s always a good idea to take a look at the task manager to see what’s eating up your resources and making your laptop overheat.

Cap Framerate on Video Games

While more gaming specific, this fix can keep temperatures in an acceptable range. I wouldn’t recommend capping framerate on competitive games that require precise mouse movements, but for other games, it’s a good idea.

An easy way to do this is to simply enable V-sync in your game’s graphic settings. V-sync will lock the game’s framerate to your monitor’s refresh rate. It won’t show more frames that needed, so your laptop can save resources, and your graphics card doesn’t have to work as hard.

Spray the Vents with Compressed Air

If you think the vents are blocked with dust, consider using a can of compressed air to blow into the vents. The compressed air should dislodge any buildup of dust and improve airflow. Another idea would be to use a vacuum cleaner on the vents.

Poor Laptop Design:

So you tried all of the above solutions and your laptop is still overheating? Maybe the fault is on the manufacturer’s end. There are lots of laptop models that have very poorly designed cooling systems and are more prone to overheat.

The solution would be to contact the manufacturer, either have them check it, or simply return the laptop for a refund. Overheating could also be caused by motherboard issues, which are out of your control.

What’s an Acceptable Temperature Range for Laptops?

An acceptable temperature range for laptops is 70 – 90 celsius.

You have to understand that laptops will always run hot, but as long as the temperature of both the CPU and GPU are under 100 degrees, it shouldn’t be a problem.

These components have built-in failsafes that will lower clock speeds to reduce temperature when it gets too hot, which is usually over 100 celsius. If your CPU reaches that limit, it will shut itself down, usually creating a blue screen on your end.

But even though a hot laptop is safe, it can be bothersome, like using a mini-heater. The good news is if you follow the above steps you should be able to reduce the temperature to a more comfortable level which will also prolong the life of your laptop.


Image credit: “LG gram 2020 laptop” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by TheBetterDay

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About S. Santos

👋 I'm a technology columnist and blogger with over 10 years of experience, currently serving as Blue Cine Tech's AV Editor. Specialising in gadgets, home entertainment, and personal technology, my work has been featured in top technology blogs. I'm dedicated to breaking down the complexities of the latest tech trends, from explaining the intricacies of Dolby Vision to optimising your streaming experience. This blog serves as a platform for my ongoing exploration of the ever-evolving tech landscape. If you see me at industry events like CES or IFA, feel free to say hello.

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