We often find our laptops running too hot, especially as they get older. A laptop overheating can lead to all kinds of issues, from freezing up to problems operating basic tasks like opening a new browser window. Here’s how to find out if your laptop is overheating—and what to do about it.
Signs and Symptoms
The temperature in your laptop is driven primarily by the Central Processing Unit (CPU), a component that is responsible for interpreting and executing most of the commands from your computer’s other hardware and software. As laptops get older, their internal components tend to run less efficiently. In many models, dust and dirt also accumulate inside, and both of these issues often lead to laptop overheating. Symptoms of an overheating laptop include:
- The fan is constantly running, often with a loud whirring noise.
- Your laptop shuts down abruptly on its own.
- The system is freezing, or you keep seeing the dreaded “blue screen of death.”
- Mysterious error messages appear on the screen.
- Lines show up in the screen, indicating that the memory card is getting too hot.
- Your computer is operating slowly or having trouble performing basic tasks.
- The underside of your laptop feels excessively warm to the touch.
Unfortunately, some of these symptoms can have multiple causes, so to determine if your laptop is running too hot requires a little extra help.
The optimal operating temperature for most laptops is around 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less, although some of the newest laptops can operate comfortably up to 150 degrees or so. Several free programs exist to monitor and test your laptop’s temperature:
- Core Temp: This program doesn’t need to be installed, which makes it completely portable and able to be used on multiple laptops. It supports a wide range of CPUs.
- Real Temp: Designed specifically to monitor the temperature in all Intel single, dual and quad core processors, this program will also tell you the CPU’s maximum safe operating temperature, and let you know how close you are to this temperature..
- SpeedFan: In addition to monitoring the temperature of your CPU, this program keeps track of fan speed, voltage and the temperature of your computer’s hard disks.
How to Prevent Laptop Overheating
Although a laptop overheating is often a sign of age, there are several measures you can take to keep your laptop from running too hot:
- Take a break from using your laptop. Even a healthy computer can start to get too hot after six hours of continuous use.
- Keep your laptop on a flat, hard surface. Sitting with it on your lap, or on a soft surface like a bedspread, can block the vents and lead to overheating.
- Put your laptop into power save mode to manage its power usage. The battery area can get hotter than it needs to due to high power use.
- Shut down programs that use lots of system resources.
- Carefully open up the laptop and blow out all the dust that may have collected inside.
You may also find this article helpful: 10 Ways to Reduce Energy Costs in Your Home Office.