We’ve all been there. You’re doing some work on your laptop, and it suddenly starts overheating for no reason. You touch the keyboard to notice it is too warm. Alarmed, you turn it over and hear the underside of your computer running like a car engine. Something is wrong with the machine.
Laptops can get as hot as up to 100 degrees Celsius, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, thermal throttling kicks in to start reducing performance and preserve device health.
High temperatures are dangerous for computers and humans as well. Hot cooling fins and computer surfaces can cause burns to the skin, and laptops have been known to melt and explode in extreme conditions due to heat.
Scholarly articles have shown that burn damage from overheating laptops poses significant risks to the user. You should therefore always pay attention to the temperature of your computer and beware of faulty components.
Am I Facing Laptop Overheating Problems?
Monitoring your laptop’s temperature is equally important as protection from damage. It is generally a good thing to do periodically to extend your computer’s lifespan.
According to the research done by Chung-Hsing Hsu and Wu-Chun Feng for the Las Alamos computer research facility, one can see that a lot of computer components fail consistently when running at these temperatures. The paper finds that a computer designed to run in temperatures lesser than 80 degrees Celsius or 176 degrees Fahrenheit has significantly more reliability than those that cross this threshold.
So, if you find the temperatures of your components to be more than that you might have an overheating laptop.
Follow the below mentioned steps to check if you have an overheating laptop.
Check Laptop Temperature in Windows Using Open Hardware Monitor
- Download the Open Hardware Monitor zip.
- Extract its contents to an empty folder somewhere.
- Once extracted, double click OpenHardwareMonitor.exe to open it.
- A new window will appear. Look for sections relating to Temperatures in your different devices. CPU, GPU, Memory, etc., almost all sections should show a temperature reading.
- Now, run a heavy program on your computer and check if any components cross 80 degrees. If they do, it means your laptop is overheating.
Check Laptop Temperature In Mac Using Fanny
- Download and install the Fanny widget.
- Open the Menu or Notifications Bar on your Mac.
- Fanny should be displaying fan speeds as well as CPU and GPU temps.
- Now, try running a heavy app like mentioned above. If the GPU or CPU temperatures cross high thresholds consistently, your Apple Macintosh might be overheating.
Check Laptop Temperature On Ubuntu Using Psensor
- Open your Linux terminal.
- Install lm-sensors by typing in
$ sudo apt install lm-sensorsand letting it execute the command.
- Next, enable sensor detection by typing in and running
$ sudo sensors-detect
on your terminal. Follow any on-screen instructions.
- To check if the lm-sensors package is working, type in
$ sensorsand press Enter. This command prints data relating to device temperature.
- Now, install Psensor typing in the command
$ sudo apt install psensorand executing it.
- You can now open Psensor from the Ubuntu application list. Open Psensor, run a heavy app, and check the temperature of your components to make a note of the temperature.
Causes of Laptop Overheating
Now that we can confirm that your laptop is overheating let’s look at the possible causes.
Using Laptops on Your Lap
Unfortunately, when it comes to cooling, using Laptops on your lap is a big no-no. As mentioned above, a lot of laptops suck in air from the lower part of the chassis. This configuration needs a flat surface underneath your device for proper airflow.
Airflow will suffer if you have something soft underneath your laptop, like a blanket, bedsheet, or certain thick fabrics. Less airflow means less fresh air reaches the fans. And if the fans can’t run, your computer’s cooling will suffer.
Dusty Fins And Fans
The most common cause of laptop overheating is improper cooling. Laptops are designed to be efficient in space usage, so they have tiny fans doing all the heavy lifting. Over time, a thin layer of dust accumulates in the fan blades and the cooling fins.
If you haven’t cleaned your laptop’s fans or cooling fins in a while, the dust will make it difficult for your fans to keep up with cooling requirements. No matter how hard the fan tries, it will be unable to cool your laptop sufficiently. This will result in high temperatures.
Disconnected or Broken Fan
Another problem that leads to cooling issues is a disconnected or broken fan. If you put your ear close to your laptop when it is overheating, you should hear the audibly loud fan trying its best to cool it down. If the hum is low or nonexistent, it means that your fan might be disconnected or broken.
Bad Thermal Paste
Laptop manufacturers are known to cut costs when necessary, and one component that is frequently ignored is the thermal paste. The thermal paste will cause issues if misapplied during production or by a third party later on.
For proper heat distribution to occur, your CPU and GPU chips need to make complete contact with the heatsink, which is a copper pipe pumping heat away from your motherboard and into the fans. The thermal paste helps establish this contact, so it is an essential part of cooling these components.
Bad Laptop Thermal Design
Unfortunately, not all laptops are designed well. Some models make compromises on cooling to fit more powerful components inside a small form factor. If you look up help forums for your specific model and see many people complaining about overheating, you might have such a machine on your hands.
This means that you will have to make sacrifices in performance to make your laptop run cooler. This is also very common if your laptop uses ambient cooling with no fans.
Battery Issues and Charger
If the battery is the component that’s heating up too much, immediately disconnect the charger. Li-ion batteries can explode when overcharged. Overcharging is very common if you use third-party chargers on your laptop or if the charger itself is facing issues.
Get a branded charger and check if your battery starts heating up. If that happens, you might have a defective battery. I would suggest not using that specific battery if you don’t want your laptop to explode.
How to Fix Laptop Overheating
- Always use laptops on a solid surface with lots of airflow underneath instead of your lap.
- Get a laptop cooling pad.
- Work in rooms with good air conditioning or cooler ambient air temperature.
- Avoid using your laptop under direct sunlight.
- Clean your laptop fan blades properly. Directions to clean them will differ from device to device. It’s not that difficult if you learn how to take your laptop apart.
- Buy a new internal laptop fan or repair it if it is broken.
- Open your laptop and change the thermal paste.
- Change your charger and laptop battery.
- Don’t run resource-hungry apps for long durations if you have an underpowered laptop. Take regular breaks after a sometime.
- Underclock your computer. It will run a bit slower than usual but won’t heat up as quickly and will extend your machine’s lifespan and battery life.