Gaming laptops don’t come cheap. They are considered “big-ticket items” and can range from $700 to a few thousand dollars. So, naturally, when we buy one, we want to look after it. Gaming laptops tend to run at high temperatures. To combat this, most of us buy cooling pads. The question is, do they work, and do our gaming laptops need cooling pads? Let’s find out.
Cooling pads help keep laptops cooler over short and long gaming sessions. For gaming laptops that have bigger CPUs and GPUs, having a cooling pad is a necessity, in my experience at least.
Cooling pads all have different features. Choosing one that is right for you and your laptop is important for various reasons. In this article, we will look at some features that can make for a better gaming experience, some fan speed, and finally, some complications that may arise from using cooling pads. So, if you need a cooling pad, keep reading.
Why do you need a cooling pad for your gaming laptop?
The components in any laptop generate heat. For gaming laptops, this is amplified. Instead of having to worry mainly about the CPU temperatures, you now have a graphics card that produces heat as well.
Heat can cause some obvious problems like hardware damage. It could get so bad that it melts the plastic. One problem I experienced form an overheating laptop was with my headphone jack. The plastic around my laptop jack port started melting, and it damaged the port. My headphones were plugged in, and the jack got damaged as well.
Your CPU might also take damage along with other internal components, specifically the motherboard, and GPU.
Some less obvious things can happen when a gaming laptop overheats:
We have written a previous article about CPU throttling and how to solve the issue. In that article, we’ll only cover ways of getting the temperature down on your gaming laptop.
Gaming laptops have safety measures in place, and these measures include CPU throttling. When your laptop starts reaching certain temperatures, a safety feature kicks in, and it throttles the performance of your laptop CPU. This means games will not run at their full capabilities.
Having a gaming laptop cooling pad can minimize this throttling, and your laptop can run a lot cooler. For a more in-depth look at CPU throttling and ways to prevent it, give this article a read. You will find out everything you need to know about CPU throttling and its solutions.
Do GPUs get throttled
In most cases, GPUs do not get throttled. Only a small amount of laptops are manufactured with a GPU throttling feature. The thing is GPU’s normally don’t run as hot as CPUs, and the people who make the laptop, even though they might throttle the CPU, don’t want to ruin your gaming experience.
It would be impossible for me to tell you whether or not your GPU has the safety feature, but one thing you can do is just check on the manufacturer’s website to see if your model has that feature.
Are cooling pads bad for laptops?
Some misconceptions can have a spot of truth in them. This is true when it comes to laptop cooling pads. Let me explain.
Cooling pad misconception
I have seen a few people saying that cooling pads are bad for your laptop. The reason they say this is? They believe that it blows dust and dirt into your machine while blowing hot air onto the laptop. Is this true?
Think about it for a second. If your laptop is sitting on a dirty or dusty surface, it will get dust in it anyway. A cooling pad won’t change that. As for blowing hot air onto the laptop? Where will that hot air come from? I don’t believe this to be true, at least in my experience.
Why cooling pads might be bad for your laptop
Okay, so when I said that there is some truth in the misconception, I meant it. There is one reason I have found that could make cooling pads bad for your laptop, and it has nothing to do with cooling pads themselves; instead, its the type of pad you get according to your laptop.
A cooling pad can be bad for your laptop if it interrupts the airflow of your laptop. A lot of RND goes into the development of a gaming laptop. A lot of that research goes into cooling and airflow. If your cooling pad interferes or covers the outgoing vents which are designed for airflow, you could prevent proper airflow.
This is extremely rare as laptops don’t usually have their vents at the bottom. Imagine all that RND just to place a vent at the bottom, knowing that laptops sit on flat surfaces. If they were at the bottom of the laptop, the hot air would have nowhere to go.
Side Note: RND stands for “Research and development”. Companies spend a lot of money doing this.
Do gaming laptops overheat while gaming?
Gaming laptops don’t necessarily “overheat” while gaming. In some instances of extensive workloads, they can overheat, but we spoke about the safety measures that are in place that prevent overheating. As technology develops, overheating is becoming less and less of a problem.
Games are resource hungry. The bigger and better the game, the harder a laptop has to work to run it. That is something you should always keep in mind. With the right cooling pad and following the instructions found in this article, you can’t go wrong.
Does gaming damage a laptop?
This question is not so simple to answer because there are a few variables to consider.
Here is a quick list of what you should consider when thinking about whether or not gaming damages your laptop:
- What is the quality of your laptop?
- What components are in there?
- What clock speed is the CPU running at?
- What games are you playing?
In general, NO, gaming does not damage a laptop; after all, a gaming laptop is built to play games on. That said, pushing the laptop too hard can damage it.
Let’s take a deep dive into this for a minute.
What is the quality of the laptop?
Two laptops can have the exact same specs, but one can be built better than the other. What you don’t often see on the spec sheets is what thermal compound is being used on the CPU. What RND went into the cooling and airflow, how do both stack up against each other in those regards?
You won’t normally see what quality materials are being used when the laptop gets put together. All of these play a huge role in terms of the performance of the laptop. And this is where the bigger name brands often win.
Thermal compound: What is it and why does it matter?
Let’s take the thermal compound for the CPU as an example. The thermal compound is also known as “thermal paste” and is used to improve the conductivity of the heatsink and CPU. It helps pull heat away from the CPU.
A better thermal compound will obviously do a better job of this, which means your CPU runs at lower temperatures. The way it is applied also plays a role in this.
What clock speeds does the CPU run at?
When going through the specs of a gaming laptop, you will always see what the clock speeds of the CPU are. The higher this number, the more heat it generates.
What components are in the laptop?
Again, this plays a pretty big role in the lifespan of your laptop. Unfortunately, the better the components, the more heat they are likely to generate.
For example, An i7 runs faster than an i5, and it has more transistors. This means it will use more volts to run, and thus it will run hotter.
The same can be said for the GPU; the bigger it is, the more heat it generates. There is one caveat to this, though.
More expensive laptops with more expensive components often have more expensive cooling solutions.
What games are you playing?
As I said above, the bigger the game and the better the graphics of a game, the more resource-hungry it is. So, if you are playing a big game with your graphics set to ultra or maximum, you might be pushing your laptop too far.
Luckily, you will know what to do because after reading this, you are going to read the article I have already linked to, right?
What is the lifespan of a gaming laptop?
The lifespan of a gaming laptop all depends on how well you maintain it, but the general rule of thumb is between 3 and 5 years. If you look after your gaming laptop, you can extend its lifespan.
At a certain point though, you will start needing to replace stuff like the thermal compound. In my experience, once you have to start going that deep into a laptop, you might as well start looking for a new one.
You also need to consider the age of the components. If you play the latest games, there will come a time when your laptop can’t run the new games at their full potential. Hardware becoming outdated is inevitable. This is part of the reason why people prefer Desktop PC’s because you can easily upgrade them.
How hot is too hot for a gaming laptop?
This is a great question, and if you plan on keeping your gaming laptop in good shape, you should know the answer to it.
The CPU of a gaming laptop should not go above 85 or 90 degrees Celsius while gaming. At this point, your CPU will start being throttled, and if the throttling does not work, your laptop is at risk of overheating.
What cooling pad should you get?
A lot of this just depends on your preference. There is such a wide range of cooling pads out there, and you are actually spoilt for choice.
They come in all different shapes and sizes with different features such as different fan speeds, different RGB lighting, and different pass-through ports.
Note: A pass-through port is a port that allows you to connect a device to your laptop via another device. For example, you connect your cooling pad to your laptop, and it will have USB ports that you can connect other devices to like your keyboard, and that is how a pass-through port works.
The most important thing for you to do is to make sure you get the right size for your laptop. Now, while a cooling pad can be too big and not be a problem, it should never be too small for your laptop because that may cause problems.
As we discussed above in this article, you want to check the vents of your laptop. While most laptops vents will be on the sides of the laptop, sometimes they are at the bottom. These are extra intake vents designed by the manufacturer, knowing that you will use a cooling pad.
Note: if you see a vent at the bottom of your laptop, they are most probably extra intake vents. I thought this was important to highlight in case you thought maybe I was contradicting myself from what I said earlier in the article.
Luckily, cooling pads for laptops are generally not expensive. If you consider the price of your gaming laptop, it makes the price of the cooling pad well worth it.
Laptop cooling pads
I thought I would just give you a few of my favorite bang-for-your-buck gaming laptop cooling pads.
The MeFee RGB laptop cooling pad
This incredible cooling pad is made for laptops that range from 15.6 inches to 21 inches in size. It has a metal surface for added cooling. RGB lighting with 7 different effects. It has a little LCD interface for seamless customization of the RGB and fan speeds.
It has a built-in phone stand, so you don’t miss any notifications while gaming, and it has a strong ergonomic stand. Most importantly, it has 6 powerful fans to keep your laptop cool.
Havit RGB laptop cooling pad
The Havit has a metal surface with 3 high-speed fans. The pad supports laptops that range between 15.6 and 17 inches in size. With just one button, you can control the 15 different types of RGB modes. The cooling pad is height adjustable and has extra USB pass-through ports.
IPOW RGB laptop cooling pad
The pad has 6 adjustable high-speed fans for maximum cooling. The fan speeds range from 1900 to 2900 rpm, depending on what you choose. The 12 different RGB modes can be customized with just one button. It has a nifty little LED screen that acts as a control panel.
The strong ergonomic stand has 7 adjustable heights for comfort. Finally, the pad has two pass-through USB ports. This cooling pad is my favorite amongst the 3 because of its features and price.
Cooling pads are not bad for your laptop. I don’t understand why people would even try and say that. Are they some sort of magic piece of equipment that will keep your gaming laptop icy cool? No, they aren’t.
What cooling pads are designed to do is to help with your laptop’s cooling. They also look pretty cool if you get a nice one. Let’s not forget that they add a nice stand below your laptop so that you can get better viewing angles.