How Can I Keep My Laptop Cool While Gaming? [10 TIPS]

Keeping your laptop cool while gaming is crucial not only to get the best performance but also to prevent premature hardware failure, caused by overheating. 

This explains why gaming laptop manufacturers such as Asus, Razer, Alienware, and MSI keep trying to come up with new innovative methods to keep laptops cool. 

For example, the Acer Predator Helios 700 has a keyboard that slides down to increase airflow. The Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501, on the other hand, flexes a portion of its bottom when opened to create an open space and improve air circulation.

Other methods include using vapor chamber cooling instead of traditional heat pipes and the installation of multiple high-speed fans. 

Overheating causes all sorts of problems in laptops including:

  1. Drops in gaming performance due to thermal throttling
  2. Sudden shutting down of your computer
  3. Keyboard feeling hot to the touch
  4. Premature hardware failure
  5. Loud fan noise

In this article, we are going to look at 10 ways to keep your laptop cool while gaming to prevent overheating. 

1. Replace Old Thermal Paste

Thermal paste improves heat transfer between the CPU, GPU, and the heat sink. Over time, it can lose its effectiveness and prevent proper heat dissipation, causing your laptop to run hot.

Every 3-5 years, you should reapply the thermal paste on your laptop’s processor and graphics card to improve conductivity between these components and the heat sink. To get rid of old thermal paste you’ll need a bottle of rubbing alcohol.

Even better, you can replace the old thermal paste with liquid metal. Liquid metal is much better at heat transfer than ordinary thermal paste. 

Special care should be taken when applying liquid metal because if it spills or leaks to other components it could short circuit the motherboard. If you find the process too technical, seek the help of a computer technician.

Fresh thermal paste improves heat dissipation and this will help keep your laptop cool when playing games.

2. Use Windows Task Manager To Close Unnecessary Programs

Multitasking or having multiple programs running at the same time puts a lot of stress on your processor, causing it to generate a lot of heat. To cool your computer down, you want to be running as few programs as possible. 

From the Windows Task Manager, you can view and end tasks that are currently open. You can use the “Ctrl+Shift+Esc” or the Win+X keyboard shortcuts to open the windows task manager application. 

close programs to cool down laptop

Under the processes tab, you can view all the processes that are running. Right-click on the process you want to close, and from the drop-down menu that appears click on the “End Task” option. 

end tasks to cool down laptop

Reducing the load on your CPU should definitely help in cooling your laptop. It is also helpful to run antimalware software such as Malwarebytes to scan and remove malware. 

Malware, just like bloatware, puts unnecessary stress on your computer’s resources, and should, therefore, be eliminated.

3. Clean Your Laptop Roughly Every 6 Months

Over time, laptops tend to collect a lot of dust and other materials that can clog air intake and exhaust vents. When enough dust and lint build up in the interior, airflow becomes very restricted and this causes laptops to overheat.

To get rid of dust and other materials it is recommended that you clean your laptop at least once a year. 

Some people suggest blowing compressed air through the vents as a way of getting rid of dust. However, blowing compressed air usually ends up dissipating dust and other materials into the interior but doesn’t actually get rid of it.

The most effective way to clean your laptop is to take your laptop apart. Usually, all you need is a screwdriver. If you aren’t very tech-savvy, you can seek the help of a computer technician.  Cleaning your laptop improves airflow and this helps keep your laptop cool while gaming.

Make sure you read your laptop’s manual before taking it apart because in some cases, you might void the warranty. 

4. Use Intel XTU And MSI Afterburner To Undervolt And Underclock Your CPU And GPU

Undervolting prevents overheating by lowering the voltage at which the processor and graphics card operates at. When power restrictions are set for the processor and graphics card, less heat will be generated. 

Underclocking, on the other hand, reduces the number of calculations the processor and graphics card can process per second. This reduces the stress on both components, thus allowing them to run cooler. 

You can use Intel XTU (Intel Extreme Tuning Utility) to underclock and undervolt your processor. This will reduce your computer’s thermal load and make it more power-efficient. 

You can check out the Intel XTU guide here. Another useful software is Throttlestop, it helps you monitor temperatures and control CPU voltage and clocking speed.

To underclock and undervolt your GPU, MSI Afterburner is the software to use. It also allows you to adjust fan speed and make your laptop run quieter. 

These software are free and can help you keep laptop temperatures under control. However, you’ll need to learn how to use them. Wrong adjustments could make your laptop a bit unstable.

5. Use Your Gaming Laptop On A Hard, Flat Surface

laptop cooling using a flat surface hack

Almost all laptops have their air intake vent positioned at the bottom. Therefore, for air to flow in freely and cool components, a bit of space needs to be maintained between the bottom panel and the surface. 

That is why it’s a bad idea to use your laptop in bed or on soft surfaces such as cushions and duvets. Such surfaces tend to fold up and curl, blocking the air intake vents. 

And as a result, the temperatures in your laptop’s interior can rise to extreme levels. To prevent this problem always ensure that your laptop is always placed on a hard, flat surface when gaming. 

If you have to use your gaming laptop in bed, get a lap desk. Lap desks are light, solid, and flat, which makes them ideal surfaces for placing your laptop.

6. Play Games At Lower FPS And Graphics Settings

We all love to play games at their highest settings. High graphics settings offer better image quality while a high frame rate allows for smoother gameplay.

However, this often puts more stress on both the processor and graphics card, especially if you are playing very hardware demanding games such as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Metro Exodus, and Final Fantasy XV.

A lot more calculations, processing, and rendering have to be performed when games are played at high settings. This ultimately leads to the processor and graphics card producing a lot of heat in the laptop’s interior.

So by limiting the frame rate (FPS) and lowering the graphics settings, you are able to reduce the load on these components and this helps them run cooler. 

7. Replace Faulty Fans

using a fan to cool gaming laptop

Faulty fans are also another cause of overheating. When fans fail to spin at the required speed or stop working completely, your PC will definitely overheat. 

Sometimes an error message pops up when there is a problem with the fans. However, other times they may spin but aren’t effective because they are worn out.

Faulty fans tend to be noisy and won’t spin freely when you give them a kick with your finger. Oftentimes, they fail because they’ve lost their lubrication. Replacing fans will improve air intake and air circulation in the interior of your laptop and keep your laptop cool.

8. Invest In A Laptop Cooling Pad

When your laptop isn’t able to cool itself sufficiently, a cooling pad might just be the solution. 

Laptop cooling pads can help reduce your computer’s operating temperatures by about 3-10 °C, depending on the type of cooling pad. Some cooling pads use a single large fan while others have as many as five smaller fans. 

Cooling pads work by blowing air into the air intake vents at the bottom and increasing airflow around your computer. This improves air circulation and allows your laptop to take in air more freely. 

Havit, Thermaltake, and Cooler Master are some common laptop cooling brands. Cooling pads aren’t expensive and it’s usually a good idea to try them out. 

9. Game In A Cooler Environment

how to keep gaming laptop cool in summer

Sometimes the reason why your gaming laptop is overheating has nothing to do with the laptop itself, but the environment in which you are gaming. This is especially true during the summers when temperatures get higher than normal.

10-35 °C or 50-95 °F is the ideal room temperature for gaming. At this temperature range, your laptop’s cooling system is able to keep the interior at the required optimal temperatures. If your room temperature is above 35°C, you should consider gaming in an air-conditioned room to prevent overheating.

10. Ensure That Fan Speed Adjusts Accordingly As Temperature Increases

Fan speed is supposed to increase as CPU or GPU temperatures increase. But sometimes, for example, after a BIOS update, the fan configuration settings may get messed up and cause your computer to overheat.

Therefore, it is worth checking the BIOS settings to ensure that the fan settings are properly configured. Depending on your gaming laptop brand, pressing F10, F2, F12, F1, or DEL keys during start-up should allow you to access BIOS settings.

Alternatively, if you’re using Windows 10, you can follow the steps in the following video to get into BIOS:

Once you are in the BIOS settings, go to advanced settings and then hardware monitor configuration. Under hardware monitor configuration, you should be able to find the fan configuration settings.

You can set them to default or manually input custom values based on your needs. If your laptop doesn’t allow you to adjust fan speed from the BIOS you can use software such as SpeedFan.

SpeedFan allows you to adjust the speed of your fans depending on the temperature. Besides that, it also allows you to monitor the temperature and voltage of various components. 

The fans’ speed should be adjusted appropriately so that it increases as temperature increases. This helps remove any limitations on the fans so that they can dissipate heat more effectively. 

What Are The Optimum CPU/GPU Temperatures For Gaming? 

When gaming, your laptop’s CPU and GPU temperatures should average between 70 and 80°C. Beyond 80°C, most gaming laptops will start to throttle and at around 99°C they’ll shut down automatically to prevent permanent damage to the hardware.

Using software such as core temp can help you monitor CPU and GPU temperatures.

Conclusion- Keeping Your Laptop Cool While Gaming

The tips above should keep your laptop cool while gaming. Keeping your laptop cool when gaming mainly involves solving any hardware and software issues that make your PC more likely to overheat.

If you notice signs of overheating on a new gaming laptop, unless there is a software or hardware problem, sometimes it could be that your device was faulty or it’s not well equipped to handle the load you’re putting on it.

In such a case, it is usually better to ask for a refund and get a better-designed gaming laptop and avoid future problems. If you have a very old laptop and none of the tips above work, it may be time to upgrade to a new one with fresher hardware.

Eustace is a technology enthusiast and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Telecommunication and Information Engineering. His passion and knowledge of computers, and technology in general, is channeled towards helping others understand complex concepts, solve problems, and make informed decisions.