Why Is My Gaming Laptop So Hot? [10 REASONS]

Gaming laptops are convenient for gamers and other heavy users because they offer both portability. However, sometimes they get so hot and this raises concern amongst users.

Gaming laptops get so hot because they have high-performance processors and dedicated graphics cards that generate a lot of heat when under load. And since these components are crammed into a very small chassis, airflow is restricted which causes heat to build-up in the laptop’s interior. 

It is normal for gaming laptops to get hot, especially while gaming or doing other hardware-intensive tasks such as compiling software, video editing, etc. Therefore, you aren’t doing anything wrong. 

However, this does not mean it is healthy. Past a certain temperature, you have a reason to be concerned. Overheating causes thermal throttling which results in a drop in gaming performance. 

Extremely high temperatures are also a major cause of premature hardware failure. Here are possible reasons that could be making your laptop to overheat:

  1. There are programs running in the background that are putting a lot of unnecessary stress on the CPU
  2. Your room is too hot, making it hard for your laptops cooling mechanism to maintain optimal temperatures
  3. Your computer’s thermal paste has lost its effectiveness
  4. Poor software configurations are limiting the speed at which the fans spin
  5. Your laptop’s fans are faulty and need replacing
  6. Dust and other particles have clogged up your laptop’s air intake vents
  7. You are using your laptop on a soft surface such as a duvet on your bed
  8. Your laptop’s cooling system isn’t well designed
  9. You overclocked your computer’s CPU or GPU
  10. Your laptop’s hardware doesn’t meet the requirements of the game or software you’re trying to run

How Hot Should A Gaming Laptop Get?

Yes, it’s true that gaming laptops are supposed to get hot. But how hot is too hot, what temperatures are considered normal?

On idle, a laptop’s temperatures should average between 30°C and 40°C. And when under load, the temperatures of both the CPU and GPU should average between 70 and 80°C. Anything below 80°C is considered a safe temperature. Beyond 80°C, most gaming laptops will start to throttle.

However, depending on the design, some gaming laptops will start to throttle at 90°C. And at roughly 99°C, your laptop should automatically shut down to prevent permanent damage to the CPU, GPU, and other components soldered onto the motherboard.

You can use free software such as MSI Afterburner, Core Temp, and HW Monitor, to monitor your PC’s CPU and GPU temperatures. 

What Are The Signs Of Overheating In a Gaming Laptop?

When your gaming laptop overheats, you can experience all sorts of problems. Here are some common laptop overheating ‘symptoms’:

  1. Your laptop suddenly shuts downs (shutting down from overheating is a safety mechanism to prevent permanent damage to hardware)
  2. Your computer’s fans are constantly spinning fast and get really loud (this means the fans are working super hard to cool your laptop)
  3. Your laptop lags and struggles to perform simple tasks (a sign of CPU or GPU throttling)
  4. Certain areas of your laptop such as the keyboard or the area where your wrists rest get really hot (heat from the interior of your laptop is being transferred to these areas) 
  5. Your computer only overheats when you open certain games or programs (it could be a sign of a poorly optimized game or software)
  6. You get error message pop-ups about CPU temperature or fan failure 
  7. Your new gaming laptop overheats (it could be a problem with the software or poorly designed cooling mechanism)
  8. Your old gaming laptop is suddenly overheating (it could be a sign you need to clean your laptop, reapply thermal paste, or replace faulty fans)

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How To Prevent Your Laptop From Overheating

1. Close Unnecessary Programs For The Windows Task Manager.

Some programs automatically run at start-up and constantly run scans and updates in the background even when you don’t need them. This puts unnecessary stress on your laptop’s CPU, thus resulting in overheating.

Through the Windows Task Manager, you view these programs and close them to reduce the load on the CPU. You can open the task manager using the “Ctrl + Shift + Esc” keyboard shortcut.

windows processes running in the background

Once the Task Manager Window pops up, you can scroll through the list of programs that are currently running. To close programs you don’t need, right-click on them and select “End Task”. 

closing processes in task manager to stop overheating

To stop certain programs from running on start-up click on the “Startup” tab at the top. 

startup programs causing gaming laptop become so hot

Next, right-click on the programs you want to stop and select “Disable”.

disable startup programs to reduce overheating

2. Reapply Your CPU And GPU Thermal Paste

Thermal paste, also known as thermal compound or thermal grease, is applied between the heat spreader and the processor and graphics card cooler to enhance heat dissipation.

Over time, it can lose its effectiveness and may need to be replaced. In new gaming laptops, sometimes it may have been poorly applied in the factory, preventing proper heat dissipation.

Liquid metal can also be used in place of thermal paste with even better results. If you choose to go with liquid metal over the regular, ensure it doesn’t come into contact with other components on the motherboard. 

Liquid metal is better at transferring heat than thermal paste, however, it can short circuit your motherboard if it spills or leaks. Therefore, you should use very little and be careful when applying it.

Before taking apart a new laptop to replace thermal paste, always read your laptop’s manual to ensure you don’t void the warranty.

3. Check That Fan Speed Is Properly Set In Bios

laptop overheating and shutting down

Normally, fans should increase speed as CPU or GPU temperatures rise. But when that doesn’t happen, your laptop can get very hot. In most cases, it usually has something to do with the BIOS settings, especially if you recently updated it. 

To access BIOS settings, you need to press the BIOS key during start-up. Depending on your laptop brand it could be F10, F2, F12, F1, or DEL keys. 

The BIOS settings interface will vary from one brand to another. Once you access BIOS go to advanced settings, then hardware monitor. Under the hardware monitor settings, you should be able to find fan configuration settings.

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If you can’t adjust fan speed from your BIOS, you can try using SpeedFan software. However, since it is meant for power users, you might not find it very user friendly. But there are lots of tutorials online on how to use it. 

4. Clean Your Laptop Roughly Every 6 Months

Cleaning your laptop at least once a year gets rid of dust and other particles that collect around fans and clog the air intake vents. This improves airflow and prevents heat build-up in your laptop’s interior.

5. Replace Faulty Fans

Just like thermal paste, fans also need to be replaced after a few years. They become less effective when they get damaged and are unable to draw in air at the required rate. Poor air circulation ultimately caused overheating.

6. Use Your Laptop On Hard, Flat Surfaces When Gaming

Most gaming laptop air intake vents are located at the bottom. So by placing your laptop on a flat, hard surface, you create a bit of space between your computer and the surface it is placed on. This allows it to draw in air more freely and cool internal components.

You can further improve air circulation around your laptop by getting a laptop cooling pad. If you must use your laptop in bed, get a lap desk.

7. Underclock Your Laptop’s CPU And GPU If You Previously Overclocked Them

Overclocking makes your CPU and GPU to operate at higher speeds than those intended by the manufacturer. And without a proper cooling mechanism to dissipate the extra heat produced due to overclocking, your gaming laptop will definitely run hot. 

To fix this problem, you need to set your processor and graphics card to their original settings. Remember to backup all your data in an external storage device so that you don’t lose important files in the process.

8. Lower Your Graphics Setting To Lessen The Load On The GPU

Playing games at their highest settings causes your laptop to overheat since a lot more processing and rendering has to be done to get detailed images. This is especially important if you are playing graphic-intensive games such as Far Cry, Witcher 3, and Tomb Raider.

Although dialing down the game settings and capping the frame rate lowers the graphics quality, it lessens the load on both the CPU and GPU, leading to less heat generation. 

9. Control Room Temperatures By Adjusting Thermostat Settings

laptop so hot when gaming

Sometimes the room in which you are using your laptop may be too hot, especially during the summers. Hot seasons increase the likelihood of your laptop overheating than cooler seasons of the year. 10-35 °C or 50-95 °F is the ideal room temperature for gaming.

You can solve this problem by making adjustments to your air conditioner’s thermostat settings so that your laptop is able to draw in cooler air and cool components. Some areas of the house also tend to be cooler than others, especially those that are well ventilated. 

10. Return Your Gaming Laptop If You Notice Overheating Problems Soon After Purchase

Sometimes overheating can be a result of a faulty unit or poor cooling system design. This is especially true for thin gaming laptops. When powerful components are crammed in a very thin chassis, it is very likely that temperatures will rise in the interior and cause problems.

It is worth sending back your laptop and have it checked for any issues. If the problem persists,  ask for a refund and get a better-designed laptop. Checking reviews online before buying a gaming laptop is usually a good idea to weed out poorly designed laptops.

Conclusion- Reason for Gaming Laptop Overheating

It is normal for gaming laptops to get hot. However, when CPU and GPU temperatures go beyond 80°C there may be an underlying software or hardware related problem. 

Solving each of the above issues should get your laptop running cooler so that you can get back to enjoying games. For new laptops, having your laptop checked during the period covered by the warranty is a good idea.

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 so that they can make better decisions.

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