Are Cooling Pads Bad For Laptops?

Are Cooling Pads Bad For Laptops image

Taking a laptop apart is not for everybody but sometimes when a laptop is overheating this is the only way to fix the issue but if you want to look at alternative options a cooling pad may be the way to go.

Question is are cooling pads bad for laptops? They’re not bad as such but they don’t solve the problem. An overheating laptop is caused by dust blocking the ventilation and therefore the overflow which is supposed to cool down the components is not as effective. If you use a laptop pad to cool down the laptop you are not solving the problem.

The issue with opening your laptop is:

  1. You’ll probably void your warranty
  2. Unless you are confident in what you are doing you could break it

The first port of call should be to use a vaccuum or hoover and hold the nozzle against the ventilation of your laptop, this will pull some of the dust out but not all but if you start it early enough when the problem first arises you will likely alleviate the issue and prolong the amount of time it would take for the laptop to experience issues due to overheating.

We don’t recommend you using a cannister of compressed air in the vent as this will just blow the dust back into the laptop which just end up causing an issue somewhere else.

Why are cooling pads bad for laptops?

In simple terms because they don’t solve the problem they are sticking plaster.

Laptops are designed with a cooling system built in which in terms of the form factor and internal structure is optimal for the purpose of the laptop.

If you have a gaming laptop this will rely heavily upon it’s cooling system because of the amount of work the components need to do in order to give you a good gaming experience.

But when a component uses electricity it also generates heat and this need to be dealt with. In the instance of chips such as the CPU they have a heat sink which sits on top of them with a blob of thermal paste to enhance the heat transfer away from the chip. That heat then dissipates throughout the heat sink and a fan blows air across the heat sink allowing it to cool down.

Other components don’t have a heat sink and just rely upon the fans to do the cooling down.

The heat still needs to ventilate though and you can these on the outside of your laptop.

So with all of this in mind here are the things that can go wrong:

The thermal paste can dry up which means heat will not transfer away from the chip sufficiently.

The symptom of this is your laptop starts to lag or randomly restart and this is caused by the laptop trying to self preserve itself, it restarts because it cannot cope with the workload being asked of it.

Dust is essentially dead skin cells that collect together to form a powder. This collection of dust is floating around all around us and it also gathers inside electronic items (such as your laptop).

If the fans are not able to vent the hot air outward then the hot air stays inside the laptop which in turn causes the cooling system to start working overtime, the results being a noisy laptop.

If you don’t clear the dust which has clogged up the ventilation the problem will not go away.

If you blow the dust back into the laptop you still do not solve the problem as the cooling system still needs to work hard to blow enough air across the components which are now covered in the dust you blew back into the laptop.

Why are cooling pads good for laptops?

If you laptop heats up too much and the thermal paste dries up you will end up doing some serious damage to the components inside.

A cooling pad is a good solution without having to take the laptop apart.

As long as you regular use a vacuum to remove the dust from the vents then a cooling pad helps a cooling system do it’s job, the result is a laptop which is now not as noisy.

Which cooling pad should you buy?

Cooling pads do the same job and they don’t tend to have a huge price difference between them.

Where the price starts to vary is when the manufacturer starts adding additional features such as:

  • A quieter fan
  • Built in USB sockets
  • LED’s for aesthetics
  • Tilting mounts
  • Digital temperature readouts

You do need to make sure that you buy a cooling pad size which is suitable for the size of your laptop though.

In the many years I’ve been repairing laptops it’s usually either a gaming laptop that overheats and causes damage or an older laptop that has been allowed to gather dust.

For that reason I recommend this particular laptop cooling pad simply because it is suitable for both of these scenarios.

If you have an older laptop and it is running hot then you need to ideally have it serviced and the dust removed but if you don’t you’re going to need some serious cooling and our recommendation will suit both users of older laptops AND gamers who are experiencing problems related to an overheating laptop.

Fix the overheating problem with a more permanent solution

If you want to remove the dust you can either take it to a local repair technician or do it yourself.

You can follow our guide to laptop disassembly here which is a generic guide to being able to take any laptop make or model apart and put it back together again or you could take it to a local laptop repair technician.

If you decide to do it yourself all you need to do is to ensure that once the case is separated and you can access the ventilation from the inside that you remove the clogged dirt.

The best way to do this I’ve found is by using a clean paintbrush and poke it’s bristles into the vent to push the dirt out.

Use a compressed can of air to give the whole motherboard a going over too which will remove any surface dust which could pool together later to cause another clog.

You should also look to remove the dust from any heat sink you see and if you feel confident enough (and please be careful) remove the heat sink to check the thermal paste is still wet (it should be gooey).

If it looks like its dried up then it’s not expensive to buy a syringe off Amazon (here’s our choice, we like to use Artic Silver) and apply a small amount back onto the chip which will aid the heat transfer into the heat sink.

People also ask:

Do laptop cooling pads actually work?

Yes they do work in order to cool the laptop down but they shouldn’t be a permanent solution to the problem of a laptop overheating, they do however aid the cooling system built into a laptop to prevent any serious damage from occurring and if you are not in a position to start opening up your laptop to correct the issue then controlling the heating issue is the next best thing.

Are laptop cooling pads noisy?

They vary. Their particular noise amount is usually detailed in their product description but most manufacturers are aware that the purpose of the pad is to stop that noisy fan on your laptop from making so much noise therefore it doesn’t make sense to create a new device designed to cool a laptop down which make even more noise! In short no they’re generally not noisy but check the manufacturer description (and if you are buying from somewhere like Ebay or Amazon check people’s reviews who already bought it too).

What will happen if my laptop gets too hot?

The first signs of a laptop that is getting too hot is sluggish behaviour and random restarts. If this is happening and you can hear your fan working ten to the dozen then you have an overheating issue. If this is caused by dust clogging up your machine (this is the most likely reason however malware and the overuse of software can also cause the components to work overtime) then you need to stop this from happening. If you don’t then the component will fail and if that happens your laptop will stop working.

We live in an age where it is not cost effective to diagnose and replace individual components anymore unless there’s a good reason to and most computer technicians will simply replace a faulty circuit rather than the component on it.

So if the component fails and it’s on your motherboard you really are in trouble. Your choice is either to enlist the help of a specialist electronics expert or to replace the motherboard which as you can image will be very price.

The simple solution? Don’t let your laptop overheat in the first place.


Tekmoz is a website that is the culmination of over 15 years experience and counting in the computer repair and technology industry where you can learn from our experience and apply it to your own life.