Gaming Laptop Cooling Fans: What They Do

Mini usb fan near laptop. Summer office day. Mini portable cooler. High quality 4k footage

Key Points

  • There are three main types of gaming laptop cooling stands and fans.

  • Laptops overheat when they are above 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Laptops overheat due to dust buildup or not using a proper gaming laptop cooling stand.

  • Cooling pads are not bad for your laptop as long as you know where your intake and outtake vents are.

  • Cooling pads provide ergonomic benefits to users.

Much like how our bodies perform very differently on a hike in 98-degree weather, as compared to a stroll by a breezy lake on a cool October day, laptops also perform very differently depending on the environment they are in. Imagine, though, how differently your body would perform on that hike if you could bring an industrial-sized fan along with you — it would start to feel like you had a lot more energy in the tank! Laptops are surprisingly similar. The hotter the environment and the more that's demanded, the less likely it will perform at high levels. This is especially true for gaming laptops that run games in high-definition graphics.

Compared to computers a decade ago, laptops today are totally different machines. With increasing demands on laptops in 2023, it's no shock that they are more and more prone to overheating. Since laptops are much smaller, thinner, and lighter than previous models, they overheat. This happens because their internal fans do not provide enough cooling. An easy fix is to purchase a gaming laptop cooling stand to externally cool your computer. Read below to learn more about ways to keep your laptop cool.

How Laptop Cooling Works

The best environmental temperatures for laptops are 50 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, your laptop’s internal temperature should not exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Hampshire College.

Your laptop features fans internally, as well as an exhaust vent and an inflow vent. The inflow vent pulls cool air into the computer, while the exhaust releases hot air. To ensure your computer doesn’t get so hot that it damages internal components, your computer has a failsafe. This failsafe shuts down your laptop if it surpasses a set temperature. These temperatures differ slightly based on manufacturers.

CPU internal cooling fan

What Happens When a Laptop Overheats?

When your laptop has surpassed the safe heating expectations set by the manufacturer, internal damages happen. Laptops have limited airflow, which ‌leads to heat buildup when used for long periods. Because gaming laptops have a larger central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU), everything internally is closer together. Because the internal space is packed tightly, you’re at risk of damaging more than just your CPU or GPU when there’s heat build-up.

When you’re using a gaming laptop, you’re going to play high-quality games that require your GPU and CPU to work harder. According to Intel, “Today’s GPUs are more programmable than ever before, allowing a broad range of applications that go beyond traditional graphics rendering.”

The biggest issue with gaming laptops and heat buildup is that the CPU or GPU becomes damaged, along with the motherboard and other nearby components. One not-so-obvious issue that occurs is that the plastic casing of the laptop melts, especially around the headphone jack. This damages the jack, rendering the headphones unusable. Any additional items plugged into USB slots are also at risk. 

Not only should you worry about the plastic cover and ports, but gaming laptops have safety measures in place to protect their internal components. When your laptop reaches a certain temperature, the safety feature kicks in and throttles the performance of your CPU. This means the computer is not running at its full capacity, and this safety measure cannot be cut off until the computer has cooled internally. 

A Common Misconception About Cooling Pads

When searching for information about cooling pads, you’ve probably heard that laptop cooling pads are bad for laptops. Often it is something about the cooling pad blowing dust and dirt into the machine.

When you stop and think about it, your laptop is going to get dusty no matter where you place it. If it’s already on a dusty surface, it’s going to suck dust up into the fans. 

The actual truth to this misconception is that if the cooling pad blocks your laptop’s airflow, then it won’t cool the device. There are different models of cooling pads meant for laptops with different airflow. 

When choosing an external cooling device, take a moment to study where your laptop’s airflow is. By doing this, you ensure the cooling pad is doing its job and directing cool air into your computer. 

Laptop cooling fan component

Cooling Pad Types

Before purchasing your first cooling pad, it’s important to understand what your laptop needs.

There are many cooling pads on the market, but not all of them are equal. And the first step is to talk about the three different laptop cooling pads. There are passive cooling pads, active cooling pads, and attachable cooling pads.

Passive Pad

A passive laptop cooling pad has no fans or moving parts. It simply elevates the laptop, allowing it access to unrestricted airflow from underneath it. Companies advertise these types of laptop cooling pads as stands with ventilation. 

They work best for laptops with intake on the bottom of the device, though this is extremely rare in 2023. 

Active Pad

An active laptop cooling pad is typically what people think about when they hear the phrase laptop cooling pad. This is a mesh rectangle with case fans inside. The number of fans may vary, as with any kind of RGB lighting. 

Most laptops in 2023 have intake vents on the front or sides. The exhaust is on the back of the laptop, or the very bottom, which means this cooling pad is an ideal choice since it shoots cool air directly into the intake vents while the mesh allows hot air to escape.

Attachable Pad

These attachable laptop cooling pads are exactly what they sound like. They are small devices that attach to your laptop’s exhaust vent (as long as it’s on the sides or the back of the computer) and push hot air out faster than the exhaust vent.

This device comes in various sizes. It's important to find a size that fits your laptop.

External cooling fan pad for laptop

Benefits of Cooling Pads

The benefits of cooling pads might seem obvious, but perhaps there’s more than what meets the eye. Cooling pads elevate your laptop, some have height adjustments, and others come with aesthetic modifications.

Improves Internal Temperature

The most obvious benefit of a laptop cooling pad is that your laptop runs at a cooler temperature. The lower the temperature, the healthier the device. Overheating is the most common issue that leads people to believe they need a new laptop.

Cooling pads prevent your laptop from overheating and work to cool down the surrounding environment. After all, nobody wants to work in a hot room with a hot laptop. Without changing your computer or your room, a laptop cooling stand provides a cooler environment.

Offers Physical Comfort

Laptop cooling stands offer a studier workspace. If you’re playing games on your laptop in bed or on your couch, you most likely have your computer resting in your lap. This isn’t the best, and excess movement from the laptop’s positioning makes it difficult to use. You might also drop your laptop, and then you’ve definitely missed the headshot you wanted to make.

The ergonomic capabilities of a laptop cooling stand are another thing to consider. A lot of cooling pads have height adjustments to raise your laptop higher or lower as needed for whatever surface you’re using it on. This prevents neck strain, wrist strain, and eyestrain.

Ease of Use

Laptop cooling stands are simple to use. Everyone benefits from these devices, so manufacturers ensure they’re easy to use. Most cooling devices connect to the laptop with a USB plug, and that’s it. Even adjusting the settings of the cooler is familiar to users, with many coolers using buttons or switches similar to what you’d find on a house fan. 

Internal cooling fan of laptop cleaned

Provides Extra Features

Many cooling pads provide extra USB ports. This is great if you need to charge your phone so you don’t miss any calls or texts while you game. Some cooling pads also come with RBG lights to enhance the aesthetic of your gaming setup.

Who Needs Laptop Cooling Pads?

Not everyone needs a gaming laptop cooling stand. While it doesn’t hurt you to own one, there’s no guarantee that your cooling pad resolves all your issues. It’s better to wait and purchase one when you need it, or at least when you have a laptop that needs it.

Those With Overheating Laptops

Laptop cooling pads are an affordable solution to your laptop overheating. Though, it’s a short-term solution to a much bigger problem. If you’re using an older laptop, that’s prone to running hot or overheating to the point it shuts off, the cooling pad might make it more usable. 

When your laptop’s running hot enough to fry an egg, there’s something else going on. Your laptop likely needs repairs, cleaning, or both. 

Dust is a very common issue with laptops, as it clogs the fan vents and chokes the cooling hardware. Sometimes a can of compressed air resolves the issue. Other times, you may need to open the chassis and get rid of dust bunnies manually. 

Those With Underpowered Systems

Another time you may need a laptop cooling stand is if your system is underpowered for what you’re using it for. If you push a system to its limits, it attempts to keep up by running hotter. Essentially, just because your computer can run a game at its highest graphics doesn’t mean you should do it. 

Never use your laptop on your bed or your lap, but if that is your go to, a cooling pad works to keep you and your laptop safe. A hot laptop on your lap quickly burns your skin or even affects male fertility. 

Internal cooling fan of a laptop

The Best Laptop Cooling Pads Available

There is a large variety of laptop cooling pads on the market, and many of them target specific needs. Some rest comfortably on your lap. Others are height adjustable, easily portable, or have fun RGB lighting. 

When figuring out what you need in a laptop cooling pad, you need to do your research. Amazing Laptops understands this and has gathered some of the best laptop cooling pads on the market for your easy perusal. 

Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB

The Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB laptop cooling has one large fan in the center of the pad. It’s an optimal choice when your laptop has small fans and no case room to expand with larger fans. The Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB cooling pad allows your device to receive a cool burst of air thanks to the metal mesh over the top of its fan.

The single fan is 200mm, which does not sound like much, but a big fan has the advantage of moving a lot more air at once at faster speeds. This device allows you to adjust your speeds with three different height levels for better viewing and ease of use. If you’re considering a pad for its aesthetic, this one has RGB lighting all around the edges.

Klim Ultimate

Another laptop cooling pad with a 200mm single fan is the Klim Ultimate. which runs at 750 RPM (revolutions per minute) while still maintaining a quiet environment and providing ample airflow to the laptop. The fan speed of this device is adjustable. It fits up to 17” comfortably. 

This cooling pad is practical in its ability to cool down laptops, though it does provide some aesthetic amplification. The Klim Ultimate features an RGB lighting strip that wraps around the device with seven different colors and five effects to choose from. 

TopMate C5 Laptop Cooler

The TopMate C5 Laptop Cooler features 5 fans. The largest fan is 140mm, while the rest of the fans are 70mm. The metal mesh allows all five fans to provide cool airflow and holds your laptop in place while in use. There are several cooling mods to choose from that affect how hard the fans in the cooling pad run.

This device also has a few extra perks. It’s got blue LEDs built directly into the fan, a tiny LCD screen to display the wind speeds of the fans, two USB 2.0 ports, and five height adjustments. The TopMate C5 Laptop Cooler fits devices that are 15.6” or smaller.

Repair person cleans laptop cooling fan components

Targus Lap Chill Mat

The Targus Lap Chill Mat holds laptops up to 17” in size. Because the pad comes with a neoprene material, that’s lightweight and cushioned, it fits comfortably on your lap for hours. The flattest surface has rubberized gripping and notches to keep the computer in place safely. 

There is a hollow chamber in the center of this mat that lets fresh air enter and hot air escape. There are two fans in the back of the mat, giving consumers direct airflow to the GPU and CPU portions of their laptops. 

Miggoing Laptop Table

The Miggoing Laptop Table differs from all the other laptop pads on this list because it features adjustable legs that allow you to raise the laptop and mat up to 18.9” in the air. This allows you to use your computer on the couch or bed without having it in your lap. Rest it on your current desk to create a standing desk setup if you’re so inclined.

The Miggoing Laptop Table features two cooling fans that keep the laptop cool. It plugs directly into the laptop via a USB cable. There is a mouse plate included with this table, ensuring that you have somewhere to use your mouse.

Bottom Line: Become a Fan of Laptop Cooling Fans

With so many styles of laptop cooling stands to choose from, you’re now equipped to make the best choices for your needs. Remember, some cooling stands are passive, active, and some have USB ports for your laptop’s optical devices. Protect your laptop against overheating, while also adding some flare to your aesthetic.

Your laptop is more than just a device, it’s something that has to be taken care of properly. If you find your laptop is overheating and needs to be cleaned out, or have the thermal paste replaced, don't bother with a cooling fan until after resolving those issues. There’s a cooling stand out there for every laptop user. You might have to shop around until you find the right one.

If you use a laptop but are considering a standing desk situation, perhaps a laptop table is for you. This type of cooling pad has longer legs that offer higher height options. It works on top of a regular desk, raising as high or low as needed. This gives you a cheaper option than a traditional standing desk while also offering the benefit of cooling your laptop.