I know how frustrating it can be when your laptop starts overheating. The processor slows to a crawl, the bottom gets hot enough to fry eggs, and the fans spin up to airplane-taking-off levels. Your first instinct may be to buy a laptop cooling pad to help lower those temperatures. But are these accessories really the best solution?
After taking a deeper look, I‘ve found several compelling reasons you may want to think twice before getting a new laptop cooling pad. While they can help in some cases, they also come with significant downsides. In this guide, I‘ll walk you through four key reasons to consider other options and avoid buying a cooling pad for your overheating laptop.
1. They Often Provide Small or Negligible Cooling Gains
The core purpose of a laptop cooling pad is to lower your laptop‘s temperature. But multiple independent tests have shown the actual drop in temperatures is marginal for many models.
According to a study by HardOCP testing 17 different cooling pads, the average decrease in temperature was just 2-3°C. More expensive and well-designed options dropped temps by 10°C or more, but cheap models provided insignificant gains. Tom‘s Hardware saw similar variability in testing, with a sub-$50 pad lowering CPU temperatures by just 4°C.
For a laptop already exceeding recommended temperatures by 15-20°C and experiencing throttling, a couple degrees of cooling doesn‘t solve the problem. As PCWorld highlighted, "A CPU hitting 105°C won‘t see a performance bump from a 5°C temperature drop."
|Cooling Pad||Avg Cooling Improvement|
|Cooler Master NotePal X3||11°C|
Studies have also shown cooling pads can make temperatures worse if they obstruct airflow rather than facilitating it. Improper fan placement, padding, and deck flex can limit your laptop‘s exhaust and intake.
So while some well-designed pads make a significant difference, many cheaper options only lower temperatures by a couple degrees – not enough to prevent throttling.
2. The Fans Kick Up Dust and Add Noise
The high-RPM fans built into laptop cooling pads serve a purpose – to blow cool air against your laptop‘s bottom. But those spinning blades inevitably end up sucking in dust particles over time.
With regular use, dust buildup inside your laptop can become severe. As PC Mag notes, "The fans designed to cool your system will instead start choking on accumulated dust." This dust clings to fan blades, heatsinks, vents, and other components, reducing cooling performance.
To make matters worse, cleaning this internal dust out of a laptop is difficult and often requires full disassembly. iFixit repair guides show just how tedious this process is on many laptop models.
The noise from cooling pad fans can also become an annoyance, especially when ramped up to higher speeds. While your laptop may put out 30-40 decibels of fan noise under load, many cooling pads exceed 60+ decibels when going full throttle. That hum can quickly become distracting.
3. There‘s an Overwhelming Variety of Lesser-Known Brands
Walk down the laptop accessory aisle, and you‘ll be overwhelmed by the sheer number of different cooling pads. The models are largely indistinguishable – just plastic shells and metal mesh with a few fans inserted. Most come from lesser-known companies without established reputations.
Brands like Cooler Master, Thermaltake, and Havit make up just a tiny slice of the overall market. No-name companies with inconsistent quality control dominate. Out of over 75 different cooling pad models on Amazon, none are from major brands.
Without detailed third-party testing and reviews, assessing each pad‘s real-world cooling impact is nearly impossible. There are no authoritative sources or standards. It becomes a guessing game trying to determine which models are worthwhile or just duds.
4. They Aren‘t Very Portable
Standard laptop cooling pads add significant bulk underneath your laptop, ranging from 1-3 inches thick and weighing 2 to 4 pounds. Most occupy a large footprint as well. This makes them impractical to take on the go.
Trying to stuff a cooling pad into your laptop bag will be difficult, if not impossible. Their need for an AC power connection when active also limits mobile use. You‘ll be stuck using a cooling pad solely on your desk.
For travelers and commuters who move around with their laptop regularly, a fixed cooling pad becomes an obstacle rather than an asset. Limiting a laptop‘s portability defeats the purpose of having a portable machine.
Instead of rushing out to buy a questionable laptop cooling pad, consider simpler passive options first. An adjustable laptop stand or lap desk can lift your laptop up to improve airflow without noisy fans.
Laptop stands like the Lamicall Adjustable Laptop Riser tilt your laptop at an angle to facilitate natural convection cooling. This allows more cool air to flow underneath the chassis and hot air to escape out the back vents. It takes advantage of physics rather than fans to lower temperatures.
Testing by Wired showed that the Lamicall stand lowered laptop temperatures by 6°C on average – not far off many budget cooling pads. Other stands like the Rain Design iLevel 2 provided similar effective cooling by simply lifting the laptop up.
For couch usage, lap desks like the Sofia + Sam Multi-Tasking Lap Desk include cushions and wrist rests while still angling your laptop for better airflow. There are no fans or AC adapters required – just a simple, passive way to keep temperatures down.
So before taking the cooling pad plunge, think about whether a basic stand or lap desk could solve your problems just as effectively. They provide airflow improvements without the downsides of limited performance gains, noise, dust, and lack of portability.
I hope this overview has helped explain some of the key reasons you may want to avoid buying a new laptop cooling pad today. While they can help in some cases, they aren‘t a magic bullet for every overheating laptop.
Consider your specific needs and usage – if you only need a couple degrees of cooling or value portability, a cooling pad likely isn‘t the best choice. Look into simple, passive cooling solutions first before resorting to a noisy, dust-catching accessory. And if temperatures are still concerning, getting a professional cleaning and new thermal paste may be the best long-term solution.
Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to chat more about keeping your laptop running cool.