How to Monitor and Fix Your Overheating Laptop

Last Updated: April 19, 2017

Overheating issues are quite common in a laptop nowadays. This is mostly due to the fact that laptops are getting thinner and thinner as the years progress. Some ultrabooks, like the 12-inch MacBook from Apple has a completely fan-less design. On the other hand, laptops these days pack so much power inside a thin body. Consider some gaming laptops for example, like the new Alienware 15 & 17 laptops packing desktop-class GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 graphics cards in a slim package. Packing this kind of performance in a laptop, normally comes at the cost of thermal performance. As a result of overheating, the performance of the laptop is also affected because of thermal throttling. This especially shows up while you’re playing games smoothly on your laptop and suddenly the frame rate drops by a huge margin once the processor starts to thermal throttle due to overheating. So, today we’ll help you diagnose and potentially fix the overheating issues you’re facing on your laptop. Well, here are some ways to fix to monitor and fix your laptop overheating:

Monitoring The Overheating

This is basically a prerequisite to diagnose the underlying cause of the overheating issue, as we should know where the heat is coming from before actually trying to fix it, as it can be the processor, graphics card, motherboard or even the RAM. There are a number of great monitoring software out there but I personally prefer using HWiNFO, as it gives you a very detailed outlook of most of the components in your laptop. It even gives you the temperature of each individual core of your processor.

You can download HWiNFO from their website depending on the Windows version you have. Before you start monitoring your laptop’s temperature, play some games on for a while. Once you feel there’s a bit of overheating, check out the temperature readings on HWiNFO. If any of your components cross 85 degree Celsius on the reading, then we’ve got a problem.

Potential Fixes for An Overheating System

1. Undervolt your CPU

Anything above 85 degree Celsius is considered hot for a PC component, taking a hot and humid country like India into consideration. Well, a CPU should never run hot. Constant overheating only reduces the longevity of the CPU. If you find that your CPU is the root cause of all the heat after monitoring the temperatures using HWiNFO, undervolting the CPU is a simple fix to reduce your CPU temperatures by a considerable margin, being able to drop the temperatures anywhere from 5 to 15 degree Celsius. What laptop manufacturers usually do, is that they provide more voltage to the CPU than what’s actually required by the CPU. More voltage supplied to the CPU means more heat dissipation as well as higher power consumption.

So by undervolting your CPU, you’re not doing any harm to your processor at all. Instead, you’re just reducing the power consumption, as well as the heat dissipated by the processor, which is actually a good thing to improve the longevity of your CPU. This is a fairly simple process and involves just a few steps:

Note: I tested this on my Alienware 15 R3 laptop, which uses an Intel i7 6700HQ Skylake processor. Be warned, as I will not be responsible for any damage that you may cause to any of the components in your laptop. So, please proceed with caution.

  • In order to do this, you’ll need to download Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility software from here.
  • Once the software has been downloaded and installed, run the software to have a detailed look at your current CPU temperatures, as well as the default settings of your processor set by your laptop’s manufacturer. Take a note of this, by saving a picture of the current settings before proceeding to the next steps, as we might need this just in case if we’re reverting.

  • Now, use the slider right under Core Voltage Offset and reduce it in steps of -0.050V. Start with -0.050V for now and click “Apply”. That’s it, you’ve successfully undervolted your CPU, but we’re not done here.

  • You need to download a stress testing software like Prime95, which is quite popular among everyone, because it pushes every single CPU out there, to it’s limit. Once you install and run the software, a window will pop-up asking you to perform a stress test. Check the option which says Small FFTs and click OK. Now, the torture test will begin.

  • Run the test for 10 minutes and stop the torture test by going to Test -> Stop and then click Exit to close Prime95. If you faced no issues during the torture test, then you’re fine to undervolt further by reducing the voltage by -0.050V, but if you received a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) as shown below and your PC restarted, you need to revert back to the previous voltage.

The Blue Screen of Death you received here, is basically due to insufficient voltage that was supplied to the CPU. Once your PC restarts, Intel XTU will automatically revert back to the stock settings. So you don’t have to worry about anything. This procedure is all about finding your sweet spot that depends on the laptop and its processor. So, keep lowering the voltage until you receive the blue screen, and then revert back to the previous voltage settings. This is your sweet spot, and this is the voltage that’s actually required by your CPU.

2. Underclock your GPU

If not your CPU, then the next possible reason why your laptop is overheating is the graphics card in your laptop. In this case, you can underclock the GPU to fix the overheating. This process takes barely two minutes and just requires a software like MSI Afterburner, which you can download from here.

After installing the software, just use the slider below the Core Clock Memory Clock options to turn it down a notch. Then, click the icon indicated by a tick mark to apply these settings immediately.

Decrease it as per you desire, but your gaming performance will also be reduced depending on how much you decrease the Core clock and Memory clock of your GPU. Having said that, this is an easy and effective method to bring down the temperature of your GPU.

3. Changing the Performance Mode in BIOS

In most of the laptops these days, you can change the performance mode of your laptop’s CPU and built-in fans. You can enable the performance mode of your fans within the BIOS to crank its speed up, which may in turn lower the overall temperatures of your laptop. You can also disable the performance mode of your processor, in order to slightly lower the operating temperatures of your CPU. If you’re hesitant about getting into your system’s BIOS and tweaking some settings there, don’t worry. We’ll let you know exactly how to do it. It’s fairly easy as it involves just a couple of steps.

  • To get into the BIOS, simply restart your laptop and keep hitting the F12 key at start-up. Once you’re in the BIOS pahe, heas to “BIOS Setup”. Now you’ll be taken to the BIOS menu.

Note: The key to enter BIOS can be different for your laptop. You can just do a GOogle Search to get the key to get into BIOS on your system.

  • Here, go to the “Advanced” tab and enter “Performance Options”.

  • Then, you’ll see toggles for both CPU and Fan Performance Modes. The best option to reduce the temperature on your laptop is to Disable the CPU Performance Mode and Enable the Fan Performance Mode. This should bring down the overall temperature by a considerable margin.

That’s it, the fans in your system will crank up to their full speed, thereby subsiding the overheating issues you’re facing on the laptop.

4. Invest in a Laptop Cooling Pad

Laptop cooling pads aren’t anything new. In fact, they’ve existed for years, but even after all these years, the benefits of using a cooling pad is still being argued by many. Most of the people say that it’s not worth it for the price, as it only reduces the operating temperature by 2 to 5 degree Celsius. While some of them have reported substantial temperature drops after using some high-end cooling pads. Most of the cooling pads nowadays have built-in fans and temperature sensors.

Laptop cooling pads often derive power right from your laptop via a USB cable. There are plenty of laptop cooling pads on Amazon that you can choose from, but keep in mind that the improvement in operating temperature completely depends on the cooling pad you buy. Even if you buy a high end cooling pad, do no expect a major drop in operating temperatures. Having said that, if you still want the minor improvements in your laptop’s operating temperature for a price, it might be a worthwhile investment.

5. Replace the Thermal Paste

Note: This method involves opening up your laptop and removing some of the components. If you do not know what you’re doing, we highly recommend you to get the assistance of an expert technician, who has enough experience in dealing with laptop components. We will not be responsible for any damage that you may cause to any parts in your laptop.

Thermal paste is essentially a thermally conductive compound that is applied in between the CPU and its heat sink as an interface to facilitate transfer of heat from the processor to the heat sink. It plays an important role in maintaining the thermals of your processor.

The thermal paste that’s factory applied by your laptop’s manufacturer is usually of low quality and the way in which it was applied doesn’t necessarily have to be good. Consider a factory, where an employee’s job is to apply thermal paste on hundreds of laptops everyday. The person might not be doing a perfect job of applying the thermal paste on your CPU and GPU on all of the laptops. This is exactly why we recommend you to replace the stock thermal paste with a high quality thermal paste which you can buy from Amazon. The Cooler Master MasterGel Maker Nano is one of the best thermal paste you can buy today.

Just give a call to your laptop manufacturer asking them to send a technician in order to get this done for you, if you have no clue how to do it. A good quality thermal paste can bring down the temperatures of your laptop by atleast 5 degree Celsius. Once you’ve removed the necessary components from the laptop, make sure you wipe off the existing thermal paste with Isopropyl alcohol, before applying the new one. You can apply the new thermal paste on both the CPU and GPU of your laptop to lower down the operating temperatures of both of these components.

6. Clean & Replace Faulty Fans

Dust particles can affect the performance of your laptop components. Over time, dust particles clog the vents and exhaust fans of the laptop, thereby restricting the air flow and cooling. This might affect the operating temperatures of your laptop components, as a result of which you might face overheating issue. This is why, it’s necessary to clean your laptop once in a while to get rid off all the dust particles from your vents and exhaust fans.

Another common reason is due to faulty fans. One of the fans in your laptop might not be working or spinning at full potential, as a result of which the air flow within your laptop is completely affected. This causes overheating issues as well. So, make sure that all the fans inside your laptop are working properly from time to time. If not, give your laptop manufacturer a call and ask them to replace the faulty fans for you.

SEE ALSO: How to Optimize Gaming Performance in Windows 10

Ready To Fix Laptop Overheating?

Diagnosing and fixing the thermal issues on your laptop isn’t as hard as you probably thought. In most cases, you can do this without even having to give a call to your laptop manufacturer. Now that you know what exactly causes the overheating issues and how to fix them, are you ready to try it for yourself? If so, let us know how this article has helped you in subsiding your laptop’s operational temperatures and also let us know if you’d like to see similar articles in the future by shooting your views in the comments section below.

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The guy who settles for nothing less than the absolute latest and greatest in technology. A sucker for anything hardware related and prefers iOS to Android. Because, reasons. Also, I spend the other half of the day playing Battlefield with gamers from around the world. That's right, all hail the glorious PC Master Race.

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