If your laptop runs too hot to use on your lap, it doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with the machine. The manufacturers call these machines notebook PCs for good reason. The fact is that they all run far too hot to be used on a lap in comfort for more than a few minutes. The solution is to move the machine on to a laptop tray or on to a desktop.
You can recognize true overheating by looking for the following symptoms:
1. The machine's cooling fans will work continuously and noisily at maximum speed.
2. The laptop will suddenly shut down without warning, perhaps after only a few minutes of operation.
3. The laptop will shut down shortly after you start to use any software that makes the processor work hard (3D Games, movie players, video editing software, etc. ).
If you experience any of these symptoms then it is reasonable to assume that your laptop has got an overheating problem, and the next thing is to try to identify the cause
Of course, your laptop may have a fault or, in some rare cases, a design problem that means that you will need to speak to your dealer. But the most common explanation by far is either one or both of these:
1. You are using your laptop in a way that is preventing the cooling system from working properly.
2. Your laptop's cooling system is clogged with dirt and dust.
The good news in both cases is that it is really easy to fix. There is no need to return your machine to the manufacturer and no need for big repair bills. Here are two things to try before you do anything else.
Solution 1: Let Your Laptop Breathe
Take a careful look at your laptop and see if you can identify two things:
1. The cooling fan exhaust port. This is usually on the side of the machine and easy to find when it is running because it blows hot air out over your hand.
2. The air intake grills. These are usually just a set of slots in the casing that will let air into the machine. They are not so obvious and are sometime located on the side, but most likely these days they will be on the bottom.
The components inside your laptop generate a lot of heat as they work. Your laptop's cooling system removes this heat by sucking cool air through the input grills and passing it around all the hot components inside. The resulting warm air is then blown out of the exhaust port. The cooling system does this continuously all the time your machine operates and, as long as nothing happens to interrupt the flow of air, nothing more is needed to keep the machine cool.
The trouble is that, shortly after they discover that a laptop runs too hot to use on directly on their lap, many people simply move the machine to a cushion, to the couch, or to the carpet. As soon as they do that, guess what? They start to block up the cooling system air intakes and a little while after that their machine starts to overheat.
Of course, as soon as you realize what is going on, the solution is obvious. Simply move the machine to a flat, hard surface that will allow the cooling air to circulate. Let your laptop breathe!
Solution 2: Keep it Clean
You probably remember from science lessons that one of the things about moving hot dry air is that it quickly builds up a static charge in objects around it. When this happens inside your laptop the inside surfaces start to behave like dust magnets. Any particles of dust or dirt that pass through will most likely stick as if they had been glued.
As they do this, they begin to build-up an insulating dust layer which is so effective at preventing heat from escaping that it can cause serious overheating problems quite quickly.
The solution to this problem is to clean the cooling system out regularly. This is an easy procedure and it doesn't need you to dismantle your machine or to do anything that will invalidate your warranty.
You need two things:
1. An aerosol air duster (available from all good PC Stores).
2. A vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool.
The procedure is quite simple:
1. Make sure that the laptop is switched off and disconnected from any power source before you begin.
2. Use the air duster to dislodge the dust by blowing through the intake grills and exhaust ports.
3. At the same time, suck the loose dust up with the vacuum cleaner.
Repeat this process every few months to keep your laptop's cooling system in good working order and it will work properly without the need of a powered cooling tray or any other special gadget.
Graham Wyatt is a freelance technical writer based in the UK. He is also managing director of eTray Ltd, the manufacturers of eTray laptop tray portable desktops for notebook PCs.
eTrays are beanbag lap trays that have been extended to make room for a notebook PC and a mouse. They provide a stable, portable working surface that will let your notebook breathe, have a built-in shield layer that deflects heat and rays, and come in a number of unique collectible designs.
Find out more at: http://www.eTray.biz