A gaming laptop has to pack a lot of serious hardware into a confined space under its hood.

This includes high-performing processors and dedicated graphics cards that produce a lot of heat when being worked hard.

It also leaves little space for fans and other cooling mechanisms.

Laptops built for gaming have to work harder than the average laptop, which can sometimes cause them to overheat.

This post will discuss how you can avoid overheating your laptop and what you should do if it does happen.

Can A Gaming Laptop Overheat?

A gaming laptop sitting on a cooling pad

Contrary to popular belief, gaming laptops can in fact overheat if their hardware is ill-equipped or worked too hard without the proper care.

Laptops naturally run at higher temperatures than PCs because of reduced airflow and smaller cooling systems.

But they do have fail-safes and the first thing your laptop will do if it starts overheating will be to thermal throttle itself to reduce the temperature by cutting back CPU and sometimes GPU performance.

One of the most common causes of overheating is that the cooling vents on the laptop become clogged with dust or blocked by external items, like cushions and blankets which prevent proper airflow.

As well as this, some laptops may come with pre-installed software (bloatware) on them which causes issues when running more intensive tasks like playing AAA video games.

These software programs often run in the background of your laptop using resources while you play your game, which causes increased heat and makes it hard for your laptop’s fans to do their job properly.

How Do I Know If My Gaming Laptop Is Overheating?

A common symptom of your gaming laptop overheating is that the laptop’s fans will go into overdrive to try and keep the internal temperature down.

If you pay attention to what your cooling fans sound like, you’ll be able to hear when they go into overdrive and detect when they are working hard to fight off excess heat.

You can also tell if your laptop is overheating by touching its underside, as it’ll feel quite hot if this is happening.

If your laptop is overheating it means that parts of the internal hardware may be getting damaged due to exposure to extreme heat.

This can cause serious problems with your device if not addressed as soon as possible.

The most common signs of overheating that you will experience include:

  • Video games crashing or freezing during gameplay.
  • Your laptop starts to randomly turn off when playing demanding games.
  • Unexpected shutdowns occur without warning, especially if you try and use your laptop for intensive tasks such as gaming, video editing, or rendering programs.
  • Your laptop struggles to perform basic tasks like opening a web browser.
  • Unusual or unexpected error messages.

If any of these issues sound familiar then it is likely that you’ll need to take measures to reduce the amount of heat your gaming laptop is producing.

Related Article: Will Playing Games Damage My Laptop Keyboard? (Explained)

How Hot Is Too Hot For A Gaming Laptop?

When temperatures the CPU or GPU exceed 80°C it is considered too hot and most gaming laptops will begin to throttle performance to reduce heat.

If you are gaming for long hours, try to keep the temperature below 80°C if possible, it will allow you to get more life out of your CPU.

And if you do go above 90°C, just try to make sure it’s only for relatively short periods of time.

But ideally, you want it kept below this temperature.

Laptops are built with components that can withstand a certain amount of heat being placed on them before they overheat and shut down.

If the CPU overheats too much it will turn off immediately and should be allowed to cool before restarting.

In some cases, if the CPU does not have an internal thermal sensor it may be unable to trigger this shutdown method, leaving it up to its fans to cool it down enough so that it can start working properly again.

To avoid your gaming laptop getting hot enough to do damage to internal components you need to keep an eye on its temperature while playing video games or using programs that require excessive processing power.

You can use a program like CoreTemp to monitor temperatures.

Anything above 90 degrees centigrade (194 Fahrenheit) is considered to be getting too hot for practical use and should not be sustained, but some laptops can handle it better than others.

You should monitor your laptop’s temperature regularly while using it and make sure that you clean out any dust build-up of debris from its fans at least every three months if possible.

However, if your laptop does begin running too hot, it should shut itself down before irreparable damage is caused.

And in this case, you should wait for your gaming laptop to cool down enough before you restart it.

How To Keep Your Gaming Laptop Cool While Playing Games?

If you find that your gaming laptop has overheated during gameplay there are a few things that you can do in order to get it working properly again without having to take drastic measures.

Allow Your Gaming Laptop To Cool Down

The first thing you should do if you feel that the battery or machine is excessively hot is to shut down the game or program which is running on it immediately before performing any further steps.

Then, open up the laptop’s case and remove the battery from its compartment, if it is removable.

This will be done by finding the release switch on your laptop which allows you to open its battery casing before lifting it out of place.

Once you have removed the battery, place it aside for it to cool down completely.

Also, let the laptop cool down.

If everything starts working properly again despite having overheated, then there shouldn’t be an issue with any of its internal components.

Take Breaks

When playing demanding video games for long periods of time make sure that you take a break every hour or so.

This is important as your laptop’s internal hardware is under more pressure than usual when playing such games and as such, they need time to recover.

If you don’t give them this then your laptop could overheat, resulting in damage which may end up costly or impossible to fix.

Unplug Any Peripherals Not In Use

Disconnecting all of your laptop’s peripherals such as USB devices and its audio port before using it to play games will allow more air circulation.

This will allow more room for heat to leave your laptop if it does begin building up.

Keep Everything Updated

Update your drivers by visiting the manufacturer’s website and downloading any software updates they offer.

Outdated drivers can often cause issues with heat dissipation and energy usage which can lead to overheating.

Play Less Demanding Games (At Least Sometimes)

Try to play games that are less demanding on your laptop when possible, in order to lower its overall power usage and reduce the chances of it overheating.

You may even enjoy gaming without having to listen to all your laptop fans blaring at the same time.

Undervolt Your Gaming Laptop’s CPU

CPUs give off heat as they process data.

The more CPU processing power, the more heat is produced.

CPUs will also draw more power from the PSU (power supply unit) as their voltage increases (which results in them getting hotter).

This can be limited by cooling and by throttling down the CPU voltage and speed (known as under-volting).

So under-volting reduces both heat and power consumption resulting in a longer-lasting battery and/or less load on your laptop’s internal fans.

How do I undervolt my CPU?

The easiest way to under-volt your CPU is with ThrottleStop.

This program has an easy graphical user interface that makes everything very simple.

It offers the option to under-volt, overclock and even change your multiplier.

It is pre-installed on some Lenovo laptops such as those in the Thinkpad range.

Close Unnecessary Programs

Closing any unnecessary programs running in the background prior to playing games will help to free up resources and keep your gaming laptop cooler.

Allow For Air Circulation

Ensure that you place your gaming laptop somewhere where there is adequate airflow surrounding it at all times, such as not placing it directly next to a wall or on a bed/sofa.

This means that there will be space for its fans to work and for hot air to be able to leave your laptop.

Keep It Away From External Heat Sources

Avoid placing your gaming laptop somewhere extremely hot, such as on top of another object which emits heat or in direct sunlight.

This will obviously make it more likely that it will overheat, so you need to make sure that you take precautions before doing this.

Use A Laptop With An SSD Hard Drive

Solid-state drives are known to provide increased performance over standard hard drives, especially when it comes to writing data that require high speeds.

They also tend not to use as much power as their counterparts due to the lack of moving parts used in their design and this can help your laptop’s cooling fans run more efficiently for longer periods of time.

How To Clean Dust From Your Gaming Laptop To Keep It Cool

Firstly, shut down your laptop and remove any batteries from it.

Take a compressed air canister and begin blowing the dust out of your laptop’s fan, as this is where dust tends to cause the most issues with heat.

You should also aim some at the cooling vents around the laptop’s exhaust area or underneath its keyboard too if you can reach those areas.

This will allow more cool air into the device and more hot air out of it due to the elimination of all of that dust that had built up over time.

Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and apply it in between keycaps and to any areas where dust tends to gather on a laptop which you cannot wipe with a cloth or blow out using compressed air.

Is It Bad If My Gaming Laptop Gets Hot?

In general, a small amount of heat that dissipates quickly is not going to be harmful and as long as your gaming laptop is not consistently running above 90 degrees celsius, it won’t be bad.

However, an elevated temperature that stays at a consistently high degree can cause problems with its hardware and may ruin any internal components if it continues at the same rate.

A gaming laptop that’s regularly allowed to overheat past 90 degrees C will often result in damage being done to one or more of its internal components, such as its processor, fans, motherboard, graphics card, etc.

If you think the damage has been done to a component you should stop using your laptop immediately until you have been able to replace whichever piece of equipment has been damaged so as not to make things worse.

It’s also a good idea to get your computer looked at by an experienced professional if possible so that they can tell you what repairs or replacements need to be made.

As well as damaging the computer itself, heat from prolonged play on a gaming laptop can also damage the surface it is resting on due to rising temperatures caused by heat production.

So long as your laptop is able to cool itself down in a reasonable amount of time after reaching a high temperature then there should not be any problems with it overheating on occasion.

This can be achieved by taking some of the advice provided in this article into account, such as allowing regular breaks when gaming for an extended period of time and ensuring that there is adequate airflow surrounding your laptop at all times.

Should I Use A Cooling Pad For A Gaming Laptop?

If you find that your gaming laptop’s fans are always blasting then using a cooling pad may help to cool it a little.

A cooling pad is an accessory that you can purchase for your laptop in the form of a stand that holds it at an angle to help with airflow through the use of fans.

This may help to lower the temperature of your laptop during use because there will be adequate room for air to flow around it, however, they are not thought to be particularly effective when it comes to reducing high temperatures during intense gaming sessions.

This is because most cooling pads do not contain any internal fans or other pieces of hardware used for actively cooling down your computer.

Although, some more expensive cooling pads, like the Kootek Cooler Pad Chill Mat 5, Do have their own built-in fans and can allow for cooler air to enter the internal components of your laptop which may help prevent damage from occurring.

So, can a gaming laptop overheat?

It definitely can, although if you regularly monitor your gaming laptop while you use it and make sure there are no obstructions blocking its vents then it should not be too much of an issue for you.

If your gaming laptop starts getting hot regularly during gaming then its hardware is probably not able for the intensive games you are playing.

If this is the case, all you can do is help your laptop out as much as possible by keeping its vents free of obstruction and giving it regular breaks if it begins to overheat.