Laptops are a great way to do work, gaming or video editing without being confined to a desk. In recent years, laptops have become smaller and more portable than ever before, and in order to run modern games and software, they've also become much more powerful.
Having all of this processing power crammed into such a small space may be the most convenient option, but it's not always the best for your hardware. Intensive applications like gaming or video rendering can cause a laptop to overheat in a matter of minutes, leading to decreased performance and possibly permanent damage.
Laptop coolers can alleviate this issue by artificially increasing airflow to your laptop's critical components. Most laptop cooling pads accomplish this with powerful fans that push a constant stream of cool air through your system, ensuring that it remains as cool as possible.
While cooling is obviously a laptop cooler's primary function, the best laptop coolers provide additional functionality that can also make your laptop easier to use. Cooling pads like Cooler Master's SF-17, the Thermaltake Massive TM and the Gear Head CFS8800BLK offer features like height adjustment, temperature sensors and USB hubs to make using your laptop easy and comfortable. For more information on prevention and treatment for overheating, check out our other laptop cooler articles.
Laptop coolers come in a wide variety of styles, shapes and sizes, depending on the features that they prioritize. Some excel in portability by offering slim, streamlined designs that can fit easily in your laptop bag. Others focus on adjustability for increased comfort during long hours at your computer. Whatever your needs are, it's likely that there is a laptop cooler for you. In order to help you decide what's most important to you, we've broken the top characteristics you should look for in a laptop cooler into the following categories.
The most important aspect of a laptop cooler's performance is the amount of air it is capable of circulating. It’s simple – the more powerful and efficient a laptop cooler's fans are, the more capable they are of effectively cooling your laptop.
Air circulation is typically measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute) and varies wildly among differing models. The most powerful models can push upwards of 70 CFM, while lower-end models only reach 20 CFM. More power typically means a higher price tag, so you will want to choose the one with the best power to price ratio for you.
Noise is another factor that is important to consider. Whether you're spending time at work or play on your laptop, you don't want any sounds to distract you from what you're doing. Fortunately, most laptop coolers are quiet and average only about 24 dBA.
Most laptop coolers are USB-powered and can cause problems for you if you run out of available USB ports. To combat this issue, many cooling pads come with at least one additional port. If you often use peripherals like external keyboards, mice or hard drives with your laptop, this is an important feature.
Although not as important as the amount of air they circulate, the number of fans can also impact your cooling pad's performance. Before you purchase a laptop cooler it's a good idea to determine where your laptop's hottest spots are and compare their locations with the layout of the fans of various models.
The design of your laptop cooler is ultimately going to decide how you can use your laptop. For this reason, it's important to consider how you use your laptop the most. If you prefer to use your laptop at a desk, look for something with height adjustment for a comfortable viewing angle.
If you prefer to use your laptop in your lap or bed, you should find a laptop cooler with rounded edges and raised fans than won't be obstructed by blankets or other uneven surfaces. These two styles, however, can be bulky and aren't often very portable. More travel-oriented models, on the other hand, often forgo both adjustability and lap comfort for a more streamlined and packable design.
It's also important to consider the durability of a laptop cooler before you purchase it. The most durable options are made from tough plastic, rubber reinforcements and often a metal mesh top panel.
Some models also include a convenient place to stash your USB power cable when you're not using it. While this is probably the least important design feature, it's one that many coolers include.
Help & Support
The standard warranty length for laptop coolers is one year. This entitles you to repair or replacement if you should come across any defects in workmanship or materials. Some manufacturers offer longer warranties, and some offer a lifetime warranty, though it's relatively rare. If you have any questions or issues with your cooler, most manufacturers also have several channels for support like phone, email, social media and live chat.
Overheating can seriously inhibit the abilities of the best laptops and can even lead to permanent damage if left unchecked. Laptop coolers are an excellent way to keep this from happening, and you can even use them to improve the functionality of your laptop. Check out our reviews to find the one that's right for you.