Why a Laptop is Overheating

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Here I will reveal why your laptop is overheating. Sometimes it is like a frying pan, isn’t it?

CPU or Processor paste. This is the sticky thing that goes onto the processor to help with better heat transmittance from the processor to the heat sink. However, this will not cause the laptop to get extremely hot, but just slow it down.

This is how thermal paste looks when the heat sink is removed.

Notice that it is a little grainy. Well, after a few years it becomes like this and the heat transfer from the processor to the heat sink drops. This is when we get laptops freezing or slowing down. The slow down will particularly be noticed when watching YouTube, on a very warm day or when the laptop is on a bed.

Wrong Charger. Believe it or not, I once connected to an old Toshiba that requires 15V power adapter an adapter that was for a modern laptop, which is 19V. Of course, the voltage management circuit inside the laptop was shocked and was working hard and hot to manage the suitable voltage level. I would say Toshiba laptops are very good as the laptop survived. Indeed, this could be a problem, but this would rarely happen.

Dust. This is probably the number one enemy in the laptop world, especially for those which have a dedicated graphics chip. The main reason why it is a problem is because it sticks to fan blades or other metal parts in the heat sink and stays there.

Placing the laptop on the bed. Almost all laptops have ventilation openings on the bottom. If we place a laptop on the bed the openings are closed so there is no cooling anymore. What happens is that the laptop will get hot and it will slow itself down to prevent any damage.

High ambient temperature. This factor somewhat affects some systems and especially those which have passive cooling. My laptop Asus E403SA has a passive cooling system and it became very hot when there was a heatwave in the 2017 UK summer.
Laptop power adapters can also get noticeably warm on a hot day. It does not have a proper cooling system and the parts are enclosed in a plastic case with no ventilation openings.

Games. Almost all 3D games use a lot of computing power. Active cooling systems like laptops with a cooler deal with games fairly well. However, the passive cooling systems that are mostly on 14-inch laptops will likely struggle with games on a warm day.

Flash on web pages. This is something that not so many know. Flash content like a YouTube video or other video based on Flash will consume a large chunk of processor resources. In other words, the processor will be busy working with Flash but we will not see anything unusual. This will actually make the processor get warm. If you have already noticed, sometimes the laptop slows down when you open many tabs in the internet browser; this may be because there is some Flash embedded in the page.

Resource-hungry programs. There are a few programs that can make your laptop get hot. Those are mainly video rendering programs like Sony Vegas or Final Cut. This is normal as for video editing and rendering those programs use almost all processor resources and the processor runs on full power. I need to mention that modern processors do not run on full speed all the time. For example, an Intel N3700 processor will run on 400 MHz when it does nothing, but then it will jump to 2000 MHz speed when a task comes in.

Graphics chip fault. If you have a laptop from around 2010 - 2015 then there is a chance that it has a defective graphics chip. I have seen even a logic board that became black because the graphics chip was overheating.

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