How to Stop Your Laptop Overheating




Introduction: How to Stop Your Laptop Overheating

About: I love finding out how things work. I like reading. I love the Internet for its vast amount of information. I like helping others and will normally go out of my way to do so, otherwise I am just your regular J…

Introduction: Computer (Laptop) Cooling Basics
The cooling of the CPU(Central Processing Unit), otherwise referred to as "The Chip" or to laymen "The Brain" of the laptop is a dilemma that most manufacturers have to face when designing a laptop enclosure (casing) and choosing the correct CPU for it. The cooling is normally performed by a fan and some kind of metal conductor like copper or aluminum called a heat sink. The CPU, and lately the GPU(Graphics Processing Unit), are "connected" to the metal heat sink via a thermal grease or compound. This grease conducts heat but not electricity. The "trick" for manufacturers is to get rid of as much heat as possible using as small a fan and heat sink as the CPU will allow. Vents are also cut into the casing allowing the fan to suck cool air from the bottom, force it over the heat sink and blow it out the side or rear thus cooling the CPU and GPU. In more modern times copper is being used as the conducting metal, liquid is "pumped" through the system and radiators and exhaust ports are used just like in motor vehicles. All this to get rid of the heat and make the system run faster. 

The Problem
The problem is that over time dust and other particles clog the vents, fan and exhaust port or radiator of the system thus restricting air flow and cooling. This is fixed relatively easily by blowing out the vents and fan with air or using a brush or earbud (Q-tip) to clean away the dust. Remember: In the computer world - DUST DESTROYS! There is however another hidden problem that occurs when computers (laptops) heat up or overheat. They tend to dry out the thermal compound that conducts the heat thus causing the system to overheat more quickly. Luckily most CPUs, GPUs and chip manufacturers have built in protection for this. They step down the operating speed bit by bit until they eventually switch off the CPU and thus the system shuts down. So if you have a computer system that starts working slower and slower and then switches off for no apparent reason, overheating could be your problem.

The Solution
To solve the overheating problem, especially in laptops, I am going to show you how to get to the cooling unit, dust it out, replace the thermal grease and put everything together again. In order to demonstrate this I will be using a friend's LG F1 Pro Express Dual laptop that started exhibiting just such symptoms. It would become sluggish and then suddenly switch off for no reason. This caused him a lot of lost work and a corrupted Outlook PST email file. Here I will show you step by step the solution to this nasty problem.

Interesting Tech Fact: I captured all the pictures with my Samsung Galaxy S cellphone.  

Step 1: Preparing for the Process

Before you start, make sure you have made a backup of all your data files and that if in the unlikely event that something does go wrong, you will be able to restore your application programs and the data. (Tip: Test the data files to make sure they were backed up correctly!)

Make sure the backup is totally separate from your laptop, not on the same hard drive, on an external device like a SD / USB or portable drive.

Prepare an area to work on that is well lit, clean, dry and has enough space. Use a towel or soft cloth under to laptop to protect it because it will be lying on it's screen for most of the time during the procedure. Make sure that nothing you use, even your clothes, generate static electricity. This process will take about 30 minutes.


Step 2: The Tools

You will need the following:

1. A holder to keep the screws from getting lost. (The cap of a deodorant can works well.)
2. Thermal grease or compound. You local computer shop or hardware store should have this otherwise "Google is your Friend"
3. Screwdrivers that fit the screws on the back of your specific laptop.
4. Earbud (Q-tip) cotton swabs
5. Wooden tongue depressor or any other soft object to scrape the old thermal grease off.
6. Brush

About 30 minutes

A couple of Bucks

Huge! (You would normally have replaced your laptop as it is unusable in it's current state.)

Rubber gloves or finger cots
Earth strap or grounding wire
Some Isopropyl alcohol wipes

Step 3: Removing the Battery and Back Cover

After you have backed up all you data files and shut down your laptop, unplug the power source and remove the battery. In the case of the LG F1 Pro Express Dual the battery is released by two clips, marked 1 and 2, in the second picture. The system door has 4 screws that give you access to the CPU, GPU, RAM (Random Access Memory) and various other parts like the Real Time Clock battery, modem and cooling unit.

Release the battery and remove it completely. Using the correct screwdriver loosen the four (4) screws. Place then in the holder once they are removed. Remove the back cover and set it aside. You will notice dust clinging to the back cover. Use the brush and earbuds to clean the vents and back cover.  

Step 4: Unscrew and Remove the Cooling Unit

You can now put on your rubber gloves and attach your grounding/earthing strap  if you want to. I did not. 

The easiest way to identify the cooling unit is to look for the fan. Once you have this, it should be easy to locate the screws holding it down. Carefully remove them and place them in the holder. Gently grip the cooling unit and remove it from the laptop. Try twisting it back and forth, left and right, slightly (not up and down) before lifting it out. It should "break" any hardened thermal grease that acts like glue. This one comes out at a slight angle. Remove it slowly and gently because the fan power cable is still attached to the motherboard and needs to be removed before the unit will come out completely. 

Note: In my case, the CPU came out with the unit. This is unusual and very rare as the CPU is normally latched firmly to the motherboard. In my case the thermal grease had dried out completely and acted like "putty" by "glueing" the CPU to the heat exchanger. The twisting action should "break" this glue bond but is not always possible. Open the CPU socket  "latch", take the CPU by the edges. DO NOT TOUCH THE PINS! Align the CPU to the socket by matching the markings or pin configurations together. Press down firmly to seat the CPU and lock it in place with the latch.    

Step 5: Dust Out the Unit

Using your breath, compressed air, hair dryer or fan gently blow out the dust located in the fan, case, exhaust port and anywhere else you see it accumulated. Use earbuds to clean the fan blades. Hold the fan down when blowing it with air so that it does not operate in the reverse direction and also not work against the blowing air. Use the brush to dust everything off one last time before blowing it out with air again. 

Step 6: Remove the Old Thermal Grease

Using a soft object like a wooden tongue depressor, plastic knife or old credit card scrape the old thermal grease / compound from the CPU, GPU and Heat Exchanger. Be gentle and take your time as there is no rush and trying different angles, the dried thermal grease should just flake off. Here you could also use the  Isopropyl alcohol wipes or an earbud dipped in Isopropyl alcohol to remove the dried thermal grease. It comes off easier then. If you are going to work and touch components on the motherboard, I suggest you wear an earth / grounding strap and rubber gloves. 

Step 7: Apply New Thermal Grease

Place a very small blob of thermal grease (mine might be a little too much) on the CPU and GPU only. Do not place any on the heat exchanger as well. You only need to place thermal grease on one or the other. Use the wooden depressor, plastic knife or old credit card to spread it evenly and very thinly over the surface of the area of the CPU / GPU or heat exchanger that will come in contact with each other. More is not better in this case. Too much thermal grease will not cause better heat conduction but might even cause some heat build up.

Step 8: Replace the Unit and Close the Case

Connect the Fan Power Cable. Replace the heat exchanger and tighten down the five (5) screws to keep it securely in place. Replace the system door, pressing down gently but firmly until all the sides have clipped in place. Replace the four (4) screws and tighten them. Replace the battery and make sure it is locked in place.  

Step 9: Turn the Unit On

Plug everything back into the laptop that needs to be there and turn the unit on. Voila! No more overheating. Its a miracle you have given your laptop a new lease on life!

Step 10: Tips and Additional Resources

In conclusion some tips and additional resources to help you manage, reduce and monitor your laptop overheating problems.

Use your laptop on a hard flat surface. Blankets and clothes tend to block the vents and reduce airflow.

The help reduce heat build up even further you can use a laptop cooling pad. This usually raises the laptop and has fans that force more air in from the bottom.

If sudden laptop shut-downs have also damaged the Outlook PST file, use MicroSoft's SCANPST to fix it. SCANPST can be found here for the different versions of Outlook:

More Outlook repair tools can be found here:

If you suspect your system of overheating, CPU and system temperature can be monitored and logged by this FREEWARE program called SPEEDFAN.

Keep those laptop's cool!

Step 11: Afterword

Testing the Temperature
Quite a few people have commented that I used way too much thermal grease (compound) and that the amount I used would cause overheating. I disagree with this view. So in an attempt to provide some kind of proof, one way or the other, I decided to monitor the temperature for a few weeks with SpeedFan v4.44. Then to take the laptop apart again, clean it up, using the suggested alcohol wipes method, and replace the thermal compound. This time I would use a thin amount. I would than assemble everything and then monitor the temperature again. I followed the same process as before with the slight suggested changes. This documents that process.

According to the CPU chip specifications for a LF80537 T5500, which is a Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile, the Minimum/Maximum operating temperature (°C) is 0 - 100°C. The maximum operating temperature of the CPU was 65°C before I started this process. After I completed the process the maximum operating temperature was 60°C. It seems I might have applied too much thermal compound but not way too much to cause overheating. Just too much as in wastage. It would seem as if excessive amounts of thermal compound could cause your system to heat up slightly more and if it is running close to the maximum allowed temperature it might cause overheating. It caused a 5°C increase in temperature in my case but this is not definite because it was not a controlled situation. The increase was not enough to cause overheating, but enough to deduce that excessive amounts of thermal paste could increase the temperature. The photos contain a step-by-step guide of what I did.

Notes: Wipes

I found the alcohol wipes worked terrible. It smeared the thermal grease all over and just created a bigger mess to clean. It could be because the previous thermal grease was al dried out and flaked off nicely. This thermal grease was wet and sticky. It smeared too easily. On the GPU there are very small resistors or components and the wipes smeared the thermal grease all over them and then kept getting caught in them.

If I were to do this instructable from the start over again, I would use less thermal grease from the start as it does make a difference no matter how slight, but I would not use the alcohol wipe.

Update 2013

I have been ripping Intel CPUs out of laptops and desktops and replacing the thermal compound (grease) for years now and have noticed that on the older Intel CPUs the thermal grease was used liberally. However, on the newer CPUs the compound is quite thin. I wonder if it really matters that much or is it cost saving to have a very small (tiny) amount of compound in between the CPU and the cooler (heat sink)?

Here is what Intel itself says about how to apply thermal grease to a CPU. What you will read will surprise you because there is no mention of layer thickness and no mention of spreading it around. To tell you the truth it states that you blob everything in the centre of the CPU and the pressure of the cooler (heat sink) on the CPU will determine the thickness, squeezing out all excess. I think I also mentioned something like that in one of my comments. This information comes straight from the CPU manufacturer, and they should know. Read for yourself at: (Click "How to Apply TIM" from the menu)

I have included some of the photos from the Intel site for reference.
I have also replaced the thermal grease (compound or interface material if you are from Intel) on many secondary chips like integrated GPUs on motherboards by releasing the cooler (heat sink), cleaning both surfaces, apply thermal grease and replace. Once you know how, you can replace the thermal compound on practically anything.

Update 2014

Many people are still suggesting I am using too much thermal grease. I want to bring the following to the attention of these people. I am using a non conductive thermal grease. It does not conduct heat as well as the conductive thermal grease but does not damage components when it comes in contact with them because it does not conduct electricity. Cooling has to do with getting rid of excess heat, so the thermal grease is only one part of the solution. The heat sink, fan and airflow are the other parts. You could have a CPU that does not have well applied thermal grease but has a fantastic heat sink and airflow across it and the system will never overheat. Here are some links to other resources which I found very helpful in understanding overheating, thermal grease, fans and airflow.,3058-8.html,3600.html,3616.html

I hope this helps everyone understand more about what causes overheating and how to solve the problem.

Step 12: How Much Thermal Paste Is Enough?

During the course of writing and expanding this article I have constantly been told that I use too much thermal compound or grease. Most of the people that make these statements have no proof either way of how much paste needs to be used. They also do not read the complete article with its comments. I have been doing this since the early 1980's and have never found the amount of TIM (thermal interface material/compound/grease/paste) I use to cause any problems. I normally provide a link to CPU manufacturer, Intel's, website where they explain how to apply TIM. Intel just state that you apply a blob in the middle and let the pressure of the heat sink spread it. I also refer people to Tom's Hardwarewere there is a much more in depth analysis on the application of TIM.

Although Tom's Hardware is quite thorough regarding the issue you will see that it is not totally impartial and personal the preferences of the tester do come to the fore. Like the statement that "smearing paste on the whole CPU is quite pointless and a thing of the past" because all CPUs have hot spots that generally lie like a sausage in the middle of the cpu from left to right. However, Tom's admits itself that it is not that simple in their statement "The two images below illustrate what a hot spot is, albeit in an over-simplified way. Reality is not as simple; CPU cores may be loaded differently, and there is also the issue of on-die graphics, which may be more or less active than the processing cores." This means we do not really know exactly where the hot spot really is at any given moment. Tom's even admits that the application method is a "philosophical debate". Although Tom's stated previously that spreading paste on the whole core "is quite pointless and a thing of the past" they then discuss Revoltec Thermal Grease Nano which is applied with a brush. A picture is shown where the whole CPU is "painted" with the paste even though it is "pointless and a thing of the past". Tom's states that "these pastes typically fall to the bottom of our performance charts. When you try to apply semi-liquid pastes by brush, typically you wind up with too much, and that isn’t optimal." Then Tom's states that spreading is tedious and runs the risk of applying too much.

I am a firm believer of spreading a liberal amount over the entire surface that comes in contact with the heat sink. The reason for this is that I believe in the the law that states the maximum heat transfer happens when the biggest area is touching the conductive material.


In an effort to provide a more believable answer than just my experience and opinion, I have gathered some pictorial "evidence" of how the manufacturers of the chips themselves apply TIM. At they tested the outcome of the amount and method of applying TIM by applying a tiny dot in middle, a small dot in middle, transversal line, parallel lines and spread across the CPU methods. Although the tests are not 100% lab proven the do give and idea of what to expect.

The results in core temperature in Celsius were as follows:

a tiny dot in middle - 55

a small dot in middle - 50

transversal line - 51

parallel lines - 51

spread across - 51

The difference in applying too much paste to just the right amount is 1%. The difference between applying a dot in the middle and spreading it is 0.2% and can be ignored. Read the article as the "correct" dot amount for them is also a bit of trial and error. I will then rather stick to my spreading method.

Make up your own mind based on the this information, the kind of paste you have, the kind of CPU and the heat sink that is to be used.

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    At time of commenting, it is April of 2020. This article and updates through 2014 were actually very helpful. Despite the frustration from comments being evident, your information suggests you took them seriously enough to put your theories to the test. I think that’s worth quite a bit of recognition. It would be much easier to dismiss their input as “haters”, or, “trolls”. Good for you for putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak.

    Digital Adda 29
    Digital Adda 29

    4 years ago

    Problem : Is your phone overheating quickly ?

    Solution :


    5 years ago

    I changed thermal grease and compounds in my acer5750. It worked for CPU, but not for GPU - it's even worser. Now my laptop always turn off every time when I use dedicated graphic card (gt 540m).

    when only CPU is working is fine. Very low temperatures (when playing games it's not more than 70 Celsius).

    I replaced grease two times, but it didn't help.

    Is there possibility that I damaged something e.g. heatpipe? Or it would also turn off my computer also when I use CPU.

    Or it is more probably that there is loose between hetpipe and GPU? I read that many acers have problem with this and often service put thick layer of thermal grease.

    Andre Coetzee
    Andre Coetzee

    Reply 5 years ago

    Hi there PiotrP45,

    You see a full review of the Acer Aspire 5750 graphics performance here:

    It is highly unlikely that you damaged the heat pipe without noticing it. I have just taken my wife's Dell notebook apart twice to see if the heat pipe could be damage by normal removal, cleaning and grease application. If you worked gently and with care, the answer is "No". You would have noticed immediately if you were too rough and broke something. What more likely happened was that your GPU was damaged before you did the heat sink removal. That is why it was overheating in the 1st place. You can make sure the thermal conductor is touching the GPU. Many times a thermal pad, (something like double sided mirror tape), is used on the GPU. This must not be removed because it is a few millimeters high and causes the contact to be made between the GPU and the heat sink element. Thermal grease can be applied directly on the pad. Use apps like or to try and determine what the problem really is.


    5 years ago

    Hello Andre, I have paid 'experts' a couple times to try to fix my overheating Compaq Presario CQ57, since I can't tackle it myself. It's still it's over 4 yrs old, should I just cut my losses and replace? Does there simply come a time when this CAN'T be fixed?? It's so frustrating, becos I love the laptop and everything else is fine. I replaced the battery last year, since was told that might help. Nope! Thanks.

    Andre Coetzee
    Andre Coetzee

    Reply 5 years ago

    Dear Eliz656,

    Overheating can always be fixed unless it is a factory fault and the laptop was overheating since it was brand new. The simple rules to follow are (tick then off as you check or solve them):

    1. Is the laptop dust free internally? (The air vents especially)
    2. Is the fan operating well? (sometimes it is best to set it to run always.)
    3. Is the thermal grease on the CPU and GPU still fine?
    4. Is air flow being blocked while working?
    5. Are you using external cooling fan/tray to help?

    6. Are you running at too high a resolution that generates too much heat?
    7. Are you running too many programs that tax your CPU?
    8. Is your laptop struggling for resources and always swapping to hard drive?

    I solved a friends desktop overheating problem just last week by blowing out the dust AND setting the graphics card to a lower resolution. Now the PC does not cut out anymore.

    Go to

    to find more help on your laptop. My laptop is older than 4 years and still going strong and so is my wife's Compaq.


    5 years ago

    i think i would like to advise you please open the laptop and apply some cooling paste around processor and clean the laptop using the Use your compressed air can to blow dust and clean the ram . cutdown some programs and start up program for more visit the post and see if this can help . thanks

    B.S SystemS
    B.S SystemS

    5 years ago

    Nice post and tips to stop <a href="">laptop overheating problems</a>


    5 years ago

    Hi Andre , I've an old Compaq laptop , Presario V6000 . Because of a problem in BIOS , it can overheat too fast . because of some software incompatibility , i can't see temperature of the CPU using a software . it has never shutdown because of heat ,or at least I've not experienced . but sometimes it gets too warm . I'm worried if it will break because of heat. When we can say that a computer is likely to break because of heat ? for example when temperature is over 100 degrees Celsius? is there any other way to see the CPU temperature ? i tried to use a thermometer , but i doubt it will show me the correct temperature .

    Andre Coetzee
    Andre Coetzee

    Reply 5 years ago

    Hi RezaG, Here is the service guide for your laptop. (Click on Here to view the Pdf manual in your browser.) The guide will show you how to take your laptop apart and clean the dust out. You can find your bios upgrades here.

    Laptop internal temperature is related to the CPU and GPU and lately RAM. The CPU and GPU (graphics card) generate the most heat. Modern CPU's start scaling down their speed when they start to overheat until they shut down completely to protect the CPU. The Intel Core 2 Duo 1.7 Ghz CPU, which is one of the CPU's your laptop can take, has a T-Junction spec of 100°C. Junction Temperature is the maximum temperature allowed at the processor die. (Intel specs can be viewed here. ) Thus it is safe to say your CPU temperature should not reach 100°C. Keeping it below 90°C is advisable.  


    6 years ago

    Hi Andre, my computer seems to be shutting down every 15 mins or so while im playing a video game. I brought it to the repair shop and the staff there told me it was because my laptop was too old? Oh well, seems to me they weren't as good as I thought they'd be but would a small vacuum cleaner work? A couple of my friends suggested me to try THAT method out but I'm not so sure if that'll be okay or not.

    Andre Coetzee
    Andre Coetzee

    Reply 6 years ago

    Yes, a small vacuum cleaner would work, but a big vacuum cleaner would work better. ;-)


    6 years ago

    This looks like something I need to try on my laptop.


    7 years ago

    Hi, Mr. Andre. I don't know if this the right thread where I should ask this but my laptop's keyboard is malfunctioning. I press on whatever key ONCE but the result is as if I have pressed the key a hundred times. It is now impossible to use it. The reason I am asking it here is because it happened after I left my laptop charging (and may have overheated). Can an overheating battery destroy the keyboard's functioning? Thank you! I hope I am not bothering you!


    Reply 6 years ago

    Just replace the keyboard. It will cost you about 20 bucks and take you about 15 minutes. Go to Amazon and type in the model of your computer and then keyboard after that and you can find them. Then there are tons of instructional videos on YouTube that can walk you through it. There's nothing to changing out a keyboard.

    Andre Coetzee
    Andre Coetzee

    Reply 6 years ago

    Hi, firstly, I am sorry I took so long to get back to you, I missed this one completely. Secondly, an overheating laptop will not cause the keyboard keys to stick. It normally does the reverse and makes your keyboard sluggish to respond. You could try to clean out the keyboard but I doubt that dust, dirt (or whatever was messed on the keyboard) will cause EVERY key to stick and repeat. Normally when a few keys stick (or don't respond) its because they are dirty. Coffee and soda that was messed on the keyboard (even just drops) normally cause this because of the sugar they contain. You could try plugging and external USB keyboard in, to see if the problem continues. If it does, its not the keyboard. Replacing the keyboard is also an option.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hello, Mr.Andre Coetzee, I'am using DELL Vostro 1015 laptop from past 4 years, but nowadays it gets heated up very fast and I'am not using any kind of material under laptop like pillow. After getting heated, my laptop gets lagging while doing work please help me. What can I do to solve this problem.

    Sometimes it is very difficult to work on it.

    This is to inform you that I'am using Windows 7 and want to upgrade to Windows 8 so can you tell me that if, should I upgrade or not*

    *(If no then give reason) *

    Andre Coetzee
    Andre Coetzee

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    First off, lets deal with your upgrade issue. Why would you would need to upgrade to Windows 8? Is there a much needed special feature that will help you? If not, don't upgrade. However, here are the more tangible reasons why not to:

    1. The Dell Vostro 1015 was not designed for Windows 8
    2. The Dell Vostro 1015 has no Windows 8 drivers
    3. Windows 10 (Microsoft Edge) will replace Windows 8 in the 2nd half of 2015. The new Windows 10 OS will be able to run Android and iOS apps.
    4. Don't fix something that is not broken. 
    The only reason I can think of why you would is that Windows 8 is lighter on resources, starts up slightly faster and has better security.

    Now, for your overheating problem. Your laptop is full of dust. Open it up. Blow out the dust and lint. Replace the thermal paste of the CPU. It should then be fine. Please only do this if you know what you are doing and backup your data before opening your laptop.
    You can find the service manual HERE.