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Smart computer use? Maybe, maybe not.

DIY Laptop Platform – Keep Your Laptop Cool

Every laptop computer user has a situation where the laptop is sitting on top of furniture or on your lap, on a soft cloth surface. This can heat up a laptop, to the point of meltdown if you are not careful.

I’ve always been tempted to buy a laptop pad designed for home use, the kind with a wooden platform and a soft pad attached underneath of some sorts. But why? Something like that, from a store, is going to cost $10 – $20.

I don’t really feel like spending that much money on something that fundamentally simple.

Here’s what I do.

I just use a 3 ring binder or a book as a laptop platform.

3-Ring Binder

I would guess that most people have a bookshelf with books and binders of sorts. Just see what you’ve got on your own shelf. Atlas-sized books work good for larger laptops. You’ll keep your laptop computer off of cloth surfaces that promote overheating, and you’l save yourself $20.


A Near Laptop Horror Story… Regarding Overheating

Each day, at least on the weekdays, I pack up my laptop and put it in my backpack to either take it to or from work. This is a pretty standard procedure and goes well. I’ve never destroyed my laptop in the process of transporation (yet).

This process of transporting my laptop to and from work has led to a near laptop horror story that I almost carried through with. I guess you could call it a laptop close-call.

An overheating laptop is not a good thing

I’ve written in the past about keeping a laptop cool, it’s a subject near to my heart (ha, not that important, but still important to me). This is because I’ve battled with overheating laptops much in the past and present. Not so much in the present since my current laptop computer seems to handle itself quite well and doesn’t overheat, but it’s still a topic on my mind frequently.

There are many things that can cause a laptop to overheat. One of those things is neglect, or not paying attention to your laptop when it’s pleading to be cooled. But that is for another day.

What I did to my laptop to cause near-meltdown

I closed the lid one morning on my laptop, preparing to pack it up and head to work. I unplugged all the cables and then stuffed the laptop computer into my backpack.

I was in a hurry.

I usually look at the led lights on the front of the laptop to make sure that it is actually in hibernation. This day I did not. I just stuffed it into my backpack and took off for work.

At some point later in the morning I needed to gain access to my laptop for something. It was probably to chat with my fellow developers who are not in-office, or something, as I only run my IM application of choice (Trillian) on my laptop since it’s mobile and I always have it with me.

I reached in the backpack to pull out the laptop and the computer was HOT AS HELL (almost literally). I immediately realized that the computer hadn’t actually hibernated and was running at full clip inside of my backpack. It had been in there for a couple hours.

Nuts! (oven-roasted peanuts… mmm)

I immediately opened it up and put it in a location with good air flow, then I shut it down.

This could have easily melted down something in the computer. I would hope that the computer would turn off automatically before something overheated… but to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever felt a laptop that was this hot in any situation. It was like I just pulled it out of the oven!

I lucked out…

Lucky for me, nothing happened. I got to chalk this one up to experience with no repercussions. The laptop has been working fine since then, but I definitely make sure to look at the front of the machine to make sure it’s in hibernation before I put it in my backpack anymore.

Kinda like when you crash a bicycle… how a person is a little more wary of curbs and bumps in the road afterwards.


Keeping your laptop computer cool is important, use a laptop cooler, or a gas duster, or something

A hot laptop computer is not a good idea. Keeping your laptop cool is smart. Keeping a laptop cooler is easy with a laptop cooler and/or a gas duster.

There are plenty of laptop computer horror stories out there, many involving overheating machines. I have had a particular laptop computer that for about three years has now developed a severe overheating disorder. I have figured out ways to keep the laptop from overheating, without spending too much money. You can make your own laptop coolers if you are up to the challenge.

When you think about it, there isn’t much to a laptop cooler. It’s either a base with fans, or a base that simply gives more air-space to the bottom of the laptop.

Purchasing a cheap laptop cooler base is the easiest way to go

The most effectively cheap way, and the most time-effective way (you won’t have to build your own) to keep your laptop from overheating is by going out a picking up an fan-based laptop cooler. There are many options on the internet available for purchase:

And then I ran across QuadCooler.com

The stuff at quadcooler.com looked pretty sweet. And for kicks I also found a review site that looked promising as far as providing reviews of the quadcooler, but it degraded pretty quickly into a bunch of arguing about laptop coolers.

Are you thinking to yourself, “wait, these things look pretty simple, I want to make one”?

If you are you might want to check out this Instructables page about making your own laptop cooler. Or you might want to check out how to make a laptop cooler in about an hour and a half. Even if you don’t follow these instructions to make your own laptop cooler, these page might give you a good idea about what some other people have done to make their own. They might help you to get started on your adventures of trying to cool your overheating laptop, on the cheap.

My overheating story, it’s not that interesting

I have used a simple 2 fan device, powered by USB. It has worked fine, and kept my laptop from overheating. One of the fans eventually got clogged up with dust and needed to be cleaned. Then after that the fan did eventually just wear out. Now it makes all kinds of noise while it tries to spin. I’ll need to replace the fan or buy another. I’ll be looking into a fan-less unit this time around, mainly for power consumption reasons.

Even as much as the 2-fan laptop cooler was important to keeping the heat levels down on my laptop, using compressed air to clean out the air channels in the unit was just as much important.

Try this out: buy and use a can of compressed air, or more correctly a gas duster. Yep, they’re actually called gas dusters. Check it out at that link if you have some extra time.

So, it comes down to 2 things

2 things, that is, to help keep your laptop cool:

  • Use an under-laptop cooling unit, either fan or non-fan based
  • Use a gas duster to clean out your machine and allow for better air flow
  • Turn up the air conditioning (gratuitous 3rd unnecessary item)

Yep.