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Monitoring Laptop Operating Temperatures

written by: Lashan Clarke•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 12/8/2009

The performance of laptops is often influenced by high temperatures, but it may cause greater problems if so much overheating is done that could render the laptop unusable.

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    Like all machines a laptop requires certain conditions under which it can operate. And one of these, like it is for most electronic devices, is a safe temperature in which it can work. In all bigger computers the cooling is achieved for the CPU and other components through the use of multiple fans, but in a laptop in which one fan is almost always operating (which acts as heat evacuation device), unfortunately there is not much space for installation of additional fans. So ensuring that it is always at a safe temperature would depend on the circumstances in which the laptop has to operate.

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    Factors that Influence the Temperature on Your Laptop

    Laptop temperatures can increase when the surrounding ambient temperature is high, as the laptop will never be cooler than the environment. The surface on which you keep your laptop can also affect its temperature. If you keep it on a soft surface that absorbs and retains the heat, the laptop would not have a chance to cool down. Other factors that can influence the temperature in a laptop are working in a room where there is no airflow that can help dissipate the heat from the laptop. Also working in direct sunlight, even if you are travelling in an air conditioned car, can cause the temperature to rise. The programs being used can also affect the temperature on a laptop. More demanding programs like Photoshop or movies can increase the temperature because of the high demands these programs make on the chips within the laptop. Alternately, if you are just surfing the Internet or working on text programs, the temperature may not go up by much.

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    Effects of High Temperatures on Your Laptop

    The performance of the laptop is influenced by high temperatures. It may cause the performance of the laptop to slow down, causing frequent reboots, or even trip protective circuits that shut the laptop down for a time. Continuing to use the laptop when its temperature is high can cause the internal circuits to fail and thus render the laptop unusable.

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    Precautions

    See that the laptop is always used in a place where there is sufficient airflow, which will help to dissipate the temperature being built up within the laptop. If there is no air conditioning, use of fans is recommended. Always work on firm surfaces, like tables and avoid working with the lap top on your lap. See that the surface is all always dust free. Monitor the temperatures on your laptop through software that can easily be downloaded from the net. These would even have safe and danger zones indicated while showing the temperature on the laptop. You can even have a sensor or probe which can measure the temperature, though the absolute figures on this will not in any way be an indication of safe temperatures. For this you would have to monitor the working of your laptop and judge the conditions under which you notice temperature rises. And naturally once you have these guidelines avoid long periods of working on the laptop in conditions that you know are increasing the temperature.

    Long usage of laptops while watching movies or even editing photographs need to be done in such areas where you are sure that the ambient temperature can be controlled. Alternatively switch off the laptop periodically and take a break while the laptop cools down. And in spite of all this if you do find the performance is still sluggish or not what it should be, maybe it is high time you got your laptop to an expert and get his opinion of your problems.

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    Final Words - What is the Temperature for a Laptop to Overheat?

    See that the laptop is always used in a place where there is sufficient airflow, which will help to dissipate the temperature being built up within the laptop. If there is no air conditioning, the use of fans is recommended. Always work on firm surfaces like tables and desks and avoid working with the laptop on your lap. See that the surface is all always dust free. Monitor the temperatures on your laptop through software that can easily be downloaded from the net. These should have safety and danger zones indicated while showing the temperature on the laptop. You can even have a hardware sensor or probe which can measure the temperature, though the absolute figures on this will not in any way be an indication of safe temperatures. For this you would have to monitor the working of your laptop and judge the conditions under which you notice temperature rises. And naturally once you have these guidelines, avoid long periods of working on the laptop in conditions that you know are increasing the temperature.

    Long usage of laptops while watching movies or even editing photographs need to be done in such areas where you are sure that the ambient temperature can be controlled. Alternatively switch off the laptop periodically and take a break while the laptop cools down. And in spite of all this if you do find the performance is still sluggish or not what it should be, maybe it is high time you got your laptop to an expert and get his opinion of your problems.