Overheating can be a real problem with laptops, especially when gaming or using demanding applications like video editing software. As well as making it uncomfortable to use on your lap, the heat created by constantly pushing your system to its limits slows down performance, reduces stability, and over the long term, can even damage components.
Keeping your laptop’s temperature under control is important for increasing both longevity and performance, and the easiest way to do this is with a cooling pad. While they all aim to do much the same thing, there are differences between the various models that affect how well they’ll work for certain people.
That’s why we’ve put together our recommendations for the best cooling pads you can use to keep your laptop at optimal working temperature, from high-powered versions meant for large gaming rigs to thin pads you can take anywhere.
One thing to note before we start: particularly with more powerful cooling pads, if you want to run the fans at full speed, you’ll need access to either a USB 3.x port on your laptop or a USB wall adapter that puts out at least 5-10 watts. USB 2.x ports and lower-power wall chargers don’t put out enough juice.
- Dimensions: 11.9 x 16.7 x 1.2 inches
- Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Fans: 5
- Maximum laptop size: 19 inch
- Dimensions: 13.7 x 15.7 x 2 inches
- Weight: 3.5 pounds
- Blowers: 2
- Maximum laptop size: 17 inch
- Dimensions: 14 x 18.5 x 1.5 inches
- Weight: 3.4 pounds
- Fans: 1
- Maximum laptop size: 19 inch
- Dimensions: 11 x 14.9 x 1.2 inches
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Fans: 3
- Maximum laptop size: 17 inch
Best Laptop Cooling Pad: TopMate C12[Product unavailable]
The [Product unavailable] might be a gaming-focused cooling pad, but it’s an impressive choice no matter what you use your laptop for. It’s a powerful beast, with a total of six fans: three bigger ones that can run at up to 1400 RPM, and three smaller fans that top out at 2400 RPM.
The fan speed is adjustable via the front panel, as is the number of fans in use, letting you tone things down if you’re doing less-demanding tasks. This is mainly for controlling the noise level, which can get quite loud when all of the fans are running at full output.
Because the C12 is primarily a gaming cooling pad, it has RGB lighting to match a gamer’s other gear. You can turn this off using the same front panel, though, if you prefer a more subtle look.
The pad has a convenient, albeit somewhat flimsy, smartphone holder on the side, so you won’t miss important notifications. You can also charge your phone or other mobile devices from either of the two USB slots on the rear of the pad.
One of the more useful features of the C12 is the adjustability of its base, which lets you tilt and raise the cooling pad through eight different levels to find the perfect viewing angle. The durable pad is wide enough to accommodate laptops with screen sizes up to 17.3″.
The TopMate C12 is one of the best laptop cooling pads right now, thanks to a winning combination of strong cooling power, impressive height/tilt adjustments, ability to handle larger laptops, and useful extras. Reasonably priced for everything it offers, it’s our top pick overall.[Product unavailable]
Runner-Up, Best Laptop Cooling Pad: TECKNET ECP01505
Despite its unwieldy name, the TECKNET ECP01505 is an impressive laptop cooling pad, and you’ll often find it a little cheaper than some of the other models we mention. Despite that lower price tag, though, it offers good cooling power and a number of useful features.
Five powerful fans run at up to 1400 RPM each, with a single larger fan in the center surrounded by four slightly smaller ones on each corner. Fan speed can be adjusted with a control wheel on the side of the unit. Combined with the pad’s mesh design that helps with airflow, the ECP01505 has plenty of cooling power for most laptops.
Noise levels are also surprisingly low, the fans generating only around 30dB at maximum speed. As a comparison, a quiet library will typically be about 40dB: this is about as close to silent as you’ll get from a cooling pad.
The base of the pad is sturdy and wide enough to support at least a 17″ laptop. The company rates it higher, up to 19″, but we’d probably opt for the Thermaltake model (below) at that point. Height adjustment range is reasonable but not amazing: you’ve got three options, with a maximum rear lift of 3.5″.
There are a pair of USB sockets on the side: one for powering the cooling pad itself, and the other for connecting or charging other devices. RGB lighting illuminates the sides of the pad, and can be changed or switched off via a button on the front.
In short, if you’ve got a larger laptop or our top pick is out of stock or more expensive than usual, the TECKNET ECP01505 is a worthy alternative.Buy on Amazon
Best Cooling Pad for Gaming Laptops: IETS GT300 Double Blower
Serious gaming laptops put out a lot of heat, and often struggle to stay cool when running demanding games, especially if you play for long periods. Most cooling pads don’t move enough air to really drop the temperatures of machines like these, but a few specialized versions are up to the job.
Of those, our pick is the IETS GT300 Double Blower, a high-end pad with a design and features not found elsewhere. A clue to the first of those features is in the name: the GT300 uses two 4500rpm blowers (i.e., not fans) to create a serious amount of wind.
To make the most of that hurricane-like blast, the pad has a rubber gasket around the edge that locks the laptop in place and creates a firm seal. This means that moving air doesn’t escape out the sides: rather, it rushes around underneath the laptop and past the vents to maximize the amount of cooling going on.
By default, a gasket appropriate for a 15″ laptop is installed on the pad. There’s also a 17″ version in the box: it’s a bit fiddly to install, but you’ll only need to do it once.
The downside of all that power, unsurprisingly, is the noise. At full speed (there are three blower settings), the pad is really quite loud. It won’t bother you if you’re wearing headphones or gaming in a room by yourself, but if you’re working or sharing a space with others, you’ll definitely want to dial things back.
The dual air intakes for the blowers unlatch so you can install and remove the included washable cotton filters. Dust is a major cause of heat buildup in laptops, so anything that helps keep it out of the internals is very welcome. It’s rare to see this kind of attention to detail from a manufacturer, and we appreciate it.
There’s plenty of height adjustment on offer, with seven different positions available (including dead flat). Unsurprisingly from a gamer-focused cooling pad, RGB lighting is also included: you get seven different colors and four different modes, which can be turned off if you prefer a more subtle approach.
The only real downsides of the GT300 are the price (it’s noticeably more expensive than more basic models) and the need for your laptop to have air vents on the bottom for the pad to be effective. Most gaming laptops do, but not all, so be sure to check before you buy.Buy on Amazon
Best Cooling Pad for 17-inch+ Laptops: Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB
Thermaltake is known for making impressive cooling solutions, from CPU fans and liquid coolers to high-end laptop cooling pads. The best pad in its lineup, particular for those with larger laptops, is the Massive 20 RGB.
The cooling pad can support up to 19″ laptops, making it one of the largest you can get. The base is very rugged and durable, but surprisingly lightweight for its size. That size, however, isn’t small, so don’t plan to be dropping this pad in your carry-on anytime soon.
The Massive 20 RGB opts for one large fan instead of several smaller ones as most cooling pads do. This gives it the advantage of being quieter than usual, but limits its performance somewhat. While it’s fine for casual users, it’s sadly not really powerful enough for most gaming laptops.
The RGB lights are a nice touch, located around the edges of the unit to provide a subtle lighting effect. You can turn them off or choose between five light settings.
This cooling pad does fall a little flat when it comes to height adjustments, though. It can only tilt a measly 19 degrees from the table surface, which is pretty limiting for most people.
Overall, the Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB has some hits and a few misses, which prevents it from rating higher on this list. If you have an especially large laptop, however, there’s no better cooling pad for the job.Buy on Amazon
Best Thin Laptop Cooling Pad: Havit HV-F2056
The Havit HV-F2056 is one of the best thin cooling pads we’ve found so far. Due to its thin profile and light weight, it’s a fantastic choice for digital nomads and anyone else regularly needing to cool their laptops on the go.
The HV-F2056 is powered by three fans running at 1100 RPM. They have a combined airflow output of 65 CFM (cubic feet per minute), which is above average for a pad this size.
The base, while thin, is made of durable ABS material. It has an anti-skid surface that prevents the laptop from slipping, an important consideration when you may not have a stable surface to place the pad on.
The main drawback of the HV-F2056 is the limited height adjustment, which makes it harder to find an ideal position with it. Nevertheless, it’s still an impressively thin cooling pad with good cooling power and great portability.Buy on Amazon
Wrapping It Up
The [Product unavailable] is our top pick thanks to its impressive great cooling power, wide range of supported laptop sizes, and multitude of height adjustments. It’s the only cooling solution you’ll need for most situations inside the house.
Main image via My Hardy/Shutterstock.com, product images via Amazon