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Can You Use a Fan to Cool Your Laptop?

Laptop engineers continue pushing the boundaries when it comes to making machines more powerful. However, space constraints due to their sleek design come at the expense of heat-related problems.

You can use a fan to cool your laptop. However, a normal fan won’t work well because the air will have a hard time reaching the internal hardware. For maximum cooling efficiency, you should use an external laptop fan mounted in a cooling pad or stand. 

The remainder of this article will discuss a few topics related to this question, including why laptops are prone to overheating, the difference between active and passive cooling methods, factors to consider when purchasing a laptop cooling pad or stand, and the benefits of purchasing a fan to cool your laptop.

Can You Use a Fan to Cool Your Laptop?

Why laptops overheat.

There are a variety of simple reasons why your laptop might be overheating. For example, accumulated dust might be blocking your exhaust vents. Additionally, a malfunctioning internal fan could be the source of your problem.

Degenerated thermal compounds between the CPU and heat sink can also cause overheating. Likewise, a dislodged or blocked heat sink could be the source of your problem.

However, some conditions warrant the purchase of an external cooling source to keep your laptop operating at its optimal temperature.

For example, you might have installed new hardware like a RAM card, a video card, or a faster hard drive. Often, improved equipment uses more system resources than the laptop was designed to handle, leading to overheating.

Can You Use a Fan to Cool Your Laptop?

Similarly, installing a new operating system can sometimes overload a computer system. For instance, upgrading to Windows 10 is notorious for overheating laptops, and recent updates cause similar problems.

Now that we’ve identified some of the reasons for your problems, let’s explore some solutions using an external fan to cool your laptop. But first, we need to discuss the active and passive cooling systems.

Active cooling systems for laptops.

Active cooling systems use one or more fans to generate airflow around the body of your laptop to transport heat away from it. Some dynamic cooling systems blow air towards the computer while others force air in the opposite direction – away from the machine.

The fan speed for active cooling systems can be adjusted automatically or manually. And with some models the speed remains at a fixed rate.

Most active cooling systems come in the form of a cooling pad and direct the air across the bottom of your laptop to help convect heat. However, there are a few models that direct the air across your computer horizontally from the back or side.

An advantage those models have over cooling pads is that they can be placed in a vertical position and can help keep you cool as well as your computer. A couple of our favorite models include the Vantec LapCool CrossFlow Fan and the Enermax FanIcer.

Vantec LapCool CrossFlow Fan for Laptop/Tablet/Smartphone/User with USB Bus Powered (VCF-100-BK) Enermax Fan Icer (Black) Laptop Cooler Adjustable Cooling Stand USB Laptop Cross-flow Cooling Fan Turbine Fan Cooler for Laptop EUF001

Nowadays, most active cooling systems use power drawn from one of your laptop’s USB ports. Additionally, many of them include built-in USB hubs, so you don’t have to sacrifice one of your laptop’s limited number of ports.

Almost all active cooling systems are lightweight, reasonably quiet when operating, and come equipped with a variable height riser, which provides ergonomic comfort.

The following video reviews three laptop coolers using an active cooling system. The first system reviewed is the Comfy Desk. However, we prefer the Desk York Portable Aluminum Laptop Stand

Desk York Portable Aluminum Laptop Stand – Best Gift for Friend-Men-Women-Student – Recliner/Bed Lap Tray – Table for Computer-2 Built in Cooling Fans-Mouse Pad and USB Cord {Silver}

The other two cooling pads in the clip are the Kootek Kootek Chill Mat and the Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB.

Kootek Laptop Cooling Pad 12″-17″ Cooler Pad Chill Mat 5 Quiet Fans LED Lights and 2 USB 2.0 Ports Adjustable Mounts Laptop Stand Height Angle, Blue Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB Steel Mesh Panel Single 200mm Fan 10″‐19″ Laptop Notebook Cooling Pad CL‐N014‐PL20SW‐A


Passive cooling systems for laptops.

There are a couple of different types of passive cooling systems for laptops. The first approach is to create distance between the bottom of your computer and the surface where you placed it through the use of a stand. This distance creates a space beneath your laptop, which allows the heat to dissipate without the use of fans.

Stands can be short or tall and dissipate heat using a couple of methods. One method uses a flat surface made of aluminum or an aluminum alloy, which acts as a heat sink. The other o uses a frame or a mesh surface to maximize airflow.

Another method of passive cooling is the use of a lap desk or a cooling pad. This system works in a couple of different ways. First, it creates a flat surface between your laptop and the area underneath it, creating adequate airflow beneath your computer.

Second, the mat itself is typically constructed using a heat-managing surface like aluminum or polyurethane. Additionally, some lap desks are filled using an organic salt compound that absorbs heat from your laptop.

LapGear’s Home Office Lap desk is a favorite with its handy carrying handle, mousepad, and phone holder. The AboveTEK Portable Laptop Lap Desk with a retractable mouse pad and anti-slip surface is a popular model.

LapGear Home Office Lap Desk with Device Ledge, Mouse Pad, and Phone Holder – Silver Carbon – Fits Up to 15.6 Inch Laptops – Style No. 91585

The video below reviews six laptop stands to include the Roost Laptop Stand, Rain Design’s mStand Laptop Stand, the Griffin Technology Elevator Stand, and the Ventilated Adjustable Desk Stand.


Factors to consider when choosing a laptop cooling system.

Unless the noise of fans bothers you, active cooling systems provide the most effective means of keeping your laptop cool, particularly if you have a high-end computer.

There are a few factors to consider when purchasing a cooling system:

  • Cooling capacity. Cooling pads typically come with between one and five fans. We recommend considering one with at least three or more fans.
  • Fan speed. Fans speed can vary greatly depending on the brand and model. When it comes to RPMs, the higher, the better as great speed means increased airflow. The most popular cooling pads have a rate of 1000 RPM.
  • Variable speeds. Higher-end cooling pads typically provide variable fan speeds. If you prefer this option, you should consider taking the guesswork out things and consider purchasing a cooling pad with automatic speed control.
  • Size. Make that the cooling pad you purchase is designed to fit your laptop.
  • Noise. Although most cooling pads operate quietly, this should be a consideration when selecting a cooling pad. You can always take a few minutes and read customer reviews, looking for complaints regarding noise.
  • Adjustable position. Most cooling pads and stands include a tilting option, which helps you set our laptop at a comfortable angle.

Benefits of Purchasing a Fan to Cool Your Laptop

There are several benefits to purchasing a fan to cool your laptop. Better yet, those advantages increase when you buy a cooling pad or stand instead of using an ordinary house fan.

Operating your laptop at a cooler temperature helps you get the maximum performance out of your system.

Reducing your laptop temperature using a fan decreases the chances of damaging your computer’s processors, motherboard, and battery. Additionally, running your laptop a few degrees cooler increases the overall longevity of your computer.

Likewise, using an external cooling source decreases the workload and speed of the internal fans, which reduces the amount of dust build-up around those fans and your vents.

Can You Use a Fan to Cool Your Laptop?

If you overclock your system, having an external cooling source is a must. Laptops come with a pre-calibrated thermal energy flow capacity. If you overclock your system, you run the risk of damaging your system.

Another benefit of having a cooling pad or stand is improved comfort. Cooling pads and stands allow you to tilt the screen, providing increased ease of use. Likewise, stands will enable you to adjust the laptop’s height creating improved posture and ergonomic comfort.


Selecting a cooling system for your laptop can be confusing with all the models available on the market these days. Ultimately, your decision comes down to your desired features and budget.

You might consider bookmarking this article for future reference when it comes time to purchase a cooling system for your laptop.

Until we meet again, happy computing.


  • Vincent Steele

    Vincent is a freelance writer based in Santa Ana, California. When he isn't writing articles for Temperature Master, he can be found biking or hanging out with his cat, Shelly.

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