Overheating a laptop can cause serious problems. Look out for the warning signs and you may be able to head off the problem before it becomes an issue. Sometimes overheating is caused by insufficient ventilation below the computer; elevating it or adding a cooling station can fix the problem.
The first sign of a laptop overheating is an abnormal amount of heat coming from it, especially if it is in an area of poor ventilation, such as a couch, bed or on a flat lap with the user's knees closed. When a computer overheats, the keyboard will start to heat up, and the bottom will feel hot rather than warm to the touch.
No Fan or a Damaged Fan
Internal fans are responsible for cooling a laptop's processor. If these fans are blocked or inoperative, the laptop will begin to overheat. Hold your head close to the air vents -- usually located on the bottom -- and listen for the fan. If you hear nothing, or a grinding sound instead of a soft whirr, the fan may need replacing.
As temperature sensors pick up the excess heat in the computer, the processor may cut power to itself. Alternatively, as the hard drive begins to fail, read/write speeds may slow down the computer. Impaired performance may be more noticeable when running high-performance programs such as graphics-heavy computer games and imaging software.
As the heat climbs in the laptop, you may experience hardware failures. These typically occur after the laptop has been on for some time, anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours. The monitor may turn black, the computer may have difficulty recovering from inactivity, or in some cases the computer can turn off altogether.