Laptops are both thinner and more powerful than they’ve ever been. However, this comes with some problems — especially with heat dissipation. It’s a common ailment for premium laptops like Macbooks, Razer Blades, Dell XPS laptops, and many gaming laptops with powerful graphics cards. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a catch-22 with cooling. You need a bit more space under the hood to move larger amounts of air. Thin, light laptops reduce that space and, therefore, the airflow. Luckily, laptop coolers can help ease the thermal strain and give you better performance. Here are the best laptop coolers for both work and play.
Best laptop coolers:
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list of the best laptop coolers regularly as new devices launch.
Do laptop coolers actually work?
The answer is yes, but not in the way you might think. There are a variety of variables when it comes to cooling a laptop. The most basic is keeping the laptop’s bottom off things like carpets or blankets since most draw in air from the bottom and exhaust it out of the sides and back. All laptop coolers provide this function, so they all at least work a little bit in helping laptops get fresh air. Obviously, the inclusion of fans helps push air into the laptop to help it cool further.
However, laptops don’t just cool down when you provide extra cooling. Most laptops without a cooler simply run out of thermal headroom and throttle themselves down to prevent overheating. For example, a laptop with a 4.0Ghz boost clock speed may throttle down to 3Ghz to keep itself around the 80-85C mark during a stress test. A laptop cooler may only cool the laptop down to the 75-80C mark, but the processor will most likely improve to 3.5Ghz. The laptop takes its extra thermal headroom to run without a thermal throttle, and the cooling you get is just a cherry on top.
You can replicate those observations yourself by using Intel XTU (download link) or Ryzen Master (download link) and running stress tests with and without a laptop cooler. Both apps show you things like CPU clock speed, voltage, temperature, and other metrics while testing. You can see not only how well a cooler cools, but also the effects it has on performance during stress tests.
Thus, it is very rare to see temperature differences north of 8-10C in most cases. However, you will also see a boost in performance, so it’s not all for nothing. In our testing, the majority of laptop coolers cooled around 5C (give or take), but our testing laptop also ran at 0.4-0.7Ghz faster during stress testing. Having a laptop reach the 80-90C range is not dangerous for the components. They are rated to survive much higher temperatures and will shut down long before they reach those temperatures. That said, every laptop cooler on this list prevented a thermal throttle during an Intel XTU stress test on my 17-inch Asus ROG gaming laptop, something it could not do on its own.
1. Thermaltake Massive 20 laptop cooler
Your best bet for massive laptops is the accurately named Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB. This thing held my 17.3-inch laptop with a bunch of room to spare, and it’ll definitely hold most 19-inch laptops (maybe even larger in some cases). The laptop cooler has a 200mm fan capable of pumping out 64 CFM of air. It sounds like a lot, but it’s spread over a larger surface area than most other coolers. It did quite well in our CPU stress testing and idle test but still managed to pull down our temps by a few degrees in games. This is also one of the few laptop coolers where you can turn the LED lights off without turning off the fans too.
The RGB part lines the outside of the frame and is configurable in several different ways. Thermaltake includes the instructions in the box and it’s quite easy to do. The only potential caveat is the connection. Your laptop needs to exert more than 1.2A from the USB port where you plug this in, or else you’ll need to connect the second USB plug that comes with the Massive 20 RGB. Otherwise, it’s one of the few good options for ample laptop space. You can read our review here for more details and all of our testing data.
2. Havit HV-F2068 5-Fan Cooling Pad
The Havit HV-F2068 5-fan Cooling Pad is another excellent choice for larger gaming laptops. The aggressive design, LED lights, USB passthrough, and fan controls offer more value to gamers and power users. The cooler sports four 85mm fans in the corners and a single 110mm fan in the middle. They push a maximum of 65CFM of air. This one also comes in red or blue LED lights along with a matching braided USB cable and matching fans. The image above shows you how the blue LED version looks.
The HV-F2068 actually cools pretty well. It did very well in our idle and CPU tests and above average in our gaming test. The larger frame easily held my 17.3-inch laptop, but that’s about as large as this one goes. It’ll definitely fit 15-inch laptops, but anything much smaller is going to waste the airflow potential of all five fans. You can’t turn off the LED lights, and it’s definitely not designed for professional use. It’s otherwise a solid laptop cooler. You can check out all our testing results in our full review. Another decent option for the 15-17 inch laptop range with some slightly less aggressive styling is the Pccooler PC-R6 laptop cooler.
3. Cooler Master NotePal X-Lite II
The Cooler Master NotePal X-Lite II is one of the quieter ones on our list since it uses just one 140mm fan. It won’t be the most substantial fan, but the value is where it shines. It’s got two USB ports on the side for passthrough and a built-in fan control dial.
There are also feet on the bottom to angle your laptop the way you’d like for ergonomics and an LED strip for a bit more pizzazz. This one’s pretty lite (pun intended) on extra features, but it’s also one of the cheaper ones around, thus making it one of the best laptop coolers.
4. TopMate C302 laptop cooler
The TopMate C302 is among the best budget laptop cooler options on the list. It usually clocks in at under $20 on Amazon, and that’s not bad at all considering what you get. The lightweight plastic frame comes with two 125mm fans and a total of 70CFM of airflow. Like the Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB, that airflow is spread out over a larger area, but as long as your laptop vents are covered, it should be okay. It performed admirably in our idle test, average in our CPU test, and a little below average in our gaming test, but these fans also didn’t line up well with my vents, so your mileage may vary.
TopMate did cut a few corners. There are no fan controls or off switch. You have to manually unplug the thing to turn it off. You also can’t turn off the blue LED lights without turning off the cooler. We would’ve liked an off switch at least, but bargain pricing makes a lot of the omissions understandable. This is easily the best budget option on the list. You can also read our full review here to check out the cooling numbers.
5. Targus Chill Mat
The Targus Chill Mat is made for a different type of user. Instead of focusing on raw performance and flashy lighting, it instead tries for a more comfortable experience while using your laptop on your actual lap. The cooler sits on a permanent tilt. In addition, the frame is made entirely of lightweight plastic with some fabric foam accents. This one definitely looks good in public.
It’s also made for a particular kind of laptop, mostly Ultrabooks, Macbooks, and similar products where a little cooling goes a longer way. The cooler contains dual 75mm fans along the top middle of the cooler. If your laptop vents aren’t there, the cooling quickly drops from average to below average. It’s an excellent cooler for fans of minimalism who also want a more professional-looking appearance. People looking to cool their GTX 2070 and Intel i7 gaming laptops may want to look into something a little more powerful, but this one should work great for everyone else. You can see more in our full review here.
6. Kootek LCP04
The Kootek LCP04 is one of the best options for fans of customization. This thing has five tilt settings (six if you include flat), two USB passthrough ports, and four fan control options. The fans include a single 140mm fan and four 70mm fans. You can turn off just the middle fan, just the four outside fans, leave them all on, or turn them all off. The lights turn off with the fans so you can see which ones are active and which ones are off. The frame is also lightweight and easily portable. This laptop cooler is pretty flexible!
In terms of cooling, Kootek did an above-average job. We got our best results during the CPU stress test and idle tests, but the cooler struggled a bit with heavy gaming. Honestly, the slightly below-average gaming performance is about the only real con we have with this one. It’s easily the most customizable cooler on the list, and its dual USB passthrough ports are unique in this space. As long as you’re not expecting miracles with super heavy PC games, you shouldn’t have any problems with this one. Check out our full review to see all the data.
7. Cooler Master NotePal XL
As the name implies, the Notepal XL is a pretty big laptop cooling pad. Its call to fame is the quiet 230mm fam that will move more air at a slower speed than smaller fans. For some added flash, there’s a blue LED on the fan. That’ll be nifty in areas where you can’t see the three available USB ports or built-in fan speed controller.
The Notepal XL supports up to 17″ laptops and has rubberized feet on the bottom for ergonomics.
8. KLIM Cool+ Vacuum-style cooler
For a more direct approach to laptop cooling, the KLIM Cool+ vacuum-style cooler sucks air straight out of your laptop’s vents to assist with heat dissipation. Unfortunately, however, due to the design of this cooler, it will only work with certain types of laptops. Newer ultrabooks and laptops with vents that get blocked when the screen is open will not work with this cooler. Instead, it works best with bulkier models with vents on the side for this cooler to attach to.
If you happen to have a laptop that fits the bill, coolers of this style generally yield some great results as long as your vent is clear of dust. It features a few different fan speeds as well as some decorative lighting and the fan is USB powered.