The best laptop cooling pads are great for gaming, but these computer accessories also have a host of other uses. Laptops are true feats of engineering, cramming powerful processors, RAM, a sound card, connections, and sometimes even a powerful dedicated graphics card into a slim body that only has so much room for vents. When you put all these components to work running demanding software like AAA games, Photoshop, or video editors, your laptop could use a little help managing the heat. Enter laptop cooling pads.
The best laptop cooling pads usually come as a perforated plastic support for your laptop that features one or more fans. They direct air into the base of your laptop, providing a steady stream of cooling air. Most cooling pads connect to your laptop via USB. Like many other computer accessories that are primarily marketed toward PC gamers, laptop cooling pads often feature glowing LED lights, or even fully customizable RGB strips, however, less showy options are available for those who aren’t keen on glowing trim.
I use my laptop cooling pad daily, often as a simple base when I bring it to my bed to catch up on a show, and flipping it on when I hop into a game of “Deep Rock Galactic,” or edit a particularly large Photoshop file. Below I’ll highlight the features of the the best laptop cooling pads for whatever your needs are.
How We Picked The Best Laptop Cooling Pads
The best laptop cooling pads efficiently distribute cooling air through your laptop to disperse heat. It’s also important to look at how laptop cooling pads are powered, whether their build quality will ensure they last, how much noise they make, height adjustment options, and what type of special features might distinguish them from the herd. Below I break down the metrics I looked for in these laptop cooling pads.
Cooling power and RPM are the first metrics to look at when evaluating a cooling pad. A cooling pad with higher revolutions per minute (RPM) per fan and more fans will usually supply better cooling power than a cooling pad with fewer fans and lower RPM. How much air a fan can move is sometimes measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), which is overall a better metric for measuring a pad’s cooling potential, but this metric isn’t always given.
Build quality is as important with a cooling pad as any other piece of tech. No one wants to invest in a cooling pad that will fall apart in under a year. Usually strong premium plastic is the way to go over metal here, as it is more portable.
Noise is also an important consideration. The best laptop cooling pads don’t whine, or come with fans that deteriorate quickly. That’s why we prioritized cooling pads with less fan noise.
Features like USB ports, adjustable angles, and customizable lighting can also distinguish a cooling pad. While none of these were as critical in our list as cooling power and build quality, I highlighted any special features that make any given cooling pads special. For the best options, check out our guide to the best laptops.
Best Laptop Cooling Pads: Reviews And Recommendations
Best Overall: havit HV-F2056
Why It Made The Cut: This USB-powered cooling pad features three 1-100 RPM fans, USB ports, and two heights.
— Number of Fans: 3
— RPM: 1,100 +/- 200 per fan
— Dimensions: 14.96 inches L x 1.18 inches W x 11.02 inches H
— Powerful cooling with high RPM and 65 CFM
— Relatively quiet
— Blue LEDs offer a nice subtle glow
— Lightweight at only 1.5 pounds
— Only two height adjustments
When I bought my laptop, an Asus Zenbook 15, I knew that the built-in graphics card was going to get hot, so I went ahead and ordered a Havit with it. After a year and a half of daily use I have nothing to complain about. The havit HV-F2056 is a small laptop cooling pad with a slim form that still boasts impressive cooling power. Whether I’m boating through new realms in “Minecraft” on high graphics with a texture pack loaded, or working in Photoshop with 32 open layers, this cooling pad hits my computer with enough cooling air to keep it running at temperatures that are cool to the touch. Made of recyclable ABS plastic, the F2056 sports three quiet 1,100 RPM fans, and powers on via a USB-A cord. To compensate for the commandeered USB port, the pad sports two USB hubs on its rear.
I might not actually turn my Havit cooling pad on every day, but I take it wherever my laptop goes. I like the added height it gives me when I use it on my lap, and even without the fans on, the cooling pad keeps any uncomfortable heat away from my legs. I’m not into RGB lighting on computer accessories, but the blue light from this pad doesn’t bother me, and during late night gaming sessions, the light makes for a nice, quiet mood piece. I don’t use the legs on this cooling pad, but they are my only point of criticism. For those who do want a cooling pad with variable angle and height adjustment, this one only has two legs. Otherwise, I think this cooling pad has everything you need.
Best Budget: TopMate C302
Why It Made The Cut: With dual 1,300 RPM fans, supports to keep your laptop from sliding when tilted, and two tilt angles, this feature-rich cooling pad is also easy on the wallet.
— Number of Fans: 2
— RPM: 1,300 +/- 10 percent per fan
— Size: 14.2 inches L x 10.43 inches W x 1 inches H
— Decently powerful fans
— USB composite plug that allows you to plug a second USB into the slot your pad is using
— Flippable lower baffles allow you to keep your laptop from sliding off when tilted
— USB pass through connection runs a cord to its right that will block whatever jack is next to it
— Might not be powerful enough for gaming laptops that really push heat
— Wobbles if placed flat on table
For most of us, extra airflow and two fans are really all we need. The TopMate C302 is a dual fan plastic laptop cooling pad that does a decent job for a remarkably affordable price. Its two fans turn at 1,300 RPM each and remain quiet enough to not be annoying. While they may not be powerful enough to cool a gaming laptop running the newest AAA games at highest settings, the fans do a good enough job for most of us.
The cooling pad uses a USB pass-through for power. The plug hooks into your USB-A and allows you to plug another USB into it, sharing the slot, while the pad extracts power out of a wire that exits the jack to the right. The pass-through would be a cool feature but for the fact that the side wire blocks any jack that should happen to be to the right of the USB-A slot you plug your pad into. This means you should be sure you have a compatible USB-A slot on your laptop before you buy. Another issue with the pad is that there's no notch through which the power cord can exit the bottom of the cooling pad, so that if the pad lays flat, the wire causes it to wobble slightly.
All in all, this is a pad with a couple minor design flaws, but it still earns its laurels for its cheap price and decent 1,300 RPM dual fans.
Most Powerful: AFMAT Gaming Laptop Cooling Pad
Why It Made The Cut: With a 4,500 RPM blower system and a design that ensures the pad seals to the bottom of your laptop, this is a powerful cooling system for computers with intake valves on their bottom.
— Number of Fans: 2
— RPM: 4,500 total
— Size: 15.7 inches L x 13.7 inches W x 2 inches H
— Super-powered fans work with seal to create a powerful suction cool
— Extra USB connections
— Four LED light patterns
— Not suitable for laptops with exhaust valves on their bottom as heat exhaust will be trapped
— Fans are loud
Sometimes you can't compromise on heat exchange. The AFMAT Gaming Laptop Cooling Pad delivers some of the most powerful cooling around. The system seals to the bottom of your laptop using a rubberized plastic lip. Two powerful blowers totaling 4,500 RPM blast the bottom of your laptop with cool, dust filtered air. The seal ensures that there’s a constant stream of air blowing onto your laptop’s lower surface and into its lower intake valves at all times. To further sweeten the deal, the device features a couple USB chargers, and a programmable LED strip around the sides that can be switched on for four different LED color modes.
While the AFMAT cooling pad delivers some of the most powerful cooling around, it does come with some issues. The powerful blowers are not quiet; at their highest gear setting they are quite loud. If you’re a gamer who uses headphones, the extreme cooling will be worth the noise, however it’s not a drawback to discount entirely. Also, this cooling pad is not suitable for laptops that vent heat downward through their base like the HP Omen 15. The heat will be trapped in the sealed space below the laptop and have nowhere to go. It also won’t work as optimally for laptops that draw air from their sides. For optimal use, this cooling pad must be paired with a laptop that draws air from its underside like the Asus TUF Dash 15.
Best for Lap Use: Targus 17-inch Dual Fan
Why It Made The Cut: With two fans and a slanted, open-edge design, this USB-powered cooling pad makes a perfect buffer between your hot laptop and your bare legs.
— Number of Fans: 2
— RPM: 2,000 total
— Size: 2.2 inches L x 15.1 inches Wx 12 inches H
— Comfortable shape for all-day lap use
— Decently powerful cooling fans with good air draw from sides
— Design feels decently sturdy
— Doesn’t lay flat
The Targus 17-inch Dual Fan is a sleek wedge-shaped laptop cooling pad made for lap use. With two open sides and two fans that deliver up to 2,000 RPM, this pad does a good job at cooling even cheap laptops and a great job at keeping your hot laptop away from your skin. Because of this, this is a great laptop cooling pad for a college student, who might be using their laptop on their lap in lots of different settings, or anyone who likes to roam around the house with their laptop. The USB power cord is concealed inside the open edges of the wedge.
One of the benefits to this wedge-shaped model is that the perforated base which your laptop will sit on will naturally promote air flow, whether the fans are on or not. It also provides a nice work surface for all-day lap use. The padded foam on the bottom is also a nice touch, ensuring that your computer’s weight won't wear on your legs. That said, some users report that their cooling pads have unreliable circuitry that fails before it should. So this pad might not have the longevity you’ll find in some others.
Best for Gaming: Klim Nova
Why It Made The Cut: This 70-CFM cooling pad sports one huge 1,500 RPM fan, and four 3,500 RPM fans for an ultra-powered cooling boost that looks right at home on a modern gamer’s desk.
— Number of Fans: 2
— RPM: 1 large x 1,500 RPM fan; 4 small x 3,500 RPM fans
— Size: 15.35 inches L x 10.94 inches W x 1.97 inches H
— Powerful fans
— Four inclination settings
— Perforated metal surface
— Front baffles get in the way of typing
The Klim Nova is one of those computer accessories that screams gamer, and that’s with good reason, because it’s a well-suited cooling pad for gaming laptops. With one large central fan that spins at 1,500 RPM, and four 3,500 RPM fans, this cooling pad quietly pushes more air than our best overall pick, the havit HV-F2056, if only by a little bit. The LED lights look cool without being overpowering, and the four adjustable slant settings are a useful addition.
The one major issue this cooling pad has is its high front baffles. These pegs rise up at the lower portion of the metal grill and hold your laptop in place when it’s slanted. However, they’re high enough that they get in the way of many user’s optimal wrist placement. This won’t be as much of an issue for those who use their laptop with a separate console controller nightly, but could get in the way for the rest of us. Otherwise, this is a decently well-designed laptop cooling pad for gaming that has good cooling, a novel design, and runs quiet. Get started with one of the best gaming laptops.
Things To Consider Before You Buy A Laptop Cooling Pad
Before you pull the trigger on a laptop cooling pad it’s worth considering everything you want out of it.
Cool It Or Cool You?
Since the prime function of laptop cooling pads is to lower the temperature of your laptop as it plays movies or edit your photos, we focused on the specs that show how well a laptop cools your computer. However, it also bears considering how well a cooling pad will protect you. For those who aren’t pushing their laptop — texturing 3D realms in Blender, or playing AAA games on high settings, a relatively moderately powered cooling pad that feels good on the lap will be all that’s needed. In this case it’s important to look for a laptop cooling pad that feels good on the legs, provides strong ergonomic support, and vents hot air away from your thighs.
Laptop cooling pads don’t have to cost that much. Unless you’re looking for maximal cooling you can score a decent cooling pad for a moderate to low price. Before you end up spending well over $50 on a premium cooling pad make sure it’s an investment that’s justified.
Laptop Vent Placement
Not every laptop is designed the same. Many laptops take in cool air from the sides and bottom and vent heat exhaust from the sides. Some include ridges on the bottom to guide air flow. If you want to be sure your laptop cooling pad will optimally cool your laptop it’s worth examining where your laptop’s intake valves are so that you can find a cooling pad that will feed cool air directly into those. If your laptop’s exhaust vents face downward it’s important to find a cooling pad that won’t trap that heat exhaust and blow it back into your laptop.
Q: Do I need a cooling pad?
Most of the time the answer to this question is maybe. If you have a tweaked laptop that’s prone to overheating, you’re pushing your laptop to its very limit daily, or you’re using a very old laptop that consistently gets too hot, then a cooling pad can make a difference. Cooling pads can also protect bare legs from daily laptop scorches on the couch. However, for many of us a laptop cooling pad isn’t necessary. I use mine switched off as a buffer between my legs and laptop bottom more often than I turn mine on.
Q: Are cooling pads good for laptops?
Cooling pads can be bad for laptops. While cooling pads do have the capacity to reduce internal laptop temperatures (sometimes by quite a lot), the usefulness of this is arguably counteracted by the dust that is blown into your laptop by the pad. This can mean that some laptops will need to be cleaned of dust after they are used with a cooling pad for some time.
Q: How does a laptop cooling pad work?
Laptop cooling pads use fans that blow air into the vents of your laptop and across its surfaces. Usually, these pads also promote open air flow underneath your laptop, so that its intake vent doesn’t draw air against a flat surface.
Q: Does cooling pad increase FPS?
A cooling pad can increase frames per second somewhat, however, for the most part it won’t increase FPS enough for you to notice. On older systems that are being pushed past their natural limit this might be otherwise; if a system is running close to its natural shutdown temp, a cooling pad could help it cool down and run smoother and more reliably — thereby increasing frame rates.
Q: Does cooling pad drain battery?
Most laptop cooling pads are powered via USB-A plugs that draw power from your laptop, therefore, if your laptop is running on batteries the cooling pad will share your laptop’s battery charge and deplete that charge. External USB power sources can fix this problem. For extra power, check out our guide to the best gaming routers.
If you just bought a brand new gaming laptop, or you’re pushing an older system that’s starting to show some performance wear, then a laptop cooling pad can be a great buy to increase the performance and longevity of your computer. These devices usually plug into a USB slot on your laptop to power a set of fans which direct air up against your computer’s underside, while simultaneously providing an open frame for air to flow through, so that your computer can naturally ventilate. For a super affordable cooling pad that still provides great ventilation, check out the TopMate C302. If you’re looking for an ultra-powered option for a computer with an intake valve on its bottom, the AFMAT Gaming Laptop Cooling Pad has a very impressive fan system. The havit HV-F2056 is my overall favorite however for its all-around solid build and decent ventilation—which I’ve personally used daily for over a year.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.