As we head into the second half of the year, we're seeing some awesome laptops hit the store shelves powered by some of the most powerful laptop hardware we've ever seen, like the Intel Alder Lake processors and Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti GPU. All that power comes at a price though, namely heat, meaning that the best laptop cooling pad you can afford is going to be a seriously worthwhile investment if you're hoping to get the best possible performance out of your laptop.
- John Loeffler, US Computing Editor
The best laptop cooling pads might not seem like a major necessity, but with laptops becoming ever more powerful, they're more essential than ever.
Easily the biggest performance barrier for laptops is excessive heat, which forces even the best gaming laptops to throttle the power they send to their processors and GPUs in order to keep safely operating.
And it's not just gaming laptops that need to concern themselves with performance throttling. The best Ultrabooks have the same problem, since they can't pack in the incredibly beefy fans that even the best cheap gaming laptops have to rely on to keep things running at a safe level, and the best thin and light gaming laptops are in even more of a heat pickle since they have the worst of both worlds: incredibly power-hungry (and thus hottest-running) hardware and limited room for cooling solutions.
Needless to say, the best thing you can do then it lend your laptop a hand with a laptop cooling pad, which provides additional heat management to make sure your laptop runs at peak performance.
Given how important it can be though, finding the right laptop cooling pad is really important. Fortunately, we've brought together our picks for the best laptop cooling pads on the market to help make your choice easier, regardless of your needs or budget.
Best laptop cooling pads 2022 - Chosen by our experts
Kootek makes a highly impressive laptop cooling pad, which uses five fans (the one in the middle is a bigger 120mm model, surrounded by 70mm fans) to deliver an impressive amount of cooling – while still remaining quiet to boot. The Chill Mat scores strongly in the versatility stakes as you can switch some of the fans off (it’s possible to have one working, four, or all five), plus it can be raised (using a ratchet mechanism, like a deckchair) through six different height settings depending on your preference (you might want to crank it right up when watching a movie, for example).
This cooling pad can take 12-inch to 17-inch laptops, so all common sizes, with a pair of stoppers at the front to prevent the notebook from sliding off. It also boasts a USB hub with two USB 2.0 ports. In short, this is a high quality cooling pad with flexibility in spades, and it benefits from a reasonable mid-range price tag, making it our top pick for an all-rounder that covers everything without doing too much damage to your wallet.
If you want a very affordable solution for laptop cooling duties, well, here it is. Tree New Bee’s product runs with four 110 mm fans with adjustable speeds (the blue LED lights get dimmer as you turn the speed down – you can also turn two of the fans off, if you wish).
One of the best laptop cooling pads out there, it's nicely priced, pretty quiet, and provides a good amount of (suitably variable) cooling, and it can be raised on a pair of legs at the back for what the makers argue is a more ergonomic typing angle (and improved cooling, with more airflow underneath, of course).
The downside is there’s only one height setting, and it might be a touch steep for some. As you’ve probably seen elsewhere on this page, most products offer a range of different heights. Still, this doesn’t stop the Tree New Bee Cooling Pad from being a great choice that strikes a commendable balance between price and performance.
Cooler Master knows cool, you would hope, and the firm’s Notepal is a winner in our books. Using a single large 230mm fan – which is impressively quiet, we might add – it has a fan speed controller, and is designed to pipe ‘optimal airflow’ through your laptop. Indeed, it shifts an impressive amount of air, being rated at 89.8 cubic feet per minute; a very effective level of cooling.
This device also benefits from a slightly tilted ergonomic design, aiming to give you the best angle to use your notebook’s keyboard, along with nonslip feet for stability when placed on a surface. As an added bonus, there are three USB ports around the back.
The Notepal XL is capable of holding laptops up to 17-inches in size, and to cap things off, it’s reasonably priced for the cooling performance you’re getting here. This product is a very close second to the Kootek, but just loses out on the versatility front. If you can’t find the Kootek outside of the US – in some regions stock seems very thin on the ground – then this is a great alternative for powerful cooling.
If you need the best laptop cooling pad for a hefty notebook, then this Thermaltake product can cope with a massive laptop as the name suggests. It won’t break a sweat with a 17-inch portable, and is even capable of playing host to larger 19-inch gaming laptops.
It has one 200mm fan for cooling (the fan speed is adjustable), and there are three different height settings (up to an angle of 13-degrees). The large fan provides efficient cooling for bigger laptops, plus you also get RGB lighting around the edges of the pad with various different modes (pulsing, blinking, or just static lighting of different colors).
It’s fashioned from plastic and the build quality perhaps isn’t the best you’ll encounter in the cooling pad world, but it’s plenty sturdy enough to do the job of supporting a hefty gaming laptop. Note that the price tag is reasonably hefty here, too.
For those who want their cooling pad to also provide expansion capabilities to hook up a number of other peripherals, check out the Targus Chill Mat, which is a little bit like a laptop dock crossed with a cooling solution. The Chill Mat sports a 4-port USB hub (with USB 2.0 ports), and delivers cooling via a pair of fans (although Targus doesn’t specify what size they are – although the maker does state that they can run at up to 2,500 rpm).
This is a well-constructed device which is impressively slim, and can be adjusted between four different height levels. For those with laptops that have few USB ports, this could be a useful solution on twin fronts.
If you want to spend as little as possible on a cooling pad, then TeckNet has a great solution which is priced as cheaply as you’ll see anywhere. And, you’re still getting a decent product.
The N8 comes with a trio of 118mm cooling fans which provide a decent level of cooling, plus the device benefits from a highly slim and portable design, too. It has a pair of feet that can be extended to raise it up, and a USB port to plug in an additional device (the N8 connects and is powered via USB, incidentally). The build quality perhaps isn’t the best, but the N8 is impressively quiet, and quite simply it does the job – and does it very cheaply indeed.
If you want a cooling pad which is nicely portable to carry around with you, then the X-Slim fits the bill. It measures only 27.5mm at its thinnest point, and it’s very light with a weight of 700g.
There are other products that come close to this level of portability – Havit’s 12-inch to 17-inch Laptop Cooler, for example – but Cooler Master’s effort gets the nod due to its quality build. It’s also capable of coping with laptops up to 17-inches in size, and the single 160mm fan offers excellent airflow while keeping things whisper-quiet. The X-Slim benefits from nifty cable management facilities, too, to keep things tidy as well as portable. While the Notepal X-Slim is tidily compact, if you want a truly portable accessory to cool your laptop, check out our final entry below.
Okay, so we thought we’d throw this one in at the end as a bit of a wildcard, because while it isn’t a laptop cooling pad as such, it’s a fan-based accessory which does a similar thing (albeit via sucking rather than blowing air). And for those who want a really portable solution, this is a truly compact affair – whereas obviously any laptop cooling pad won’t be all that small, given that they all (inevitably) have a notebook-sized footprint.
Note that there is a sizeable caveat here: your laptop will need a vent at the side or rear for one of these devices to be attached. If you only have air vents on the base of your laptop, then we’re afraid you’re out of luck as far as these particular products go.
As mentioned, rather than blowing air into the laptop to cool it, the idea with a so-called ‘vacuum cooler’ is that they suck air out, but that has an equally cooling effect. Some even argue it’s more effective than a traditional cooling pad, but either way, you’re getting the job done as long as you pick a good product from the available solutions out there.
And in this case, our recommendation is Klim Cool, a very effective cooler which comes with a number of different attachments so you’re covered whatever the size of the air vent you’re attaching the device to. It also measures the temperature inside your laptop and automatically adjusts the fan speed for the appropriate level of cooling – pretty nifty indeed.
The manufacturer backs the product with a five-year warranty and a 30-day free return policy, so you can give it a whirl to see how it works with your notebook. A further bonus is that this isn’t an expensive accessory, either, falling in line with the pricing of the more affordable cooling pads.
How to shop for the best laptop cooling pad
Do you need a laptop cooling pad?
Anyone with a laptop should consider investing in a cooling pad, but there are some cases where one just might not be necessary. If you have a high-powered notebook that runs heavy software or PC games, you should definitely consider getting one of the best laptop cooling pads because those devices can run hot very quickly. A cooling pad would help you keep the temperature down and see increased performance in your laptop.
On the other hand, if you use your laptop for casual everyday use or for things not too intensive on the hardware, like Chrome-based applications or Microsoft Office Suite, you may not need a laptop cooling pad. A lower temperature is always a better option for laptops, but if you’re not straining your tech too much there might be little reason to invest in a cooling pad. However, if you start to notice your notebook becoming hot during use, you might want to reconsider.
How laptop cooling pads help with cooling
Any additional cooling the best laptop cooling pad can deliver will help in the battle against throttling. It could also potentially prolong the longevity of your laptop. That CPU and GPU will last longer if they aren’t being constantly run at overly hot temperatures.
So spending a little money on some extra cooling might save you a lot of heartache by avoiding the danger of your notebook giving up the ghost early. The best laptop cooling pad can also provide a convenient place to situate your laptop on those occasions when you’re actually using it in your lap, preventing a warmer notebook from being unpleasantly hot against your legs.
Note that the mileage you get from any cooling pad may vary in terms of the cooling vents present on the bottom of your notebook, and their respective position compared to the location of the fans in the pad. As common sense would dictate, a decent amount of vents on the underside of your laptop is a good thing here – and in general – and preferably these will be (roughly) lined up with the pad’s fans.
Although some laptop cooling pads run with one big fan – or multiple smaller ones – that’ll hit pretty much everything, and there are even modular pads where the fans can be repositioned.
Even unfortunate notebooks with no vents on the bottom can benefit somewhat from having the underside of the chassis cooled as a little bit of help in terms of temperature management.
At any rate, while your mileage may vary somewhat given your exact model of laptop, you’ll likely find some benefit from a cooling pad – and perhaps a considerable one, providing, of course, that you choose the one of the best models around.