Cooling Down a Hot CPU

The most dangerous gameNotice your Chromebook’s fans spinning into “hyper-drive” when you’re watching an HD video or using a really CPU-intensive website? Reside in a warm part of the country? It may be time to look into a notebook cooler.

For the most part, you can use any normal cooler with a Chrome notebook. Most if not all of the unique features of these computers lie in the operating system, not the hardware or case design. The question that drives us is “which type of cooling system is the best one for This Machine?”

Unpowered Cooling

Some are unpowered, and just lift the notebook a little bit off the surface so there is more airflow under the machine and the built-in fans can displace heat more efficiently. These tend to be a little cheaper than the ones with fans  – more on those below — and it comes down to where you do most of your Chrome computing. Another unique option is the ThermaPak Heatshift pad, which we’ve reviewed on this website, is portable, and performs pretty well in my experience, even if I find myself flipping it over a lot.

Powered (Fan) Cooling

If you do a lot of multimedia computing with your Chromebook and/or live in an area of the country that tends to be warm, you’ll probably want a cooler with fans. These may come with 1, 2, 3, or even more fans. Some fan cooling pads are USB-powered, others plug into a power outlet.

I’ve had good luck with both, and they will probably cool your CPU about he same. Hey, I remember when these cooling peripherals plugged into a PS/2 port (remember those ugly things?). Again, it comes down to personal preference, including whether you can spare a USB port to bring your CPU temperature down by several degrees.

Water-Cooled Chromebooks?

Okay, okay, it’d be absurd to do this to a Chromebook. But what those of us who fancy ourselves as gearheads really want is some high-performance liquid-cooling CPU blocks. The kind of cool (pun sadly intended) high-tech equipment that PC power users enjoy.

Even if the high performance stuff is not really necessary for a Chromebook – their heat dissipation is already pretty good in my opinion – all those water-filled tubes and pumps I see on custom-built and homebrewed PCs certainly look cool. Any hackers out there willing to try it? (Note: Don’t.)

Imagine it: a shiny new 14″ HP Chromebook with a CPU block, neon-lit tubes all around, a dozen custom-positioned fans all aimed at while you play a relaxing game of Battlefield in your browser. Smoke-stacks, valves, one of those old electronic synthesizers that Ladytron used to compose 604. I think the setup would look something like this:

cooling-towers

Pictured: My dream PC setup.

 

It wouldn’t be very portable, but hey, there are plenty of us who just use them as a home computer and don’t need to go to coffee shops to flash our Google-branded conversation pieces to the hipster dufuses and the loud guy drumming his hands at the bar next to me. I want these people to feel inferior based on my choice of computer, mostly. Philistines.

I don’t personally count myself among those people, but hey, good to know that there are plenty of people out there enjoying the ease and straight-to-the-internet simplicity of Chrome. The success of the Chromebox “PC” says it all.

Summary

It’s simple really, there are 3 basic methods of giving your Chromebook’s CPU cores a chill pill. They are listed below in order of effectiveness from most to least.

  1. Unpowered
  2. Powered
  3. None

The third option involves letting the machine’s on-board fans do the work. Which can work just fine, the makers included them in the design and that’s what they’re there for. As you may already know, a lot of the processing is outsourced to the cloud rather than taking place in the CPU. I just want my computer to have jet stream fins and a bubble-dome.

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About Jake T.

Blogger. Chromebook Reviewer. Chrome-magnum. Then I say something.