Exactly like we don't appreciate excessive temperatures during the summer, too much heat is not good for our laptops either. Of course all computers come equipped with a cooling system, but sometimes the built-in solutions are simply not enough.
The problem of overheating is felt by gamers more often than any other group of computer users. On hot, summer days even proper gaming computers with really good parameters tend to heat up and irritate their owners with the sound of cooling fans doing their best to bring the temperature down. Working with the computer on your lap, or watching films in bed also lowers your computers cooling capabilities very effectively. A red-hot laptop is not only uncomfortable to use, but also slower than it should be. If the temperature of your CPU and graphics is too high, it may cause throttling, and, in turn, game stuttering.
To counter this, you should invest in a special cooling pad. It's main job is to, well, cool down your laptop, which is possible thanks to one or more USB-powered fans inside the pad, typically hidden behind a metal mesh. To some degree, it can also substitute a specialized stand, which we talked about earlier, as it raises the computer a few centimetres. Some pads allow to set the laptop at an angle or even come equipped with a USB hub - those are the ones we should look for.
What to consider?
When choosing a cooling pad the first, and most important thing to remember is that it has to be roughly the size of our laptop. It can be a bit bigger, but definitely not too small. Another thing is to match our laptop's air vents with where the fans are in the pad. Two fans at the bottom - right where our hands usually are - won't do us much good, as the hottest spot is right below the keyboard, while the vents can be found at the back and/or the back edge of the laptop.
How many fans?
It's a difficult question to answer with 100% certainty. Sometimes one 20 cm fan will do the job, and sometimes five smaller ones will be the better option. When in doubt, ask Uncle Google. He'll know. But remember this - the more fans, and the faster they spin, the better the cooling, sure, but also the louder the whole thing will probably be. Probably! It's always better to check for yourself. But if you don't have the opportunity, at least ask if it has the option to regulate the speed of the fans, and turn some of them off.
Not only on a desk.
If you like keeping your computer on your lap, or working in bed, look for a cooling pad designed for such use. It will have a very characteristic, soft bottom so that it sits nicely on our legs. One more thing to keep in mind is that the pad should be light and easy to transport.
One more reason for which the fans may constantly remind us of their existence is that we're using an old (a few years) laptop. If so, it's probably a better idea to simply clean the cooling system and replace the thermal paste on the processor than to buy a cooling pad. (More on how to maintain your laptop here.)