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I've got a 13" laptop that I've had for a few years now, and it's been working perfectly until a couple weeks ago. It's a Dell Inspiron laptop.

However, a few weeks ago, one of the fan has burnt out, and is completely unusable. As a result, the computer overheats fairly quickly, even on minimal usage. Whenever I open up a browser, or my IDE, I run a deep risk of overheating my computer: and as a result, it shuts down immediately.

Are there any good computer fans, ideally powered by USB, that would work as a way to prevent my computer from overheating? It should be able to trap heat effectively from the right side to be vented out. I've got a price range of about $20, and it should be quiet, and durable (last me about 1-2 years) while I wait to get a new laptop :)

  • Are you thinking of a cooling pad like this one? walmart.com/ip/Belkin-Laptop-Cooling-Pad/9203344 – timuzhti Sep 18 '15 at 2:00
  • I have an off brand cooling pad with a huge fan somewhere. Something worth considering is sound volume. That said, replacing the burnt out fan would be a less... erm... goldburgian option. – Journeyman Geek Oct 12 '15 at 4:25
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First of all, a small disclaimer. Bear in mind that whatever external fans you may feasibly buy and install will provide much less efficient cooling than an internal one, mostly due to proximity and heat dissipation efficiency (there's a reason why the fan is usually close to the heatsink, which is in direct contact with the CPU). Running the computer under these conditions will have a high risk of damage due to overheating. Now, on to your actual question.

I've had heating issues with previous Dell laptops that I've owned (Vostro, Inspiron), and have used cooling pads/mats to great effect. In particular, Cooler Master makes good cooling pads, like this slim cooling pad in your price range. I would definitely recommend something like this for a simple, store-bought solution.

You could also go for a more involved, probably more expensive and DIY solution, like building your own fan assembly with a high-performance fan (such as this one from Noctua, which makes some of the best air coolers for CPUs). I have no experience with something like this, other than putting together cooling kits, but I would think they may give you better cooling performance. Then again, they might not. I would recommend this only if you like the challenge of building it, which might be really fun :).

Best of luck!

  • I don't know if proximity is really a major issue. In my experience any laptop with a tendency to get hot, I can simply place on my kitchen table (which has a very high heat capacity) and it will will run a lot colder than it used to. – kasperd Sep 29 '15 at 14:00
  • @kasperd Interesting. Has this been a good solution for keeping a laptop without an internal fan working for extended periods of time? For instance, in cases when the computer automatically shuts down due to overheat, has moving it to the kitchen table solved it? – Juan Carlos Coto Oct 1 '15 at 16:03
  • @JuanCarlosCoto At a one point a visitor had brought a laptop which repeatedly froze after running for only a brief period. Placing that laptop on the kitchen table did make it possible to keep it running for hours. I haven't tested the approach with a fanless laptop. But with one of the laptops I tested with it does sound like the fan isn't running as long as it stays on that kitchen table. Not that it is the most convenient solution, but it does give some hints about what might work. – kasperd Oct 2 '15 at 11:15
  • @kasperd Hmm, that's pretty cool (no pun intended... really!) It's definitely a good tip for situations where a better way to solve it isn't immediately available. Is there something particularly special about the table's surface? – Juan Carlos Coto Oct 2 '15 at 13:17
  • @JuanCarlosCoto The surface is granite (3cm of it to be exact). – kasperd Oct 2 '15 at 17:21
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although the answer from @JuanCarlosCoto was already accepted, I still must disagree on one point

..Bear in mind that whatever external fans you may feasibly buy and install will provide much less efficient cooling than an internal one..

An external fan, providing that is is not a blow-fan or fan pad , but an exhaust fan type, can be extremely effective - in fact much more than an internal one due to a much bigger facet surface and possibility to work in much higher speeds .

Exhaust type fans ( sometimes called Vacuum Air Extracting fans ) , as opposed to blow-fans or pads, work on a different concept. they are actually sucking heat from the regular exhaust grill , instead of blowing air inside ( or in case of the pads - blowing air on the surfaces of the body ).

Typology examples from google images ( but searching for the above terms will yield the same for your favorite search engine )

Doing that - they are actually taking advantage of the integral / original aerodynamic and airflow design of the laptop, causing the air to enter and flow over the heat-sink / the processor / GPU in a ,much higher volume / minute capacity ( CMq/sec ) all that through the original air ducts .

Several of my laptops have a desktop CPU combined with metal body and and are really hot at times , in fact - so hot that I was more than once inflected with a heat burn !

All the cooling pads I have tried were somewhat of a hoax , never had any real influence ( 3-5 degrees Celsius ) - except making noise .

But when I found exhaust fans - the effect was extreme . In my tests , on an HP 8560p , after activating an exhaust fan the temperature on the integrated CPU sensor dropped 30 degrees in 20 sec ( 70's to 40's ) with immediate effect ( meaning the drop started in 1-2 seconds !! ) The second drop took some more time ( about a minute ) but it was so efficient , that the fan had to be stopped due to over - cooling now !

The test was made with a 10,000 max RPM external exhaust fan with 2 automatic adjustable speeds and 125.15CFM ( cubic feet / minute ) or 3.54 CCM ( Cubic Meter / minute ) sized 165×80×48MM 1.9W and cost 8$ !!

Another advantage is that these type of fans do not insert dust into your laptop like blow fans, but actually sucking the dust out !

And the best part - they are really cheap, and much more portable than the pads .

  • 2
    This is more of a (rather long) comment than an answer. Can you recommend one of these exhaust type fans in your answer? – Cfinley Oct 11 '15 at 20:46
  • Wow, I'd definitely love to know more about this! Does this only work with laptops that have a fan grille? How is the exhaust fan placed? Which fan did you get and how is it used? I'd love to try something like this out o my MBP, and I think it sounds like a great solution. If you could expand this, it'd be great! – Juan Carlos Coto Oct 13 '15 at 21:06
  • @JuanCarlosCoto - yes, naturally this will work only on a laptop ( or desktop ) that have a grill - otherwise how would the air be sucked out ? The exhaust is placed on the grill and has usually several adapters ( silicon sleeves ) that can be adjusted to specific models for seal. the one I have used was bought in HK for about 5 or 6 usd - but you should inquire in your area ( and also, I have used about 6 or 7 different ones - all efficient) .All work on a standard 5v USB. – Obmerk Kronen Oct 24 '15 at 5:54
  • @Cfinley - why do you consider this a comment ? I have recommended a type of product unknown to the OP before , that would potentially solve the problem presented . It would be useless for me to point to a specific product not knowing where the OP is located . – Obmerk Kronen Oct 24 '15 at 5:57

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