Tagged With heat management

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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Chill mats -- notebook stands or rests with a built-in USB-powered fan to keep your machine cool -- can be handy if your laptop tends to run on the warm side, especially in the summer months. But making them work with a PC that's constantly on the move can be more of a challenge.

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With proper (that is, hideous) summer temperatures swamping most of the country, it seems timely to remind the Lifehacker community of some of the useful techniques you can use to make sure your beloved PC isn't a victim of heatstroke. Beyond keeping your working environment cool and ensuring decent airflow, there are more specific steps you can take. For laptop users, "chill mats are always an option, though readers have differing views and testing shows some variable performance. Right now, I'm getting nice results from the HeatShift I wrote up recently, but that's not on sale to the general public yet. You can make your own laptop stand for better heat circulation using our Top 10 DIY Laptop Stands. If you want to see how hot your PC is running, check out SpeedFan.

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Last week's discussion of chill mats for laptops prompted some excited discussion and raised some interesting ideas. One emailer suggested using two books for a cheap improvised alternative; another suggested mats were entirely unnecessary, which I suspect means they've never visited central Australia in the summer. But just how much difference do they make? Reader Carl did some testing of his own and got some interesting results, as he explains in an email.

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You can tell that summer's rapidly approaching when accessories vendors start pushing "chill mats" -- laptop stands with built-in USB-powered fans designed to help air circulate and stop your machine overheating (the pictured one is a new Mac-specific model from Targus). While overheating can definitely be an issue, I've always found chill mats more hassle than they're worth. For one thing, they put the keyboard at the wrong angle for my liking; for another, they're too bulky to throw in my laptop carry bag. So my preferred methodology has been just keeping the home office as cool as feasible, but it's entirely possible that I'm missing out. If you're a chill mat fan -- or have another strategy for ensuring your laptop doesn't go into meltdown -- share your experiences in the comments.