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The 5 best laptop cooling pads: Stop overheating and chill out

What is the best laptop cooling pad? ZDNet's No. 1 choice is the Targus Portable Chill Hub for its metal construction, ergonomic height settings, and four USB pass-throughs. We researched and compared pricing as well as other features like fan speed and max laptop size to determine our top pick and four honorable mentions. Laptop cooling pads can help keep your computer running more efficiently and prevent damage from overheating.
taylor-clemons1.jpg
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer on
Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

A laptop cooling pad is a great way to keep your work, home, or gaming computer running at lower temperatures for more efficient processing and power consumption. A cooling pad uses an array of fans to assist your laptop's built-in cooling system in drawing waste heat away from delicate components like CPUs, RAM chips, and graphics cards to prevent damage and overheating. 

Many models also allow you to adjust the height and angle of your laptop for more comfortable viewing and typing, in addition to letting you control fan speeds and any LED lighting that may be built into the cooling pad. Most laptop cooling pads also have non-slip rubber pads or slip-stop tabs to keep your laptop firmly in place while you work, stream, or play games, as well as non-slip feet to keep your laptop from sliding around. 

Laptop cooling pads can be made from plastic or metal, and each has its advantages and drawbacks. Aluminum helps draw waste heat away more efficiently, but it can be more expensive and heavy. While plastic builds are more affordable, they aren't as durable as metal cooling pads. 

To help you find the right cooling pad for your laptop, I've curated a list of the five best laptop cooling pads you can buy. I've broken down their features and price points to help you decide which is the best fit for your budget and needs.

Also: The best office tech: Work better and have more fun

Targus Portable Chill Hub review | Best laptop cooling pad
Targus

Dimensions: 10.5 x 1 x 14.25 inches | Weight: 2 pounds | Max laptop size: 17 inches | Fan RPM: Not specified | USB passthrough: Yes | LED lighting: No 

This laptop cooling pad from Targus is not only designed to keep your computer running at cooler temperatures, but to help you stay productive and comfortable while you work. The laptop shelf is made of metal and has vent holes to help draw waste heat away from your laptop, allowing the dual, high-speed fans to draw in cool air more efficiently. You can also adjust the height and angle of the shelf to put your laptop in a more comfortable position for viewing and typing, while the rubber pads keep your computer firmly in place. 

It also features four USB ports, allowing you to connect external storage drives and peripherals if ports on your laptop are limited. The Targus Portable Chill Hub can be used with up to 17-inch laptops, making it perfect for home use cases, office laptops, and even gaming. 

Pros:

  • Adjustable height
  • Metal construction
  • Four USB ports
  • Fits up to 17-inch laptops

Cons:

  • No info on fan speed
  • No fan speed controls
  • May be a bit bulky for travel 
Havit HV-F2056 review | Best laptop cooling pad
Havit

Dimensions: 14.96 x 1.18 x 11.01 inches | Weight: 1.5 pounds | Max laptop size: 17 inches | Fan RPM: 1100 | USB passthrough: Yes | LED lighting: Yes 

The Havit HV-F2056 is a simple, and affordable, solution for keeping your laptop cool while you work. For under $25, you'll get three fans capable of up to 1100 RPMs in order to draw away waste heat from your laptop. The cooling pad features two foldable feet for adjusting the height and angle of your laptop for more comfortable use. It also has two USB ports for connecting peripherals and external storage devices and a power switch for the fans and LED light so you can turn the pad off when you just want to prop up your laptop. 

The top of the cooling pad is a non-slip mesh to keep your computer in place while you work or stream videos, and it can accommodate laptops up to 17 inches wide. The black version has either blue or red LED lights while the blue version has just blue lights, so you can show off your personal style or match your office decor.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Triple fan configuration
  • On/off switch
  • Two USB ports

Cons:

  • No slip-stops for laptop
  • No cable management channels
  • No fan speed controls
TopMate C11 review | Best laptop cooling pad
TopMate

Dimensions: 16.14 x 11.65 x 1.69 inches | Weight: 2.5 pounds | Max laptop size: 17 inches | Fan RPM: 1250 big fan, 2400 small fan | USB passthrough: Yes | LED lighting: Yes 

If you're a MacBook user, you know that they use passive cooling rather than a built-in fan, which makes investing in a cooling pad important to keep your laptop running efficiently and safely. The TopMate C11 is an excellent choice with its array of six fans capable of speeds up to 2400 RPMs without being loud and distracting. It also has an integrated phone stand, so you can easily transfer files between your iPhone and your MacBook; FaceTime family, friends, and co-workers; or just keep an eye on your notifications. 

The stand can be adjusted to six different heights for more ergonomic placement, and the integrated LCD screen makes it easy to read fan settings at a glance and make adjustments as needed. You can also use the controls to set one of seven different RGB lighting modes or turn the lighting off. There are two USB pass throughs for connecting peripherals and storage devices, so you can stay on top of tasks as well.

Pros:

  • Six fans
  • Quiet operation
  • Two USB ports
  • LCD screen and controls

Cons:

  • On the pricey side
  • RGB lighting can be annoying in a work setting
  • Lighting can drain laptop battery faster
Close-up of the Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB. The scene is dark to highlight the RGB lighting.
Thermaltake

Dimensions: 18.54 x 13.96 x 1.83 inches | Weight: 3.35 pounds | Max laptop size: 19 inches | Fan RPM: 800 | USB passthrough: No | LED lighting: Yes 

If you have a larger laptop, the Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB is a great choice for a cooling pad. It can accommodate laptops up to 19 inches wide, making it perfect for gaming, workstation, and large home use computers. The back of the pad has a fan speed control dial, allowing you to set the 200mm fan RPMs anywhere from 600 to 800 as well as two buttons for controlling the five RGB lighting effects and colors. 

The dual feet feature non-slip rubber pads to keep everything in place and fold out, allowing you to set your laptop and cooling pad at three different heights. The steel mesh surface also has two rubber pads to keep your laptop secured while drawing waste heat away from your laptop. 

Pros:

  • Fan controls
  • Can accommodate 19-inch laptops
  • Lighting controls
  • Three height settings

Cons:

  • No USB pass throughs
  • Only one fan
  • Low fan RPMs
IETS GT300 review | Best laptop cooling pad
IETS

Dimensions: 15.7 x 13.7 x 2 inches | Weight: 2.5 pounds | Max laptop size: 17 inches | Fan RPM: 4500 | USB passthrough: Yes | LED lighting: Yes

Gaming laptops can run pretty hot, especially while playing graphically-demanding titles, so you need a heavy-duty cooling pad that can keep up. The IETS GT300 uses dual blowers with speeds up to 4500 RPMs as well as a flexible rubber ring to create negative pressure that draws waste heat away from your laptop more efficiently than a traditional cooling pad. The fresh air ports have filters to trap dust, hair, and debris that can clog your laptop's built-in fan grates, keeping everything running at cooler temperatures. You can remove the filters for cleaning to extend the life of both your laptop and cooling pad. 

You can set the cooling pad to seven different heights, and two slip-stop tabs keep your laptop from moving while you play. There are two USB pass throughs on the back of the cooling pad, letting you connect mice, keyboards, game pads, headsets, and other peripherals or external storage devices if USB ports on your laptop are limited. There are simplified fan and lighting controls on the front of the cooling pad so you can adjust fan speeds for quieter operation or shut off the LED lights to preserve your laptop's battery life.

Pros:

  • Dual, 4500 RPM blowers
  • Two USB ports
  • Fan and lighting controls
  • Seven height adjustments

Cons:

  • On the pricey side
  • Can be a bit loud
  • LED lighting can drain your laptop battery faster 

What is the best laptop cooling pad?

My pick for the best laptop cooling pad is the Targus Portable Chill Hub. It features four USB ports for connecting external storage devices and peripherals, rubber grips to keep it and your laptop securely in place, and a vented metal design for better heat dissipation and airflow. It also allows you to adjust the height and angle of your laptop for more ergonomic placement while you work.

Laptop cooling pad

Price

Fan speed

Max laptop size

Targus Portable Chill Hub

$50

Not specified

17 inches

Havit HV-F2056

$24

1100 RPM

17 inches

TopMate C11

$36

1250/2400 rpm

17 inches

Thermaltake Massive 20 RGB

$50

800 RPM

19 inches

IETS GT300

$65

4500 RPM

17 inches

Which is the right laptop cooling pad for you?

Once you have a budget finalized for your new laptop cooling pad, you should consider how you will use it. If you want something that will keep your laptop at optimal temperatures while you work or stream movies, a basic model with a single or dual fans will be enough. If you need to connect lots of storage devices or peripherals, you'll want to choose a laptop cooling pad with USB pass throughs. And if you need heavy-duty cooling for your gaming laptop or workstation, you'll need a cooling pad with a high fan RPM and larger vent holes for better heat dissipation and airflow. 

Choose this laptop cooling pad…

If you need…

Targus Portable Chill Hub

A reliable cooling pad with height adjustment and USB passthroughs

Havit HB-F2056

A simple and affordable laptop cooling pad

TopMate C11

A cooling pad for MacBooks

Thermaltake Massive 20RGB

A cooling pad for larger laptops

IETS GT300

A powerful cooling pad for gaming laptops

How did we choose these laptop cooling pads?

I tried to keep my choices as affordable as possible to fit even the most modest budgets. I also chose cooling pads with a wide range of fan speeds for different use cases, from typical web browsing and office work to streaming video and even gaming.

Do cooling pads drain your laptop battery?

Unfortunately, since a laptop cooling pad uses a USB connection for power, it will drain your battery faster than if you weren't using one. The good news is that you can adjust fan speeds and LED lighting to control just how much power your cooling pad will draw from your laptop, giving you a bit more time before you need to plug in.

Do cooling pads really work?

Yes! While results vary depending on your cooling pad's fan speeds, you'll be able to keep your computer running at lower temperatures for longer. This is important for efficient processing and preventing damage to delicate components like CPUs and RAM. A cooling pad won't pull a drastic amount of heat away from your laptop, but you'll be able to run your laptop at temperatures at least a few degrees cooler than you would without one.

Do all laptops have a built-in cooling fan?

Not all of them; some ultra-thin models like the MacBook Air ditched built-in cooling fans in favor of slim form factors. And while they use passive cooling and heatsinks to protect delicate components from high temperatures, it's still a good idea to get a cooling pad to help dissipate more waste heat and keep your laptop running smoothly.

Are there alternative laptop cooling pads worth considering?

There are lots of options out there if you're looking to buy a laptop cooling pad for your Windows or Mac machine. Here's a short list of great alternatives:

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