With MacBooks getting slimmer and slimmer, it's harder to include adequate fans and cooling space inside the casing.
This means that using your laptop on the couch, bed, or floor often blocks what little venting there is and can cause your MacBook to overheat and slow performance.
It can also have long-term effects if any internal components get damaged. This can even be an issue using your Mac at a desk, especially if you're running intensive programs such as modeling software or video games.
When your MacBook Pro heats up, make sure it's not over-heating to a point that could damage the hardware. How to know whether it's over-heating or not?
One of the best ways is to validate your judgment is by checking the CleanMyMac Menu, you'd better watch out if it shows a "High disk temperature!" warning.
While you could alleviate the issue somewhat by using a laptop stand, another alternative is a cooling pad that is built specifically to keep your Mac's internal temperature down and your machine running at peak performance. This is great for the longevity and functionality of your MacBook, and in this article, we'll take you through some of the best ones.
Targus Lap Chill Mat for Laptop: Simple and sturdy, this cooling pad has you covered if you like to work away from the desk and just need a little something to keep you going.
TreeBee Cooling Pad: With four powerful fans and a fairly stationary design, this is best for use at a workstation where you're running your Mac to the max on a regular basis.
HAVIT HV-F2056 15.6"-17" Slim Cooling Pad: Made for those on the go, this pad will fit easily into your bag and keep your laptop cool wherever you take it at only 1.5 lbs.
Kootek Laptop Cooling Pad 12"-17": For fans of customizability, the Kootek includes five fans of various sizes that can be individually controlled to target the problem heat areas on your laptop.
Who Should Get This?
Cooling pads will benefit most MacBooks, but their primary market is power users. If you use your MacBook for gaming, video editing, engineering, or other media-intensive applications you definitely need one.
Additionally, if you don't necessarily use intensive software but hear the fans come on fairly frequently, your Mac is also practically begging for a cooling pad.
On the other hand, if your Mac is mostly used for light internet browsing, the occasional home movie night, or checking the email you probably don't need a cooling pad since you aren't taxing your laptop very much.
Buying a Cooling Pad for MacBook: What to Consider?
Always make sure to get the right size cooling pad. Using a 13" pad on your 15" computer may be cheaper, but it will also be incredibly uncomfortable and won't perform nearly as well. By the same logic, a 15" pad for a 13" MacBook is going to be blowing extra air at your hands while you try and work and could become very disruptive. Most models should be available in both sizes, but you should always check which one is in your cart.
Arguably the most important aspect, performance is what will make or break a cooling pad. They usually include one big fan or multiple small ones and neither of these formats are any or better or worse. Instead, you should keep track of which areas on your computer are heating up the most and then check the fan layout. Also check for a noise rating on the fans, since this can get fairly annoying if it's loud.
While a cooling pad is traditionally used a single location, you may want to move it between locations such as a home office and your place of work. In this case, make sure to check up on the weight and footprint of the pad.
Higher grade cooling pads often include some additional built-in features beyond the fan capabilities. Some may have sensors that can show you exactly how hot your laptop is getting or extra settings that you can customize. Others include USB-A ports or other adapters. Make sure to browse a few models before deciding on a particular one, since you could be missing out on these neat features.
Best Cooling Pad for MacBook Pro: Our Picks
Please note: all the cooling pad products listed below are chosen based on the criteria as shown above, as well as our our own personal preferences. They are by no means intended to rank in this order.
With an angled design that makes use on your lap (where the built-in fans are most overworked) comfortable and easy, this cooling pad from Targus is designed with the user in mind. It has two fans and utilizes the neoprene material to remain unobtrusive on your lap. Fits 15" and smaller.
- Pros: At under 2 pounds, it's fairly light and the simple design will look sleek in any surroundings. Connects via USB to your Mac in order to draw power.
- Cons: The pad doesn't actually fold, so the angle design may not pack for travel well.
With four fans running at 1200 RPM, the TreeBee will have no problem keeping your MacBook cool. Extendable legs allow it to lay flat or be propped up, and the extra USB ports in the side make up for the one sacrificed to plugging the pad into your Mac.
- Pros: Four fans will have no trouble keeping your Mac cool, and the speed is adjustable. Blue LEDs look clean and the whole thing is guaranteed to remain fairly quiet during use.
- Cons: Weighing in at 2.15 lbs and utilizing an unorthodox design shape, it's not the most portable option on the market but should be perfect for single-space use.
Ultra slim and ultra-portable, this top-notch cooling pad from HAVIT will keep your MacBook cool wherever you go. Collapsable feet allow use flat or at an angle for optimal comfort, and you can watch the three fans go to work since they're lit with a blue LED.
- Pros: Fits up to a 17" laptop and has two height options. Three fans run at around 1100 rpm so your Mac is sure to stay cool. Extremely portable at only 1.6lbs. Connects via USB and includes an extra built-in port.
- Cons: The surface of the pad does not include any rubber grips to keep your MacBook from sliding around once it's been placed on top.
Complete with an anti-slip design and multi-point adjustable base, the Kootek model brings a variety of comfort features to the cooling pad. With two USB ports, you won't suffer when you plug it in, and the fans run at around 1000 rpm, sufficient to do the job.
- Pros: Fans can be turned on and off individually, stand is extremely adjustable, and the mix of large and small fans lets you target the hottest areas of your laptop. All around solid performance in regards to functionality and design.
- Cons: At more than two and a half pounds, this stand is meant to stay on your desk and not much else.
Additional Tips & Tricks
Keeping your MacBook cool is also a matter of usage, and you may be able to adequately reduce the temperature using methods besides a cooling pad.
First, you should check for potential sources of overheating, as described in this article that guides you through monitoring temperature and breaking bad habits. This is a great place to get started. Then, consider trying a few of these tips from CNET that will help eliminate additional sources of heat and make sure they don't become bigger problems in the future.
You can also check out our list of the best laptop stands for MacBook Pro, or what to do when your Mac's fans are running much too loud.
Have you kept your cool throughout this article? If not, perhaps it's time to grab a cooling pad and keep your Mac running at peak performance so it can do its best work for you. If you have any of your own tricks for keeping your Mac from overheating, we'd also love to hear about it, contact us via email.
Published Mar 8, 2018.