It's barely summer and already temperatures around the country have started to soar. While you can escape all that rising mercury with your ol' buddy Central Air, there's another heat that's harder to escape: a notebook that runs too hot. At LAPTOP, we use a laser thermometer to measure every notebook we review in multiple locations after streaming video for 15 minutes. We also test gaming systems' heat after they've spent some time running popular titles.
We deem laptops with temps in excess of 95 degrees uncomfortable and notebooks running a fever above 100 degrees cause for concern. Although these six systems are good overall, they're sizzlin' enough to make our heat watch.
With its 2.3-GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 675M discrete graphics card, the Samsung Series 7 is a killer gaming laptop that absolutely murdered competing systems. But all that processing power lead to some of the worst notebook heat we've ever experienced. Even with a built-in turbo cooling system, the Series 7 blasted temperatures far above 100 degrees. At one point, the speaker bar that sits above the keyboard climbed to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and when we tested the rear-facing vents, they clocked in at a whopping 150 degrees!
The Origin Eon 17S could almost double as a space heater. This 17.3-inch system measured a cool 85 degrees on its touchpad, and the keyboard and underside of the system were just 942 and 93 degrees. Unfortunately, the back vent on the the notebook's left side measured a blistering 109 degrees. But as long as you don't stick your hand on top of it, you can enjoy the Eon 17S's blazing fast performance in comfort. .
Even the most beautiful things have flaws--and the $2,199 Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display is one of them. The aluminum chassis is a lightweight 4.46 pounds and the system's 2880 x 1880 pixel resolution is the richest display we've ever seen. However, while the asymmetrical fans help this powerhouse keep quiet, it has some hot spots. We measured a pretty uncomfortable 105 degrees between the G & H keys. Read Our Apple MacBook Pro Review
HP's CoolSense technology uses a mixture of hardware, software, and mechanical design to help keep temperatures low during use. Sadly for HP's business Ultrabook, this tech didn't seem to help. After streaming video for 15 minutes, the keyboard registered 98 degrees and the bottom reached 105 degrees. That's not as bad as some other mercurial laptops on our list, but this 3-pounder is certainly one of the toastier ultraportables.
The underside of the HP Envy 15 climbed all the way up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit while we streamed a flick on Netflix. However, HP's CoolSense tech was smart enough to adjust the internal fan when we moved the notebook from a desk to our lap. After playing the same video for 15 minutes in this position the bottom of the Envy 15 only reached 93 degrees.
Even expensive, rugged laptops outfitted to withstand dust clouds and rain storms get a little hot under pressure. The super-durable Dell Latitude e6420 XFR costs more than $5,000 and, for the price, includes a Core i7 CPU, military-grade hardware protection, and an ultra-polymer shell infused with magnesium alloy to absorb lots of abuse. Despite its QuadCool thermal technology, however, the XFR's bottom middle vent reached 104 degrees, and the touchpad was a toasty 93 degrees.