When testing for heat levels on new notebooks, we use a laser thermometer to measure the key touch points (chassis bottom, keyboard, and touchpad) on a notebook after it has been playing a streaming video for 15 minutes in high-performance mode. We consider temperatures higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit to be uncomfortable, and those higher than 100 degrees are cause for concern. Based on our recent testing, here are some of the hottest and coolest notebooks we’ve seen.
Even when it was performing low-intensity tasks (such as downloading a Firefox installation file), the Envy 15’s metal chassis reached high temperatures. While surfing the web, we measured the palm rest at wrist-roasting 103 degrees Fahrenheit, the touchpad at 100 degrees, and the keyboard at a more reasonable 95 degrees. Air bellowing out of its vents reached 110 degrees. Read Review
Toshiba’s attempt to squeeze ATI graphics into an ultrathin case led to higher performance scores, but much warmer temperatures than the original T135. After 15 minutes of playing a Hulu video, the touchpad on the 13-inch system reached 101 degrees, the middle of the keyboard clocked in at 97 degrees, and the underside measured a lap-toasting 105 degrees. Don’t stick your hand near the exhaust vent; it rose to a whopping 125 degrees. Read Review
In January, Dell released a refreshed version of its popular 10-inch netbook, complete with a low-power Intel Atom N450 CPU that allowed it to last more than 9 hours on a charge, Unfortunately, the notebook’s cooling abilities aren’t as good as its battery life; we measured the keyboard at 100 degrees, the touchpad at 95 degrees, and the bottom center of the chassis at 108 degrees. Even worse, the bottom of the front lip reached a groin-grilling 120 degrees. Read Review
What a difference proper cooling makes. Like the burning-hot Dell Inspiron Mini 10, the MSI Wind U135 features a Pine Trail Atom N450 CPU. Unlike the Mini 10, however, MSI’s 10-inch netbook remained a temperate 83 degrees on its bottom, 88 degrees on its touchpad, and 88 degrees on its keyboard during our testing. Read Review
ASUS’ K42F proves that high performance and high heat don’t have to go hand in hand. This 14-inch notebook’s 2.53-GHz Core i5-540m CPU provided blazing-fast performance at super-cool temperatures; the touchpad measured an acceptable 90 degrees, while the keyboard and chassis bottom only reached 91 and 94 degrees, respectively. Read Review
This 10-inch netbook has a loud fan, but its 10-plus hours of battery life, fantastic keyboard, and comfortable temperatures made us forget about the noise. Its keyboard, touchpad, and chassis bottom stayed comfortably between 89 and 94 degrees. Read Review