Laptop Questions

Is It Safe To Play Games On A Gaming Laptop For Hours?

Is it safe to play games on a gaming laptop for hours, or do you need to stop and give the laptop a break to cool down? Let’s discuss if it matters.

I often get asked if it’s safe to play games on a laptop for some period of time, usually anywhere from 2-6 hours. Based on this question, it sounds like people are under the impression that the laptop will continue to get hotter and hotter over time before breaking or causing damage.

Understanding heat soak

Under a consistent workload, at some point it will not be possible for the laptop to get any hotter than it already is. This point is referred to as maximum heat soak.

In most of the machines I’ve tested, this has occurred well within half an hour. When I do laptop thermal testing, I leave the workload going for half an hour before I even get started to allow full heat soak to occur.

If I simply have the machine turned off or running idle then start running tests, it won’t accurately represent what you’d expect from playing for longer periods of time. It may perform better initially, then get worse as it heats up. I like to show worst case results so you know what to expect, which is why I wait for full heat soak to occur.

Once full heat soak has taken place, the temperature isn’t going to get worse, so long as the same workload is still being applied. This is why it does not matter if you play games for 2, 4, 6, or 50 hours at a time (although you may have other issues with the latter amount). The laptop isn’t going to continually get hotter as the hours stretch on.

The graph below shows CPU and GPU temperature over time with a stress test going in 1 minute increments for half an hour. As you can see, thermals rise sharply at the start, stabilize after just a few minutes, then hardly change, reaching equilibrium.

Gaming laptop temperatures over time

Although the temperatures don’t change too much after the first few minutes, the chassis temperature does progressively change as all of the components soak up the heat. Still, it’s not going to get any worse than after the first 30 minutes or so.

An exception would be if the ambient room temperature changes, then the internals will too. If the workload varies in resource usage, then thermals will also vary. This is a worst case demonstration.

Take a break, or keep going?

If the machine has already reached maximum temperatures after just half an hour or so, it’s probably not going to get any hotter. Do you need to take a break to let the laptop cool down? Based on the numbers above, you’d need pretty regular breaks given temps rise up quickly.

Higher temperatures are considered bad. Heat kills components faster. Running hot for prolonged periods of time is therefore not ideal. The CPU and GPU are designed to run at high temperatures, they will throttle performance back if temperatures get too high.

What could be more of an issue though, is the other components on the motherboard. Depending on the laptop layout and design, they may be subjected to sub-optimal levels of heat.

Personally I think there is no reason to stop and take a break. I can’t say I’d ever consider it myself, but maybe I’m just not that paranoid about it. That said, there are some simple improvements that can be made to lower temperatures such as CPU/GPU undervolting, using a cooling pad, lowering the ambient room temperature, or replacing thermal paste.

What temperatures are safe?

I’ve never seen any hard data indicating laptops dying from increased heat. There isn’t exactly a best practice number to look out for as there are a lot of factors. I have no doubt that it does happen in some cases, that’s just the way things work, however there is no definitive answer as to what temperature you should run different components.

If components are sitting at 100°C or something ridiculous, then it’s another story and you’d want to get to the bottom of that. I use Hardware Info to monitor CPU/GPU temperature, however MSI Afterburner is great for giving you an on screen overlay you can see while gaming.

Gaming laptops should be designed to play games, I have no issue with the CPU hitting the mid 90s and GPU getting to low 80s, that’s just what I’m comfortable with. I’m not saying these are ideal, and that there aren’t steps you should take to make improvements, but as a worst case I’d have no problems gaming for hours like that.

Either way, I would consider the previously suggested steps to lower operating temperatures and promote longevity.

Is it safe to play games on a laptop for hours?

Yes, I think so, however there are steps you can take to improve thermals. Monitor the temperatures, if they’re getting up there, try some of the methods discussed to improve thermals. You shouldn’t have to stop what you’re doing completely.

In the end for most people, just play what ever games you want for as long as you like and have fun, assuming you’re not gaming on battery power!

Hi, I’m Jarrod, a tech reviewer from Australia. I mainly focus on laptops, but am interested in all things tech related!

45 Comments

  • Ben

    ok sir.. is it possible to take battery out when they’re fully charged, when you using the laptop for longer period of time??

    is it a good idea to do that?

    • Jarrod

      You can remove it, but I don’t think there’s much point unless you almost never run it on battery, I think it would be more hassle than its worth.

  • Karl Fernandez

    GREAT CONTENT! Thanks again Jarod. During the peak of 45C here in Sydney I tried not to play too much because Im afraid it might destroy my new MSI GE75. Hahaha but thanks for this I learned not to be paranoid

    • Jarrod

      Cheers! Yikes pretty hot, I’ve had the AC on most of the time here, luckily I need to maintain low ambient room temperature to do my thermal testing – at least that’s the excuse I’m going with 😉

    • Arex

      Hey Jarrod, thanks for the amazing YT content.

      Short question: Which brand has best cooling?

      I’m under the impression MSI has due to more heat pipes. Does the new Helios 300 measure up to MSI quality? Oops two questions 😀

      Have a great day!

      • Jarrod

        Hey, thanks! I don’t think there’s any one brand that I’d consider has best cooling. Most of them seem to have good and bad options. A lot of the MSI laptops look good with their 7+ heatpipes, but many of them still thermal throttle, so seems to be a bit more to it than that. The Helios 300 is quite decent, plus it’s undervolted out of the box so that you get some further improvement there too – but you can of course do this yourself to any Intel based laptop.

  • Yaseen

    I really wanted to know, as a laptop gamer, is it going to damage my laptop if i leave it in charge while gaming as it has the best performance when plugged in? (I have a legion y540) I use it for university as well, and want to have it for as long as possible. I really think this is a good video idea as im sure everyone has this question but no one gives a justifiable answer to this question. Please do a test or give your honest opinion about this because I really don’t want to damage my laptop . Thanks for your time… enjoy your videos keep up the good work

  • Alessandro

    I’ve buyed an asus rog notebook with amd ryzen 7 3750h. And the average temp of cpu is 80 degrees with maximum peaks for a few second of 92 degrees. 40 degrees in idle. With this temps when i’m gaming the longevity of this pc will reduce significantly? I’m afraid for other parts of notebook at this temps.

    • Jarrod

      Personally I would not worry about those temperatures, if you want to try make improvements your options are basically use some kind of stand/cooling pad or change the thermal paste, unfortunately the 3750H does not support undervolting.

  • Thathva

    Great article! I had a doubt. I run a Predator Helios 300. I’ve observed my GPU and CPU temperatures are a constant 88-93 °C when I game for a couple of hours. Would that impact the laptop internal components on the long run?

  • Vegard

    My HP Omen 15, rtx 2060, i7 9750h was at 95-100 degrees at gaming before. Repasted with Kryonaut, dropped to 88-93. But the best tip is to disable turbo in throttlestop. Now my CPU runs at 73 max. The FPS have maybe dropped 5-10 fps, but the lower fan noise and temps makes it worth it in my opinion.

    • Jarrod

      That’s good to hear, honestly I can’t see myself taking the reduced performance for lower temperatures, I want the performance I’ve paid for.

  • Vegard

    Thats true. I recently ordered a havit 3 fan laptop cooler, will retry with that. I just feel uneasy when temps clock over 90 degrees, even though its rated for 105c.

    But honestly a trade off of 5-10 FPS for 20-30 degrees cooler cpu is worth it IMO. At least when games already run at around 100-120 FPS.

    • Jarrod

      Yeah fair enough, hope the cooler does well! Depends on the chassis, sometimes it can do not much, other times it can do a lot.

  • Dan Alvarez

    Hey Jarrod, thanks for the great content.

    Im planning on buying a Helios 300 with the 1660ti and the 144hz monitor version. Im usually a extreme gamer, playing for 10-16hours or so straight.

    Im jumping from a Desktop to Laptop since im constantly moving to one place or another and this will be basically my first laptop. The question is: Do you think that gaming for that many hours will affect in any way or another, reducing the lifespan of the laptop quickly?

    I will play mostly Apex Legends and Final Fantasy XIV. Thanks in advance!

  • Lucas

    Hey Jarrod, i got a question for example if i play a game like gta V that uses a lot of CPU like 60% and hit 75Cº in the fist half hour, it can oscillates higher or lower depending on CPU usage? Like if there is a lot happening it can go to 70% or 90% temps will rise in that scenario? I’m asking because every game will oscilate in CPU usage so the temps can keep raising or no?

  • Chavi

    Is 86C safe for Gtx 1660 ti ? I’m using the acer predator helios 300 and i limited my max processor frequency to 3.5 GHz and it stays about 75 C but the gpu is constantly at 86.

    • Jarrod

      It’s the thermal throttle limit for most Nvidia laptop graphics. It’s not great, but it’s not really a problem other than some performance loss, it won’t break if that’s what you’re asking.

  • CHAVI

    I normally game for 4-5 hours a day in 2 – 3 hour periods. Is that temp OK for long term usage … Say 3-4 years ? I plan to reapply thermal paste once the warranty period is over

  • Augusto

    Hey there, Jarrod. So, i recently bought a Predator Helios 300 with a RTX 2060 and i7-9750h. I’ve been using it for less than a month. Sometimes the CPU temps are quite high. Yesterday it got to 92 degrees when i was playing Far Cry 5, according to Predator Sense. The biggest problem here is the room temperature. I live in Brazil, and in countryside areas the weather is horrible. We’re having 4 or 5 days straight of 38 degrees (39 today), which is quite hot. No AC here, unfortunately.

    The coolpad i’m using is definitely not up to the task (i bought it for my old 940mx laptop) so maybe i’ll need to buy a new one, since this one only has two fans. Apparently you said that high temps have a limit, so it won’t go any higher than a certain limit, but like i said, room temperature here is quite s—-, so i guess maybe get a better coolpad or even put a fan turned on directly towards the laptop? Also, using things like Coolboost that the Predator Sense has can help? And lastly, should i use HWiNFO instead of Predator Sense? Undervolting is pretty much out of reach for me since apparently this can void the warranty here in my country (i’m not 100% sure yet, though)

    • Jarrod

      Can’t say I’d worry about that much personally, but either way not much else you can do, it’s undervolted at stock and you’re already raising the back up, all you could really try is changing to a better thermal paste. I have tested 3 different pads and saw basically no difference, they all seem to do about the same. I would leave coolerboost on + max fan speed in predator sense if you’re concerned with it. I prefer the details from HWinfo but depends what information you want to see.

  • Augusto

    Thank you for the reply, Jarrod. I’ve been using Coolboost lately and it made a huge difference.

    Playing Control my CPU temp was around 78 degrees and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (a quite heavy CPU game), reached 75 degrees on average. Coolboost helped quite a lot, and a big fan too lol

    Since i know now that reaching 90 degrees is not the end of the world, i’m less worried, but i’ll definitely do whatever i can to keep temps more controlled. Thank you!

  • Andres

    Quick question can gaming laptops heat give you any time of skin cancer from thermal bruns or from any components to that or am i just being paranoid. Because when im playing on my laptop i place my left hand on the keyboard and i could feel alot of heat seep through the buttons and i take my hands away for a little to cool my hand off a few times. but im worried this could be dangerous in anyway since i game for atleast 6 to 8 hours a day. Im planning ti take a break from gaming to much. But is the heat from a gaming laptop cancerous or dangerous in anyway? And can you explain why toi if you can because im nit sure if its radiation ir not. Just to put my mind at ease. Thank you.

    • Jarrod

      No idea about cancer, you would need to contact a medical professional. If it gets hot and it is constantly on your skin, yes burning is possible. If it’s uncomfortable to use you should look into doing something about it.

  • Vishesh

    Hi Jarrod, I bought an acer predator helios 300 i5 9300H, gtx 1660 ti, 16 gb ram(2×8). I have been playing COD warzone from last 2-3 days. I see my temperature between 88-92°C. Is it safe? Will this temperature fry out motherboard? I want this laptop to last for the next 4 years.

    • Jarrod

      Sounds fine, I wouldn’t worry about it. Not too much you can do anyway as undervolting is locked, could look at raising the rear of the machine up so it can get more air if you’re paranoid (e.g. cooling pad).

  • Sanath Chauhan

    Hey Jarrod, I recently purchased Acer Predator Helios 300 with i7 10750H and Rtx 2060. While gaming the cpu remains around 85- 86 degrees on average with occasional spikes to 94 degrees. The ambient temperature is around 30 degrees centigrade. The Gpu remains around 77 to 78 degrees. Is it fine for my laptop? Will it last me 4 to 5 years?

  • Shambaditya

    Hello Jarrod, I came across your content and impressed. I have a question !!
    Recently bought Asus Tuf A17, 4800h, 1660 ti varient. While gaming the temperature reaches to 96 Degree.
    I use Ryzen Controller to limt the temperature within 85 degree, using the temperature control.

    My Question is : Is Ryzen controller good to go for long term or Shall I stop the agreesive mode in CPU power management. Stopping aggressive mode is limiting my CPU frequency to 2.7Ghz.
    Please suggest

    • Jarrod

      Thanks, I’ve only used Ryzen controller briefly and not long term, but I can’t imagine why it would be an issue to leave it limiting for long periods of time.

  • Ara GUreghian

    I have to leave a comment when someone like you goes into such concise and detailled explainations. I like that as being an amateur trying to understand what is going on! A bit old maybe for all that but why not? [74]. I have a ASUS ROG Zephyrus M15 15.5″ strictly for gaming. With handicapped hands [no biggie, I just cannot eat soup with a spoon… ah!ah!ah!] I need small real estate as screen. About 2 weeks old, great fan to suck the air from the bottom but CPY spikes at 96 and GPU 86. So ues, OCD, paranoid… more smiles! I am going to download Afterburner and drop by 1% maybe and see what happens. It is a 240Hz, 3ms, 16GB RAM with 1TB SSD. Inter Core i7. I don.t think it will damage it and yet, after reading you I am not quite as concerned! I “Thank You” for that. Might have a Friend open it and apply new Thermal Paste or Liquid Metal! [yes, I also watch You Tube].
    Basically, if you ask me… what a pain all this is! I also have an Xbox One X but I can only use it for driving games with a steering. Controller? well… as good as closing my eyes…
    OKAY! So now worries… I do see my temps in the Taskbar [WFinfo] but I really want to have an overlay!
    Stay well and stay safe… we need you! Ara

  • Arinze Jeffrey

    Hi, Jarrod.
    I use an MSI gf63 thin 9sc-066, it comes with a single fan. Every time I game I always turn my laptop’s fan to the max and it helps my laptop’s temperature, wanted to ask if it’ll damage the fan or longevity of my laptop if I keep doing this?
    Thanks.

    • Jarrod

      It will be fine, but yes more RPM over time would mean it wouldn’t last as long as they generally only last for some number of rotations, though it would be a huge number and probably take longer than the life of the machine under normal cases.

  • Satyam

    During this lockdown i have been playing games alot on my MSI GF 63. Like 5-7 hours a day almost everyday for 6-7 months.
    Config-

    i5 9300H
    gtx 1650 max-q
    2×8 gb ram
    512 gb nvme

    I actually have locked the cpu clocks from 4.1ghz to 3.6ghz as any temps. above 80C makes chassis and keyboard area uncomfortable to use. And i haven’t noticed any performance drops during gaming.

    overclocks:
    gpu core clock – +140mhz
    gpu memory clock- +440mhz

    In RDR2- temps are around 67C on gpu and 69-71C on cpu at 3.6ghz .
    Apex Legends- 71C gpu and 73-79C on cpu ( 78-87 at 4.1ghz)

    I haven’t checked temps. in other games but in gpu heavy games i always get below 70 temps in both cpu and gpu.

    There is no performance drops during hours of gaming as i haven’t experienced any thermal throttle but i think fan needs to cleaned or replaced as its started making noises.

  • Satyam

    And Jarrod you were right. Dual channel RAM really helps in eliminating stuttering and it makes night and day difference in fps in some games like there were many instances in apex when fps drops below 60. Now its 10-15 fps more in those areas.

  • Satyam

    I forgot,
    I have also applied undervolt to cpu, -125mV to core and cache.
    Without it, temps easliy go above 90C.
    I was testing cinebench r20 and scores after undervolting was 2070 average of 3 tests and max temp. was 90C.
    Although i haven’t recorded scores without undervolt but temps were horrible, 95-96C and clocks were unstable.

    At 3.6ghz temp. was 81C max and 1700 on R20.

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