5 Ways to Keep Your Gaming Laptop’s Battery From Exploding – How-To Geek

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Sydney Butler has over 20 years of experience as a freelance PC technician and system builder. He’s worked for more than a decade in user education and spends his time explaining technology to professional, educational, and mainstream audiences. His interests include VR, PC, Mac, gaming, 3D printing, consumer electronics, the web, and privacy. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Research Psychology with a focus on Cyberpsychology in particular. Read more…
Jordan Gloor is Technical Editor at How-To Geek. He’s been writing technology explainers and how-tos since 2020, but he’s tinkering with computers and other tech since childhood. He writes on everything from Windows to Linux and from cord-cutting to generating art with AI. Read more…
Gaming laptops are a marvel of modern technology. They pack more power into a device than the supercomputers of yesteryear. However, every silver lining has a cloud, and in this case, that cloud can sometimes be a bit too literal.
Batteries store a lot of energy in a very compact space and when everything is working correctly, we enjoy the benefits. And when the battery begins to fail? You’re potentially facing a thermal runaway. This catastrophic event occurs when a battery cell overheats, leading to a domino effect of heat generation. The result? A battery that could explode.
Thermal runaway becomes more likely if your battery starts swelling due to degradation and is constrained by the laptop’s case, increasing the internal pressure, which can result in all sorts of unpleasant outcomes. Alternatively, the battery simply tears open the laptop chassis as it becomes too big to contain. Not quite the flaming spectacle that could have been, but still significant damage either way.
Gaming laptops are somewhat more at risk of this, thanks to their hefty power requirements and slim designs that don’t always allow for optimal heat dissipation. While the chances of your gaming laptop’s battery suffering thermal runaway are, in reality, quite low (though not zero!) there are a few things you can do to make your battery stay in one piece.
RELATED: 4 Ways You’re Damaging Your Laptop’s Battery
Batteries have a finite number of charge cycles, but charging your battery to its maximum capacity can also be its own problem. It’s a little like running a marathon; it’s stressful and can wear out the battery prematurely.
Many manufacturers allow you to set a maximum charge limit. This means the battery will stop charging at a certain percentage, say 80%, even if it remains plugged in. This small act can help to extend the battery’s lifespan and keep it from swelling or popping.
Heat is a major issue for batteries, and gaming laptops can get pretty toasty after hours of running high-end CPUs and GPUs at their peak.
An easy fix? Get yourself a laptop cooling pad. It’s a nifty piece of kit that sits beneath your laptop and uses fans to help cool the device. It’s especially useful when you’re knee-deep in an intense gaming session and can’t afford any throttling, especially if it leads to an emergency shutdown. Even better, a cooling pad can make your gaming laptop less noisy too.
Here’s a pro-tip: undervolt your laptop! In simple terms, undervolting means reducing the voltage supplied to your laptop’s processor. Less voltage means less heat, which in turn means less stress on your battery.
Do exercise caution, though. Undervolting can cause system instability if not done correctly. Luckily, there are tools available to help, like Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility for their CPUs or MSI Afterburner. Some of these tools even have AI-powered modes that can find the best voltage without your input. In general, lowering voltages can’t hurt anything permanently, and the worst that can happen is some instability. That being said, as with overclocking, you mess with your computer’s voltages entirely at your own risk.
If you’re planning a gaming marathon while plugged into the mains, consider taking out the battery. This reduces heat and battery stress. Just make sure your laptop can run on AC power without the battery. Also, if you’re storing the battery, keep it at around 50% charge to prevent complete drainage, which is also a potential death knell for a lithium battery.
Just be aware that many laptops these days don’t have batteries that can be easily and safely removed. Gaming laptops are still more likely than not to have a battery that pops out with ease,  but if you have to whip out a toolkit to remove the battery, it’s not meant to be repeatedly removed and reinserted.
Last but not least, don’t forget to manage your power settings!
For Windows users, you can adjust the power plan settings (and Linux has battery optimization tools too). You can instruct the system to dial back processor performance or dim the screen after a certain period of idle time. These tweaks can help reduce power consumption and heat, which in turn reduces stress on the battery.
Most gaming laptops have their own management utilities that let you choose between different power presets. So you can choose between all-out performance or a more modest performance profile while benefitting from less heat and noise.
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