Keeping your cool (laptops)

Generally speaking, the “faster” a computer system runs, the more power it consumes. And, as I discussed in my previous blog post, that power gets converted to heat.

This is an important consideration when purchasing a laptop computer. Laptops which require more power to run will have a shorter battery life. If the heat needs to be extracted via fans, these fans must also be powered by the battery – which will also create noise and some vibrations.

Another common method of cooling a computer is to use a “heat sink”, usually of aluminum or copper, to move the heat to another area where it can more easily be dispersed. These lumps of metal will make your laptop heavier, as will the larger batteries needed to run the fans or maintain the computer’s performance.

For this reason, you should consider how fast you really need your new laptop to be, and weigh this up (pun intended!) against how portable you need it to be. Most people only use a fraction of their computer’s performance for day to day web browsing or writing documents.

Nowadays, we see more of a trend towards splitting up the computer use amongst different devices. You may wish to consider having a desktop computer for your home use, and more demanding computer tasks such as photo and video editing or game playing, and a smaller portable device like a netbook or iPad for more mobile, low intensity use on a train or in the park.