Do cooling pads work for MacBook Pro?

Cooling pads are increasingly popular accessories for laptops like the MacBook Pro. With the powerful performance offered by MacBook Pro models, heat dissipation can become an issue. This often leads MacBook Pro owners to look into cooling pads as a potential solution. But do cooling pads really help lower temperatures and boost performance in the MacBook Pro?

What is a cooling pad?

A laptop cooling pad is a device placed underneath a laptop to help lower its operating temperature. Cooling pads work by using fans to enhance airflow and draw heat away from the underside of a laptop. Most cooling pads connect via USB to draw power for their built-in fans.

Cooling pads often have the following features:

  • Multiple high-RPM fans to increase airflow
  • Ergonomic design to raise laptop for more comfortable use
  • USB pass-through allowing connection of other devices
  • Adjustable height settings
  • Laptop anti-slip grooves to hold laptop firmly in place

How do cooling pads work?

Cooling pads are designed to work in conjunction with a laptop’s existing internal cooling system. All laptops rely on internal fans and heat sinks to dissipate heat generated by components like the CPU and GPU. However, most laptop cooling systems struggle to adequately cool powerful modern components, especially in thin and light designs.

This is where cooling pads come in. They provide an external airflow source directed specifically at the underside of the laptop, where heat tends to concentrate. The fans pull cool air across hot spots like the processor and vented sections of the laptop bottom. This can significantly improve passive cooling, carrying more heat away from internal components.

Do cooling pads help lower MacBook Pro temperatures?

Multiple studies and tests have shown that cooling pads are effective at lowering laptop operating temperatures during intensive tasks like gaming, video editing, and rendering. Reviews of popular MacBook Pro models indicate cooling pads can lower temperatures by 6-8°C in many cases. This level of cooling can reduce thermal throttling issues that impact performance.

The most significant temperature reductions are seen on the CPU and GPU dies themselves, along with surfaces like the bottom chassis and keyboard deck. Lower internal component temperatures grant thermal headroom to maintain higher clock speeds for longer under load.

However, the degree of improvement depends on several factors:

  • Laptop design – Well-ventilated laptops see more benefit from enhanced airflow.
  • Cooling pad design – More and larger fans typically provide superior cooling power.
  • Fan speed – Faster fan settings dramatically help heat dissipation from the chassis.
  • Pad alignment – Aligning fans with internal hot spots improves cooling impact.

Do MacBook Pro cooling pads boost performance?

By lowering temperatures, cooling pads indirectly improve MacBook Pro performance in some scenarios. With modern Apple laptops, aggressive power limitation and throttling is used to maintain safe operating temperatures.

This throttling can severely restrict CPU/GPU speeds, lowering performance in tasks like high-resolution video editing, 3D modeling, programming compiles, and gaming. Just a few degrees of additional thermal headroom from a cooling pad can significantly reduce power/speed throttling.

Benchmarks on intensive workloads often show performance gains of 5-15% with effective cooling pads. However, results vary substantially based on laptop configuration, room environment, and the nature of the workload.

Recommended cooling pads for MacBook Pro

The right cooling pad for your MacBook Pro depends on budget, features, and aesthetics. Here are some top options:

Cooling Pad Key Features
Opolar LC06 Sleek, aluminum design. Quiet dual fans.
Tree New Bee RGB lighting. 4 adjustable height settings.
Havit HV-F2056 Tri-fan array. Mesh surface for airflow.
Kootek Chill Mat 5 Very affordable. 5 height positions.

Key things to evaluate are fan layout, noise levels, airflow design, ergonomic tilt, and extra features like USB ports. Comparing reviews on sites like Amazon can help choose the right pad.

Tips for improving MacBook Pro cooling pad effectiveness

To maximize the cooling benefits for a MacBook Pro, consider these usage tips:

  • Use maximum fan settings for challenging workloads
  • Elevate the rear of the pad around 1 inch for optimum tilt
  • Align fans with MacBook Pro exhaust vents
  • Minimize clutter beneath the pad to improve airflow
  • Use the pad on a hard, flat surface for best results

Also ensure any case or shell is removed from the MacBook Pro to allow heat to dissipate freely from the chassis. With the right usage practices, it’s possible to lower MacBook Pro temperatures by 10°C or more.

Potential downsides of MacBook Pro cooling pads

While cooling pads are effective for heat mitigation in laptops like the MacBook Pro, there are some potential downsides:

  • External power source required (USB)
  • Can block some ports while in use
  • Adds bulk when transporting laptop
  • Fan noise may be distracting in quiet environments
  • Cooling benefits dependent on specific workload

The benefits of using a cooling pad largely outweigh the disadvantages for MacBook Pro owners concerned about temperatures or throttling. However, cooling pads are not essential for all users or use cases.

Are external cooling pads required for MacBook Pro?

For most typical day-to-day use of a MacBook Pro, a dedicated cooling pad is not required. The stock thermal design can handle lighter workloads like web browsing, office work, media streaming, and 2D graphics work without throttling in most environments.

However, users operating a MacBook Pro under sustained heavy loads can benefit substantially from the additional cooling provided by an external pad. For thermal demanding tasks like 3D rendering, video editing, programming, gaming, etc, cooling pads help unlock the full performance potential.

So while not always mandatory, external cooling pads are highly recommended for MacBook Pro users running intensive workloads to maximize performance and stability.

Do MacBook Pro stands provide similar cooling benefits?

MacBook stands are similar devices designed to raise the angle of a MacBook Pro display. However, most stands lack built-in active cooling fans. While stands can improve passive airflow around the chassis, they do not provide nearly the magnitude of directed active cooling enabled by cooling pads.

Stands are also focused on ergonomics rather than cooling. So cooling pads tend to lower operating temperatures considerably more than stands alone. That said, combining a stand with a cooling pad can deliver both an ergonomic lift and superior cooling performance.

Key takeaways

  • Cooling pads use fans to enhance airflow and lower MacBook Pro temperatures
  • Pads can reduce temperatures by 6-10°C in some cases, mitigating thermal throttling
  • This allows improved performance on intensive workloads like gaming or video editing
  • Cooling benefits depend on laptop design, pad design, fan speed, and usage practices
  • Pads are highly recommended for thermally demanding tasks, but not always required


Cooling pads provide an effective way to lower operating temperatures on MacBook Pro models, especially under sustained intensive workloads. While not essential in every scenario, they offer valuable headroom to maximize performance, stability, and consistency during challenging thermal conditions.

For users who push their MacBook Pro’s performance limits regularly, a quality cooling pad is highly recommended. Models from brands like Opolar, Tree New Bee, Kootek, and more provide the right balance of cooling power, ergonomics, features, and value. With some optimization of pad alignment and fan speeds, cooling pads can keep a MacBook Pro running cool and enable peak CPU/GPU output.