Do Mac laptops get hotter than PC laptops?

Mac laptops are known to be little powerhouses, but do they really get hotter than PC laptops?
Image courtesy of Apple

Toasted-skin syndrome has nothing to do with pork rinds and everything to do with technology. Heat from the bottom of a laptop computer can average 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (29.4 to 32.2 degrees Celsius) and as high as 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51.6 degrees Celsius), even causing minor burn patterns on the legs and laps of users. This condition prompted PC Magazine to advise users to "put some pants on," or perhaps use something other than their laps as the spot for computing. What Pediatrics Journal found in researching toasted-skin syndrome is that prolonged use of a laptop on the lap can burn the skin. What they didn't conclude is whether it's more likely to happen with a Mac or a PC [source: Cheng].

If you're reading this from a MacBook or a PC laptop or a desktop, all of these machines have something in common: They need to keep cool. Maybe you're a fan of the power and simplicity of an Apple computer, or maybe you're a diehard PC user; either way, your computers are only as superior as their fans, air vents and users are at helping keep the insides working without overheating. And with laptops, there is a lot less space for the heat-generating guts of the computer to crowd in together compared to the space in a larger desktop tower.

Laptops are so lightweight that it's easy to forget how much hardware is inside. All of the processors, memory and functionality come together at lightning-fast speeds in a portable, work-anywhere design. A computer is like a brain in that it receives, repurposes and outputs vast amounts of information in countless formats. If you've ever worked through something involving lots of brainpower and concentration, you might have experienced the sensation that your head might explode if you didn't get a break. Computers have the same response to too much internal working; they need to vent and breathe and have some space to do so.

Mac laptops are known to be little powerhouses, especially for those who do more than just word processing or research and surfing. They are genius with graphics and design. PCs can be as powerful, too, and handle most anything a desktop workstation boasts. Both Mac and PC laptops, however, can be too hot to handle without their built-in cooling systems and some outside help.

Advertisers compete to show both Mac and PC users as being the coolest, but which laptop is better at keeping its cool? We'll answer that burning question, next.