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Microsoft patents a cooling dock to keep devices from overheating

Surface Logo
Surface Logo (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft patented the idea of a cooling dock to keep computing devices from overheating.
  • The dock would use a heat sink and fans to keep a device cool.
  • As with all patents, this idea might never become a real device.

A patent from Microsoft for a cooling dock for computing devices recently emerged online. The described device combines fans and a heat sink to keep devices cool. Microsoft filed for Patent No. US 10,649,506 B2 on July 17, 2019 and it was published on May 12, 2020. WindowsUnited spotted the patent earlier this week.

The concept of the dock is fairly straightforward. A device, potentially such as a Surface 2-in-1, would have magnets that would help it attach to the dock. The heat from the device would then dissipate through a heat sink that's also cooled with a fan or fans. While devices have gotten thinner and more powerful over the years, they can still easily heat up. Having a cooling dock could help keep temperatures down and devices running quickly.

Microsoft Cooling Dock Patent

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (Image credit: Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Here's a description of the cooling dock idea from Microsoft's patent:

Disclosed herein are apparatuses, systems, and methods for improved heat dissipation from an electronic device. The improved heat dissipation within the electronic device may be provided by a thermal dock including an active cooling device (e.g., a Peltier device) that is physically connected (e.g., at a hot side of the Peltier device) to a spring-loaded heat sink. Magnets located on a computing device (e.g., a back side of a computing device, opposite a display of the computing device) to be cooled and the thermal dock, respectively, keep the back side of the computing device in physical contact with the Peltier device. The thermal dock also includes one or more fans positioned in line with the heat sink to cool the heat sink and thus the hot side of the Peltier device physically connected with the heat sink.

Just as with all patents, this device or concept might never see the light of day. Microsoft and other companies file many patents that don't turn into commercially available devices. If it did become a real device, would you want to use it? Let us know in the comments below.

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

12 Comments
  • I'd consider it but it would depend on the exact form factor.
  • I would expect a device is engineered such that it doesn't require an addition to keep it from burning up. If people need the power that this presumably allows, only with the addition of supplemental cooling, they should just suck it up and buy a device that can support it.
  • Or, maybe people use a device in such a way as it is fine most of the time and so the extra expense and possibly bulk of a more powerful machine is not required, but a cooling dock would be useful sometimes in some places. Guess what - I am just such a person! Reading comments on the internet, it becomes apparent that many people have very little imagination and, if they don't do something a certain way, they can't imagine anyone else doing it that way.
  • Just saying, making a device that has a strong possibility of overheating without the addition of an accessory seems like a bad idea.
  • Throttling ensures that 'that' doesn't happen. Thermal throttling, on the other hand, would improve with a cooling dock. Want to turbo for longer before throttling? Cooling dock.
  • Amazon has 7 pages of laptop coolers, so I think maybe people do have a need. I live in Southern California, and have no air conditioning in my house, temps have peaked at over 30C during the summer months, there's no laptop on this earth built to handle this kind of heat and keep itself cool. I found both my surface pro 4 and Dell XPS 13 start to throttle when subjected to these temps - thankfully, this is rarely an issue, but I do have to use a cooler when I need more power - I certainly wouldn't be happy to compromise on the portability, just to have built-in cooling. I'd love an integrated cooler that could be attached and was better than a big fan blowing the underside.
  • It seems like this patent is more appropriate for Surface Book considering it has a base dock to be a laptop. With this, a hypothetical device can run on higher performance mode when on laptop mode and even for attached-base tablet mode (or I personally call it, drawing mode) while on lower TDP while on detached tablet mode.
  • I'm not sure about that. If they were to put a higher-power chip in the tablet then almost everyone would need a dock like this to use it and if they used a chip that could switch between modes then those who didn't need it would be paying for nothing. I can see the logic but I'm not sure that it would be specifically practical. Mind you, a chip with a high turbo speed could presumably work at that speed for longer with better cooling, so maybe it's more practical than I'm giving it credit for.
  • If I was to guess, this has more to do with industry/government/military applications than anything in the consumer world. I know of no one who has every used a cooling dock/pad.
  • Loads of people use lap trays for their laptops that have cooling built in. That's generally as much for their lap as for the laptop but I know a number of people who keep their laptops cool that way, sometimes even when on a desk.
  • What's cooling the back of your Surface gonna do when the heat producing components like CPU and GPU are all located on the Screen facing side of the Motherboard?
  • You do know that a Surface Pro already loses heat through the back, right? If I can feel heat from the back of my Surface then cooling the back will obviously have an effect. How much of an effect is a question but there will be an effect.