Feb 25, 2016

How much cold can a laptop withstand without damage?

I left my briefcase with my Windows laptop inside in my car overnight. It was pretty cold last night, down to around 15 degrees fahrenheit, and my car was in the driveway so I assume it was that same temperature inside of my briefcase. Is it likely I caused any damage? Are there any precautions I should take before trying to boot it up?
As Desmond mentioned the biggest threat is condensation forming if you turn it on and let it heat up too fast. Generally speaking you should try to keep your laptop at room temperature. The temp. recommendations vary by manufacturer but going below 32 Fahrenheit is generally not recommended.
It's unlikely that would cause permanent damage, but I would be careful to bring the laptop inside and let it completely warm up to room temperature before restarting it. There is a risk of condensation forming on the internals when you bring it into a warm environment from a cold one. I would probably wait 6-7 hours at least, maybe until the next day if I was feeling paranoid.

If you try to use the laptop in a cold environment, the two most likely things you will notice are that battery life is terrible, and the LCD display may not work properly.

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