HELP! Laptop Overheating?? (Update: Conclusion)

Hey Tribe,

I need your help! I just got a new laptop last week (Link to Laptop, 4th gen i7, 2GB Nvidia GeForce 640M, 8GB RAM), and I've been playing some games from Steam. Note that I have been playing with my laptop on my desk, so it's on a hard surface, not on my lap or bed or anything.

Last night while playing Crysis 2, The game started stuttering and went choppy for about 20-30 seconds, at which time, the fans were blowing pretty intensely. After those 20-30 seconds, everything would return to normal and the game would continue to play. A short while later, it happened again. Bad for a short period, then good.

What bothers me is that it wasn't doing that all week, just started yesterday after much shorter gameplay.

1) Could it be something other than overheating? Drivers are apparently up to date. Also, the laptop is only 1 week old.

2) If it IS overheating, do modern laptops have a shutdown mechanism before it gets hot enough to do damage? Basically, based on the fact that it seemed to recuperate quickly and keep working, do I need to worry about damage from the heat?

3) The game initially didn't run in "fullscreen," but I changed it so that it does. Would that have any effect?

4) My plan is to try again tonight, see if it happens again. If it does, should I just exchange it for a new one?

UPDATE August 4, 2013 @ 3:13pm ET

Thank you to all that helped me with this concern! Some were ... straight forward... but honest, and that's what matters.

I've decided that I'm still very in love with this laptop. It turns out that the issue isn't a problem of overheating, it was likely just the 5400rpm HDD loading new environments. It only happens in certain parts of Crysis 2, and the rest seems to be good to go.

To those expressing concerns of overheating in general: Thank you! I have still taken many of the suggestions to heart, for the sake of keeping this laptop functional for a few years. I bought a cooling pad and I've turned down the graphics settings for Crysis2, as I will also do for any other games that are intense on the graphics card and CPU.

Thanks again for all the advice, this forum has some really great, helpful users!!

BioDave