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A detailed finite-element analysis of the thermal characteristics of semiconductor disk lasers with AlGaAs mirrors is presented. A comparison of the thermal resistance of devices operating in the 1200-1600 nm wavelength range using either lattice-matched GaAs-based active regions or lattice-mismatched InP-based active regions is performed and reveals similar performance. A variety of semiconductor chip design, mounting, and pumping strategies are subsequently investigated to help define guidelines for an effective thermal management of these devices. As it could be anticipated, the results suggest that best thermal performance is generally achieved when the heat extraction path is minimized.