Mathieu:
This is a guest post from Bily Bum, an electrical engineer, tech and gaming fan with 15 years of experience in the technology world.
Note that I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

How to Keep Your Computer Cool

A computer is made of several parts that all heat up during work. The motherboard and the graphics card MOFSET (power delivery components) can reach up to 120C, while the CPU and graphic card can generally operate safely up to 100C, although for long-term longevity, you want to stay under 90C or preferably 80C. 

Keeping the components of a computer cool enough is important, as too high temperatures can affect stability, cause malfunctions, reduce the lifespan of components and cause early failures.

While every computer component does get cooled one way or another, sometimes this default cooling method isn’t enough to keep everything cool. Over time, you may need to do some maintenance.

For this reason, it is necessary to find some other solutions to lower heat buildup. Whether you live in a country with high temperatures, or just somewhere with a hot summer, here are some tips on how to keep your computer cool.

An adequate place

Where you put your computer in your room has a big effect on its cooling. It should have sufficient space in front and behind it, to avoid obstructing the airflow. Ideally it should be in a rather open space, not in an enclosed space or stuck behind large furniture pieces. Rather, place it in a part of the room where nothing will obstruct the airflow.

Proper room ventilation

Inadequate room atmosphere in the form of hot, humid or clogged air can cause overheating issues with PCs. Too much humidity will cause corrosion and component failure. Too little humidity (dry air) greatly increase the odds of electrostatic discharge, which can kill a computer component.

A lack of ventilation will cause heat build-up. Therefore, the room with a computer inside it should be ventilated and air-conditioned if possible. Even more so if people smoke in there, as that will greatly increase dust build-up.

Clean the computer

Even with dust filters, your computer will gather dust – on the inside as well as the outside. Dust is known to gather on all the internal surfaces, particularly on the blades of the fans and on the grills beneath them. If the fans become clogged, your machine will have a hard time to keep all the vital parts cool.

The easiest way to clean your PC is to use compressed air. Here’s a good guide on how to go on about cleaning your computer.

Take it easy on overclocking

When you overclock a hardware component, such as the CPU or graphics card, you increase how much heat it emits, especially if you increase the voltage. Although this does provide higher performance, it also increases the temperature of your computer’s part significantly. Therefore, an easy way to reduce heat emission is to reduce your overclock, even better if you can reduce voltage.

Keep the side cover on

You’d think that’s obvious, but it is worth mentioning: The side cover of your computer case should be taken off only when you’re repairing or cleaning your machine. Leaving it removed at all times will make your heatsinks and fans clog up faster and lose their cooling effectiveness while more dust, bugs and other foreign things can enter inside, not to mention the risk of electrical shorts, fire and other damage due to open access to electrical wires and fragile PC components. If you need the remove the side cover to prevent your computer from overheating, see the two points below.

Add case fans

If the case have sufficient space around it and all components run hot, the problem may be the lack of sufficient case ventilation. If you have power hungry components, if you overclock or only have a single case fan, adding a single or multiple case fans to the case will lower the temperature of your computer thanks to improved airflow and heat exchange. 

Double-check if you have available 3/4 pins headers on the motherboard or otherwise available Molex 4-pins connectors from the power supply, in order to power the additional fan(s). There are many different sizes of computer fans, most commonly 80mm, 92mm, 120mm, 140mm and 200mm. If you’re unsure which fans fit your computer’s case, double-check your case manual and specifications.

Then you can shop online, on Amazon, B&H (Worldwide Shipping) or in Australia, you can visit this online computer shop.

I advise paying a bit more for quality bearings, avoid cheap sleeve bearings which often fail in less than a year in my experience. Sure, they have a 1 year warranty, but considering the cost of shipping them back and the hassle, the warranty isn’t worth much in this case (pun intended).

After-market heatsink / fan

If a specific component, usually the CPU or graphic card, runs too hot, you can replace the stock cooling heatsink/fan by an after-market one. 

Photo by VASANTH on Unsplash

Consider Water cooling

In the past, water cooling systems were reserved for High-end Gaming PC rigs, with custom loops. Nowadays, more and more people are starting to use liquid cooling systems for their machines, thanks to pre-built, easy to install kits. Simply put, liquid cooling is more efficient than air cooling, it rarely gets clogged up and has a particularly beautiful aesthetic – brimming with lights and unique parts. 

Closed-loop kits are some of the most used water cooling systems and they include:

  • a pump
  • a reservoir
  • a radiator
  • Cooling fan(s)

The installation is easy – just connect the parts to the case and any components it is intended to cool.

Declutter the cables

Cluttered cables can have an impact on the temperature of the components of your PC, as they can obstruct the airflow.

Re-route the cables and hide away unused power cables. If you have any doubt, take some pictures and write down how they were connected.

Replace thermal compound on the CPU

Thermal compound (or thermal paste) acts as an intermediary layer between your CPU and its heatsink, filling the small gaps, being a much better conductor of heat than air.

After many years, if you see your CPU temperatures raising more than they used to, is a good idea to verify that the thermal paste it isn’t dried out.

Conclusion

Computers, just like many other machines, produce significant amounts of heat which ultimately can cause wear and tear to the components if not properly dissipated, leading to compromised performance and durability. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to stop this. Following some, or even all of the pieces of advice mentioned here will increasing the lifespan of your PC and make sure that you get full performance.