It is a well-known fact that computers perform their best in cool surroundings, and the hotter they get, the poorer they do. Overheating is a serious problem and does not only affect performance, but will also seriously reduce the life span of your components. Over time overheating can cause soldering to melt, causing loose components. This in return causes the hardware to malfunction and in worst case scenario, FIRE.
So how do you go about to “keeping it cool” ?
My main computer is getting really old. It must be at least 4 years since I upgraded the firmware. Lately it has become slow, and I do mean SLOW. And I’ve spent hours (literally) unsuccessfully trying to figure out what causes this behaviour, before I took a look inside the box. Inside the box it was HOT, really hot. Placing my hand over several areas inside the box revealed some intense heat-producing elements. The hottest surface I found was my AGP graphics adapter. The cooling ribs, supposed to cool the components, worked better as a heater than a cooling interface. I also found that the power supply and cpu fan was clogged with dust.
Tips and tricks
I took a look around the web for some ideas to keep my computer chilly enough to work properly. I found tons of suggestions of which I believe to be of value to more people than me. Be sure to leave your own tips in the comment section.
Rule number one: Keep it clean.
Dust is a very effective insulator as it can enter any small crack, or hole – effectively stopping any air from sipping through. The result is the build up of heat that cannot escape. So every once in a while, “pop the hood” and remove the dust inside of your computer. Pay especially detail to the fans and cooling ribs. Make sure you unplug it first, and make sure you (and your equipment) are grounded in some way or another.
Most people suggest using compressed air.
Location, location, location
Keeping your computer in the right place is also something to consider. Keeping it away from heat sources like the fireplace or the heater. Most computer cases are designed to pull in fresh air from the front and/or sides and to let it exit in the back. If you place your computer inside a cabinet for keeping a high W.A.F Standard (Wife Acceptance Factor), make sure it is not entirely enclosed. Make sure that fresh air can get in, and the used hot air can escape. In an enclosed room, where there is no access for cold air, the used hot air will circulate, getting hotter and hotter. Also if you can avoid places in direct sunlight, it would really make a difference.
Check your power-supply
If your power-supply is getting old, it might be time to exchange it for a new model, with better capacity. If your components gets just too little power the power-supply will produce more heat as it gets exhausted from delivering too little power all the time.
Add another fan
Exchanging or adding a cabinet fan is a cheap but effective way of keeping things cool. Some suggest to open the cabinet leaving it open to make sure you get enough air in. Unless you really like to vacuum – I would suggest against it. The cabinet is designed to keep as much dust as possible away from the components. Leaving it open will expose the different parts to more dust than necessary. Most main boards are equipped with connectors to add one or several fans. Installing an extra fan is very easy. Sometimes it requires making a hole in the cabinet, and sometimes not.
Laptop Owners can benefit from buying a laptop board with built-in cooler fan, which will prevent overheating both the computer and your lap. Some of these boards also come with speakers and usb hubs.
It doesn’t take long…
Spending 15 minutes now and then to check your “computers inside” is definitively worth the time and effort. It may in fact keeping your computer alive longer and at high-speed. There are many more things you can do to keep your computer up and running. In an upcoming article I will present you with several ideas. Some good, some bad and some really wild. Until then, leave your ideas in the comment section…