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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

Maybe not this kind of 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

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…

About Thomas

Computer geek from the age of 7, which amounts to 30 years of computer experience. From the early days (when every computer company had their own OS) of DOS, Windows 1.0 through Seven...

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13 thoughts on “Increase your Computers perfomance, Chill it [How To]”

  1. Taylor Ling says:

    Great stuff. To complement this article, I have another [How To] on using software to monitor the temperature of PC components, so is highly compatible with your tips and tricks.http://ghost301tech.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/monitor-temperature-of-your-computer-how-to/

  2. shoby says:

    Great tips there

    here’s another one.:
    I took some gauze (dunno if the word is correct) from a first aid kit and taped it on the little holes on the PC case, from the inside, which means the gauze is like a dust filter and keeps the inside of my PC clean.

    and another one:
    the air flow must be like you mentioned e.g. from the front to the back
    installing extra fans with no order causes jut turbulences and it doesn’t help much

    renewing the thermal paste on the CPU helps the processor to keep cool

  3. Veseliburek says:

    Dude, the “cooling ribs” are used to cool the components, not the air… Jesus…

    1. Thomas says:

      Just a small typing error. I fixed it.

  4. Derek Ellis says:

    I open up my case and use a can of compressed air every six months. Been doing this for 7 years and not had a single problem with heat related issues. Get a new can so that the air is stronger when you blow it. A can with less air does not make as strong of a blast, which really just blows around the dust instead of blowing out.

    1. Thomas says:

      Great tip. Thank you.

  5. Guest says:

    please DO NOT USE A VACUUM to clean your computer unless it is a special electronics vacuum. Air being sucked into a vacuum creates a static charge in the pickup tube, which will discharge into your computer components, frying your computer. Use caned compressed air to blow out your device instead. It is both dry and will not fry your motherboard, cpu, northbridge, graphics card, etc. Older computers are especially susceptible.

    1. Thomas says:

      I do mention grounding yourself (or your vac) to avoid that. But your point is duly noted. Some suggest that using a brush tip on your vacuum is safe as long as you don’t have metal to metal connection. Also newer VAC’s is safer than old ones.

      I have updated the info in the article to reflect your concern.

  6. Guest says:

    Please DO NOT VACUUM your computer using a normal household vacuum. Air being sucked into the pickup hose creates a static charge in in the hose, which WILL discharge into your computer, which can fry your cpu, northbridge, ram, graphics cards, southbridge, etc. older computers are especially vulnerable to static discharge. Instead use compressed air from a CAN to blow out your computer, or a specialized electronics vacuum. Canned air, unlike other compressed air sources, is dry, which will prevent condensation (another computer-killer).

  7. Ray says:

    all I can say is : when you upgrade, do not just think about your mobo or gpu, …they need to stay cool after all, look around for HAF cases ( High Air Flow) and you see that even an aircooled pc can really hammer it for not to much costs. My mobo never over +20C room temp.

  8. Rich says:

    Excellent tip!

  9. Overfiend says:

    @ Cal your best not letting it heat up to begin with rather than noticing a temp increase and then opening the doors to cupboard m8.

    From my own experience buying a new Motherboard and cpu I recommend that consumers always go that bit farther and spend the extra cash on cooling.

    : Pay for a Non- Stock Cooler. The packaged CPU Coolers are rarely great.
    : Get a few extra case fans they really make a difference. If noise is an issue and if possible try for bigger fans as they have a lower RPM.
    : If money is not an issue then a water cooled system may be worth considering.
    : Consider cable management to help with airflow
    : Site computer sensibly. If this needs explaining then you shouldn’t have a computer :p

    1. Thomas says:

      Great advice. Thank you.

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