This Tech Tip is brought to you by the sweltering hot conditions we experience in Sunny Queensland, Australia. Your computer and your peripherals such as monitors and printers all use electricity so will all will generate heat and can suffer from overheating. The harder they work, the more heat they generate. But too much heat can mean bad news for your equipment, especially your computer. The components within your system all run at a lower voltage then what is passed through your normal power outlet. These components are very sensitive and any small fluctuation in this voltage can cause issues. If your computer starts overheating, this can change the electrical resistance these components can handle. When this occurs the motherboard temperature sensors instruct hardware such as the hard drive and processor to slow down.
Computer overheating can display symptoms such as a decline in performance, sudden software crashes, random reboots, and the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. These symptoms may have multiple causes, but overheating is one suspect that needs to be confirmed or eliminated.
How to prevent computer overheating
Cleanliness – Bottom line, dust is an insulator and can be bad news for a computer. Every component that covered with a blanket of insulating dust is a component that is at risk of overheating.
If your computer is tucked away under a desk where ventilation is limited I recommend that you move it immediately. All cases have intake vents designed to allow cool air to cycle through. Make sure that these vents are clear from dust and occasionally give them a clean.
All PCs are designed to allow air flow through the front of the case and to exhaust this air out the rear. When building your PC the fan location is important to allow this to happen efficiently. It is important to make sure you have all side panels installed to allow this flow of air to occur. Also take some time to declutter the internal cables inside, using cable management to clear a passage and allow air to pass through without obstruction.
This will depend on how often you use your computer. If you only use your computer only occasionally it is a good idea to shut down your PC after every use. If you use your computer a couple of times a day this will not be an option for you.
When you are not using your computer and it is stuck on screensaver display, it is running near full power and still generating heat. Change your power settings to allow the screen to go blank after 15 or 20 minutes and to go into sleep mode as well after a period of time. This saves you on electricity, gives your system a break to cool down and can also add to your computer’s lifespan.
Increased temperature can cause intermittent as well as permanent changes in the electrical characteristics of your computer components. Decreased performance , memory errors, hard disk read-write errors, and video problems are just some of the symptoms of a machine that is overheating. Cooling your PC by 10°C can increase the life span of the components by 100% and allow your machine to run more efficiently.