Apart from increased electricity bills or financial damage, one other problem that most computers produce is heat. Heavy workloads placed on the CPU or GPU– such as productivity tasks or gaming, require lots of electricity and electricity generates heat. Sooner or later, you’ll be compelled to find ways to lower your PC temperature.
There are many reasons to be concerned about your computer’s temperature. But the main one would be component wear and tear. Excessive heat cycling can affect the solder on the components; one day, the component might decide to not work at all if it has become de-soldered due to the prolonged heat or temperature cycling.
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Of course, the more obvious reason is that all this heat gets swept around your immediate vicinity, contributing to a rise in room temperature.
But before we worry about how to lower your PC temperature, what exactly counts as worrying temperature?
What Counts as Too Hot?
As a rule of thumb for desktop computers, anything above 80 Degrees Celsius is too hot. At this point, the GPU or the CPU will start reducing its performance in order to bring down the temperature. This is called Thermal Throttling.
For gaming laptops, the temperature ceilings are different and higher; it’s generally acceptable to see temperatures past 80 Degrees Celsius, or sometimes even past 90 Degrees under full load.
With that out of the way, and if you’re sure that your CPU, GPU, or other components are approaching the worrying threshold, here are a few tips to lower your PC temperature.
Consider Where You Place the Computer
The thing to consider here the most is the intake and exhaust areas of your computer. For desktop PCs, this is pretty straightforward. Intake is usually at the front or bottom of the case and the exhaust is at the top of the back.
Meanwhile, for laptops, the intake is usually at the bottom while the exhaust vents are on the side or back.
Knowing the location of intake and exhaust vents is necessary if you want to provide optimal airflow for your computer.
Those two parts of the ventilation system should have no blockage whatsoever. More open space for them also works well in ensuring that the PC gets as much air as it can.
Additionally, you might want to avoid putting your computer near a window as a lot of heat from the sun or outdoors will still penetrate the windows and in turn, heat up the air near the computer, increasing its ambient temperature.
For the most optimal location, place it as close to the floor as possible since cold air tends to stay at the bottom of a room and hot air tends to rise to the ceiling.
Consider Using an A/C Unit
Ambient temperature is rather important in determining the maximum operating temperature of your computer. Hotter ambient or room temperature will contribute to higher PC temperature even with all the bleeding edge cooling solutions.
This does depend on where you live.
Ideally, you’d want an ambient temperature below 24 Degrees Celsius. Anything higher than that will contribute to the PC’s temperature since it won’t have much cool air to work with.
For that matter, an air-conditioning unit is the best solution. You can easily keep your ambient or room temperature to ideal levels and in turn, improve your quality of life. Even in countries with winter, an air-conditioning unit might still be necessary for a computer, especially during those hot and humid summer days.
Undervolt Your GPU
A lot of PC components are so powerful these days that reducing a bit of their wattage or voltage consumption won’t hurt performance too much. Thus, a lot of PC owners have resorted to undervolting their components– usually the GPU.
This is a perfectly safe and impressive solution for overheating and high electricity bills due to computer use. Less electricity being used by the components means lower heat output and the performance difference is marginal or even negligible.
Typically, you’d only want to undervolt the GPU since it’s the most power-hungry component in a computer (for both desktop and laptop PCs).
For an in-depth instruction set on how to undervolt your GPU, refer to this community-sourced guide from GitHub. Skip to the Undervolting section of the guide.
As for the CPU, we don’t recommend undervolting it; it usually doesn’t consume that much electricity and it’s a more complicated process that’s easy to mess up.
Buy Aftermarket Cooling Solutions for Your CPU
A lot of stock cooling solutions on both desktops and laptops are sub-par or are barely enough to keep the device running cooler than 80 Degrees Celsius. Intel and AMD CPU stock coolers are notorious for this.
That’s why we also wholeheartedly recommend purchasing and using aftermarket coolers for your CPU. The decent ones produce less noise than stock coolers and also dissipate CPU heat much better.
For desktop PCs, there are plenty of options, namely air coolers and liquid coolers.
CPU Air Coolers
CPU air coolers are one of the safest and most effective cooling solutions for your computer’s processor. It usually comes in a large heatsink design which will absorb all the heat produced by the CPU die. The attached fans will then cool the heatsink, allowing it to absorb more heat from the CPU. It’s a simpler process compared to liquid cooling.
One of the most recommended CPU air coolers would be the Noctua NH-D15 if you want something premium. For a more affordable alternative that’s just as good, then the DeepCool AK620 is there to compete.
CPU Liquid Coolers
If you have an i7, Ryzen 7, i9, or Ryzen 9 desktop CPU, then something more robust as a cooling solution might be necessary. This is where liquid coolers come in.
Liquid does conduct heat better though it can also short electronic components so there’s a tiny risk involved in using liquid coolers if they fail and leak. That doesn’t happen to most liquid coolers, however.
Cooling Pad for Laptops
Laptop options are more limited when it comes to aftermarket cooling. At best, you can only get a cooling pad for your laptop. This increases bottom ventilation clearance and provides external fans.
Thankfully, they’re not as expensive as CPU coolers for desktop PCs. Laptop cooling pads also have other purposes, the most notable of which is elevating the laptop screen.
Clean the Dust
When you’ve eliminated all the previous solutions on how to lower your PC temperature, then perhaps it’s time to look at the sinister culprit that periodically plagues all computers: dust.
Dust buildup tends to occur in the computer’s intake area and enough dust will clog the intake, resulting in reduced airflow and inadequate cooling. You can wipe this off and blow the dust away using compressed air.
There are also electric blowers with specialized nozzles for this job. But whatever you do, don’t use vacuum cleaners to clean dust from computers. Too much static electricity might short the components.
Make sure to follow these tips and your computer might just run as good as new again, assuming the only problem is overheating.