Keeping Your Computer Cool in the Heat.

Keeping Your Computer Cool in the Heat.

How do you keep a computer cool?

Is an often asked question and was asked of me by Jenny of Future Art Canvas Prints.

Keeping your computer cool on a particularly warm day is important if you are going to be using it a lot. It is important to keep the computer cool for many reasons. The main one being that if your computer gets too hot it will simply turn itself off to protect itself and you will lose any unsaved data. It can also shorten the lifespan of your computer and possibly damage the parts if it remains too hot for too long.

So how do I keep my computer cool?

There are many things that can be done to cool down the computer and the first recommendation by any technician is to not have your computer sitting on the floor. Computers need good airflow and most of the air is drawn in the front as is expelled out the back. Depending on the type of case that you have air may be drawn in directly in the front using specially designed grills or it may be drawn in through a hole(s) at the bottom of the front panel. There may also be small holes in the side panels too to draw in additional air but most is drawn in through the front. It is best to keep at least 3 to four inches clear on the back and the sides, if you have ventilation holes there. This will allow the hot air to flow away from the computer and not get drawn back in. If your computer is near a wall and the wall is warmer where the air is expelled from the case then move your computer a little further away. If you computer sits in a desk ensure that there is adequate ventilation at the rear and front when in use. Open the door and ensure that there is somewhere for the air to go out of the desk at the rear.

Both with Door
Both with Door

In the image to the right you can see examples of both these case designs. On the left you have a case that draws air in through the bottom of the front panel and on the right you have my specially designed gamer case which has grills and mounting brackets for two 120mm fans at the front hiding behind the door. As you can see I have raised both cases off the ground. In the image you can barely see part of one of the old CD ROM drives I have re-purposed to act as big feet for both of the cases. You can use anything you want so long as it is flat and allows air to enter the bottom of the front panel without obstruction.

Bottom View
Bottom View

This image shows the bottom of my server case and where the air is drawn in through a gap in the bottom of the front panel.

Desktop with fan grill open Desktop with fan grills closed Desktop with fan grill open and closed.

Here you can see the front panel of my desktop system with the grills (left) and the dust screen (right) which are directly in front of a 120mm fan. There is another Fan placement position behind the hard drive caddy which is behind the grill and dust screen at the bottom but this is not required as the power supply for this case is positioned in the bottom section with the hard drive caddy. This allows to power supply to draw air in the front grill over the hard drives and expel the air straight out the back. The upper section houses the motherboard and the DVD ROM drive. The top section has one intake and two exhaust fans. I run the front intake fan faster than the exhaust fans to have the air coming in going out at roughly the same rate.

Fans and Dust Inside your computer there are normally at least two fans. One on top of the processor and one in the power supply. The Power supply fan is usually the fan that has the responsibility of expelling the hot air from within your case. These fans can get clogged with dust and pet hair etc that gets sucked in the front of your computer case. Computer cases are like magnets for pet hair and dust. Laptops are even more susceptible to dust and pet hair due to the small vent and fan.

Cat inspecting inside of computer case for dust
Ahh so that's where all the fur I cast disappears to.

In this image you can see that the cat is inspecting the case for dust and found a flattened fur ball it thought it had lost earlier this month in the metal fins of the heatsink and on the edges of the fans amongst other places. I jest about the fur ball but this is what the inside your case can look like if it is in a dusty environment or of you have pets. This can be removed if you are technically minded enough with either a computer vacuum or a can of compressed air. Shut your computer down first and perhaps take it outside on a dry day before doing this to ensure the dust is not sucked back inside later, if using compressed air. If you are not so technically minded then I advise taking it to someone else, perhaps your local computer store, for internal maintenance. Unfortunately it is not something I can do over the internet. I recommend getting your case internally maintained or cleaned at least once or twice a year possibly more if you have pets. Listen carefully to the noise from your computer you will notice the audible change in the sound that comes from the case and can usually hear a fan failure before it dies completely. Standard fans found in most computer cases can usually be replaced fairly inexpensively.

Another way of keeping it cool is to move it to cooler part of the room or a cooler room altogether. As stated earlier your computer is likely to be too hot if it is uncomfortably warm for you therefore cooling down the room or moving to a cooler room is always a good idea.

One thing to avoid doing is removing the side panel from your computer case. This may seem like a good idea however computer rely on airflow over various parts of the system for proper cooling and taking the side panel off disrupts this greatly.

Some fans only spin or spin faster when the components they are attached to are above a certain temperature and this is normal. This is to save power cooling a part that does not require much, if any, cooling at this time.

Other than what I have mentioned above I can’t think of any more If you have any ideas feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

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