Internal Heat Sources

Other Electrical Components

In addition to the CPU, there are plenty more chips in your PC that produce heat due to the electricity flowing through such as the motherboard, the memory, and additional cards, such as video cards, sound cards, etc. Especially newer video cards are getting so hot that they come with their own heat sink and even fan.

The best way to cool these parts is by making sure that there is a steady flow of air through the case. Ideally, you should have two additional fans in the case. Look at the bottom front of the case. There might be a funny plastic contraption with no obvious purpose. Take it off and you will see that it is made to hold a fan. If there is no plastic contraption, you will see just four holes in the metal to mount the fan on. Measure the width between the screw holes so you know what size fan to buy.

Now look on the back of the case. If you have a mid-tower case, there should be another place to put a fan right underneath the power supply. If you have a full-tower case, there will be a place for a fan right above the power supply. Again, measure the distance between the screw holes and get a fitting fan.

Now the trick is this: The fan at the bottom front should be mounted to blow air INTO the case. The fan at the rear middle or top should be mounted to blow air OUT of the case as it sits higher up and hot air usually rises to the top. At least on this planet it does. The fan has usually a marking on it, a small arrow, that indicates the direction of air flow. Be sure that the air flow is not blocked by loose cables hanging in the way. Tie them together and out of the way with some bag ties. You should now have a nice flow of cool air through the case with fans exhausting the hot air.

Drives

Heat is also created by drives. Especially with hard drives now turning at 7200 or even 10,000 RPM, they produce a lot of heat. Same with CD-ROM drives. After using a CD for an extended period of time, e.g. playing a music CD or accessing a data CD for a while, take out the CD and touch it with your finger. Surprisingly warm, isn’t it?

To avoid heat build-up from drives, mount them apart from each other if possible. If you have multiple drive bays and don’t use them all, try to leave a free bay between drives. If you have a full-tower case, you might even have some mounting points for extra fans at the side of the drive bays.

Case

Another cause for heat problems can be the computer case itself. A bigger case makes for better air flow. A small crammed case can cause problems. There is no reason to buy a small case, like a micro or mini tower. Sure, you might save a foot in height and a few inches in depth, but if you can’t afford that little bit of extra space, you might want to consider getting a bigger apartment. Also, if you ever plan to upgrade your computer or replace parts, you’ll be grateful for every cubic inch of space you have to move around inside the case, believe me. The other day I worked on a Compaq Presario that was about the size of a official NBA approved basketball. In order to add another stick of memory, I had to remove the power supply, the floppy drive, the hard drive and unhook the CD-ROM drive!

Cool it

This type of preventative maintenance can save you from potential problems in the future. Take the time to make sure that your PC is properly cooled. Even if you apply every single step listed above, it will cost you only a trip to the store and an hour of your time. If your PC already is cool, then great. You now have the piece of mind of knowing that it is. If it wasn’t, then you might extend the life span of your PC and save yourself a headache or two.

– Alex –

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