ARCHIVED: Why do I need to keep my computer cool?

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Computers have thousands of transistors; as the computer runs, the electricity flowing through the transistors causes heat to build up. Central processing units (CPUs) are especially vulnerable to heat because the transistors and wiring on the CPU chip are packed very closely together. Keeping chips cool is a major problem of modern processor design.

A newer computer will usually have at least two cooling fans. The larger cooling fan is mounted in the computer's power supply and cools only that component. The smaller cooling fan (or in some cases a heat sink) is mounted directly on top of the CPU chip slot. The fan or heat sink cools the CPU.

If either of these fans (especially the CPU fan) fails, then heat can build up inside the computer case to the point that computer components are damaged or destroyed. However, many computers run hot; therefore, some components (especially heat sinks) that are unpleasantly hot to the touch are actually in perfect working order.

To prevent overheating, you should try to keep your computer cool. Ideally, this temperature is around 65-70 degrees, but computers can function in environments that are hotter or cooler. However, as a rule of thumb, if the temperature is too hot for you to be comfortable, it's too hot for your computer.

Likewise, your computer needs decent ventilation so that hot air from inside the case can be exchanged for cooler air from the outside. You should never block the vents on the back of your computer case. You should remove serious dust buildup that interferes with air flow. Also, you should keep a couple inches of space between the back of the computer and the object behind it (e.g., the wall, the back of your desk). This ensures that air can circulate freely behind the computer.

If either of your cooling fans fail, shut down your computer immediately. If you smell or see smoke coming from your computer, immediately turn off the computer and unplug it. Watch the computer carefully until you are sure that it has cooled down. In either case, do not attempt to use the computer until it has been examined by a technician.

This is document ahdp in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2023-09-22 17:11:37.