Computer Cooling Explained

Computer cooling explained


Ever used a laptop on your actual lap and felt like you might come away with third degree burns? If so, that laptop had a poor cooling solution. Computers are complex electronics, and when they’re put under stress, they heat up. Keeping your computer cool not only helps you avoid burns, it also helps lengthen the computer’s life. An overheating computer can lead to burnt power supplies, fried motherboards and more.

Here are some cooling solutions for your laptop and desktop computers. You can find these products with a quick Internet search. Don’t have a reliable Internet connection? Check out for home and mobile high-speed Internet.

Desktop Cooling

If you bought a pre-built PC from a store, it probably already has an adequate cooling solution. But if you’re building from scratch, or upgrading components, you might need additional cooling.

The first step in good cooling is a case with breathing room. Find a case with built in fans, good cable management, and space to let some of the “hotter” parts breathe. It also might be helpful to find a case with sound dampening material to mask the noise of your fans kicking on.

You can also buy additional fans to keep air moving inside the case. Many high-powered video cards come with small fans built in to keep them cool when in use.

You could also avoid fans altogether and go with a liquid cooling solution. Liquid cooling uses a tubing, reservoir and liquid (typically water) setup to keep your computer cool without the fans. Since water has a high thermal conductivity it absorbs heat easily. While liquid cooling systems work well and keep noise and heat levels low, they’re also not the easiest to configure.

Laptop Cooling

If your laptop is as hot as a furnace, there’s not too much you can do. Laptops are closed systems, with limited upgradeability. If you find your laptop heating up often, make sure you use it on a flat surface. Placing a laptop on something soft like carpet or a bed can block the vents and cause it to overheat. You can also try cooling stands.

Some cooling stands have built in fans that pull heat away from your laptop. Others utilize an air conditioning-like system and are actually cool to the touch. The downside to these stands is their heft and noise. Having to plug your laptop into a bulky rig whenever you want to use it kind of defeats the purpose of a laptop.

Signs of a hot computer

You’ll know if your laptop is getting too hot if it’s physically hot to the touch, but you can also tell if you hear the fans kick on often. In most cases, the fans shouldn’t need to kick on for low-power tasks like Internet browsing and email. If just opening a word process sends your computer’s fans into overdrive, you might want to look at upgrading your cooling solution.

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